Our Staff

United States

Mallory Bressler- Interim Executive Director

Originally from Lafayette California, Mallory graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007 with degrees in Sociology and Political Science, with a focus on education and social change. Following her undergraduate career, Mallory enrolled in the National Teaching Fellowship program with Citizen Schools through which she received her Masters in Education and became the Campus Director of an extended learning day program in Boston, MA. Following her three years with Citizen Schools, Mallory became an education consultant working with non-profits around the country training young educators, developing curriculum and increasing non-profit capacity. Mallory speaks English and Spanish. Contact Mallory at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391yroll1488236391am1488236391

Rachel Katz– Director of Operations

Rachel has two decades of experience working with non-profits that she brings to GSE. In 1996, shortly after graduation from Stanford University, Rachel co-founded and lived 18 years at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, in Missouri, before moving to Oakland, CA. While in Missouri, she earned her Master’s Degree in biology studying birds and land management. She has applied her organizational super powers to grow organizations such as The Mosaic Project and EOS International. She has traveled extensively in Central America and worked in Nicaragua with EOS. Rachel speaks English and Spanish. Contact Rachel at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391lehca1488236391r1488236391

Mona Shomali– Program Director

Born in Los Angeles California, Mona graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies, and from New York University with a Masters degree in Global Affairs. Her graduate focus was indigenous human rights in South America, which led to her work as case researcher for indigenous “Free Prior and Informed Consent” standards within the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. After completing her graduate degree, Mona was a professor at the New School, New York University and Pace, where she taught courses such as “Global Environmental Governance” and “Environmental Justice: Human Rights and Natural Resource Conflicts”. In 2014, Mona was the director of a summer abroad program in Guyana titled “Indigenous Human Rights in the Amazon”. Mona speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Farsi. Contact Mona at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391anom1488236391

Jonathan Kaufman – Associate 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. Jonathan speaks Spanish and English. Contact Jonathan at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391nahta1488236391noj1488236391

Sunee Hillyer – Communications and Development Manager

Born and raised in Danville, California, Sunee has called the East Bay home for most of her life. Sunee is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC, with a degree in International Studies and an emphasis in Education. She was drawn to the nation’s capital with a conviction that young people are eager to be invited to engage in work that expands their understanding of the world. She has a wide range of nonprofit experience in various parts of the country and is excited to work alongside GSE empowering students to see themselves as global citizens. Contact Sunee at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391eenus1488236391

Zoe Pearl – Contra Costa Program Coordinator

Zoe grew up in Marin County, California, where her love of nature developed into a passion to defend the environment and educate others. Zoe graduated from the University of California in Santa Barbara, earning a B.A. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Sustainable Development. While pursuing her degree, she worked for several local nonprofits that focused on providing comprehensive environmental education to students. Through her work at schools she discovered the crucial importance of educating the next generation in order to protect the future of our environment. After graduating, Zoe worked for Marin Sanitary Service, the first curbside recycling collection facility in the nation. As the Outreach and Education Program Coordinator she worked to develop and provide curriculums, informative resources, and direct outreach to schools to help the county reach the zero waste goals. She is excited collaborate and bring her experience to schools in the Contra Costa area. When not working, Zoe spends her time enjoying the outdoors and doing crossfit. Zoe speaks English, French, and some Spanish. Contact Zoe at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391eoz1488236391

Laura Robledo – Marin 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 six 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 one of MEND’s-Meet Each Need with Dignity latest programs, the Grow Together Project, 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. Of Mexican origin, she also has strong cultural roots in agriculture. Laura is a Certified UC Master Gardener with a degree in Political Science. Contact Laura at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391arual1488236391

Nick Coonrod – Santa Cruz 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. He has two cats, Pabu and Terra. Contact Nick at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391kcin1488236391

Kyle Meador – Sonoma County Program Coordinator 

Originally from Sacramento, California, Kyle graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2003 with degrees in Ethnic Studies and Sociology, and continued with graduate work in Ethnic Studies and Bilingual/Multicultural Education, earning his Masters. Meanwhile Kyle was developing and leading local community action projects with high-school and college students with a focus on education and social change. Following his college career, Kyle taught Social Science and English at a local high school in Sacramento while continuing to facilitate community action projects with young people locally and in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Eventually, after doing work with several non-profit youth development and education organizations, Kyle moved to New Orleans to deepen his work with local youth there while creating opportunities for young people from around the country to support continued redevelopment efforts. Upon returning to California, Kyle has worked as a consultant for several youth development organizations before finding Global Student Embassy. Kyle loves to work in the garden, travel, and facilitate transformational experiences with young people. Contact Kyle at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391elyk1488236391

Jordan Shapiro – Travel and Outreach Coordinator 

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, Spanish, and some Russian. Contact Jordan at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391nadro1488236391j1488236391

Tessa Janicke – Campus Rep Coordinator 

Tessa is from Buffalo, NY. She graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she received her B.S. in Environmental Studies. Tessa first went on a GSE trip to Ecuador winter break for her freshman year of college. Tessa returned to Ecuador with GSE as a Campus Rep her sophomore year and Co-campus Rep her junior year. She is excited to help inspire and guide this year’s campus reps. Tessa loves traveling, hiking, kayaking, pugs, and working with young people. Contact Tessa at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391crc1488236391

Lucas Oshun- Founder

Born and raised in Sebastopol California, Lucas Oshun graduated from University of California Santa Cruz in 2007 with degrees in Community Studies and Politics with a focus on International Relations. During his studies he interned at Global Kids in NYC, where he learned about the importance of discussion-based workshop education, and international relations education for high school students. He has traveled extensively in South East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America. Grateful for having had the opportunity to experience different cultures and to travel internationally, Lucas believes strongly in providing travel, cultural immersion and grassroots organizing opportunities to young people. Lucas speaks English and Spanish.


Debbie Medina – Bahia 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. She now joins us as the Exchange Program Manager for Bahía de Caraquez in Ecuador, excited to promote social change, cross-cultural experiences dedicated to the environment. You can email her at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391anide1488236391md1488236391

Sara Miller – Cuenca Exchange Program Manager

Sara is a native Wisconsinite and graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2014 with a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Anthropology. She discovered her love of traveling in high school when her family moved to Spain, and so far has lived in Europe, South America and SE Asia. After graduating college, Sara moved to Northern Thailand and worked as an ESL kindergarten English teacher. After returning to the USA she worked as a cemetery administrator in Portland, OR, and later moved to Washington D.C. where she served as a program associate for the World Cocoa Foundation working towards cocoa sustainability in Latin America and SE Asia. Sara has a passion for sustainability, international education, and empowering young leaders and is excited to join the GSE team as the Exchange Program Coordinator in Cuenca, Ecuador. Sara speaks Spanish and English and can be reached at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391relli1488236391ms1488236391.

Ramon Cedeno Loor – Ecuador Program Director

Ramon 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 moc.l1488236391iamg@1488236391rodau1488236391cetne1488236391dutsl1488236391abolg1488236391

Cecilia Montesdeoca Álava Educational Programs Assistant & Trip Leader

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 gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391ailic1488236391ec1488236391

Blas Cedeno Loor  Reforestation Manager

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.


Ryan BuchananNicaragua 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 gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391nanah1488236391cubr1488236391

Jaime Enrique Muñoz HernándezDirector of Asofenix

Jaime is from the region of Jinotega, Nicaragua. He is the Director of GSE’s in-country partner, Asofenix, which has been working in Nicaragua for 15 years. Asofenix is made up of a multi-disciplined team that assists in the development and function of GSE’s student exchange trips in Nicaragua. Jaime’s interests lie in renewable energies such as, solar-powered potable water systems, the construction of small hydroelectric plants in remote communities, the use of solar energy to provide power, and the construction of improved kitchens. Jaime supports the application and practical utilization of these energies as an alternative to satisfy basic needs within the rural communities of Nicaragua. He believes in sustainable development and is convinced that empowered communities are capable to generate their own development. He promotes agro-ecological production as an alternative to reverse environmental degradation. You can email Jaime at moc.l1488236391iamg@1488236391augar1488236391acinx1488236391inefo1488236391sa1488236391. Learn more about Asofenix on our program partners page.

Socorro Raudez – Garden Manager in Teustepe

In 2015 Socorro graduated as the first apprentice from the Bio-Intensive Center in Nicaragua. He comes from a family that has been farming for generations. During his career as a farmer he has deviated from the traditional chemical farming methods commonly found in Nicaragua. By embracing the merits of organic methods Socorro has become a community leader in charge of projects that include familial gardens, potable water and sustainable kitchens. Socorro facilitates the garden located at Clinica Verde in Boaco focused on preventative healthcare through wholesome nutrition, as well as two schools in the area. He loves to work in his thriving bio-intensive farm at home and playing with his two children. You can email Socorro at moc.l1488236391iamg@1488236391ocaob1488236391ne82o1488236391rroco1488236391s1488236391

Juan Miguel Garcia BlancoGarden Manager in Boaco

Juan Miguel was born in Loma de Cafen, Boaco, Nicaragua. When he was six years old, he began to study his elementary education in Pedro Joaquin Chamorro primary school culminating as the best student in elementary school. When he was 12 years old, he began his high school education in the same school culminating in 2009 by just one point behind the first place as the second best student. He has been working for Clinica Verde and GSE since 2015. He is very happy to work with these NGOs towards a clean and healthy agriculture for families, schools and communities that are vulnerable to food insecurity. He is very satisfied with the experience gained during the time working with national and foreign students because he has been able to meet many people who have motivated him to keep going. If you want to get in touch with Juan Miguel, you can contact him by email at se.oo1488236391hay@1148823639154nau1488236391jaicr1488236391ag1488236391

Trip Leaders

Borja GuerreroBahia, Ecuador Trip Leader

Born in Cádiz, the south of Spain, though Borja considers himself a citizen of the world. Borja is licensed in Psychology with a post-graduate degree in Intercultural Education. He lives in Bahia de Caraquez, where he was involved in a program of psychological attention for government personnel that are working in response to the earthquake. He has a great passion for Latin America and understands that education is the essential tool to create active thinkers, aware and helpful to the local realities where they are. Considering that, in the multicultural context of Ecuador, and the specific reality of the province of Manabi after the earthquake, the educational work that Global Student Embassy is partaking in is creating tools of empowerment, essential for the creation of responsible, environmentally-conscious citizens at the local level, and also, in turn, having a global impact, he doesn’t want to be a passive witness in the reconstruction of Bahia de Caraquez. Rather, he’d prefer being an active element in its dynamic regrowth. Contact him at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391orerr1488236391eugb1488236391

Jasper SomersCuenca, Ecuador Trip Leader

Jasper is a Belgian organizational psychologist who has supported development projects since high school. During his studies he lived a year in Spain and 2 years in Ecuador. He has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology, in International Development Cooperation and postgraduate degrees in Management of Social Economics and in Education. He coordinated an educational project in Peru for 2 years and after 8 years in Belgium he recently returned with his wife and kids to Ecuador.Jasper has excellent coaching skills and knows Cuenca from within. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Dutch and French. Contact him at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391sremo1488236391sj1488236391

Katia EspalterNicaragua Trip Leader

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 gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391retla1488236391psek1488236391

Kelly CarpenterNicaragua Trip Leader

Kelly, originally from Santa Barbara, California, developed a passion for traveling early in life completing a study abroad program in Granada, Spain, and later returning to Barcelona, Spain to live and travel independently.  Upon returning to the United States, Kelly completed her B.A. in Spanish at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH.  During her undergraduate studies, she had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and Peru; experiences that enhanced her growing interest in the field of Public Health. In December 2015 Kelly graduated with a Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in Global Health & Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a certification in Public Health, and a passion for sustainable community development and decreasing health and social disparities. After completing her international practicum requirements as an intern at the Foundation for Sustainable Development’s site in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Kelly took a position working for the same foundation in Nicaragua leading student interns in the development of sustainable development projects with local communities and grassroots NGO’s. Kelly has a deep love for Nicaragua, the spirit of the people who live there and is deeply vested in working towards sustainable community development together and from within the community. Contact her at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391retne1488236391prack1488236391

Luis Fernando CarrionNicaragua Trip Leader

Luis Fernando was born in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. In 2010 he moved to Costa Rica to pursue his higher education studies at the National University in Heredia, where he graduated in Economic Planning and Social Development. During college years he participated in educational and cultural projects in Poland and Brazil. In 2015 he worked at the Refugee Education Trust as a consultant for the development of a guide geared to young students to detect and prevent school violence. In 2016 he returned to Nicaragua and volunteered for 3 months at the Center for Understanding of Nature in the rainforest of Matagalpa. He likes writing, audiovisuals and traveling, and believes in education and culture as tools for social change. Contact him at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391noirr1488236391acl1488236391

Luis Alfonso Obando BermudezNicaragua Trip Leader

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 gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391odnab1488236391ol1488236391

Madeline MendozaNicaragua Trip Leader

Madeline, originally from Managua, Nicaragua, has fifteen years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in Nicaragua. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the Central American University (UCA), a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from the Nicaraguan Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Postgraduate Degree in Project Formulation, Evaluation and Management, from the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (UPOLI). She has led volunteer groups from the United States and Canada working in solidarity with Nicaraguan people in a broad variety of community development projects. Most recently she was the Center Manager of a Canadian nonprofit organization that supports grassroots-led community development projects and offers a global education program for Canadian youth. She likes theater, cinema and poetry.
Contact her at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391azodn1488236391emm1488236391

Marling GarciaNicaragua Trip Leader

Marling Garcia is a passionate, dedicated, and enthusiastic leader from Nicaragua. She was born in the community of Las Macias, Teustepe, Boaco, Nicaragua. Since she was a child, she experienced the lack of clean, potable water needed to supply the basic needs in her home. Due to that hardship, she always wanted to have a career and help her community. In 2013, she won a SEED scholarship to study Business Management for two years in the United States. This experience has brought her the opportunity to share her story at Clinton Global Initiative Conference in March 2015. Marling is the founder of Well for Wellbeing Social Venture and she is very excited for being part of the Resolution Project family. One of her biggest goals is to improve the water access and better the health, economy, environment, and the cultural effects of the inhabitants of the Nicaraguan communities. Contact her at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391gnilr1488236391am1488236391

Omar FloresNicaragua Trip Leader

Omar Flores in a passionate and proactive graduate in Rural Development. He was born in Managua, Nicaragua. Since he was a child, he like the countryside, and all the relarted activities, values and culture. In 2014 he won a scholarship, and began his studies in a Masters in Science of Rural Development in the Universidad Nacional Agraria. In his academic and professional trajectory, he was a team leader in Raleigh International and he was a 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. You can contact Omar at gro.y1488236391ssabm1488236391etned1488236391utsla1488236391bolg@1488236391serol1488236391fo1488236391