Madison MarksUnited States
Madison Marks is a social innovation and entrepreneurship expert with a decade of experience in Washington, DC and the Middle East. Madison received her Master’s degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and Bachelor’s degree in Middle East Studies from Florida State University. She is an active board member of the Middle East North Africa Regional Fellowship, a professional placement program aiming to strengthen ties between the United States and the Arab world. She is currently serving as Director of the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In her role, she supports social innovators to accelerate growth and scale their impact in Baltimore and beyond. Prior, Madison was Dubai-based for three years, working at the nexus of innovation, social entrepreneurship, and investment. While in the UAE, Madison developed the Expo Live programming strategy for the Expo 2020 Dubai event. Additionally, she supported the launch and execution of accelerator programs, including Startupbootcamp’s Dubai Smart City Accelerator and the region’s first female-focused tech accelerator program, Womentum. Madison also spent four years in Washington, DC motivating youth education and enabling exchange programs with Qatar Foundation International. She has also consulted on innovation and intercultural initiatives in Jordan and Lebanon. Madison’s interests in social change relate to education, health, AI, agritech, and fintech.
Gloria FuncheonUnited States
Gloria Funcheon is originally from Kansas, USA, but moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where she works for Mercy Corps as a Communications Specialist for a U.S. government-funded early childhood literacy development and nutrition program. She previously resided in London, where she completed her Master of Science in Development Studies from SOAS University of London as a Rotary Global Grant Scholar. Despite already having a Master in Russian, Eastern European, & Eurasian Studies from the University of Kansas and six years of non-profit work experience, Gloria wanted to further study the impact of vocational training programming on youth labor migration from Central Asia to Russia. Gloria worked for nearly three years as a Program Officer for Mercy Corps supporting a regional humanitarian and sustainable development programming portfolio in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. She previously worked for Save the Children and ACTED in Tajikistan overseeing grant administration for community, and especially women’s, economic development programming. She also worked as a consultant in Ukraine, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan on a U.S. Department of State funded educational exchange program. Traveling to over 30 cities across these countries, she oversaw the screening process for over 5,000 secondary school applicants, which included exams and interviews, and then ultimately conducted family briefings and a 4-day pre-departure orientation for selected candidates. Gloria is also deeply interested in civil society, youth, and democracy promotion in the former Soviet states and, to this end, has served as an international election monitor in Armenia, Moldova, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. As Head of Mission for the Danish youth NGO ‘Silba’, she led a multi-national team of 25 youth observers for a week-long observation mission in Skopje, North Macedonia.
Valeriia Andreeva is a Senior Construction Project Manager with seven years of experience in the construction sector. Valeriia has earned a Specialist degree with Honors in Industrial and Civil Engineering from the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering. She expands her knowledge in cost estimating and project management by attending courses in her spare time. Valeriia currently serves as a mentor for incoming workers in the company and helps in team building. As a traveler and an exchange student, Valeriia has met a lot of people from various cultures, which gives her a deep understanding of core human values. She is enhancing her knowledge in this area by getting extracurricular courses in sustainable development. Valeriia is fond of creating strong bonds between the construction process and well-constructed project management, as well as implementing sustainable construction techniques and materials in out-of-date processes to preserve the environment.
Tiana SpruillUnited States
Tiana Spruill has been a government contractor at the U.S. Department of State since 2015. She is currently a Program Analyst for the Exchange Visitor Program at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Tiana’s portfolio includes over 181 universities and research institutions that sponsor exchange visitors throughout Puerto Rico as well as the Midwestern and Southeastern regions of the U.S. She ensures that sponsors meet regulatory requirements in order to successfully implement exchange programs. She analyzes various applications and reports, assesses programmatic or visa-related issues, and provides guidance. Tiana possesses excellent communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Her sponsors rely on her knowledge and expertise in order to assist exchange visitors. Tiana was previously a Junior Program Analyst at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a Management Analyst at the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, and a Program Assistant at the Foreign Service Institute. A highlight of her career was traveling to Ecuador to assist a leadership development course that she co-coordinated for U.S. diplomats. Tiana earned a Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Human Security from the University of Baltimore. She has a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and previously taught English online to kids from China. Tiana serves on the Board of Directors for YPIE DC (Young Professionals in International Education) as the Membership & Development Officer. She also serves on the International Affairs Committee for the Northern Virginia Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).
Tasha Sokolova from Saint Petersburg, Russia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in pedagogical disciplines in Murmansk State Pedagogical University and received a diploma for tracing English and French languages. Right after that, she enrolled in a journalism program and was granted a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. In 2012, she went to France and studied business in ESC Rennes School of Business, receiving a Master’s degree in International Communications and Digital Marketing. Tasha has taught marketing online for over four years now. She fights for animal rights and is a part of Acits NCO helping develop a free application for animal shelters. Tasha’s areas of particular interest in the non-profit sector are education, environmental conservation, animal rights, and women’s rights
Stephanie KastenUnited States
Stephanie Kasten is originally from Northern California and currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador. After studying Communication and Political Science at UC Davis, Stephanie joined the Peace Corps as an English Education volunteer in Ecuador, which became her home for seven years. Later, Stephanie joined the global “bridge year” immersion program, Global Citizen Year, as a coach to a cohort of international Fellows, eventually managing the Ecuador programs and building coalitions with local partner families and organizations. Since moving back to the United States, Stephanie has worked as a Learning & Development Manager with Aura, a mission-driven lending company delivering credit-building loans to underbanked communities. Stephanie cares about supporting immigrant communities in the US by connecting them with the legal and financial resources to build generational wealth and stability. Eventually, she intends to approach this mission by studying immigration policy and working toward its reform.
Sarah RupertUnited States
Sarah Rupert is a multilingual project manager and team builder with a love for people and communities. Sarah has four years of experience working with international non-profits. In her current Program Associate position at CIPE, Sarah helps manage a portfolio of democracy and economic reform programs in North Africa, including a healthcare project with the Tunisian Ministry of Health, women’s economic empowerment in Morocco, and corrosive capital reform efforts across the region. Prior to CIPE, Sarah spent two years as a Youth Development Specialist in rural southern Morocco where she worked at four institutions focused on students and women. She is proud to have collaborated on community-led projects such as a Linguistics Summer Camp for 100+ elementary school students, a Traveling Life Skills Workshop around Tiznit province, and ongoing English, life skills, and sports classes. Sarah has also worked at Sister Cities International where among other things, she organized a Youth Leadership Summit in Colorado that hosted 120 participants from around the world. At the University of Virginia, Sarah studied Foreign Affairs and French. During her studies, Sarah had the opportunity to study abroad and intern at the University’s International Studies Office in Morocco. These experiences have shaped her desire to make a difference and form meaningful relationships across cultures, languages, and ideologies. Sarah’s areas of interest include women and youth empowerment, rural community advocacy, and cross-cultural exchange.
Rita Vasileva has over two years of experience in the volunteer sector. She graduated with a Specialist degree in Electrochemical Production Engineering from the Angarsk State Technical Academy. She participated in projects such as the Erasmus+ for Young Entrepreneurs, European Voluntary Service, Hospital Clowns, and Food for Life. The main idea of her business with Erasmus+ for Young Entrepreneurs project was to create an application for volunteers and non-profit organizations to popularize volunteering in Eastern Europe. During the project, she applied for and won a grant to support the Grundenstipendium NRW business in Germany. During her EVS project, Rita worked in a kindergarten, participated in the presentation of the project for American students, and made presentations about Russia to other volunteers, children, and teachers in her host organization. Before the EVS project, Rita participated in two volunteer projects: Food for Life and Hospital Clowns. Food for Life distributed free food to people in need and Hospital Clowns helped young children and teenagers through medical treatment and rehabilitation in a fun and easy way.
Rachel DeStigterUnited States
Rachel DeStigter is a young professional from the United States who is passionate about building international networks to tackle global environmental issues. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from American University, with a focus on environmental sustainability. During her time in university, she had two internships related to international development, which shaped her perspective and helped her gain experience. Most recently, as an International Relations Intern for the consulting firm She Grows It, Rachel conducted research on the connections between environment, economy, and society in various African countries. Prior to that, Rachel was the Volunteer Management Intern for Atlas Corps. Rachel has also been heavily involved in international exchange programs. She developed and taught intercultural communication workshops for local youth and is also an AFS returnee from a China summer and Czech Republic year programs.
Rachel SiderUnited States
Rachel Sider has witnessed how poorly conceived policy can exacerbate risks to civilians and obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance where it is needed most. Most recently, Rachel was a policy advisor with the Norwegian Refugee Council in Syria where she led research on humanitarian access in government-controlled areas, shaped the UN Security Council’s debates, and advised donor governments on addressing protection concerns around displacement. Rachel also served as NRC’s lead spokeswoman for media and its representative with various governments and international organizations. As a humanitarian policy leader in Iraq, Rachel conducted the first research on longer-term solutions to displacement in post-ISIS settings. Working with families and communities affected by war across the Middle East has taught Rachel the value of upholding respect for international humanitarian law from the battlefield to the boardroom. She has published numerous research reports and has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Humanitarian. Rachel holds a Bachelor in Arts in International Studies and Political Science from Middlebury College and is proficient in Arabic and Spanish. Originally from Indiana, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.
Rachel O’ConnellUnited States
Rachel O’Connell is an educator in Houston, Texas, where she works to support higher education access for refugee youth and displaced persons. She is passionate about streamlining international policy implementation and enhancing outcomes as they relate to education equity. Rachel believes that the power of education can change entire communities, and every child deserves the right of equitable access to succeed. Born and raised in Pakistan, she soon became impassioned to contribute to a dialogue of education equity and opportunity in international communities with limited access to formal education. After gaining her Masters of Science in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Rachel had the honor of being featured in the Graduate School of Education’s newsletter for her graduate work in education equity initiatives for first-generation low-Income college students. She is currently continuing her work at the Partnership for Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, a nonprofit organization geared towards improving education access and success for the largest population of refugee youth in the United States. In addition to working, she volunteers for an education nonprofit, Momentum Education, and has been working on a funded research project tracking geographic education enrollment amongst low income youth in Philadelphia. She hopes to continue her work in International Education Policy and contribute to positive development in equitable education access for international populations, particularly for immigrant and displaced persons.
Rachel WallaceUnited States
Rachel Wallace is the Director of Outreach & Engagement at the humanitarian aid agency, IsraAID. To engage U.S. audiences in IsraAID’s global work, she has overseen and facilitated interactive programming for over 25,000 individuals per year, including refugee programming, disaster response simulations, and self-care sessions. Rachel is a consummate public speaker, representing IsraAID to many audiences, including faith-based, government, diplomatic, and university audiences. She also directed IsraAID’s university Humanitarian Fellowship. In her previous role, Rachel directed the American Jewish Committee LA’s young professional leadership, empowering young leaders to foster relations with LA’s diplomatic corps, diverse faith and ethnic communities, and elected officials. She spearheaded advocacy programs with General Consuls from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In preparation for these programs, she held trainings for young leaders on diplomatic etiquette, advocacy, and on various nations’ politics and foreign policy. Rachel significantly expanded the young professional leadership network and led the formation of a new board. Prior to AJC, she was a Staff Leader on an academic gap-year program, helping to lead her students to 12 countries exploring interfaith relations, politics, and culture. Outside her professional role, Rachel chairs a Women, Peace & Security Channel to elevate women’s involvement, expertise, and leadership in diplomacy and peace building. Moreover, she is active in interfaith relations, primarily Muslim-Jewish, both on local and global levels. She has presented to several audiences the importance of young professional involvement in interfaith relations, including IVLP State Department delegates. She is a UCSC Phi Beta Kappa graduate and studied both Law and Psychology.