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.

Karol Hermoza, Peru Country President
Karol Hermoza
Peru Country President

I believe that positive impact and investment in education can change the realities of the beneficiaries we serve. I am passionate about ensuring that each volunteer makes a meaningful difference, but also experiences Lima from the perspective of a Peruvian, from the delicious food to our history and culture.

I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Tourism Management from San Ignacio de Loyola University (Lima, Peru) and a Master's Degree in International Cultural Heritage Management from Durham University (Durham, UK). My work experience ranges from tourism to cultural heritage to social responsibility, where I have a particular interest in creating experiences that represent a true Peruvian immersion.

I am passionate about impactful volunteering and sustainability. CCS gives me a chance to make a difference.

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I believe that positive impact and investment in education can change the realities of the beneficiaries we serve. I am passionate about ensuring that each volunteer makes a …

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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)

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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 …

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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.

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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 …

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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

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

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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.

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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 …

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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)

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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 …

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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.

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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 …

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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:

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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 …

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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.

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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 …

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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:

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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 …

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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:


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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 …

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Nick Ruiz, Gap Year Specialist
Nick Ruiz
Gap Year 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:

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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 …

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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.

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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, …

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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.

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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 …

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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:

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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, …

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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:

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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 …

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