OUR TEAM

We've got 250+ amazing folks all over the globe working tirelessly to provide you with the very best professional and personal attention, from enrollment all the way through re-entry back home, and beyond. CCS in-country Directors are local experts and every member of our stalwart crew at HQ is a proud CCS alumnus, so we all understand firsthand how international volunteering can be a total "life-changer." Not only are we super dedicated to giving the best international volunteering experience ever, but we’re also a pretty cool bunch.

Farhana Rehman-Furs, President
Farhana Rehman-Furs
President

When a child is born into poverty, she has little control over her health, her education, and her quality of life. In many cases children do not have the ability to make the choices that many of us take for granted – how long they can study at school, whether they can or will work, when they get married and to whom, whether they can get adequate healthcare, what and how much they can eat, and if they can drink clean water.

I am the first generation in my family to escape extreme poverty. My father and his 12 siblings would eat from one plate on a dirt floor in Pakistan. Through determination and passion he completed primary and secondary school, and was the only child to make it to college. Education gave my father the rare opportunity to work at a bank and his fervor to escape poverty eventually gave him the chance to relocate to the UK in the late 1970’s. I was three years old, and I had no idea at the time or for many years after, how in that one moment my life and my world had been turned upside down. As a girl I was encouraged to study at school and university, as a woman I was able to make my own choices about work and marriage, and quite simply I had the gift of freedom and choice. I know that growing up in the UK was a privilege, and I know that I can use my life to make a difference for those who haven’t been able to escape poverty. I believe every child has the right to be safe, healthy, educated and free to be the individual they wish to be. This is a human right. Over the last 15 years with CCS I’ve dedicated myself to this belief, and I will continue to push myself and those around me to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children around the world.

See Less »

When a child is born into poverty, she has little control over her health, her education, and her quality of life. In many cases children do not have the ability to make the …

Read More »
Read Bio
Bela Singh, India Country President
Bela Singh
India Country President

I am passionate about giving everyone choices and resources to meet their goals in a current India that has wide economic divisions based on caste and income.

Starting at a young age, I was inspired by my mother to stand up for the oppressed and take action in my community. At 9 years old, I was involved in knitting socks and sweaters, cooking food, and collecting resources for Indian soldiers. My passions developed to a focus in girl's and women's education, whether it be teaching students to use coal to write on the floor in under resourced schools to working alongside women fighting domestic abuse.

I was fortunate to be raised in a home that valued education and was able to provide for my needs. I fight for every man, woman, and child to receive the same opportunities.

See Less »

I am passionate about giving everyone choices and resources to meet their goals in a current India that has wide economic divisions based on caste and income. Starting at a …

Read More »
Read Bio
Enrique “Kique” Bossio, Peru Country President
Enrique “Kique” Bossio
Peru Country President

My main motivation to be involved in development work is to contribute to the fight against inequality and injustice in Peru, which are reflected in racism, homophobia, and lack of access to basic services and dignity for all Peruvians.

My initial contact with development work and volunteering in social projects when I was a freshman in college took place in Villa El Salvador. Back in the early 1980s, Villa El Salvador was a shantytown right outside of Metropolitan Lima, built on sand dunes by Andean families who had escaped poverty and political violence in the countryside, only to find a cold shoulder in the capital. On weekends, I volunteered as a tutor for 6th and 7th graders to help them do better in school. This experience taught me compassion for those trying to improve their situation against all odds; it also filled me with outrage about how callous our lives in the city were in the face of poverty and inequality. This also led me to identify areas of my life that had remained unexamined in order to keep intact my “personal bubble” and enjoy a “safe conduct” in Peruvian society.

At age 20, I came out as a gay man and was the youngest among the nine founders of the first gay movement in my country in 1984. I was also involved in many human rights causes during the convulsed 1980s and 1990s, when Peru ranked first in the list of countries with political disappearances and rampant human rights violations. I continued my education in Liberal Arts, Anthropology and Social Communications in three Peruvian universities, in addition to M.A. coursework at the School for International Training in Vermont.

Since I joined Cross-Cultural Solutions in 1999, I have followed my call of finding local people who struggle to improve their lives and transform Peruvian society, and connect them with talented and enthusiastic volunteers looking to share in these struggles. Coolest job ever!

Credentials

Alumni of Universidad de Lima (Organizational Communications)
Alumni of Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Anthropology)
Alumni of Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (Liberal Arts)
School for International Training, Vermont (MA Candidate for Intercultural Management)

Executive Committee Member, Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MHOL) - Founding Member and former Board Member
Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC) - Intern and Translator
Peru & Bolivia Country Director, Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO)

See Less »

My main motivation to be involved in development work is to contribute to the fight against inequality and injustice in Peru, which are reflected in racism, homophobia, and lack …

Read More »
Read Bio
Jose Hernández-Ugalde, Costa Rica Country President
Jose Hernández-Ugalde
Costa Rica Country President

If I look back at my life and could have even one moment of making the world a better place through work with vulnerable women and children, it would be worthwhile.

I grew up in rural Costa Rica, always grabbing for any educational opportunities and thankful to people, sometimes unknown, who trusted me and offered me a hand to grow. It’s these opportunities that led me to earning a degree in English Literature in the US, as well as opportunities to work in the academic field through the University of Costa Rica and Lawrence University. My experience and commitment to improving my community, country, and world continued through experiences at the United Nations, teaching in Washington D.C., and later, returning to Costa Rica with Cross-Cultural Solutions.

Working with students and volunteers has given me the opportunity to give back to my country and add true meaning to my life. Service and education are the greatest tools you can offer for a global mindset and to be of service to others. Each day, I witness the connection between volunteers and communities through true outreach and connection, and could not imagine doing anything else.

Credentials

Lawrence University in Wisconsin (English Literature)
Technological Institute of Costa Rica (Business Administration)
Universidad Nacional i Heredia, Costa Rica (M.A. International Relations & Diplomacy)

Teacher, High School (U.S., Costa Rica)
Foreign Service Foundation for Peace and Democracy (FUNPADEM)
Defense for Children International (DNI)

See Less »

If I look back at my life and could have even one moment of making the world a better place through work with vulnerable women and children, it would be worthwhile. I grew up …

Read More »
Read Bio
Virginia Burmester, Guatemala Country President
Virginia Burmester
Guatemala Country President

My international exposure began as an exchange student during the time of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Through the lens of another culture, I was able to see more clearly than ever, that my own home country faced the same social issues involving dignity and inequality for every person. Guatemala, Central America´s largest economy, has the highest level of economic inequality in Central America. It also has some of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality. I returned to Guatemala with its natural beauty and deep cultural richness, with a greater determination to do all I can for greater dignity and equality for everyone in the world.

See Less »

My international exposure began as an exchange student during the time of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Through the lens of another culture, I was able to see more clearly …

Read More »
Read Bio
Mohamed Mhmmoudi, Morocco Country President
Mohamed Mhmmoudi
Morocco Country President

I fight for the education of vulnerable women, children, and those with developmental disabilities to combat illiteracy and increase opportunities to continue formal schooling.

Growing up in a rural village of Morocco where many children didn’t have the opportunity to attend school, I see myself in many of the children volunteers work with. Very close to home, my mother is also illiterate; and I have seen the impacts of illiteracy on early mortality rates, high fecundity, malnutrition, and high infant mortality. Literacy and education is a key social issue in Morocco to improve the lives and futures of women and children. I was fortunate to earn a degree in Economics & Management and continued my work toward improving my community through the Peace Corps as the Safety & Security Manager, coming full circle from a turning point in my life after meeting a Peace Corps volunteer as a teenager.

I am proud to serve as a humanitarian and educator to promote peace and understanding across a broad range of cultures. As an international leader, my work with volunteers and with my community inspires me to do my part to create a world where every child has the opportunity to pursue an education, and to receive the compassion and love they deserve.

Credentials

Mohammed III University, Fes, Morocco (Business Management)
Master's Level Courses, Economic Policies (2 years)

Work Experience
Peace Corps (7 years): Safety & Security Officer
Teacher of Business & Law at ESIAS High School

See Less »

I fight for the education of vulnerable women, children, and those with developmental disabilities to combat illiteracy and increase opportunities to continue formal …

Read More »
Read Bio
Makafui Amenuvor , Ghana Country President
Makafui Amenuvor
Ghana Country President

I am committed to the protection of children through education and opportunities to rise from poverty.

Growing up in small town in Ghana with my grandparents, I have seen the vulnerability that comes from being raised in poverty and not having opportunities for education. I was fortunate to have parents who believed in the value of education, and attended a Technical School to further my talents in electronics. However, it was CCS volunteers who motivated me, as a young man, to follow my passions and goals of attending university to establish a career in social justice and change.

In Ghana, over 28% of the population lives in poverty at under $1 per day. With schools that are too often underfunded and overcrowded, the need for individual attention, guidance, and encouragement to children pursuing their dreams is key to a brighter future. I am committed, with CCS volunteers, to improving the possibilities for each child in my community.

See Less »

I am committed to the protection of children through education and opportunities to rise from poverty. Growing up in small town in Ghana with my grandparents, I have seen the …

Read More »
Read Bio
Thea Mushi, Tanzania Country President
Thea Mushi
Tanzania Country President

I am a passionate advocate of education for women and girls, as the most important tool to escape poverty and avoid early or forced marriages.

Born and raised in a small rural village on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, I am the oldest of 12 siblings and assumed a leadership role in a humble family at a young age. By taking advantage of any educational opportunity offered to me, I earned a degree in Accounting and Social Work. My educational path offered me security from an early forced marriage, and I am dedicated to providing this opportunity to other young girls through my home region.

I have been dedicated to work with international volunteer organizations since 1994, where I’ve seen the impact that volunteers can have on promoting the importance of girl’s education to families, and giving every girl the chance she deserves to pursue her dreams.

Credentials

Kimmage Manor in Dublin, Ireland (Sociology)
CPA, Tanzania

Field Representative, Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO)

See Less »

I am a passionate advocate of education for women and girls, as the most important tool to escape poverty and avoid early or forced marriages. Born and raised in a small rural …

Read More »
Read Bio
Pimsuda Tiandum, Thailand Country President
Pimsuda Tiandum
Thailand Country President

I am an advocate for a holistic approach to development, and believe that an important step to improving the quality of life for Thai people is through a strong network of people from many cultural backgrounds.

Born in Bangkok, I was taught from a young age to create a life that benefitted those that were less fortunate. Education took me across Thailand and to the U.S., and my training as a Registered Nurse laid the foundation to become involved in community issues. Through nursing and counseling in public and clinical health, HIV/AIDS family planning, and providing emergency relief in refugee camps, I have been able to give back to those with limited access to resources and healthcare in Thailand. Today, with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I am able to realize my goal to create a community of people from around the world to make a difference in the education and health of those most vulnerable in Thailand.

See Less »

I am an advocate for a holistic approach to development, and believe that an important step to improving the quality of life for Thai people is through a strong network of people …

Read More »
Read Bio
Lauren Maitland, Director of Programs
Lauren Maitland
Director of Programs

As a mother, I cherish every opportunity my children have to learn and grow through quality education and experiences. Through my international experiences however, I have seen the disparity that exists in offering this healthy start in life to so many children. I am dedicated to promoting equal rights and opportunities for all children.

My first experience as an international volunteer began in Costa Rica, where I spent 12 weeks deeply connecting with a new home and culture. This experience opened my eyes to the injustice and inequality that impacts the life of a child each day, as well as their future opportunities. Through my work, and in particular early childhood education, I strive to give children the chance at a brighter future.

CCS programs I’ve completed:



Check out my blog posts:

See Less »

As a mother, I cherish every opportunity my children have to learn and grow through quality education and experiences. Through my international experiences however, I have seen …

Read More »
Read Bio
Erik Werner, Director of Youth Engagement
Erik Werner
Director of Youth Engagement

During elementary school I had a life-changing opportunity to live with my family in Cali, Colombia. That experience not only awakened a fascination with language and culture but a deep questioning of why so many are born into poverty and how we can help break the cycle. I was taught at an early age that we should do our best to 'lift up' our fellow humankind and in order to do so we need to better understand each other's cultures.

After earning a B.A. from Caroll College in International Studies and Spanish, I volunteered with the Peace Corps in a small Quechua-speaking village in the province of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Following the Peace Corps I pursued a Masters in Education from the University of Washington and then taught Middle and High School Spanish and ESL for several years. My passion for working with youth led to guiding summer community service travel programs for teenagers in Costa Rica. After spending 20 years of combined experience as a Trip Leader, Country Director, Office Administrator, and Co-Owner of Global Works, I assume the position of Director of High School Programs with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I believe it's all come full circle as the CCS-Squads Abroad model provides opportunities for middle and high school groups to delve deeper into cultures while performing impactful volunteer work that improves the health and educational outcomes of youth organizations around the world.

See Less »

During elementary school I had a life-changing opportunity to live with my family in Cali, Colombia. That experience not only awakened a fascination with language and culture but …

Read More »
Read Bio
Katie Nichols, Group Specialist
Katie Nichols
Group Specialist

When I volunteer abroad, I'm helping my community - a community of global citizens and fellow humans. And, I'm becoming a more open-minded citizen with an international perspective in the process.

When I traveled on my first international volunteer experience in Ghana, I had no idea how I could help as a college student with no teaching experience. I quickly realized in my classroom that these students were eager to learn, but needed a bit more support in an over-crowded classroom. With the extra support from me, I was able to support a smaller group of students, and provide much-needed one-on-one attention. I may not have changed the world in my month abroad, but I have these kids a head start at learning the basics, and gave one very overworked teacher a bit more relief in focusing on her older students. My experience taught me that we all have the same motivations and desires, and we all deserve a chance at a quality education.

CCS programs I’ve completed:



Check out my blog posts:

See Less »

When I volunteer abroad, I'm helping my community - a community of global citizens and fellow humans. And, I'm becoming a more open-minded citizen with an international …

Read More »
Read Bio
Shelley Drievold CCS Groups Specialist
Shelley Drievold
Program Advisor

I strive to get out of my comfort zone. Through my four international volunteer experiences with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I had the opportunity to work with children with special needs twice, and the experience stretched me beyond what I thought I could handle.

My experiences as an international volunteer had a profound impact on me. It changed the way I viewed travel, global issues, and even my own future. I now have a better understanding of how we are each capable of making a difference, and how our lives become richer when we work together and empower each other toward positive change. I began my journey as an international volunteer -- now, I love working with others to inspire their journey toward global impact!

CCS programs I’ve completed:

See Less »

I strive to get out of my comfort zone. Through my four international volunteer experiences with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I had the opportunity to work with children with special …

Read More »
Read Bio
Liz Hesterberg, Program Advisor
Liz Hesterberg
Program Advisor

‘Most Likely to Travel to Africa’ - what a random award, right? I received this in college from the community service organization I was a part of. Not wanting to disappoint, I did travel to Kenya shortly after graduating, and in the mindset of community service, I chose to volunteer. This trip was just the beginning! It set me on a path of international development and service work. Having an opportunity to immerse myself in a culture so different than the one I grew up in and also work with a group of HIV positive women changed the way I thought about the world. The women I was working with were so full of life and positivity while living on less than $2 a day. The strength and resilience they showed me was inspiring and made me want to do more, give more, and be more.

CCS programs I’ve completed:

See Less »

‘Most Likely to Travel to Africa’ - what a random award, right? I received this in college from the community service organization I was a part of. Not wanting to disappoint, …

Read More »
Read Bio
Hayden Kemp, Program Specialist
Hayden Kemp
Program Specialist

I am driven by a desire to help others in need and to show that there is still goodness in the world. I want to give back to the amazing global community who contributed to my development as a child.

I grew up in a diverse international community where I learned the value of cultural awareness and volunteering your time. Through the investment of so many people and communities, I developed a deep appreciation for those around me. It was in high school, where I first volunteered abroad in Costa Rica, that I was exposed to the struggles so many children face abroad. I also saw the fear and stereotypes driven through acts of violence by ethnic and cultural groups, and was inspired to seek the truth and began studying Middle Eastern cultures. Today, I work to build relationships of trust and understanding and to fight for the equal rights and dignity of all.

CCS programs I’ve completed:


See Less »

I am driven by a desire to help others in need and to show that there is still goodness in the world. I want to give back to the amazing global community who contributed to my …

Read More »
Read Bio
Kaitlin Oliver, Program Specialist
Kaitlin Oliver
Program Specialist

My passion is to provide more opportunities and a better quality of life for people around the world.

I had my first experiences in international travel in Italy through college study abroad program. Travel opened my eyes to a new culture and new perspectives, and I knew for my next experiences that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Through Cross-Cultural Solutions, I was able to volunteer in Tanzania and Costa Rica, and see opportunities to provide global health services, support success in childhood education, and share perspectives and skills with women. If I am able to support others through their struggles, my life has proved worthwhile.

CCS programs I’ve completed:

See Less »

My passion is to provide more opportunities and a better quality of life for people around the world. I had my first experiences in international travel in Italy through …

Read More »
Read Bio
Nick Ruiz, Program Specialist
Nick Ruiz
Program Specialist

I will carry a moment of my international volunteer experience with me for the rest of my life - the moment where I realized that some things are just not important as they once were, and that just 15 minutes could change someone else’s day.

My journey with international volunteering started with inspiration from hearing the stories of fellow alumni Katie Nichols, and before I knew it, I too was en route to Lima, Peru for my own experience. One day in particular I worked at Los Martincitos, an elderly center in the shantytown of Villa El Salvador. During our home visits throughout the community, I visited a woman who lived in a very humble home no larger than a bedroom, but surrounded herself with memories from her life. Despite her having no family to support her, and relying on the elderly center to meet her basic needs, I was greeted with an enormous hug and a warm smile. That time in her home showed me the power of showing attention, listening to a story, and giving a hug. I believe that every person of every age has the right to love, care, and affection. I am a proud CCS alumni.

CCS programs I’ve completed:

See Less »

I will carry a moment of my international volunteer experience with me for the rest of my life - the moment where I realized that some things are just not important as they once …

Read More »
Read Bio
Emma Rinaldi, Program Specialist
Emma Rinaldi
Program Specialist

I believe in our need to expand our own boundaries, to learn about and engage with communities around the world, and to become part of a global movement toward positive and sustainable change.

I have been traveling for as long as I can remember. Cross-Cultural Solutions was one of the first organizations that empowered me to not only travel, but also to realize the potential in travel and to become a changemaker. The more I traveled, the less I felt I knew and this made me want to experience more. The world is a fascinating place with an incredible capacity for compassion, kindness, and empathy. But our world is getting smaller and local problems are now becoming global concerns. CCS helped me understand that I not only have the power, I have the responsibility to act.

CCS programs I’ve completed:

See Less »

I believe in our need to expand our own boundaries, to learn about and engage with communities around the world, and to become part of a global movement toward positive and …

Read More »
Read Bio
Steve Atamian, Chief Empowerment Officer
Steve Atamian
Chief Empowerment Officer

I am passionate about the global change that volunteers can make if we work in large enough scale and are empowered with the right programmatic infrastructure.

For 13 years, I've been working to create some of the world’s largest and impactful international volunteer organizations under the auspice of empowering volunteers to work in rural health, education, and economic development. Starting with a small group in 2004, I've helped create the systems that have mobilized nearly 50,000 volunteers abroad to provide a half a million under resourced rural community members with access to medicine, clean water, and financial opportunities. Additionally, from 2004-2008, I worked for Deloitte, where I supported the design and implementation of their corporate social responsibility strategy in the Pacific Southwest while coordinating their annual day of volunteer service, deploying thousands of skill-based volunteers in local communities.

Currently, I'm most enthusiastic about the impact Cross-Cultural Solutions is making as we focus our energy around children's health and education. Daily, I wake up motivated and inspired to work alongside our thousands of volunteers and hundreds of team members, as we collaboratively affect one child at a time and become a global leader in child development.

My wife, baby daughter and I currently reside in Seattle where I've given back locally as an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington at Bothell, teaching classes in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. I am a proud graduate of the University of Southern California where I earned degrees in International Relations and Business Administration.

See Less »

I am passionate about the global change that volunteers can make if we work in large enough scale and are empowered with the right programmatic infrastructure. For 13 years, …

Read More »
Read Bio
Steven C. Rosenthal, Founder & Advisor
Steven C. Rosenthal
Founder & Advisor

I believe passionately that when people come together across cultures to work side-by-side we build bridges of understanding that are powerful and essential to a building a safe and healthy future for all people.

In 1995, at the age of 28, I visited a friend that was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. I volunteered with him to help build a medical clinic in a very rural area. Although I contributed to this important project, I felt that I gained so much more in return. I met extraordinary people that inspired me and I expanded my worldview.

The experience inspired me to found Cross-Cultural Solutions so that others could have the opportunity to contribute to global development and to expand their horizons at the same time. In the decades that followed I could not have been more proud to see tens of thousands of CCS volunteers serve with us.

See Less »

I believe passionately that when people come together across cultures to work side-by-side we build bridges of understanding that are powerful and essential to a building a safe …

Read More »
Read Bio
Cassandra Tomkin, Chief Operating Officer
Cassandra Tomkin
Chief Operating Officer

I believe that every child should receive the essential emotional, physical, and educational support they need during their formative years.

My journey with CCS began in Peru, as I was searching for a travel experience that was more meaningful and deep than a traditional tourist. The warmth and tenacity of the Peruvian people in the face of significant economic and social struggles opened my eyes and my heart, and I found my calling in working with these global communities. In particular, the persistence children and families demonstrate to achieve their goals in education and development earned my admiration and respect, and I am proud to work alongside these individuals to continue to improve outcomes. CCS has changed the way I see the world, and has changed my ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

CCS programs I’ve completed:



Check out my blog posts:

See Less »

I believe that every child should receive the essential emotional, physical, and educational support they need during their formative years. My journey with CCS began in Peru, …

Read More »
Read Bio
Sarah Albinda, Chief Marketing Officer
Sarah Albinda
Chief Marketing Officer

Sarah is a progressive and passionate marketer and product designer from Arizona. Over the years, Sarah has shared her passion for innovative, user-focused design and marketing with several companies, clients and start-ups alike. A humanitarian and self-proclaimed tech geek, Sarah moved to Seattle to become Chief Marketing Officer for Cross-Cultural Solutions, leading all aspects of CCS content marketing and promotion. Sarah has 10+ years working in design, B2C/B2B marketing, project management, and front-end development. She previously worked as the Director of Marketing for Global Brigades in Nicaragua for 2 years and as a product design engineer at Infusionsoft. She once took a selfie with Joss Whedon in line at San Diego Comicon.

I wanted to work for Cross-Cultural Solutions to apply my skills to an industry that typically doesn't haven't access to them. I care deeply about the cause of CCS and wanted to be apart of something very near to my heart. I grew up with very little opportunities so I know firsthand how difficult it is to have access to means to change your life. I believe CCS makes a difference by bringing those opportunities closer to the people we help abroad. I also know firsthand how impactful these trips are to volunteers and I'm sincerely grateful to be apart of these life-changing experiences.

See Less »

Sarah is a progressive and passionate marketer and product designer from Arizona. Over the years, Sarah has shared her passion for innovative, user-focused design and marketing …

Read More »
Read Bio
Kelly Knowles, Staff Writer
Kelly Knowles
Staff Writer

As someone who has felt the profound personal changes and wonder that can happen when two people from very different circumstances find common ground through intimate conversation, I know that the world could become a better place if more spaces were created for these types of interactions.

As the first person in my family to graduate from high school, I am invested in the educational outcomes of women around the world. I know how education can change a life course, as it has changed mine. As a world traveler with over 60 countries on my list, some of my most meaningful experiences have been on CCS programs, which have led me to all program sites world-wide.

CCS programs I've completed:



Check out my blog posts:

See Less »

As someone who has felt the profound personal changes and wonder that can happen when two people from very different circumstances find common ground through intimate …

Read More »
Read Bio
Server: 172.31.60.143
User Agent: CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/)