Avanse, Ah-Vahn-Ss

Haitian Creole word meaning to move forward, advance.


Avanse is a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the lives of street children in the world’s most neglected and violent slums.     We accomplish our mission through four levers: Outreach, Rehabilitation, Education and Reintegration.

We bring opportunity to the slums to ensure street children move forward and rise above their circumstances.


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
— Helen Keller

Jeannette Pawula

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Jeannette Pawula is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avanse since 2010. She brings her extensive international experience of working with street children & collaborating with international NGO’s, and leads overall strategic and operational responsibility for Avanse’s programs, growth and execution of its mission. Jeannette currently serves on the advisory board of StandUp for Kids, a non-profit working with street children in Chicago. She is also a member of the Consortium for Street Children Network and the Chicago Council for Global Affairs, and was a participant in the Nexus Global Youth summit at the United Nations.




Executive Director

Steph serves as our Executive Director in Chicago. She first joined our team in 2015 helping with Social Media Marketing while living in Rwanda and fell in love with the mission and people of Avanse. Steph brings years of experience working in hardship countries among vulnerable and migratory populations, including young girls and children. She received degrees in Anthropology and International Relations and her Masters degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from DePaul University.