Atlas Corps volunteers are essential to the organization for making sure things run smoothly. Today, we would like to talk more about Atlas Corps Group Captains. Our Group Captains facilitate monthly peer coaching groups as part of our new Virtual Leadership Institute, an online learning community for global social change leaders from around the world.

Since launching the Virtual Leadership Institute, 40 leaders became our Group Captains helping Scholars create a productive environment for co-learning, develop leadership projects, and guide discussions about leadership and social impact. Today we talk with Carissa, an excellent Group Captain for the Atlas Corps: Russian & American Women’s Virtual Leadership Initiative.


Name: Carissa Janis

Home Country: United States

Current Organization:  Retired from the federal government

Social Issue/Interest Area: Affordable housing, Disability rights, Economic inequality

Fun fact: I’ve twice ridden on both camels and elephants.


Why did you decide to volunteer for Atlas Corps as a Group Captain?

I recently started working as a facilitator and was looking for new opportunities. Atlas Corps was a great fit, since it included working in the international social change movement and with leaders in that sector throughout the world. I am a fanatical international traveler, so I jump at the opportunity to contribute to global issues and to meet people with different lived experiences.

How has volunteering with Atlas Corps impacted you?

I’ve been very impressed with my Scholars’ knowledge, social perspective, and commitment to addressing pressing issues of our time. I can see that they deeply care about the causes of concern to them and note their enthusiasm to taking on challenging problems.  Serving as their group captain was a privilege for me. I am reassured that there is a cadre of global leaders who can confidently affect change in the decades to come.

What message would you like to send to individuals who are thinking of volunteering with Atlas Corps as a Group Captain?

Do it! It’s an easy and fun monthly activity. You meet and get to know some really great people who you would otherwise never have the chance to meet.

Atlas Corps Scholar Amelia (Cohort 4, United States) shares, “It was a great privilege to have Carissa as my Group Captain during our 8-month Virtual Leadership Institute journey. She went above and beyond preparing and organizing meaningful, focused coaching sessions for us to truly step into. Carissa’s ability to empower our leadership growth and development in a structured yet flexible way enabled us to unearth key learning points and project action items. I feel lucky to have had a leader who shaped our ability to powerfully connect. Thank you, Carissa!”

Atlas Corps Scholar Maria (Cohort 4, United States) shares, “Peer Coaching Group calls were among my favorite activities in the Atlas Corps Leadership Institute. Our Group Captain Carissa played an important role in it and looked both focused and caring facilitator. She gave everyone an opportunity to speak, and helped me to make up for the lack of live group communication with extraordinary women of my cohort. Those were happiest hours in the Atlas Corps Leadership Institute, and without doubt I can credit to Carissa our joyful and productive discussions.”

Thank you, Carissa and our hundreds of volunteers who help achieve the Atlas Corps mission every day. Learn more about becoming a volunteer at

On November 20, Atlas Corps celebrates 15 years of engaging social change leaders. Join us to honor our legacy of service with more than 1,100 leaders from 110 countries at the Atlas Corps 15-Year Anniversary Gala. We will convene friends of Atlas Corps from all sectors and regions of the world to reflect on 15 years of engaging social changemakers and inspire towards our future. Join to connect with our community, meet Fellows, and celebrate Atlas Corps!

Photo from Carissa’s personal archive