CGI U Commitments

Commitment Mentors, CGI U 2020

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. Read below for bios on each of our Commitment Mentors for 2020.

  • Abe Lopez-Bowen, Good Health & Well-Being
  • Adriano Schneider, Infectious Diseases
  • Agnes Igoye, Immigrant and Refugee Populations
  • Akshay Kamath, Nutrition and Fitness
  • Anderson Lima, Conservation
  • Ben Conard, Economic Empowerment
  • Brinda Penmetsa, Volunteerism and Service
  • Christine Schindler, STEM Education
  • Edwin Adjei, Workforce Development
  • Esther Ngumbi, Agriculture
  • Gilberto Verdugo, Waste Management
  • Greg Rulifson, Disaster Response and Resilience
  • Hetal Kharecha, Human Injustice
  • Jennifer Meyer, College Readiness
  • Jonathan Diaz, Housing and Homelessness
  • Junette Maxis, Educational Access
  • Lauren Valdez, Health Education
  • Matthew Wilkins, Sustainable Design
  • Michelle Nie, Literacy
  • Myeashea Alexander, Arts and Media
  • Nasir Uddin, Renewable Energy
  • Pauline Pratt, Girls and Women
  • Ritu Jadwani, Disabilities
  • Robert Pecchio, Dialogue and Conflict Resolution
  • Robin Gonzalez, Criminal Justice and Civic Engagement
  • Ryan Ubuntu Olson, Reduced Inequality
  • Sarpong Hammond Antwi, Water and Sanitation
  • Tiki Inacay, Access to Healthcare
  • Vinny Johl, Youth Empowerment
  • Yitaek Hwang, Technology


Abe Lopez-Bowen
Good Health and Well-Being

CGI U 2020 is Abe's fourth year as a Commitment Mentor. Abe has experience working in nonprofits, and he helped develop Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF), a national nonprofit organization for high school and college students whose mission was to reveal leadership through service, relationships, and action. Abe’s commitment with STLF was featured by President Bill Clinton on stage at CGI U 2012 in Washington D.C. Abe has also worked in development at several nonprofits, managing large fundraising events. He is passionate about positively impacting people through photography, events and conversation, and inspiring others to live meaningfully and enthusiastically.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Leadership, Self-Care & Mindfulness

Adriano Schneider
Infectious Diseases

Adriano is a researcher based in San Diego, California who has been involved in the research of the evolution and spread of infectious diseases. Currently, he is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Department of Medicine of the University of California San Diego. He is also a member of the United Nations’ Champions Council for the Nothing But Nets campaign, a global grassroots effort to raise awareness and funding to fight malaria in Africa, and a member of the Editorial Board for the magazine Contagion, a publication that provides practitioners and specialists with the latest updates in all areas of infectious diseases.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Raising Money, Marketing & Design, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership

Agnes Igoye
Immigrant and Refugee Populations

Agnes escaped human traffickers at age 14 when the Lord’s Resistance Army raided her village in search of virgins. For her 2011 CGI U commitment, she built a center for human-trafficking survivors, trained over 3,000 law enforcement officials and delivered over 92,000 textbooks to vulnerable children in Uganda. She is the commandant of the Uganda Immigration Training Academy and served as Uganda’s deputy national coordinator for counter human-trafficking. A 2018 Aspen New Voices Fellow, Agnes speaks globally about trafficking and teaches an online child protection course at Harvard University. She is a Harvard Kennedy School Mid-Career MPA graduate, a 2010-11 Fulbright/Hubert Humphrey Fellow, and an alum of Oxford University.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Leadership

Akshay Kamath
Nutrition and Fitness

Akshay is a recent graduate of Rutgers University - New Brunswick, as well as CEO & Co-Founder of Nutrivide, an infant consumer products company devoted to ending global malnutrition via the development and distribution of low-cost medical devices. His commitment to service above self is typified by his efforts to tackle food insecurity in his community, volunteering regularly at the Christ Church Food Pantry and Elijah's Promise Soup Kitchen. Speaking to his experiences, Akshay has been recognized as a Finalist at the MIT-HMS Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp, as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar in Healthcare, and as an exemplary commitment-maker on stage at CGI U 2018.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Leadership, Public Speaking

Anderson Lima

Anderson is a social entrepreneur working in the sea turtle conservation area. He is the founder and director of Casa de √Åak, a sea turtle conservation project in Guatemala designed to protect and increase the sea turtle population through the incubation of sea turtle eggs, the introduction of education efforts targeted at fishermen and the local community, and the increase of tourism through releasing activities of sea turtles. He also has experience as a Teaching Assistant in economics and social philosophy.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Raising Money, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership, Business Modelling

Ben Conard
Economic Empowerment

Ben has been named by Fairtrade International as one of the Top 10 Biggest Fair Trade Advocates in the World and #1 in the United States. His passion for fair trade has taken him to Ecuador, India, and the TEDx stage. He also spent a year in Germany representing the U.S. to strengthen diplomatic relations. As a human rights activist, he was named one of Business Equality magazine’s 40 LGBT Leaders Under 40 in 2019. Dedicated to great taste, consumer health, and sustainable sourcing, Ben founded Five North Chocolate®, an award winning, Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® supporting cacao farmers around the world by creating deliciously nutritious, Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate snacks.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Raising Money, Marketing & Design, Leadership

Brinda Penmetsa
Volunteerism and Service

Brinda Penmetsa is a young woman who is passionate about community engagement, food, and pushing the limits of what is “possible.” After graduating with a degree in Finance from the University of Houston, Brinda moved to Dallas, Texas where she is a business analyst for one of the largest technology consulting companies in the world. She has significant experience in leadership, presentation creation and delivery, partner relations, and project management. She can assist students with grant writing, thinking through roadblocks, and pitching projects locally and nationally.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Leadership

Christine Schindler
STEM Education

Christine is an engineer and entrepreneur passionate about utilizing technology to overcome gaps in healthcare. She studied biomedical engineering and global health at Duke University. Witnessing the gap in gender representation in STEM fields, she founded the non-profit organization Girls Engineering Change (GEC), of which she now serves on the Board of Directors. GEC brings college students and middle school girls across the country together to build low cost devices which are donated to organizations around the world. She then founded and is the CEO of PathSpot Technologies, a venture backed startup based off of technology she created to instantly detect harmful contamination behind foodborne illness.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Raising Money, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership

Edwin Adjei
Workforce Development

Mr. Edwin Adjei (MBA) is an International Business Consultant, a Trainer, entrepreneur and Researcher in Entrepreneurship Education, Start-ups and SMEs promotion. He has good skills in Competence Development and Innovation Management, Digital Marketing and SMEs Internationalisation. He is the Founder and the Director of Youth Qlick International and Young Entrepreneurs Ghana respectively. Mr. Adjei is also a Graphic Designer who has worked in Academia as a Professional Teacher for many years and ran his own businesses for several years in a managerial position. He holds a Bachelor of Art in Education degree and a Master Degree in MBA International Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion and Training (SEPT) at Leipzig University, Germany.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Leadership

Esther Ngumbi

Dr. Esther Ngumbi is an Assistant Professor with the Entomology and African American Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is a native of Kwale County, Kenya. Esther is passionate about issues of food security, education, agriculture, hunger, gender, and sustainability and has authored over 100 opinion pieces in outlets ranging from Scientific American to Time magazine, CNN, NPR, New York Times, Reuters, The Conversation and Los Angeles Times. She is a senior fellow with the World Policy Institute, a Food Security Fellow, and an Alumni Council member with Aspen Institute New Voices. She has served as a Commitment Mentor for Agriculture since 2014 and is a CGI U Alumni Ambassador.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Leadership

Gilberto Verdugo
Waste Management

Gilberto is a Zero Waste Specialist working out of the city of Los Angeles, California. Gilberto has 2 years of experience working in the Waste Management Industry and is excited to share his knowledge with CGI U students committed to joining the Waste Management field. In addition to being a Zero Waste Specialist, Gilberto is a graduate of the distinguished Regenerative Studies Masters Program at Cal Poly Pomona. Gilberto possesses a wide array of both theoretical and practical (real world) knowledge that he is willing to share with CGI U commitment makers. As a CGI U alumnus, Gilberto understands the importance of making a commitment to your community and following through.

Other Skill Expertise: Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership

Greg Rulifson
Disaster Response and Resilience

Greg has experience in engineering, teaching, and community development. Most recently, he was a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, where he encouraged students to consider the impact of engineering projects in developing communities and worked with groups on real projects around the world. These included low-cost, earthquake resistant housing in Nepal, nutrition improvement for children in Tanzania, and ultra-low-cost home heating in Peru. He has also worked in Nicaragua and Indonesia on earthquake and tsunami risk mitigation in collaboration with faculty, students, community groups, and government officials. He currently works in Washington D.C. as an engineering fellow for Food for Peace within USAID.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Marketing & Design, Leadership

Hetal Kharecha
Human Injustice

Hetal has been a member of the CGI U community since its inaugural year in 2008, with an original commitment in Healthcare Access. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and then at Harvard University. Hetal has been a Commitment Mentor since 2014 and returns in 2020 to serve her students as a mentor in Human Trafficking topics. In 2017, she was a founding partner of a consultancy to provide educational scholarships for victims of trafficking and domestic abuse. Hetal is currently working on a new project for adapting progressive anti-trafficking law into action. Hetal also serves as Associate Director of Operations for an IBM Watson Top 100 Hospital and hails from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Raising Money, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership, Self-Care & Mindfulness

Jennifer Meyer
College Readiness

Jenn is a social worker and public health practitioner. Her public health work has focused on issues of forced migration and refugees while her social work experiences have primarily taken place within the fields of incarceration and criminal justice. Currently, she works as the Global Health Program Coordinator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York City. Jenn is looking forward to helping students refine their commitments, turn ideas into reality, and share resources and networking opportunities. She is also happy to help students prepare for the CGI U meeting, discuss her personal experiences, and assist in brainstorming new ideas for implementing commitments.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Marketing & Design, Leadership, Self-Care & Mindfulness

Jonathan Diaz
Housing and Homelessness

Jonathan is a Senior Data Analytics Associate at Grant Thornton in the Transaction Advisory Services practice, where he focuses on building analytical tools for financial and operational due diligence. He has 3+ years of experience in the data analytics space, working on a range of applications. He is interested in mobilizing underrepresented entrepreneurs who are building products or services that create a positive social impact. He is a proud StartingBloc fellow and is passionate about capacity building, collaboration, and venture.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Data Analytics & Visualizations

Junette Maxis
Educational Access

Junette is co-founder of Lekò, an educational platform based in Haiti that helps students increase academic performance through evaluation and student specific feedback. After she graduated from Luther College with a BA in Accounting and Economics, Junette worked as a Project Manager for multiple large-scale technology projects in the United States. Prior to transitioning to Lekò, the former UWC (United World Colleges) graduate continued to lead social projects in Haiti after starting her first CGI U commitment in 2010.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership, Project Accounting and Team Building

Lauren Valdez
Health Education

Coming from a low-income Latinx community in Los Angeles, Lauren has dedicated her work to improving opportunities in disadvantaged communities. She has over a decade of nonprofit management experience, and she has fundraised over $3.5 million and coordinated projects in over six U.S. cities and 14 countries. She is also an entrepreneur running a training business focused on organizational/personal effectiveness. Lauren holds a Masters in Public Health and City Planning from UC Berkeley and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research in Brazil. Lauren currently lives in Mexico City, where she trains as a dancer, oil paints, and occasionally sings with a Mariachi band.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Raising Money, Marketing & Design, Leadership, Self-Care & Mindfulness

Matthew Wilkins
Sustainable Design

Matt is a Product Manager at CLEAR who focuses on using biometrics to enhance user experience and security. Previously, he was a Product Manager at Lyft responsible for delivering electric bikes to bikeshare systems around the country. Through Matt’s 2012 commitment, Pedal Forward, he built bicycles out of bamboo for sale in the U.S. and used a percentage of sales to distribute local purchased bicycles to developing communities around the world. Pedal Forward was the winner of the 2012 CGI U Commitment Challenge. Matt also has worked as an adjunct professor where he taught courses in engineering and innovation. Matt can help you break down large projects into small, accomplishable, and measurable deliverables.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Marketing & Design, Leadership

Michelle Nie

Michelle is an incoming Associate Consultant at Entangled Solutions, a strategy consultancy focused on the education industry. Michelle graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in December 2016 with a Business Administration major. She is passionate about expanding educational access through policy and action. She is the Co-Founder and CFO of Acorn, a nonprofit that aims to empower STEM educators and their students throughout the country. She also serves as a member of the Young Professionals Council for the San Francisco Education Fund and the Young Professionals Board for Jumpstart in San Francisco.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Raising Money, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership, Self-Care & Mindfulness, Data Analysis/Data Science

Myeashea Alexander
Arts and Media

Myeashea is a biological anthropologist and science communicator based in New York. She currently holds a BA in Culture and Media, a Master's in Anthropology, and is on a path towards a PhD. As a trained filmmaker and graphic designer, she loves finding creative ways to engage the public in science and social justice. As part of her outreach efforts, Myeashea manages the blog, The Rockstar Anthropologist, and operates a mobile lab that provides hands-on opportunities for youth in underserved communities to learn about archaeology and forensic anthropology.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Marketing & Design

Nasir Uddin
Renewable Energy

Nasir has dedicated the last 12 years to starting and running not-for-profit organizations that range from STEM enrichment for minorities in New Jersey to international poverty alleviation. He is also a leader in Medical Device Development and Commercialization. Nasir has been instrumental in transforming the model of em[POWER] Energy Group, an organization that merges renewable resource technology with cooperative development in developing countries. The group has expanded to five sites across the world with a volunteer base of 150 globally. In his spare time, Nasir serves on the Trustee Board of the Youth Achiever’s Committee and is an Industry Advisor for Florida PolyTechnic University and the Rutgers University iJobs Program.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Raising Money, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership

Pauline Pratt
Girls and Women

Pauline is an advocate for women’s health issues. She calls attention to neglected maternal health complications such as Fistula and has conducted research to advance women’s health. She started a project called Babyphoria in Sierra Leone where pregnant and lactating mothers received supportive and preventative services from health professionals. In the past six years, over 500 women have participated in workshops, parent education trainings, home visiting programs and prenatal screenings at the local health clinic. Pauline believes every child deserves a healthy start and it begins with women. She holds a BA in Policy Studies from Syracuse University and a MPA and MPH from George Washington University.

Other Skill Expertise: Leadership

Ritu Jadwani

Ritu is a social entrepreneur who works with nonprofits in India to generate employment opportunities for differently abled female skilled artisans. In 2013, she launched Namaste NYC, a fair trade label that creates hand block printed apparel, scarves, leather bags and trinket accessories in collaboration with artisans. The products are sold in the United States, Canada and France. She has 4 years of experience in design, the apparel business and entrepreneurship in India and the United States. This includes working as adjunct faculty at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, delivering guest seminars at North Carolina State University and entrepreneurship/industry research projects at Thomas Jefferson University.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Marketing & Design, Monitoring & Evaluating

Robert Pecchio
Dialogue and Conflict Resolution

Robert is a CGI U alum and current Employment/Labor Relations Attorney in Florida. In 2014, Robert founded the non-profit organization CourtVision International (CVI). CVI uses sports to empower young leaders in developing communities and encourage the inclusion of a youth perspective in community affairs. Robert has traveled to work and consult for multiple foreign government agencies and NGOs, including the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem and the Aruban Basketball Federation, on using sports for conflict resolution and social change. Along with his work at CVI, Robert works as a Civil Rights Attorney and is currently in graduate school studying Conflict Resolution and Analysis at Nova Southeastern University.

Other Skill Expertise: Leadership

Robin Gonzales
Criminal Justice and Civic Engagement

Robin graduated from the William S. Boyd School of Law with a concentration in Dispute Resolution. He received the 2019 American Bar Association's Boskey Award for Dispute Resolution and served as a Fellow for the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution. He has studied multiple topics and facilitated different programs in dispute resolution. He grew up in the Southern Philippines, where his experiences with religious strife, political violence, and cultural tensions shaped his focus. His legal interests include international political conflicts, religious violence, and dispute resolution. During CGI U 2013, he co-founded and led “The Berchmans Initiative,” which focused on health, education, and development in the Southern Philippines.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Leadership, Conflict Resolution

Ryan Ubuntu Olson
Reduced Inequality

Ryan Ubuntu Olson is a leading voice for marginalized populations throughout the world, particularly LGBTI populations. For over a decade he has continuously fought in various capacities to advance the health and rights of all people. From working with communities in Ghana to support the uptake of a discrimination reporting system, to living in Kenya developing a human rights training alongside the local LGBTI organizations, to conducting advocacy efforts at the United Nations in NYC – he has striven to champion issues that are overlooked. He currently works for the USAID funded Health Policy Plus project and is a graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Leadership, Self-Care & Mindfulness, Networking, Capacity Development, Facilitation and Training, Liberating Structures, Human Centered Design

Sarpong Hammond Antwi
Water and Sanitation

Hammond is a graduate of the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) in Algeria. He studied Energy Policy and has a rich experience in community development, facilitation and mobilization. In 2016, he was awarded the best volunteer by the National Youth Authority of Ghana – Upper West Region. He is also the co-founder of the PAUWES Climate Change and Gender Club. Hammond is passionate about renewable energy, climate change, resource management and partnership for development in Africa.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Marketing & Design, Monitoring & Evaluating, Leadership

Tiki Inacay
Access to Healthcare

Tiki is a social innovator, avid researcher, and passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. They have been active in servant leadership for twenty years. Currently, they are a PhD student at Alliant International University majoring in Clinical Psychology. Tiki identifies as a nonbinary person of color. They have dedicated their life to supporting LGBTQ+ initiatives through research of the disparities within mental health. Tiki's expertise as a life skills coach will support students by leading teams toward personal development and a cadence of accountability. Their work explores self-discovery and leadership growth, all of which is helpful in the story of social innovation efforts.

Other Skill Expertise: Storytelling, Leadership, Life Coaching on Discovery, Transformation, & Hope

Vinny Johl
Youth Empowerment

Vinny 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 the Pacific and created the university’s first experiential learning garden. The garden project was also her commitment to action for CGI U 2010. Vinny and her family farm in Sutter County and are the 4th generation to farm the land. Vinny works for Kaiser Permanente, Roseville Medical Center in California as the Care Experience Practice Leader. Vinny is passionate about community service and was appointed at the Vice Chair of Yuba City's Economic Development Commission.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Storytelling, Raising Money, Leadership

Yitaek Hwang

Yitaek graduated from Duke University in 2016 with a degree in Electrical/Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. He is currently the Director of Research and Development at Leverege, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup and solution development provider. He is also the Lead Writer for IoT For All, where he focuses on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Yitaek has 3+ years of experience in web development, cloud infrastructure, IoT, data science, and Docker/Kubernetes.

Other Skill Expertise: Project Management, Raising Money