CGI U Commitment Mentors, 2017-2018
Commitment Mentors facilitate conversation, share resources, promote networking, and help CGI U participants refine their Commitments to Action through virtual communication and in-person meet-ups. Commitment Mentors are previous CGI U commitment-makers with demonstrated progress on their commitment and academic and/or field knowledge in one of CGI U's keyword areas.
Agnes Igoye is a MC/MPA Mason Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is Uganda’s Deputy National Coordinator, Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and Training Manager at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control. She has provided her expertise to organizations like the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Organization for Migration. Her latest passion project is building a center for human-trafficking survivors in Uganda with the $50,000 DVF International Award prize. Since 2011, she has fundraised and delivered over 92,000 textbooks for the education of vulnerable children in Uganda. Agnes is a frequently-invited speaker at international conferences and universities, and in addition to several global advisory roles, Agnes has served as Ambassador to “Let Girls Learn”.
In 2015, Agnes was named one of the 100 most influential people in Africa by New African magazine. Other awards include the Distinguished Leadership award for Internationals - University of Minnesota, and the 2012 and 2014 Inspirational Woman of Uganda Awards. In 2013, she was selected as one of 50 emerging Global Women leaders by the Women in Public Service Project in 2011. Agnes is a 2010/11 Fulbright/Hubert Humphrey Fellow and studied Forced Migration at the University of Oxford. She received a Global Development and Social Justice Certification with a special session with President Jimmy Carter at Emory University in 2011.
Volunteerism and service
Ayesha is currently a clinical research consultant working mainly in the field of oncology. She is a former Fulbright scholar and has held leadership positions with non-profit organizations like the Association for Women in Science and Consulting Club at the Texas Medical Center. Ayesha made a Commitment to Action at CGI University in 2012 and served as a CGI U Campus Representative the following year. In this role, she mentored college students in putting together their commitments and applying for funding. She also has several years of experience teaching undergraduate science courses. She is passionate about health and science policy and innovative technology. Her favorite pastimes are playing with her goldendoodle Casper, biking and listening to NPR podcasts!
Ayesha likes to encourage students to become the best versions of themselves in order to shape a better tomorrow for the world. She is excited to meet all the CGI U selectees she will be mentoring.
Nutrition and Fitness
Hello! My name is Chanjun Park and I am a recent public health and natural science graduate from Johns Hopkins University. I am passionate about utilizing evidence-based and human-centered design to tackle pressing public health issues. Previously, my work has included creating nutritional resources for residents of Baltimore food deserts, and these talks have led me to working at the Baltimore City Health Department as well as sharing these ideas on the TEDx stage.
This year I have joined the CGI U Commitment Mentor team to help young innovators create solutions in the field of fitness and nutrition. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions and I am excited to connect with you throughout your CGI U journey!
Christine Schindler began her CGI U journey in 2012 with her commitment to create a program for engaging girls in STEM. Girls Engineering Change is now a non-profit organization which partners young girls with university students studying engineering and allows them to assemble low-cost devices to be donated to populations in need. Christine graduated from Duke University with a degree in biomedical engineering and global health in 2015. She now works at Cigna as a Healthcare Technology Innovations Specialist.
Christine Souffrant Ntim
Girls and Women
Christine Souffrant Ntim is an award-winning Haitian-American entrepreneur & startup ecosystem expert for emerging markets. She was selected and featured in Forbes 30 Under 30, AdAge 40 Under 40, Haiti Changemakers 1804 List, Singularity NASA, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Inc and more. She speaks on digital entrepreneurship, startup hacking, exponential tech AI, and personal branding at over 20+ global conferences a year - which includes former appearances at the US State Department Tours, United Nations, TEDx, SXSW, Startup Grind Global, SeedStars World, European Union Forum and more.
She started her career as the founder of Vendedy - a social network connecting people to street markets with the aim of digitizing a $10 trillion-dollar black economy and centralizing the world’s 200,000 street markets. Today, Christine is the Director of Startup Grind Dubai Powered by Google For Entrepreneurs and a partner at the GlobalStartupEcosystem.com which hosts the largest digital online accelerator program in the world, graduating over 1000+ companies across 190+ countries a year.
Clara Tsao is a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow. She has spent seven years working in the technology sector in various roles across Apple, HP, Intel, Sony PlayStation, AT&T, and Google and is the first employee from Microsoft to take a “civic-leave of absence”. Clara was a Director for the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee and the former Executive Director and co-founder of the world’s largest simultaneous app-challenge, the Congressional App Challenge. She is currently the Chief Technology Officer on the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, at the Department of Homeland Security.
Devon Skerritt is currently Associate Director of Design and Innovation programs at Southern Methodist University where he supports a team practicing human centered design through a master’s degree program, consulting projects, and maker education initiatives. Devon has more than 15 years of experience across education administration roles serving students, faculty, and building partnerships. He previously worked in college admissions for undergraduate and graduate students at Colgate University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education respectively.
After migrating to Dallas in 2011, he helped build out a college counseling program with Uplift Education and most recently did employer relations and career counseling at SMU. Devon graduated from Colgate in 2000 and received his Master’s in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a 2015 Social Impact Fellow. Currently Devon is an Ed.D. student in higher education at SMU studying non-cognitive behaviors in social innovation programs and institutionalization of design thinking and social entrepreneurship in K12 and higher education. He is a commitment-maker through the Clinton Global Initiative University with his Social Impact (un)fellowship program at SMU.
Elizabeth Frank graduated from the University of Chicago in June 2016 where she studied the history of science, global health, and biology. Elizabeth has helped to develop several public health start-ups, including one that uses SMS technology to expedite the receipt of social services in Chicago. In 2015, she worked in Ibadan, Nigeria on a clinical research study that assessed the impact of bioethanol clean cook stoves on health and household air pollution. Her research is published in Lancet Global Health and Environment International.
In 2016, Elizabeth co-founded the global health social enterprise, MealFlour, with two friends and classmates. MealFlour trains communities with high rates of malnutrition how to build and maintain mealworm farms to produce a protein rich powder that can be incorporated into traditional foods. Elizabeth currently lives in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala working on expanding MealFlour after their successful pilot training program there in late 2016. When she isn’t working, she loves to run and to hike the many beautiful volcanoes that surround Quetzaltenango.
Dr. Esther Ngumbi is a researcher with the Entomology Department at Auburn University. She is a native of Kwale County, Kenya. Esther is very passionate about issues of sustainable agriculture, hunger, food insecurity, gender, education, youth activism, and sustainability. She is a Food Security Fellow with Aspen Institute New Voices and has authored over 30 opinion pieces focused on agriculture, soils, and climate change in outlets ranging from Scientific American to Time, CNN, NPR, Reuters, This is Africa, World Policy Blog, The Conversation, and Los Angeles Times.
She is a Commitment Mentor for Agriculture with CGI University. She is the founder of Oyeska Greens - a startup company that is revolutionizing agriculture on the Kenyan Coast. Esther serves on the board of numerous organizations including Soils4Climate and Development in Gardening. She was the recipient of the first 2017 Emerging Sustainability Leader Award. Esther was a finalist for the President Clinton Global Hunger Leadership Award and was named by One World Action as one of the 100 powerful women who change the world. She looks forward to helping student commitment makers to turn their ideas into action.
Hannah Ehrli is a National Board Certified teacher of over fifteen years in Exceptional Education. She has served Exceptional Learners as a teacher, consultant and advocate. She received her Doctorate degree in education at the University of Central Florida and in the same year (2015) she received the highest educational honor from her university by being awarded the Order of the Pegasus. She has worked extensively in Serbia and Haiti, as well as an international speaker on Best Practices for Education of Special Needs children and the rights of Women and Girls. She is a member of the CEC, Division of International Special Education Services (DISES), and the International Association of Special Education (IASE), as well as foundational member of the Family Council for the Division of Early Childhood (DEC).
In 2012 she received the National Teacher of the Year Award for the Council for Exceptional Children. She currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Florida State Advisory Council for Exceptional Children. Her passion is fueled through her family involvement as a parent of an adult son with special needs, a colleague to her special education teacher/ daughter, and a very supportive husband. This will be her fifth exciting year participating with CGI U.
Hetal Kharecha has been a member of the CGI U community since its inaugural year in 2008. She has studied at the University of Pittsburgh, and continued post-graduate studies at Harvard University. She originally presented her Commitment to Action in 2008, the Vaccine Project. The project has established clinics in rural India, providing lifesaving medical procedures, mediations, and vaccinations to underserved rural populations.
Hetal was selected to be a Commitment Mentor in 2014, 2015, 2016, and is returning in 2017 to serve her students as a mentor in the Human Trafficking keyword. She is currently working with trafficking survivors, law enforcement, colleagues, and her inspiring students to establish a new project to advocate for survivors and adapt increasingly progressive policy to action. Hetal is deeply honored for the esteemed privilege of working with the fraternity of global change makers at CGI U for the upcoming year.
James Turing founded the Turing Trust, in honor of his Great Uncle Alan Turing, in 2009 to help bridge the digital divide by bringing ICT resources to rural African schools. James has acted as the director of the Turing Trust throughout his education at the University of Edinburgh, setting up a student society in 2010 to integrate the volunteering activities of the Turing Trust into the daily lives of students and foster relationships between them and the beneficiaries of our work through international volunteering projects bringing university students to Africa.
James is currently studying a PhD in International Development at the University of Edinburgh where the Turing Trust operates from within the campus, engaging with volunteers daily. James has also worked with a variety of other NGOs and social enterprises in the past, applying these lessons to the development of the Turing Trust.
Jean Paul Laurent
Access to Health Care
Jean Paul Laurent is the Founder & CEO of the Unspoken Smiles Foundation, a New York State registered 501c3 non-profit organization promoting healthy smiles worldwide through community empowerment. Jean Paul holds a Dental Hygiene degree from NYUCD, and is a senior Executive MPA candidate concentrating in International Economic Policy & Management at Columbia SIPA. As a first-generation graduate university student, his life's goal is around public health advocacy and poverty alleviation.
Jean Paul's academic interests include health policy, women empowerment, and governance. His professional career spans oral health and social issues in community development, social entrepreneurship, policy advising, higher education, finance, and non-profit management. Jean Paul also holds a Bachelor of Science from NYCCT in Health Service Administration. For fun, you can often find him on a ballroom dance floor.
Jessica Wendorf Muhamad
Dr. Wendorf Muhamad’s research focuses on (1) development of culturally relevant, experientially-based interventions constructed through a participatory approach; (2) examines how prosocial, persuasive narrative embedded within experiential learning opportunities influences individuals’ attitudes and behaviors regarding complex social issues; and (3) incorporates a holistic understanding of intervention adoptability through an examination of implementation climate pre/post development. Her research has been published in such journals as Journal of Health Communication, Health Communication, and Computers in Human Behavior.
John Kester III
John recently graduated with his PhD in Environmental Dynamics and is now focusing on his role developing research supporting sustainable consumer products at The Sustainability Consortium. John leads the work in the forestry, packaging, and textiles sectors producing tools retailers can use to assess their suppliers on environmental and social sustainability. John sees the direct impact that these efforts have on the outdoors he cares deeply for and his original passion for conservation is what motivates him to engage with industry stakeholders to drive sustainable progress.
In Fayetteville, John also serves as the Vice President of Tri Cycle Farms, an upstart community food hub addressing food insecurity and hunger. John will be returning as a Commitment Mentor for the 4th time and is open to any questions you have about making the most of your experience!
Housing and Homelessness
I am Jonathan Diaz; a storyteller, strategist, and a collaborator. Currently, I am an Experienced Associate in Public Sector Data Analytics at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). I have additional experience in government and non-profit sectors with a concentration on energy and the environment, urban planning, and national security. I am civically engaged in an education fund providing college scholarships and professional mentorship to local immigrant students.
I obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Sustainability, Health, and Safety and most recently completed a graduate career in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. I am the recipient of the 2015 Tufts University Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service and the Gerald Gill Fellowship for the study of race and democracy. I am also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow, Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow, and a graduate of the Hive Global Leaders Program.
Arts and Media
Katie Jane Fernelius is a writer and radio producer currently living and working in Lagos, Nigeria through a Fulbright grant in creative writing. At Duke University, she majored in Global Cultural Studies and earned a certificate in Documentary Studies. She wrote long-form journalistic articles, editorials, documentary essays, short stories, and critical essays for a variety of publications and courses.
For her Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment to Action, she documented the experiences of individuals living with mental illness in Swaziland, as well as developed a mobile application for rural healthcare workers to use to assess mental illness. She has traveled to over 15 countries for study, research, and play! Right now, she is developing a radio podcast with local Nigerian journalists; this podcast will be released summer of 2017.
Kristen Dupard is a recent Magna Cum Laude graduate with a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is a New Orleans native. At Southern Miss, Kristen was a member of the Honors College, the Student Government Association, the Ronald E. McNair Scholarship Program, the NSF Lewis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation Scholarship Program (IMAGE), and Who's Who Amongst American Colleges and Universities.
Kristen also co-founded the Empower the Vote, Save the Vote, voting initiative as her CGI U Commitment to Action to increase voter registration amongst young people. She has been a part of CGI U since 2014. She was invited to attend the White House’s United State of Women Conference and inducted into her university's hall of fame. Dupard also studied human rights, politics, and religion abroad in France, Germany, and Switzerland. Kristen is now a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Emerge 535 Intern where she works on Capitol Hill.
Girls and women
Love Odetola currently serves as a Consultant with the World Bank. There, she is working on Climate-Smart Agriculture Initiatives in Africa and recognizing that women are the backbone of the global agricultural labor force. Prior to her engagement at the World Bank, Love launched the Women for Women Empowerment (WWE) project in Senegal, her 2013 CGI U Commitment to Action. Convinced that "dreams are universal, and opportunity is not," WWE offers holistic entrepreneurial education to girls who've dropped out of school.
As a CGI U Commitment Mentor, Love looks forward to supporting commitment makers who focus on empowering women and girls. She hopes to serve as a sounding board, offering insight on launching a CGI U project, project funding options, and proper preparation for the annual CGI U meeting.
Melissa Diamond is the Founder and Executive Director of A Global Voice for Autism. Passionate about issues related to disability, migration, trauma and community, Melissa is a tireless advocate for individuals with autism and trauma-related disorders. Melissa attended the University of Richmond as a Boatwright Scholar and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Disability in Conflict Regions. She received a Certificate of Social Entrepreneurship from Watson University in Boulder, Colorado, and is currently a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Bradford in England, where she is pursuing a Masters in Conflict, Security and Development.
Melissa's advocacy work and support of people living in conflict-affected communities has been recognized worldwide. These recognitions include: The United Nations, The American Middle East Network for Dialogue at Stanford, The SDSN Youth Solutions Report, The Clinton Global Initiative University, The Resolution Project, the Global Entrepreneurship Community Summit in Malaysia, and more. In 2014 and 2017, she was invited to speak on expert panels at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to share best practices for supporting children with autism and their families in conflict-affected communities. In addition to her work with A Global Voice for Autism, Melissa is an avid traveler, professional speaker and artist. Her travels have taken her to over 45 countries and she has given keynote speeches about social entrepreneurship, autism support and refugees on six continents.
Tutoring and Mentoring
Michelle Nie is a Treasury Analyst at Salesforce in San Francisco and a co-founder of Acorn (previously known as Māk), a nonprofit teaching 3D printing skills to urban high school students. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Business Administration. At Berkeley, she co-founded Acorn, which won 1st place in the Big Ideas at Berkeley competition in the Financial Inclusion category, and went on to represent Acorn at CGI U 2016 at UC Berkeley. She was previously President of 100 Strong, a women's mentorship and leadership development organization serving underserved middle school girls in the Bay Area. She represented 100 Strong at CGI U 2015 in Miami.
Neetu Puranikmath is currently the Economic Empowerment Commitment Mentor for CGI U. Neetu began her involvement with CGI U in 2013 as a Campus Representative and this will be her third year as a Commitment Mentor. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Neetu graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with a B.A. in Political Science. During her time at university, she was involved in student government, ENACTUS, the Olive Tree Initiative, and undergraduate research at Berkeley Law.
After graduation, she worked at YouTube and Google as a Trust and Safety Operations Associate and volunteered as a GoogleServe Spark Mentor to at-risk youth. In 2015, she was able to observe the Assembly of State Parties at the International Criminal Court as a NGO Observer. Neetu is currently part of the Media Team at Facebook. She is a fierce advocate of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and a strong supporter of women in STEM and female entrepreneurship. In her spare time, Neetu enjoys volunteering with philanthropic organizations, taking weekend road trips with friends, and playing tennis.
Olivia Hyde is Director of Design at Fidelity Real Estate Company. She focuses on design strategy and data analysis in pursuit of the best design experience for clients and associates of Fidelity. Olivia is passionate about creating artful, smart, sustainable spaces.
Olivia received an undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College and a Master of Interior Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. Following a career through the twists and turns of workplace, education, public, and retail spaces, she aims to focus her energy on the ever-improving human experience and its integration with our environment.
Water and sanitation
Palash Sanyal is currently working with WaterAid Bangladesh as a technical support member of the team. He leads an innovative project called 'PedalPure', which is working to provide pure drinking water to rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city. The first phase of installation of filters in Rickshaws is ongoing. He also works on fecal sludge management.
Palash holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of South Carolina and a Master's of Development Studies from the University of Dhaka. His work has been published as papers and book chapters. Palash first came to CGI U in 2016 and has been involved ever since. He also works with TED Talks and Global Voices.
Parminder Sandhu is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and the Santa Clara University School of Law. He is passionate about increasing access to education. He has experience with fundraising for scholarships, gained while serving as a Trustee of the UCSD Student Foundation. He also has experience with tutoring programs, including programs based online. Parminder has served as a CGI U commitment mentor since 2012.
Ragheed Al-Dulaimi is a previous CGI U commitment maker. Currently, he works at the University of Utah - School of Medicine – Division of Epidemiology. He holds a medical degree from Baghdad College of Medicine in Iraq where he practiced 4 years in trauma and emergency medicine. Subsequently, he came to the United States as a Fulbright scholar to finish his MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the City University of New York – Hunter College (2013), followed by earning his second master’s in surgical sciences from the University of Edinburgh (2014).
Prior to joining the University of Utah, he worked in the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Bureau of Communicable diseases, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and Hunter College. As a public health professional, he worked and volunteered both in the United States and overseas in resource-limited settings. His interest and expertise include global health, infectious diseases, health literacy and clinical epidemiology.
Rav is the Founder & CEO of Payper (previously HonestFi), a for profit venture backed financial technology company focused on getting Americans out of poverty. With an undergraduate degree in Electrical Computer Engineering and graduate business degree from USC's Marshall School of Business focused on Social Entrepreneurship, Rav has attended CGIU as a student and CGI America as an Entrepreneur.
Dialogue and Conflict Resolution
Robert Pecchio, JD is a conflict resolution scholar-practitioner, with a particular focus on the field of citizen diplomacy. In 2014, Robert Pecchio founded the non-profit organization CourtVision International (CVI), which was a featured Commitment at CGI U 2015 and 2016. CVI works with youth and youth-based organizations all over the world to develop programs that prepare youth for roles in conflict transformation and citizen diplomacy. Over the last two years, CourtVision International has enrolled youth from all over the world in its Sports for Development and Peace, international exchange, and civic education programs.
Robert has traveled to work and consult for multiple foreign government agencies and NGOs, including the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem and the Honduran Basketball Federation, on using innovative delivery approaches in sports, digital education, and virtual exchange for conflict resolution and social change. As a law student, Robert was a member of the Immigration Clinic and was also a Summer Public Interest Fellow with the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center. Along with his work at CVI, Robert works in civil rights law research and is currently studying Conflict Resolution and Analysis at Nova Southeastern University graduate school.
Ryan Ubuntu Olson
Ryan Ubuntu Olson has over a decade of experience in domestic and international policy advocacy related to human rights, health and gender, and sexual diversity (GSD). Olson has played several key roles throughout his life - whether serving for four years as the leader of his controversial gay straight alliance at a private Catholic university; living in East Africa developing LGBTI human rights trainings; or addressing religiously based homophobia while working for an NGO at the United Nations. In addition, Olson has served on a number of boards.
During the past five years Olson has worked for the USAID funded Health Policy Projects managing and implementing multiple activities including the development of the global PEPFAR gender and sexual diversity sensitization training for U.S. Missions in over 36 countries as well as the creation of a policy advocacy guide for LGBTI advocates throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Olson completed his undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University and completed his master’s degree from the Clinton School of Public Service. This will be his sixth year as the LGBTQ commitment mentor and in 2010, he received an Outstanding Commitment award. Olson’s motto in life is “What you do in life, echoes in eternity”.
Tasha works at the intersection of talent acquisition, technology, and behavioral science with Brave Venture Labs. She has lived and worked with startups across several continents, focusing on building, finding, and placing quality talent for social and civic impact. She built a leadership development program for women on the Kenyan coast, a social entrepreneurship incubator in Hyderabad India, and most recently an executive search firm for mission-driven startups around the globe. Currently based in San Francisco, Tasha is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and a proud volunteer for the First 100 Ways civic leadership campaign.
Tony Vu is the founder of MintScraps, a food & sustainability tech startup that empowers hotels, restaurants, and food businesses with analytical technology to monitor and reduce food waste. He started MintScraps to help food businesses gain transparency on and better manage their food waste. To date, MintScraps has helped restaurants track over 1,900,000 pounds of compostable waste and over 950,000 pounds of recyclable waste.
Tony holds over a decade of combined experience in consulting, software, and sustainability including time spent as a corporate social responsibility consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). At PwC, he helped manage employee engagement and sustainability programs for the firm’s 34,000+ employees in the U.S. Previously, he also helped build technology at a food tech startup to connect over 10,000 restaurants to hundreds of wine distributors. He holds a master’s in international affairs with a focus in Vietnam and sustainability from the University of California, San Diego and a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of California, Riverside.
Vinny Johl holds undergraduate degrees in Marketing/Management and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of the Pacific. She served as the Commissioner of Sustainability for the University of Pacific, where she also designed and taught courses on sustainability and variety of other subjects. Vinny Johl is the Fund Development Officer for Rideout Health. In this role she oversees the Rideout Health Foundation and all Fund Development for the organization.
Vinny is passionate about nonprofits, fundraising, community engagement, and creating sustainable programs. Vinny has experience creating new fundraising programs as well as managing programs that have been in existence for over 50 years. Vinny was also appointed as an Economic Development Commissioner for the City of Yuba City; she will serve in this role until December 31, 2020.
Disaster Response and Resilience
Yitaek is a recent graduate from Duke University where he studied Electrical/Computer and Biomedical Engineering. During his time there, he led a team of passionate engineers and designers to build self-adjustable eyeglasses to address the 702 million people living with uncorrected refractive error around the world. These glasses have been tested and distributed in over 8 countries across 4 continents. The company, ViFlex, was also featured at CGIU 2016!
Currently, Yitaek is serving his two-year entrepreneurship fellowship with Venture for America in Baltimore, working at an Internet-of-Things startup called Leverege as a Product Engineer. Yitaek is thrilled to be a mentor for Disaster Response and Resilience, hoping to translate some lessons learned during his time in Nepal shortly after the earthquake.