Our TEAM

 

Vincie Ho

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Executive Director

Vincie (she/her/hers), a humane educator and social justice advocate, founded RISE Travel Institute in June 2020 with the commitment to engage young people in important conversations around human rights, animal protection and environmental sustainability in the context of travel. She is also the creator of Paths Crossing, a card game designed to foster cross-cultural connections and inspire mindful travel decisions. She has been involved with Impact Travel Alliance since 2018 and currently holds the position of Chapter Engagement Lead on their global team.

Before Vincie started working in the nonprofit world, she was a university French lecturer and linguist for over a decade. As an academic, she had the opportunity to travel around the world for conferences and fieldwork. In 2010, she left academia to work in the area of refugee empowerment in Senegal, a transformative experience that motivated her to pursue a second career in international peace and human rights, as well as sustainable travel.

 

Vincie has a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Hong Kong and a Master of Arts degree from University College London. She has also obtained various graduate certificates and diplomas from the Institute for Humane Education and New York University in the United States, the United Nations University in Japan, and l’Université de Franche-Comté in France. In 2021, Vincie has successfully completed the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program and obtained the GSTC Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism. She is based in the Greater New York City Area.

 

Subah Chhabra

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DEI Strategist and HR manager

Subah Chhabra (she/her/hers) is a Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Professional who believes in collaborating with organizations to share her learnings and in turn learn from them. She is currently working with the Toronto Humane Society as a DEI Specialist  and is helping them plan and develop an effective DEI program from scratch. Prior to that, she was working as the Diversity, Inclusion, and Wellness Coordinator for Compass Group Canada where she developed various DEI best practices and events centred around Pride Month, International Women’s’ Day, Inclusive Wellness, and Mental Health. She was  involved in revamping their internal employee recognition and engagement programs. She has also held various HR centric roles with the healthcare sector in Canada. Before she moved to HR and DEI, she was working with  the External Partnerships, Fundraising, and Communications Team at Teach For India and with the Audit Team of Deloitte US. Throughout her varied and global experience, her focus has always been creating a culture where people feel valued, supported, and heard. Subah holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Canada as well as a Masters in Commerce from India. Subah is also a huge Chai Lover so much so that she has a personal 'Chai Bar' at her place. She is also a foodie, can almost dance anywhere, anytime. Subah is excited to join the RISE team as the HR advisor and DEI Specialist!

 

Kristelle Aisaka

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Impact Evaluation Specialist

Kristelle Aisaka (she/her/hers) was born and raised in 'Aiea, Hawai'i, where she was first exposed to the challenges of and opportunities for sustainable travel and witnessed firsthand how travel and tourism directly impact individuals, communities, ecosystems, and economies. She relocated to the midwest for college and moved through upstate New York before settling in the New York metro area. Her passion for travel, love of food, and curiosity about the world brought her to join the RISE Travel Institute team, where she is excited to be contributing to the organization's mission, vision, and impact as an Impact Evaluation Specialist. Outside of work and volunteering, she loves to spend time practicing yoga, trying new arts and crafts, and hanging out with her two cats, Marvs and Barty.
Kristelle has a BA in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, as well as Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work degrees from WashU's Brown School of Social Work.

 

Emma Chen

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Project Manager

Emma’s (she/her/hers) passion for travel started with a graduation trip with her best friend Janie since junior high school. Today, Emma is an enthusiastic traveler who particularly enjoys traveling with her corgi puppy. With their memorable journeys, they both experienced happiness and witnessed unsustainable tourist behaviors, which motivated Emma to join RISE Travel Institute and help advance our mission.

 

Emma received her BA in History and MS in Public Relations. As a history major from a liberal arts college, her education and experience encourage her to critically explore and study issues that concern the marginalized in society. She is excited to immerse herself in the community, culture, and history of every destination. On top of that, Emma is dedicating herself to helping people, to the service to humanity, and making the world a better place to live.

Megan Begley

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Fundraising and Donor Engagement Manager

Megan (she/her/hers ) brings 10 years of fundraising experience to the RISE team. She has held a variety of fundraising roles at environmentally-focused nonprofits including the Appalachian Mountain Club, Global Greengrants Fund, and the Colorado Water Trust.

 

In 2017, Megan and her husband and two boys embarked on a year-long world journey to 20 countries on five continents. It was a life-changing experience for the whole family, and she returned to the U.S. with a passion for sustainable and regenerative travel. Upon her return, she became Senior Manager of Social Impact Journeys at Elevate Destinations where she planned dozens of international journeys for nonprofit donors to visit projects around the world. Megan is currently the Grant Writer for Just-A-Start, a community development organization in Cambridge, MA.

 

Thomas Kalchik

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Accounting and Corporate Partnership Manager

Thomas (he/him/his) is currently assisting in the opening of a small lodge on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. With a degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University and working experience in the hospitality industry, he brings great enthusiasm to the mission of sustainable travel practices. While working in Accounting for an international hotel brand he also led the Washington, D.C. hotel’s Sustainability Committee through various Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Thomas’ passion lies in making and maintaining strong relationships, and his life’s mission is to bring people together through travel. A Chicagoan at heart, Thomas is currently based out of Washington, D.C. 

 

Shreya Sanjeev

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Curriculum Development and Student Engagement Manager

Shreya’s passion for travel and sustainability is grounded in her work as a marine biologist and conservation educator, and researcher from India. She is currently based in New York having completed graduate work from NYU. She has worked on various sustainable marine tourism projects based in India and the San Juan Islands, Washington, studying cetaceans. An avid solo-traveler, Shreya hopes to help develop sustainability in higher education and tourism, and foster empathy and mindful inter-cultural connections all around the world.

Shreya is currently a Program Development Intern at United Nations Democracy Fund, and a Doctoral Candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University.

 

Cathy Ji

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Corporate Engagement Manager

Cathy Ji is a software engineer and environmentalist with a passion for environmental justice, food justice, mental health advocacy, and travel. She previously led the LinkedIn New York office's "Go Green" sustainability group and served as Corporate Engagement chair for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, an NYC-based nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste and alleviating urban hunger. While earning her degree in computer engineering & computer science at the University of Southern California, Cathy was fortunate to have been able to travel extensively across the US for various technical opportunities, as well as across the world as part of her language and cultural studies. She has since become an avid proponent of slow travel and loves exploring new places and cultures by bus, bike, and train. Though she typically calls NYC home, she has been spending much of the pandemic exploring the US again (socially distanced, of course) in a camper van.

 

Eva Mossberg

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Strategic Partnership and Program Development Manager

Eva (she/her/hers) is a leader, innovator and adventuresome expert in the field of sustainable tourism. Her experience and broad range of skills span across 20+ years and include both undergraduate and graduate degrees in hospitality, tourism and travel; all facets of domestic and international operations and logistics for various global educational tours and programs, from program development and risk management protocols to sourcing new destinations and strategic partnerships across Europe. She is currently the North America Community Lead and Partner Coordinator for the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Having grown up in Stockholm, Sweden, Eva’s international explorations began early on: At nineteen years of age, on a quest for adventurous experiences, she waved her native Sweden goodbye from the deck of a 44’ sailboat, and never looked back. What ensued was, and continues to be, a life full of rich learning experiences that have included sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, volunteering at the first ever conference on ecotourism, crossing the Andes on horseback and living in the West Indies, Portugal and, since 1994, the U.S.A. Eva is based north of Boston, MA and loves anything and everything outdoors. 

 
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University Outreach and Student Engagement Manager

Christine Francois

Christine (she/her/hers) is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University. Christine has worked in the higher education and travel industry. While living in Spain, she worked as an English Language Assistant. In addition to living in Spain, Christine has also lived and worked in France and the U.S. Christine loves to travel and has been to over 20 countries and counting. Christine is passionate about educating others on how sustainable travel can benefit people and the environment.

 

Celestina Hendrickson

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University Outreach and Student Engagement Manager

Celestina Hendrickson (she, her, hers) was born and raised in Seattle, WA and currently resides in Kirkland, WA (about 15 minutes away). She is in her final stages of her graduate program through Colorado State University’s online Master in Tourism Management (sustainable tourism emphasis). As a co-chapter lead for Impact Travel Alliance Greater Seattle chapter, Celestina brings a fresh, young, and scholarly perspective to dialogue around sustainability, inclusion, and responsibly driven travel.

 

Celestina has focused her studies around the cultural and social sector of sustainable/responsible tourism and is fighting for an industry which
accommodates and empowers diverse and indigenous voices and is anti-oppressive. With her experience in community outreach, Celestina is dedicated to mainstreaming the sustainable and ethical travel narrative through advocacy, outreach, education, and awareness.

 

Amy Hager

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Social Media Manager

Amy (she/her/hers), Founder and CEO of her own consulting company based in a tourist-driven community at Lake Anna, Virginia, has 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, engagement, community development, and organizational growth. A true marketer at heart, her love of travel, tourism, and community is reflected in her work with small lodging properties, community publications, local nonprofits, and chambers of commerce. At RISE Travel Institute she will be connecting future and current travelers with the educational resources to inspire responsible, impactful, sustainable, and ethical travel. When not working with amazing clients, speaking at conferences, or coaching professionals, you will find Amy out and about, exploring her own backyard or traveling the World! Living in a tourist destination also allows Amy to be a host and community ambassador for visiting family and friends.

 

Ally Rudolph

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Social Media Coordinator and Content Producer

Ally (she/her/hers) is an international education, environmental education, and sustainable travel advocate. She is a 2020 graduate of Bowling Green State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and a minor in Environmental Science. In college Ally worked in an educational Technology & Resource Center, served as the Public Relations Officer for the Science Education Council, and was a research intern at the Cleveland Metroparks. In 2018 she spent 6 months studying abroad at Keele University in the U.K. and launched a personal travel blog. Ally is fortunate to have had the opportunity to begin traveling at a very young age and have visited 20 countries so far. In college Ally became invested in environmental justice, climate justice, and environmental sustainability and decided she wanted to pursue a career at the intersection of international education and these subjects.

 

Ally joined RISE because she wants to contribute positively to the field of international education and meaningful travel. Ally believes there is a world where meaningful travel and environmental sustainability can coexist, and all communities can benefit. Ally believes RISE is doing impactful work and she is excited to be part of creating that future. Ally is currently based in the Cleveland, Ohio area and is enrolled in Inside Study Abroad’s Global Pro Institute and internship program.

 

Later this year Ally will become part of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps after completing her training with The Climate Reality Project. Ally formally studied French for 4.5 years, but she continues to practice her language skills today and her other hobbies include yoga, hiking, biking, kayaking, reading, cooking, and crafting.

 

Matthew Lesperance

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Senior Digital Content Producer

Matt (he/him/his) has a diverse and accomplished 20 plus-year tourism career as a hotelier, traveler, and photographer/videographer. He has been a major part of the opening team for two Las Vegas premier hotels. He has also lived and worked throughout the world, including spending nearly five years in South Korea and South Africa. Just before moving back to the U.S., Matt received his master's degree in Sustainable Tourism from Arizona State University.

 

He loves all kinds of adventure, both above and below the water. You may find him diving with thresher sharks in the Philippines or trekking through the jungles of Argentina in search of a lost civilization. He is an enthusiastic, inquisitive individual at heart, who loves discovering the world one step at a time. He believes travel is meant to inspire and create new stories while discovering the world from a different point of view.

 

Kara King

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Digital Content Producer

Kara (she/her/hers) is a traveler and writer who strives to enhance the voices of others. She has developed travel content for Thrillist, Wanderful, and Unearth Women. In addition, she has worked extensively with underprivileged communities, most recently at the Brooklyn-based non-profit, CAMBA, where she managed instructional services and designed holistic programming for young adults, immigrants, and newly arrived refugees. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a degree in Comparative Literature.

 

Currently, in addition to developing content for RISE Travel Institute, she is using her content creation skills on The Hill's Events Team, where she crafts virtual event programming and acts as an extension of the newsroom, bringing thought leaders together and important issues to light.

 

She’s lived in multiple cities including Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York. But she now calls Washington, D.C home.

 

Kaelyn Sanders

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Digital Content Producer

 

Kaelyn (she/her/hers) does a little bit of everything as a virtual assistant specializing in marketing and communications, digital editing, social media management, and writing. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three children, exploring all of the beauty to be found in their backyard through camping, hiking, and paddleboarding. She believes practicing and teaching her children good stewardship of the land is essential and has instilled a love of traveling and nature in them. 

 

Devon Barker

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Art Director and Communications Product Ethicist

 

Devon works at the intersection of art, science, and technology through multi-dimensional storytelling in traditional and emerging technologies. Armed with a degree in photography and film, and a technical background in developing B2B solutions with Apple, Devon founded Wave3.studio to focus on multi-sector collaborations that bring together keyboard jockeys, Sci-Comm nerds, and researchers to build bespoke products and engage diverse audiences. Currently as Co-Founder of the 501c3 Pravasana.org, Devon directs community-driven media frameworks to build capacity and foster understanding between stakeholders across the coffee value chain. If you are a coffee nerd, hit him up on slack to chat extraction ratios and his favorite varietals.

 

Anne Leone

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Senior Copy Editor

Anne (she/her/hers) is an environmental advocate and travel enthusiast who, apart from her work with RISE, is currently keeping herself busy as the Partnerships Lead on Impact Travel Alliance's global team. A classically trained stage actor, she studied at Northwestern University and the British American Drama Academy and has performed on both sides of the Atlantic. After a few years in that business, however, she realized she wanted to take a more active role in bringing about social and environmental change. She returned to school to refocus her career and earned her MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is based in New York City.

 

Cyan Zhong

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Content Writer and Strategist

Cyan (she/her/hers) is a journalist, content strategist and writer who loves telling stories of people, causes and brands. After graduating from Northwestern University with a M.S. degree in Journalism, she took her editorial chops to the world of content marketing and now works for an international education company in NYC. During her exchange in Italy, Cyan studied at the oldest university in the world - Università di Bologna - and backpacked through 7 countries in Europe.

 

Cyan loves learning new languages in immersive environments and exploring the cultural significance of different countries. Traveling is her inspiration and fuel, so she's excited to spread the word for sustainable travel at RISE.

 

Natalie Amezcua

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Content Writer and Strategist

Natalie (she/her/hers) is an educator and solutionary writer from Los Angeles.  Her early profession in education combined with her unabated passion for travel lead her to opportunities to teach in Asia for several years in both rural and metropolitan cities of South Korea and China. 

 

What was meant to be a short and simple endeavor, working abroad and the travel opportunities it offers led to a transformative experience that greatly shaped her passion of teaching towards animal protection and environmental sustainability. With great understanding of the importance of pushing the boundaries necessary to promote progressive and healthier changes for all beings involved, she continues her studies and is currently earning a Masters degree in Antioch's online Humane Education program where she focuses on understanding the intersectionality of systemic issues that are detrimental to humans, animals and the planet and challenging the status quo in a solutionary and sustainable manner. While a traveler at heart, Natalie is passionate about influencing social justice for both human and nonhuman animals through community education and solutionary writing in creative and nontraditional spaces. 

 

Although her passions and professional experiences are continuously growing, one thing that happily remains in plateau are her hobbies which include her adoration for her dog Phoebe, sitting at a café with a book or friends, and watching Netflix with a facemask on.

 

Jay Morgan

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Content Writer Producer and Copywriter

Jay (he/him) is a writer and marketer from New Jersey. With a background in content marketing ranging from digital advertising to B2B thought leadership, he brings extensive copywriting experience to the RISE team. Above all, Jay wishes to have a positive impact on the environment and communities locally and throughout the world. 

Outside of advocating for sustainable and ethical tourism, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, plant based cooking and playing guitar. Jay has a BA in English from Rutgers University and is always looking for book recommendations.

 

Suzanne Rommelfanger

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Communications Manager

Suzanne (she/her/hers) has spent two decades working at global non-profits, international educational organizations, and in academia, inspiring both students and adults to partake in life changing experiences. She has studied, lived, and worked abroad; backpacked around the world; and traveled to more than 60 countries. She volunteers with the United Nations Association of Greater Boston, and is committed to the UN Sustainable Development goals.

 

Her firsthand experience visiting remote and sacred places from the Amazon to Uluru, learning about indigenous cultures from the Quechua in Peru to the Lakota in South Dakota, and participating in biodiversity conservation projects working at Earthwatch Institute, fuel her interest in supporting and promoting sustainable tourism.

 

One of her core values is making an impactful difference in the world. She shares RISE’s vision, and is eager to communicate the organization’s mission, goals and programs.

 
 

Meredith Hauser

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Event Manager

Meredith (she/her/hers) is an experienced account and mobile event manager with a passion for fostering cross-cultural relations and sustainable development. After graduating from Boston University's Pardee School of Global Studies with a degree in International Relations and Religion, she joined the workforce as a Manager of Social Impact Journeys and Event Coordinator for Elevate Destinations. During her 3 and a half years at Elevate, she planned over 20 international journeys for nonprofit donors as well as coordinated events for tourism industry colleagues aimed at unpacking the effects of travel on people, animals, and the planet. 

Today, Meredith brings her passion for threading personal connection between donors and worthwhile causes as a Development Coordinator at Health Equity International, a hospital foundation for Southern Haiti's largest tertiary care center. 

Tara Busch

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Community Engagement Manager

Tara is a proud history buff, aspiring foodie with a perennial obsession for travel. Her superpower is organization, and she loves to opportunity to get lost in research. Always looking for a creative and elegantly solution, she is a natural problem solver. Tara has worked in the education and travel industries. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in History, and recently completed a certification in Sustainable Destination Management from George Washington University.

Tara flew by herself for the first time at only 5 years old to visit family, ever since finding confidence in herself as an adventurous, independent and curious traveler.

Tara is passionate about creating connections between people, cultures, history, and our world, and believes in travel and education as a way to learn and to discover ourselves. Tara embraces travel that is respectful of people, heritage, and our planet. A native of southern California, she now calls Brooklyn home, and has fallen in love with having seasons.

 

Jodi Suckle

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Experiential Travel Manager

 

Jodi (she/her/hers) is a travel and event logistics professional with nearly 10 years of student travel experience. Despite the stress of managing high school students traveling in blizzards, she loves enabling students to explore and learn about the world. Jodi is currently exploring the intersection of sustainable travel and student travel, aiming to incorporate responsible travel practices into the field of study abroad and international education.

 

Jodi has a BA in History and International Relations from the University of Delaware and an MA in International Affairs, concentrating on conflict and security, from the New School. In 2021, Jodi has finished the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program and successfully obtained the GSTC Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism. When she’s not thinking about travel, Jodi loves sailing, reading historical fiction, photography, and winning pub trivia. Jodi has lived in New York, Tel Aviv, and Thailand, and is currently drinking way too much coffee in Antigua, Guatemala.

 
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Madoka Yamaji

Human Resource Administrator

Madoka Yamaji (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Hyougo, Japan. She spent four years in the UK in her teens which was her first experience living abroad. Madoka came to the US in 2018 and is currently studying human resource management at a community college. She is interested in working with people and planning and implementing cross-cultural training as a HR specialist in the future. Madoka has also completed her TESOL certificate in May 2021. She has been a member of the non-profit organization TORUS since February 2021, and has been facilitating a Japanese conversation group to give learners a place to learn language and its culture and connect them with other learners.

 

Madoka loves meeting new people, getting to know them and helping them to learn new things! She also loves visiting new places and meeting new people because she can broaden her view and feel empowered. Madoka is excited to work with RISE Travel Institute in order to protect beautiful places and people in the world for our future generations.

 

Uma Bharathy Neelamraju

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Information Technology Specialist

 

Uma Bharathy Neelamraju (she/her/hers) joined the RISE Team in May 2021 as our Information Technology Specialist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering in India, and is currently living in the United States. She joined RISE Travel Institute because she believes that sustainable travel education is crucial to saving our only planet - the Earth.

 

Uma traveled to more than 8 countries and lived in various countries like India, United Kingdom, Belgium, apart from living in 5 different states within the United States. She has previously volunteered for a company that promotes eco-friendly products. Besides work and volunteering,
she enjoys gardening and watching TV. She always looks for opportunities to help others through community service. She also wishes to become a mentor in an organization where women and girls are encouraged to opt for technology-related careers in future.

 

Anuradha Naik

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Information Technology Specialist

 

Anuradha Naik (she/her/hers) is a tech professional specializing in tech expansion, optimization, management and automation. She has spent her days developing applications which have benefited communities at  international levels, and she advocates for the dignity and autonomy of all people. Her motivation is to leave a better world for those coming after us.

 

Anuradha had the opportunity to work with partners around the globe & helped manage platforms serving a website audience of 10M+. She has also experience in digital sales and Ad tech. She joined RISE Travel
Institute in May 2021 as our Information Technology Specialist.