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About Us


Cabo Verdeans United (CVU) was founded in 2001 by two sisters, Genie Lomba and Tila Adams. They were born on the island of Brava, Cabo Verde  and emigrated to the United States as teenagers.  Genie and Tila believed it was important to involve themselves in an organization that would create a positive impact on youth growing up in Cabo Verde.  After forming CVU, "Project Sandbox" was launched with the goal of building at least one playground on each of the nine inhabited islands of Cabo Verde.  A team of committed CVU members, volunteers and supporters worked tirelessly to ensure CVU’s success.  To date, we have successfully built playgrounds on each of the islands, thereby achieving our mission.  However, we feel that one playground on each island is just not enough.  


CVU does not only build playgrounds, but it transforms communities. We firmly believe that every child in Cabo Verde deserves to have a safe place to play, learn and grow. Please join us in continuing to build smiles on the faces of every child in Cabo Verde.  

In 2006, CVU received its official 501(c)3 charitable status retroactive to its inception date of 2001.

CVU Officers:

Stephanie Ramos, President


Stephanie is a second generation Cabo Verdean-American born in Milford, Connecticut where she currently resides.  Her mother’s family is from Brava and her father’s family is from Sao Nicolau.  She graduated from Milford High School with honors in 1982 and received an Associates Degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing from the University of Bridgeport in 1985. 


Her thirty plus years of experience in fashion retail includes management at Joan and David Boutique in Stamford, Connecticut and Neiman Marcus in Westchester, New York and presently at Saks 5th Ave in Greenwich, Connecticut.  


After a trip to Cabo Verde in October of 2000, Stephanie returned with a strong desire to do something to help those in need, particularly for Cabo Verdean children.  Shortly thereafter, she learned of Cabo Verdeans United and attended their annual fundraiser.  She felt it was a perfect opportunity to fill that desire to help by joining CVU, which she did in April 2002.  She held the post of Secretary until 2022.  In her free time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading, music and dancing, cooking, and watching her favorite sports teams.

Genie Lomba, Co-Founder, Vice President

Genie was born on the island of Brava, Cabo Verde and emigrated to East Providence, Rhode Island at the age of fourteen.  She graduated from East Providence High School and received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Bryant University. Genie married her high school sweetheart, John Lomba, and moved to Connecticut where she currently resides. 


Genie and John are proud parents of three daughters, Jacinta, Sara and Sofia.  Genie is employed by Trinity Health of New England at Saint Francis Foundation, in Hartford, CT, as the Regional Database and Financials Manager.  Genie is also a co-founder of Cabo Verdeans United.  Genie enjoys photography, reading, gardening, meditating and spending time with family and friends.  She is truly passionate about serving her community, and she is committed to putting smiles on the faces of children in Cabo Verde. 


Genie led CVU as its President for the last 20 years, and after completing the mission of building playgrounds on every island of Cabo Verde, she took on her new role as Vice-President.

Tila C. Adams, Co-Founder, Operations

Tila was born on the Island of Brava, Cabo Verde and emigrated to the United States at the age of eleven. She co-founded CVU with her sister Genie Lomba in 2001, and has been on the board of directors for CVU since its founding.  


Professionally, she is employed by the Rhode Island School of Design in the position of Campus Retail Director. She is on the board of directors for New England Buyer Consortium (NEBC), where she currently holds the position of Operations.

Tila enjoys quality time with her son, family and friends. 

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Marie Elena Almeida, Secretary

Marie Elena is a second-generation Cabo Verdean American born in Milford, CT (she is sister to Stephanie, so shares the same family lineage!).  She currently resides in Stratford, CT with her husband Jay and their two daughters, Grace and Ava.  

Marie Elena is employed by the law firm of Robinson & Cole LLP in Stamford, CT as a Corporate Paralegal.  She has worked in the financial services industry as a legal professional for over 25 years.  

Being a huge admirer and supporter of CVU for many years, Marie Elena was thrilled to join the team and travel to Cabo Verde for the first time in 2018 for the playground build in Santiago.  She has assisted with all of the builds since and describes each experience as “life-changing and absolutely heartwarming, but with so much more we hope to accomplish".  She’s honored to be part of CVU and shares deeply in our vision of all the amazing possibilities we strive to bring forth for Cabo Verde and all its people.  

Marie Elena enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, traveling the world, beautiful beaches, listening to music - especially live, and is an avid sports fan. 

John J. Lomba, Treasurer and Master Builder

John was born in the island of Brava, Cabo Verde.  He emigrated to Lisbon, Portugal in his early adolescence before moving to East Providence, RI. John received his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Rhode Island College and Masters degree in CS with concentration in Information Management from Florida Institute of Technology.  John is employed by Cigna Corporation, in the Information Technology division.


John has been an essential member of CVU from its inception, and leads the playground installation process.  John is central in the construction of all CVU playscapes.


John married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Genie.  They currently reside in South Windsor, CT with their three daughters, Jacinta, Sara and Sofia.  John enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music, and he loves building things.  


Andrea (Andy) Frasca, Fundraising


Andy was born in Naples, Italy and currently lives in New Rochelle, NY with his wife Gabrielle.   Andy has one daughter Jennifer.  He worked for many years on cruise ships and emigrated to the US in 1977.  He owned four children's shoe stores in the NY/NJ area.  Today Andy works at Neiman Marcus where he has been for nearly three decades. 

Andy is an avid supporter of CVU, and has volunteered with the organization for over 15 years.  During that period, he has assisted in raising a significant amount of money at the Onset Cape Verdean Festival.  Andy took it upon himself to make his refreshing and delicious, home-made, freshly squeezed lemonade and fruit cups, which always sell out at the festival.   


In 2022, Andy traveled to Cabo Verde with other members of CVU, and was an integral part of the team that built playgrounds in Sal and Boa Vista.  Andy's lifelong aspiration is to see a world without conflict, and to see smiles on the faces of the children of Cabo Verde.

CVU Members:

Nelson Nunes Evora, CVU Ambassador

Nelson was born in Sal, Cabo Verde and emigrated to the US in 2015. He received his degree from the International High Institute for Tourism – Tangier, Morocco.  He received his Master’s Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Universidade Jean Piaget de Cabo Verde.

Nelson worked for the Cape Verde Tourist Board and for the National Association of Tour Operators 
(presently Chamber of Tourism).  Later in his career, Nelson worked as a Trainer and Consultant for Vocational Training school, working in adult education for more than 20 years.


Nelson also worked as an external collaborator for International Labor Organization for Cape Verde, Senegal, Angola and Mozambique.

In the US, Nelson has always been involved in community development through several non-profit
organizations such as USAL, Friends Community Action, CACD
, and now, Cabo Verdeans United.


Nelson loves music and he’s passionate about the Cape Verdean traditional game “uril”.

Edward (Eddie) Figueiredo Esteves, Fundraising Committee


Eddie was born in Minhoto, Brava, Cabo Verde and emigrated to New Bedford, MA in 1956. He attended school in New Bedford before attending and graduating from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. He began a sales career with Procter & Gamble, and later continued a very successful career with IBM and Xerox. Upon his early retirement in 2008, he enjoyed his leisure time staying active in the gym, his yard, and the golf course.

 In December of 2021, he re-entered the workforce at the bakery (Brown Butter Creations) of his two daughters. This entry into entrepreneurship, allowed him to resume and practice his talent for delivering great customer service. In and out of the bakery, he is known as “The Ambassador of Deliciousness”. 

In 2022, Eddie joined Cabo Verdeans United (CVU) where they “Build Smiles One Island at a Time”.

Impressed with all of the great work that CVU has done for the children and families of Cabo Verde, Eddie was eager to become a part of the next fund-raising effort to build more playgrounds in his homeland. His excitement blossomed into a fund-raising project that would combine two of his talents: Marketing and Pull-ups. Eddie has committed to doing 1,000 pull-ups (chin-ups) in a 30-45 day period in hopes of getting the attention of at least 1,000 people who would donate at least $.03 per pull-up ($30.00). If successful, CVU would raise $30,000 by February 15, 2023. This would be enough to build (2) playgrounds in Cabo Verde by the Spring of 2023. He has done over 800 pull-ups so far, and will reach the 1,000 target by the end of January 2023. Eddie’s new title is “Grand P.o.P.s” (Grand Prince of Pull-ups).

Heather Burns,  Fundraising Committee 


Heather is a second generation Cabo Verdean American.  Born in New Bedford, MA, Heather relocated to Lynchburg VA in 1998 to pursue her education.  Her mother’s family is from Brava, Cape Verde and father’s family is from Sao Nicolau, Cape Verde. 


Heather is a wife and mother of two amazing young men, who also works full time as a Care Coordinator for Sentara Healthcare.  She is the current facilitator for the Lupus Foundation of America Lynchburg Support Group.  Diagnosed in 2014, she has been passionately volunteering to facilitate the organization’s business for the Lynchburg VA area. 


In addition, Heather holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling and Criminal Justice which she completed in 2016 at Liberty University.  For over 10 years, Heather has worked in the mental health field and has served to better her community especially through the youth so it is no surprise that she has enlarged that territory to now serve the children and people of her ancestry.


In June 2022, Heather and her children visited Cape Verde for the first time.  She is focused on helping build CVU to it’s greatest potential and identifies greatly with it’s mission and core values.

Contact Us:

Cabo Verdeans United Organization
PO Box 862
South Windsor, CT 07064
Call: 1-860-266-6953

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