Soraya Fouladi - CEO
Since she was a teenager, Soraya has designed her life so that she could gain the skills to one day, make Jara a reality. After attending the United Nations school to gain a global education, she went to university for electrical engineering to understand how to build what is now the Jara Unit, where she also designed and manufactured products from prosthetics to wearables. She gained experience in designing and implementing systems and programs through writing curriculum for K-12 robotics, directing the largest technology-education camp of 500 campers and 60 staff members at Stanford, creating a fundraiser for disaster relief called Jamming-for-Relief, and designing and implementing effective systems as Supervisor for an electrical engineering innovation laboratory. Soraya also was a business management consultant for a government technology commercialization organization that had 72 portfolio companies. Her technical capabilities, along with her leadership and management experience, paired with her commitment to Jara’s mission, ensures that Soraya and her team will see Jara to its maximum impact.
Dibyashree Shah - Country Director - nepal
Born and raised in Nepal, Dibyashree Shah understands the diversity among the communities that exists due to social, political, and geographical context. Dibyashree Shah is a strategic thinker and a strong communicator who is passionate about development. She brings purpose to the work she leads that includes developing strategic policies in the themes of transitional education and participatory models for developing innovative education programs. Ms. Shah holds a MBA with specialization in Finance and Project Management in her undergraduate studies. As a development professional, Dibyashree has worked at grass root level as Project Coordinator at The Small World (TSW) which helped her understand the unique needs to girls to continue education in remote parts of hills. She has managed complex assignments for donor funded projects ranging from DFID, EU and UN agencies. She has led in developing and implementing projects after the 2015 Nepal earthquake supporting the development of transitional learning centers to support vulnerable children. She has managed projects after the 2017 floods in the Terai that included working with the local and provincial governments in Nepal to support the upliftment of adolescent girls from marginalized communities as Programs Manager at Street Child of Nepal. She has been part of impacting lives of more than 50 000 children through education. Dibyashree has proven experience in research and has conducted participatory action research and need assessment of the marginalized communities and schools. She was involved in multi-country real time evaluation of UNICEF gender-based violence in emergencies programme. She brings fresh, intuitive and ingenious ideas to the Jara team which is just starting a new phase in Nepal. Her role would be to engage with partners, stakeholders, government and NGOs on low cost but high impact education models.
Pumla Maswanganyi - Chief Strategy Officer
Pumla Maswanganyi is a South African entrepreneur, development strategist and innovator from South Africa, working at the intersection of design and global development. As a global citizen speaking 7 languages, and having lived and worked on 5 continents, she is committed to disrupting conventional development approaches, such as traditional education and employment norms through innovation.Pumla pioneers innovative tailored, and context-based solutions for disenfranchised populations: from a vocational training program that offers micro-loans and mentorship to equip young women to start and sustain their own businesses, to forging global partnerships that empower youth from low-income backgrounds through greater accessibility to non-traditional learning.Amongst many accolades, Pumla is a Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) 100 under 40 Nominee for 2019, and her work has earned her the Forbes Fellowship; the Resolution Fellowship; a seat in the African Women Leaders Network; and an invitation as a 2019 UNLEASH Sustainable Development Innovation Lab Talent, creating solutions in SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, to name a few. Her commitment to youth development in Africa has also been recognised by the African Union Youth Envoy, Ms. Aya Chebbi, who has appointed her to be a member of the Envoy Expert Network. Pumla’s passion for changing the world, alongside her deep background in impact, equity, and inclusion enables Pumla to apply world-changing strategy to Jara.
Isabella Shraiman - Director of PARTNERSHIPS
Isabella Shraiman is a multi-lingual global citizen and development professional driven by a belief in the endless potential of collaboration and innovation to create positive change. Bella is an eternal student: she has studied on three different continents and graduated with highest honors from the London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, Distinction) and McGill University (BA, First Class Joint Honours History and Political Science). She has extensive experience in stakeholder management, impact evaluation, and project development with different NGOs, and has also worked in immigration law, journalism, and incubator management for young social enterprises. Bella’s work includes being a Project Officer in East Africa with Pepal, an NGO which connects the private, public, and NGO sector in shared value partnerships to strengthen leadership and foster innovation in the development sector. Her interests include migration and resilience in forced displacement; the role of narratives in aid work; and the intersection between development and humanitarian work, specifically how to promote community development in humanitarian contexts. Bella joined Jara because of the passion in the team towards finding unique, yet scaleable solutions to emergency education and long-term community development which put children and their families at the center of the equation. She knows that collaboration and the creation of mission-driven partnerships will be key to the success of Jara's vision to bring quality education to children around the world. Bella’s relationship management experience, collaborative curiosity, and dedication to the sector will help make this vision a reality.
Shannon Lindsey - education Development Director
Shannon Lindsey, originally from Toronto, Canada is currently living in London finishing up her Masters degree in International Development and Education at UCL. Her dissertation work took her to Tanzania, where she conducted in a peri-urban community, focusing on barriers to accessing pre-primary education. Prior to her experience in London, Shannon attended McGill university, studying Political Science and African studies. In her time at McGill, Shannon volunteered with Junior Peacemakers, helping to deliver global citizenship education to young children across Montreal. During this time, Shannon also worked as a pre-primary educators, an experience which began her commitment to driving the education of young children and a belief in their untapped potential. This degree and an internship in Tanzania, sparked her interest in development, specifically on the continent of Africa, and prompted her move to Accra, Ghana. There, she worked for a local NGO as the Head of Fundraising, helping to empower youth to create innovative solutions to educational challenges in their communities. Currently, she works at the women’s health charity ISUOG, where she coordinates the delivery of ultrasound training to practitioners in low and middle income countries, ensuring women across the globe have access to skilled health care providers. She is especially interested in education in emergencies, spear-heading a virtual mentorship program at ISUOG for medical practitioners in Sudan amidst political turmoil and restricted mobility. Her dedication to providing education to children in areas of conflict and natural disaster led her to join Jara, whose innovative technological solutions to connect with the hardest to reach populations appeared to her a new, and workable idea in the education and development space. Her research interests include access to education in developing contexts, educational policy, education in emergencies and pre-primary education specifically.
Daniel Odetola - Director of Fundraising
Daniel Odetola is a grants writer and international development professional working at the intersection of humanitarian assistance and development programming. Born in Nigeria, Daniel grew up in Senegal where he interacted with refugees fleeing conflict and violence from as far from DR Congo and as close as Liberia at the refugee school where his parents regularly volunteered. This was the seed that would germinate and shape Daniel’s career goals and passions to define and create innovative and holistic interventions that seek to promote human rights and sustainable development; alleviate and eradicate suffering, poverty, and oppression; and work to ensure individuals and households recover from disasters, and that their communities are transformed into secure, productive, just and resilient communities. To develop the competencies required to achieve his passion, Daniel completed a bachelor’s in political science with a focus on human rights from Saint Olaf College and a master’s in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Over the years, Daniel has volunteered and worked with organizations committed to these values such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and more recently Mercy Corps in Mali where he supported portfolio expansion efforts to rollout proposals amounting to $35 million for the next 5 years. Daniel also contributed to improving the Mercy Corps Mali’s program reporting and monitoring and evaluation with his writing and data analysis competencies. As a professional passionate about context-specific and appropriate humanitarian assistance, Jara’s mission and dedication to ensure children’s learning and education opportunities are uninterrupted despite natural or man-made events deeply resonates with Daniel. Furthermore, ensuring that Jara achieves its objective motivates Daniel to support Jara’s fundraising efforts daily.
Shilpa Bhandari - Data Analyst
Originally from Chitwan, Nepal, Shilpa Bhandari is an international student at the Youngstown State University (YSU), United States, pursuing a major in Mathematics and Computer Science. Shilpa is passionate about empowering underprivileged women and children by providing quality education to them through proper technology usage. Being an honors student, Shilpa has undertaken projects, focused on social-impact measurement and market research, for leading companies and local non-profit organizations. Now a junior at YSU, Shilpa has been inducted to Pi Mu Epsilon, an honorary national mathematics society, for her strong academic performance in Mathematics. Outside the classroom, as a student academic senator for the College of STEM of YSU for the academic year 2018-2019, Shilpa helped build policies that improved college experience of around 16,000 YSU students. Additionally, Shilpa is a Young Innovator for International Connector (IC), an innovation and experiential marketing agency based in San-Francisco. As a Young Innovator, Shilpa has experience collaborating with youth from all around the world to co-create a vision of the future of work, while also gaining 21st-century skills such as remote working, cultural understanding and design-thinking. Being a travel freak and an explorer, Shilpa has widened her horizon by traveling to India and 20 states of the United States, 12 of which she road tripped during Summer 2018 as one of the four winners of the Your Big Year trip launched by International Connector. Shilpa is also a StartingBloc Fellow, an internationally recognized fellowship focused on developing the leadership for future. Shilpa has well-equipped herself with technical skills and knowledge of the Nepalese and international education system to effectively contribute to Jara’s mission of providing education to all using technology. As a data analyst intern at Jara, Shilpa not only brings her ability to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the data, and a passion to make education accessible to all the Nepalese kids, but also brings a better understanding of the global education system, which she has experienced herself by studying in the United States and Nepal.
Tenzin was raised in the Indian Himalayas, her family having fled there from Tibet. She immigrated to the United States as an adolescent, in which she graduated with honors from Stanford University, followed by University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She has spent her career advocating for disenfranchised communities, leading Climate Justice League chapters around the US, working on negotiations with Israel and Palestine, and, most recently, at the United Nations Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific. At the UN, Tenzin witnessed many young migrants experiencing hardships assimilating to a new country. She was a visiting lecturer at Rangsit University. Tenzin’s work has been recognized around the world: as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a Harry S. Truman Scholar, and one of OZY Magazine’s “5 Civil-Rights Leaders for a New Generation.”
Mingjing Huang is a world-renowned electrical engineer and artist working in the medium of light and a system architect/electrical engineer who builds consumer electronics products. She has worked at some of technology’s most iconic companies, including Apple, Cisco, Lab126/Amazon, and Nokia. Mingjing has shipped products with > 1million units in volume, and filed fifteen patents (12 granted) with topics spanning electromechanical interconnect, human computer interaction design, and algorithms. Her engineering consulting firm, Essence Engineering, has helped clients in consumer electronics, wearables, and medical devices fields create polished prototypes. Since 2017, Mingjing has brought her insatiable curiosity and creative energy to building large scale art. She collaborated with Symmetry Labs to bring their sculptural work Sea of Light to New York City, and Light Garden - 1000 Year Bloom to Honolulu, Hawaii. She helped light the Rainbow Bridge by Josh Zubkoff with 25,000 LEDs at Burning Man 2018 and Art Basel Miami Beach 2018. She is currently lead artist on Yomigae, a light art installation on the exterior of the Temple of Direction to be debuted at Burning Man 2019. Mingjing’s ongoing personal spiritual journey through insight meditation has lead her to the understanding that the role of technology in molding our world is firmly in the hands and hearts of those of us who bring it into the world. With this, she is very excited to support Jara’s vision as a mentor and advisor.
Sergio is an Italian entrepreneur who started his first company while studying EE as an university freshman. The IT consulting enterprise he built from zero to a successful exit proved to be a better school of life and business than the actual schools he’s ever attended.
After a few years of jetting between Europe and Asia seeking business and personal challenges, he spent a year learning to integrate himself into the unique society of Korea then landed himself in the fragrant harbor of Hong Kong. There, he launched Satisfly, his second venture which combined his life-long passion for aviation with the newly emerging trend of social media.
As the recognized inventor of social seating, Satisfly helped airlines around the world to serve their customers better by understanding them better. Satisfly was later acquired by Travelstart, Africa’s largest online travel agency. As Head of Innovation, he set up a team in Taiwan to spearhead the company’s pivot into mobile through innovative consumer experiences such as Flapp, the world’s first mobile app to book a flight in only two taps. As a member of the management committee, he played a key role in preparing Travelstart to receive a significant investment from MTN and Amadeus Capital.
He now lives in San Francisco and advises several startup companies and charitable foundations. He is currently advising a croudsourced bluetooth IoT network (nodle.io) and launching a stealth project.
Director, Internet of Things (IoT) at Samsung
Abhi leads the product direction for Samsung’s ARTIK IoT cloud platform. Prior to joining Samsung, Abhi led product management and product marketing for all things IoT at Apigee (now part of Google Cloud). Before Apigee, Abhi worked at eBay (Magento commerce), Microsoft Tellme (voice recognition), A.T Kearney (management consulting), and Oracle (CRM and enterprise software). He holds an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in computer science from Texas A&M University, and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai.
Working on projects of co-creativity and social venturing since 2012, Thami Schweichler is a social entrepreneur focused on design for social innovation. After obtaining a Master’s degree at ENSCI – Les Ateliers in Paris, Thami participated in the development of Koneksie, a social enterprise aiming to improve road safety and provide entrepreneurship opportunities for motorcycle taxi drivers in Kenya. At the end of 2015, Thami co-founded Makers Unite, a social enterprise producing sustainable accessories to provide employment opportunities for newcomers with a refugee background in The Netherlands. Makers Unite has be awarded the Refugee Challenge winner from UNHCR and What Design Can Do competition, as well as winner of the prizes ABN AMRO Social Entrepreneurship and EU Innovation - Amsterdamers, Maak Je Stad.
So far Makers Unite has benefited directly more than 70 newcomers in Amsterdam providing their social inclusion program and the awareness workshops of their process have been provided to more than 600 people in 5 different countries.