Director of Operations
Crystal started her career in building climate solutions – from resource recovery to energy management to solar technology. After serving as the Chief Operations Officer for a solar startup incubator, Powerhouse, She took on the role to be the Associate Producer for Oscar-winning filmmaker Dir. Charles Ferguson’s (“Inside Job”) new climate film, “Time to Choose” (2016). When she learned about grassroots solutions like the one that ended violence in underserved community by growing food, she realized that climate change is merely a symptom of the broken system.
An open-source repository for community-based solutions to tackle real problems is the answer to building a more regenerative world. After working closely with countless community organizers, the CrossPollinators platform was born. It is a place for changemakers to share resources and collaborate with each other to build solutions on the ground. Through GSE, she sees students as an important catalyst for local action for global impact. Crystal holds a B.S. degree in Atmospheric Science at the University of California, Davis and completed the Tuck Bridge Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University.
A native Californian, Lara is a fundraising professional with more than 10 years of experience in nonprofits. Lara most recently worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area as the Director of Individual Giving and then as the VP of Development with Women’s Audio Mission. Lara has also managed a private consulting practice with a primarily youth-focused organization client base, supporting fundraising efforts including major gifts and grants. Lara holds a Certified Fund Raising Executive credential from CFRE International.
Lara earned an M.A. in Integrative Health and Coaching from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and a B.A. in Anthropology and Law from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a focus on Gender Studies. Lara has an active meditation practice, and attends silent retreats regularly.
Tricia Johnson was born and raised in San Jose, California. She graduated from California Lutheran University with a degree in International Studies and minors in Political Science and Spanish. She also holds a Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Her passion for community-based development began as a participant with Amigos de las Américas in Nicaragua. Since then, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras specializing in youth development, leadership, environmental conservation, and community organizing. Prior to joining GSE, she was the Communications and Outreach Manager at EcoViva, a nonprofit focused on economic development and environmental sustainability in Central America. She worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow at MIT D-Lab for their International Development Design Summits and the Training Director for the San Francisco Chapter of Amigos de las Américas. Tricia speaks Spanish and English. Contact Tricia at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188nosnh1516455188ojt1516455188
Alameda County Program Coordinator
Born and raised in Minnesota, Sarah comes to the Bay Area after spending 10 years in Boston. She has a BA in Travel Writing and Social Advocacy and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, where she also lead a coalition of student groups to source more sustainable food in the dining halls on campus. She has worked in adult education for almost a decade, teaching ESL and rhetoric and composition, while also working as a community organizer around food justice and immigrants rights.
Sarah has extensive environmental restoration and international development experience, having worked on reforestation projects and sustainable communities in India, Haiti and Costa Rica, and was most recently the administrative assistant for a prison garden education nonprofit. In her spare time, she writes essays on travel, sustainability and identity. Contact Sarah at [email protected]
Nicaragua Local Programs Coordinator
Omar Flores in a passionate and proactive graduate with a BSc degree in Rural Development from the Universidad Nacional Agrarian (UNA) in Managua, Nicaragua, the city where he was born.
Since he was a child, he has always liked the countryside and all its relarted activities, values and culture. In 2014 he won a scholarship, and began his studies in a Masters in Science in Rural Development at the UNA. As part of his ongoing professional and academic development, some of his most fond experiences have been working as a team leader in Raleigh International and he as social educator in Proyecto de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes Trabajadores en la Calle (NATRAS).
He has discovered the importance of human capacities and skills for development, becoming a strong believer and fighter for educational approaches to development. He has been with GSE for 8 months already as a trip coordinator and now at a newer role as the local programme coordinator. You can contact Omar at [email protected]
Luis Alfonso Obando Bermudez
Nicaragua Trip Coordinator
Luis was born in Boaco City and lives in the municipality of Teustepe in the department of Boaco. He is currently studying IT at UNAN-Managua University. Luis likes to work for GSE because it is an enriching experience and a motivation to work in the conservation and preservation of nature, as well in the construction of school gardens for children in the schools of his country. Contact him at [email protected]
Being raised by a strong and connected community of family and friends by the seaside has been and continuous to be a very essential and energizing piece of Kyra’s life. One of her greatest awareness to the human’s relationship with nature was when volunteering and later working at an organic permaculture farm in Montezuma, Costa Rica. She had previously studied Nutrition before transferring to a 4 year study abroad college. Both of these studies had grabbed her interest; passions for healthy foods and travel. She interned her senior semester of undergrad with Slow Foods USA.
She was working to understand the impact of school gardens, and the role of a school garden educator by conducting interviews nationwide. She loves to work with students in experiential learning and helping to create a peaceful and present environment. She has recently tied in the practice of yoga as a beautiful way for maintaining balance within many aspects of her life. She loves to swim in the sea, make delicious juices and smoothies, travel anywhere, and everywhere, and believes happiness and healthy are available by listening with an open heart and mind, giving love to all beings, and living without fears. Contact Kyra at [email protected]
Nicaragua Program Director
Kelly Carpenter is a Santa Barbara, California native. For as long as she can remember, Kelly’s had a passion for travel and languages. She completed her B.A. in Spanish at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. During her early life and continued through her undergraduate studies, Kelly had the opportunity to travel to several countries throughout Latin America; experiences which enhanced her growing interest in the field of Public Health. She graduated in December 2015 with a Master’s degree in Public Health in the Global Health discipline and a focus in Global Health & Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of South Florida.
After completing an International Field Study through the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Kelly was determined to pursue her passion for working in Latin America. She took a position working for FSD in Nicaragua mentoring student interns in asset-based community development projects with local health centers and grassroots NGO’s. Kelly developed a deep love for Nicaragua, and the spirit and resourcefulness of the people who live there. She is deeply vested in working towards sustainable community development, and improved health and wellbeing together and from within the community. Kelly speaks English and Spanish. Contact her at [email protected]
Nicaragua Exchange Program Manager
Ryan is an adventurous Scotsman with a passion for traveling, working, volunteering, and studying overseas. Having spent his summer between High School and University volunteering with the British based charity Raleigh International out in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, he fell in love with Latin America and was inspired to take off overseas at every possible opportunity. He graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2015 with a M.A. in Hispanic Studies and International Relations. During his university career, Ryan spent his second year studying in Pennsylvania at Haverford College, and his third year volunteering with three NGOs in Ecuador and teaching English and Spanish in four schools.
Ryan started his GSE journey back in February 2016, and worked initially as a Trip Leader in Nicaragua before moving into the role of Exchange Program Coordinator. This past summer he volunteered with Raleigh international as a Project Manager and Spanish Interpreter. Ryan’s experience with education informs his belief that young people are best placed to bring about positive change in the world. He is thrilled to be re-joining the GSE team, this time as the Exchange Program Manager in Nicaragua. Contact Ryan in English or Spanish at [email protected]
Nicaragua Exchange Program Coordinator
Born in Cuba and raised in Nicaragua, Katia is very passionate about nature, health and socio-cultural topics. Katia has been a young activist since she started painting social justice-themed murals at age 15 with an art foundation in Esteli (FUNARTE). She graduated in the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua as a Dentist and since then has been working with medical brigades in rural communities of Nicaragua.
Between 2014 to 2016 she coordinated Natural Resource Management and Water Sanitation and Hygiene projects with Raleigh International in Nicaragua and Tanzania and managed over 400 volunteers as Society Officer developing social and environmental projects. She has been a Trip Coordinator for GSE in Nicaragua and Ecuador. Katia wants to continue studying, working and traveling to learn all that it takes to start an organization that provides free health care and education with environmental focus in the most vulnerable areas.
Cuenca Trip Coordinator
Born in Cuba and raised in Nicaragua, Katia is very passionate about nature, health and socio-cultural topics. Katia has been a young activist since she started painting social justice-themed murals at age 15 with an art foundation in Esteli (FUNARTE). She graduated in 2013 from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in Leon as a Dentist and since then has been working with medical brigades in rural communities of the northern region of Nicaragua. In 2014 she led a group of volunteers in a natural resource management project in the mountains of Matagalpa with ICS and Raleigh International to later coordinate the Raleigh Nicaraguan Society (formed by more than 400 former volunteers) developing social and environmental projects. Most recently she led another group of young volunteers in a Water Sanitation and Hygiene project in a rural village of Tanzania. All this experience has led Katia to the goal of creating an organization that provides accessible health care and free education to tackle environmental issues in rural areas of the country. Contact her at [email protected]
Rebecca Araya Rodrigúez
Cuenca Local Programs Coordinator
Rebeca was born and raised in the small mountain town of Zarcero in Costa Rica. Her passions for traveling, hiking, nature, agriculture and education has led her to become a Trip Leader for GSE in Bahía. Prior to this new adventure she worked for Raleigh International as a International Volunteer Coordinator where she learned about social development projects and the importance of empowering young leaders. Rebeca received her BA in Eco-Tourism Management in November of 2016 and is now dedicating herself to thriving in this career working towards sustainable educational programming. You can contact Rebeca at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188zeugi1516455188rdorr1516455188.
Sonoma County Program Coordinator
Harlie is originally from Southern California, but has lived in Washington State for the past nine years. She graduated from Seattle University with a BA in Environmental Studies focusing on Urban Sustainability and minors in Spanish and Public Affairs.
Harlie first began with GSE as a student on a trip down to Ecuador with her university where she first fell in love with the country. Recently, Harlie has relocated to Sonoma County to continue her work with GSE as Program Coordinator. She is excited to live in California again and share her passion for environmental education and community action. Harlie speaks English and Spanish.” Contact her at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188nikna1516455188rh1516455188
Bahia Ecuador Trip Coordinator
Rebeca was born and raised in the small mountain town of Zarcero in Costa Rica. Her passions for traveling, hiking, nature, agriculture and education has led her to become a Trip Leader for GSE in Bahía. Prior to this new adventure she worked for Raleigh International as a International Volunteer Coordinator where she learned about social development projects and the importance of empowering young leaders.
Rebeca received her BA in Eco-Tourism Management in November of 2016 and is now dedicating herself to thriving in this career working towards sustainable educational programming. You can contact Rebeca at [email protected]
David Mota De La Parra
Bahia Exchange Program Manage
David believes connection with both people and nature is the key to social change, with this idea in mind he studied psychology in his native Mexico and later was granted a scholarship to study a Master degree in Culture and development studies in Belgium.
He has worked as a leader in projects in many countries around the world in topics related to cultural diversity, sustainability, community building and education. These experiences have only strengthened his conviction on the possibility of a profound positive change in societies when we take the time to listen to one another and build together. Through his work with GSE he wants to share this experience with young leaders. Contact him at [email protected]
Cuenca Exchange Program Manager
Debbie was born and raised in New York of Peruvian origins. She began traveling at the age of 6 to Peru and it enlightened her to continue traveling and learning about different cultures. Her passion for traveling, human rights, and her Latina roots led her to earning her B.A. in International Relations in the Developing World Track with a minor in Latin American Studies from SUNY Geneseo in May of 2014. During her college career, Debbie studied abroad in Argentina, Buenos Aires, focusing on Urban Environmental Issues in Latin America.
Once graduated, Debbie worked for the NY State Assembly as a Community Liaison in Brooklyn focusing on community organizing and urban social issues. She then shifted towards the international community and moved to Nicaragua. She lived there for over a year and a half working on grassroots development in the agriculture, education, IT, and medical sectors. As the Exchange Program Manager for Bahía de Caraquez in Ecuador, she was excited to promote social change, cross-cultural experiences dedicated to the environment. She now works in Cuenca, Ecuador as the Exchange Program Manager. You can email her at [email protected]
Blas Cedeno Loor
Blas is a proud Bahieño and has been involved with GSE’s Ecuador program from its beginnings. In 2015 he has become GSE’s reforestation manager and coordinates up to 20 Ecuadorian workers to plant, water and maintain the trees at the reforestation sites year-round. He enjoys learning lessons from nature and teaching students about the importance of reforestation, especially in the tropical dry forest. Working in GSE’s reforestation project has increased Blas’ environmental awareness and he hopes to pass this awareness on to his four children and the next generation of Bahieños. Blas speaks Spanish. Contact Blas at [email protected]
Cecilia Montesdeoca Álava
Bahia Local Programs Coordinator
Cecilia is a native Ecuadorian and was born in Calceta, a city in the province of Manabi. She grew up in a rural community called “Sarampión” and feels a strong connection to nature. She studied tourism at the university “ESPAM” in Calceta and was chosen to be an intern for Global Student Embassy based on her record for academic excellence in the “Mi Primer Empleo” program sponsored by the government of Ecuador.
She has continued to work with GSE and has moved up from intern to Trip Leader. She is a passionate person in all that she does and every day is a challenge for her as she works to improve her English skills. She is happy to be part of the Global Student Embassy team and to work alongside other passionate people striving for positive change. Contact her at [email protected]
Ramon Cedeno Loor
Ecuador Program Director
Ramon (Moncho) has been a biology and chemistry teacher for ten years in Bahia de Caraquez. He has been conducting after-school youth-leadership, environmental education programs in partnership with the city of Bahia and Planet Drum Foundation for the past six years. Ramon’s lessons and interactions with students are exciting, dynamic and fun. Ramon is committed to environmental restoration and helping students realize their potential to impact the positive change they’d like to see in their local environment and community. Ramon has been a GSE staff member since December of 2010. Contact Ramon at [email protected]
Santa Cruz County Program Coordinator
Nick has spent over six years in the environmental education and the interpretive field where he has led classes and workshops, supervised the care of wildlife, developed programs, and provided leadership to area schools and the public. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Studies. After graduating, he taught at multiple outdoor schools and summer camps across the Southern California.
In 2012 he began teaching practical science based recycling, zero waste, and water conservation courses to students in schools all over San Luis Obispo County. In 2015, he designed a green pathways program for 7th and 8th grade students focused on Salinas River Watershed rehabilitation, and getting students excited about environmental careers. In 2016, Nick is proud to bring his energy and enthusiasm to GSE so that he can continue to share his knowledge and love for the natural world. Contact Nick at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188kcin1516455188
Marin County Program Coordinator
Driven by a desire to ‘give back’ to her community in suburban Los Angeles, Laura Robledo initiated her career in urban agriculture as an undergrad at California State University Northridge. For over eight years she has been working as an activist and organizer around issues of food justice and urban agriculture in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. In 2009 Laura worked for a youth-driven nonprofit organization as coordinator of the Project Youth Green community garden with its 60 families. And in 2013 she built MEND’s-Meet Each Need with Dignity Grow Together Project, a program created to empower disadvantaged families to work towards self-reliance and greater food security through gardening.
Having led the effort in providing 178 MEND families with home gardens, building a community of gardeners, volunteers and community partners, Laura finds growing food a way for people to connect with the environment and each other. Laura is a Certified UC Master Gardener with a degree in Political Science. Contact Laura at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188arual1516455188
Travel and Outreach Manager
Jordan is originally from Vermont and got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester in History and International Relations and her master’s degree from Aberystwyth University in International Politics. A strong commitment to the environment drove her to help her parents run the first recycling business in her town and later to take courses on hydrology and biodiversity while at the University of Rochester. This expertise allowed her to complete an Americorps program with the Genesee Land Trust, a land preservation organization based in Rochester, New York.
Her main academic focus is peace-keeping and for her master’s dissertation, designed a new model of conflict resolution based on cross-cultural understanding and democratic representation. Jordan loves to travel and has lived in Wales, Denmark, and Russia. When not at work, she likes to cook, swim, and volunteer in her community. Jordan speaks English, some Spanish, and some Russian. Contact Jordan at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188nadro1516455188j1516455188
Exchange Program Director
Born in Boston, Jonathan graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Environmental Studies. His passion for local food has led him from farm work in rural Ohio, to directing a team working to increase food access in inner city Cleveland, to working as a sous-chef at a local/organic café. He’s lived in Ecuador and led service trips throughout the US as well as El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
He believes strongly in the empowerment offered by small-scale agriculture and intercultural exchanges. At GSE he’s worked as a trip coordinator/manager, launched GSE’s program in Marin, and now directs GSE’s international exchange program. Jonathan speaks Spanish and English. Contact Jonathan at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188nahta1516455188noj1516455188
Trevor has been leading experiential education initiatives for decades, and has trained many youth and adults on how to effectively address global and local environmental and social justice issues. He has undergraduate degrees from Bates College in Environmental Studies and Sociocultural Psychology, a Master’s degree in Community Development and the Environment from Clark University, and additional certifications in effective nonprofit leadership and education strategy. He lived in the Amazon rainforest and other regions of Latin America for many years, where he supported the work of communities that were confronting the major environmental and social impacts of globalization.
He served as the Executive Director of the Amazon Alliance, which coordinated training and intercultural exchange to help the leaders of international environmental organizations more effectively partner with indigenous communities. He also worked in his hometown in Wyoming as Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, where he led trainings for leaders of environmental organizations and launched the “Conservation Leadership Institute” to teach young residents how to make a difference in their community. Outside of work, Trevor teaches advanced martial arts classes as a way to train students to cultivate mental and physical resilience in the face of intense challenges in life. Trevor is bilingual in English and Spanish, and has more basic abilities in several other languages. Contact Trevor at gro.y1516455188ssabm1516455188etned1516455188utsla1516455188bolg@1516455188nosne1516455188vetst1516455188