Our Story

The Gazelle Foundation funds and builds clean water projects in Burundi, Africa. One of the poorest countries on earth, most people in rural Burundi walk over two miles for untreated water from streams and puddles, often shared with livestock. Illness from waterborne infections is high, and a major factor in limiting access to education and economic stability. Through clean water projects, the Gazelle Foundation is offering a first step in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in Burundi.

The Foundation’s formation in 2006 was inspired by Gilbert Tuhabonye, a Burundi survivor of the Hutu/Tutsi civil upheaval of the 1980’s and 90’s which reached a “peace” agreement in 2008. Gilbert was born in the southern county of Songa in Burundi, a small mountainous country in east central Africa. He excelled as a runner, becoming national champion in the 400 and 800 meters as an 11th grader.

On October 21, 1993, the centuries-old war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes erupted as Gilbert and his classmates were in school. His Hutu classmates, their parents, some teachers and other Hutu tribesmen forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a room where they beat and burned them to death. Gilbert, on fire, ran to freedom and survived this horrific event.

Now more than 20 years later and living in the US, Gilbert Tuhabonye is a celebrity in the world of running. He graduated from Abilene Christian University where, despite being covered with scar tissue from his extensive burns, he was a national champion runner. Gilbert still competes and owns and operates a training program called Gilbert’s Gazelles in addition to serving as the Head Cross Country and Track coach at St. Andrews Episcopal High School.

Gilbert is married and has two children. In 2006, he wrote This Voice in My Heart, an autobiographical account of his upbringing and his tale of survival. The response to this touching book has been outstanding, and people have asked how they can help.

The answer is through the Gazelle Foundation.

Office Staff

Executive Director, Kippi Griffith

Kippi Griffith currently serves as the Executive Director for the Gazelle Foundation.  Kippi’s initial exposure to the work of the Foundation came through being a participant in Run for the Water for several years and marathon training with Gilbert’s Gazelles in 2016.  As the Foundation’s Executive Director, Kippi oversees the overall strategic focus and operational duties for the Foundation’s mission execution, growth and sustainability. Her role covers a broad range of responsibilities including development, general administration, donor interaction, program services, marketing, event management and resource management. Kippi works alongside a dynamic and passionate Board of Directors to ensure the Foundation is keenly focused on helping the people of Burundi and sharing the importance of access to clean water. Prior to the Gazelle Foundation, Kippi served in various capacities within non-profit organizations and education.  She received a B.A. in English from The University of Texas at Austin and a M.B.A. in Marketing from St. Edward’s University.

Kippi can be reached at kippi@gazellefoundation.org

Operations and Events Director, Michelle Sandquist

Michelle is the Operations/Events Director with the Gazelle Foundation.  She provides strategic and operational support in all areas within the organization. She oversees operations, event management and race management, in addition to an ongoing focus on donor/sponsor relationships to ensure mission and vision remain priorities. Michelle brings an interesting and diverse background to the Gazelle Foundation including 9 plus years as General Manager of Conley Sports (a running events production company, managing a holistic health care center, leading large fundraising campaigns and serving as a personal chef and personal trainer. Michelle’s active and athletic lifestyle brings added insight to her job.  She has completed multiple marathons and half marathon races as well as two Ironman distance triathlons and five half Ironman triathlons.  Mentally and physically preparing for and then completing these challenging events has given Michelle the patience, resolve and drive to excel in her personal and professional life. Michelle grew up in Vermont, attended college in New Hampshire and then lived and worked in exciting parts of the country including Boulder, CO, Washington, DC. and California. She proudly lays claim to Austin as her home and is excited to be part of the Gazelle Foundation family. She is inspired by the good works the foundation is doing to transform lives in Burundi through access to clean water.

Michelle can be reached at michelle@gazellefoundation.org

2016 Board of Directors

Gilbert Tuhabonye – Chairman

Peter Rauch – President

Christian Goy – Vice President

Minnie Hollyman – Secretary

Quincy Lee – Treasurer

Leslie Newberry – At Large

Corby James – At Large

Burnie Burner – At Large

Courtney Houston — At Large

Advisory Board

Leslie Alexander

Kerri Fields

Diane Humphreys

Scott McAfee

Paul Pugh

DK Reynolds

Joel Rollins

Albert Saenz

Randa Safady

Auddie Walker


What is the Gazelle Foundation’s mission?

The Gazelle Foundation improves the quality of life for people in Burundi by providing access to clean water. Our operating values are sustained transformation, integrity and results.

Who are we?

We were founded by a group of runners wanting to help others. We’re now made up of runners, walkers, couch-potatoes, students, kids and others who are working to help people in Burundi. Although we are based in Austin, Texas, support comes from all across the United States and abroad.

What do we do?

The Gazelle Foundation builds and funds clean water projects in Burundi, Africa. You can view each water system going back to our first in 2009 at gazellefoundation.org/projects (or click the ‘Projects’ tab at the top of your screen).

What kind of organization are we?

We’re a charitable public foundation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

What do the people in Burundi need?

The people in Burundi need clean, drinkable water. Burundi is one of the poorest countries not just in Africa but in the world and often overlooked by other charitable causes. The country has suffered through decades of civil war.

How do we help them?

We work directly with communities to build water projects. We typically work with an on-site Burundian project manager who oversees construction of each project. Citizens of the immediate impacted area work on the systems, creating a greater bond of ownership and providing for families in a country with unemployment historically above 60 percent annually. We have also worked with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) that have a physical presence in Burundi.

How will our actions create the desired outcomes for our beneficiaries?

Our efforts directly impact improvements in quality of health and daily life. The most important quantifiable number is the people gaining access to clean water that did not have previous access. This number continues to grow and you can view the total HERE. As of December 2016 we have served 65,000+ citizens. Access to clean water has dramatically decreased treatments for waterborne illnesses at area health clinics. Going straight to the root of the problem rather than the temporary approach through medicine will yield a longer-lasting positive result. Additionally, areas with our water systems have a higher yield in crops, school attendance has increase, and livestock population is healthier.

What kind of difference can I make?

Your contribution through donations, sponsorships or participation can change another person’s life forever by helping them gain regular access to clean water. You can also serve as an ambassador for us by sharing Gilbert’s book with friends, family and co-workers as well as volunteer and share our news. In the fall (November 5, 2017), you can participate in the Run for the Water and recruit friends, family and co-workers to join with you.

What is the Foundation’s relationship with Gilbert’s Gazelles?

The Gazelle Foundation and Gilbert’s Gazelles are two distinct organizations. Gilbert’s Gazelles is a coaching and training program owned and operated by Gilbert Tuhabonye. More information on Gilbert’s Gazelles is available at www.gilbertsgazelles.com. The Gazelle Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation. Several of our board members and volunteers are or have been active members of Gilbert’s Gazelles, however we operate independently of the training group.

Media & News

We’re fortunate to receive regular news coverage whether it’s about Run for the Water, Spring for the Water, Walk for the Water, our co-founder Gilbert Tuhabonye or various other pieces. Click on any title below to be taken to the story.







2009 – 2011

Contact Us

Do you have a question, idea or comment? Please contact us at info@gazellefoundation.org or write us at:

Gazelle Foundation
PO Box 1487
Austin TX 78767-1487

Office Hours and Location:
3600 Bee Caves Rd, Suite 204
We maintain fairly regular business hours but we request you call or email first if you’d like to stop by to say hello.

+1 512-487-7992