United Planet Team


Dave Santulli - Founder and Executive Director

Why United Planet?  Besides my family, of course, there is no greater joy than meeting the people of this world, experiencing their fascinating cultures, and working together beyond borders, to make a positive difference.

"To lead is to serve."

Read more about Dave...

From: United States United States

Theresa Higgs - Vice President of Global Operations

Working at United Planet is a chance to learn, grow and explore!

"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit." - Wade Davis

Read more about Theresa...

From: United States United States

Jonathan Hass -  Director of Human Resources

I am honored and inspired to be part of such a progressive and important organization. United Planet has grown so much in recent years; I am eager to see us make an even greater impact in promoting cross-cultural understanding and changing lives!

"The matter of international relations is very subtle and exquisite." - Vladimir Zhirnovsky


Read more about Jonathan...

From: United States United States

Li Jia - International Programs Manager

United Planet provides me a great opportunity to see different cultures from different aspects. Not only to help me to learn work in an American environment, but also to help me to achieve personal goals.

“Experience is never limited and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-bone particle in its issue.” - Henry James

From: China China

Laura Kastner - Groups and Partnerships Manager

Through my own study abroad, travel, and global volunteer experiences, I understand the importance and benefit of intercultural exchange. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that offers people such a unique opportunity to experience another culture while making a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

"One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller

From: United States United States

Emilie Chagnon - Controller

Working for United planet makes me confident that the world could be better. It helps us to open our heart to the world and appreciate cultural differences. Working for United Planet is such a big challenge and it is very exciting to participate to make a world more united.

"It doesn't matter how long my hair is or what colour my skin is or whether I'm a woman or a man." - John Lennon

From: Canada Canada

Kait - Short-Term Coordinator

A life-long passion for social service, a deep-set desire to learn about the various cultures of our world, and the opportunities to volunteer in Ghana and Peru has led me to United Planet. I am so excited to be able to help others explore different various parts of the world. Social service, through cultural immersion, is an amazing way to discover and witness the inherent similarities between all people regardless of the distance that may separate us.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” –Herman Melville

From: United States United States

Jinexa - Short-Term Coordinator

Being born in the US to Latino parents, and having studied several languages, I have come to understand the value of intercultural exchanges. The knowledge gained from others who have lived in a world other than your own is priceless, and one of the best ways to access that knowledge is through cultural immersion. I believe in what United Planet does and what it stands for, and I am happy to assist in the goal of bringing the people of our world together.

"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible'!" - Audrey Hepburn

From: United States United States

Ekaterina - Long-Term Coordinator

I strongly believe in relational diplomacy that aims to connect people through their cultures. United Planet fosters people to see their interpersonal relationships through the prism of intercultural exchange and helps people to be the mediators of relational diplomacy.

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." - Rabindranath Tagore

From: Russia Canada South Korea 

Kris - Long-Term Incoming Coordinator

United Planet is a wonderful place to learn, to serve, to experience, to love, and to make a difference.

"Love your neighbor as yourself." - Mark 12:31

From: China Canada 

Cameron - Program Advisor

Travel, and especially international travel, presents challenges and opportunities for growth that are instrumental, at least in my case, in the process of personal development. Working with an organization like United Planet, surrounded by so many interesting and capable people, has given me the opportunity to assist others as they plan their adventures while I continue to shape my own.

"If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is." - Charles Bukowski

From: United States United States

Allie - Program Advisor

Instituting global change and giving back to the community I belong to are life-long passions of mine. Volunteering abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Working at United Planet allows me to help other people have the same experience. It also allows me to help create a stronger global community based on understanding through service learning, which is giving back to the global community we are all a part of.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." – Saint Augustine

From: United States United States

Maria - Alumni Coordinator

Having been lucky enough to be brought up in a multicultural environment, and having experienced life in three different continents made me believe the world has indeed no frontiers. We all have a common language in which we are able to understand each other's needs, and we all should try to share part of each other's journey. I believe United Planet promotes this vision wonderfully.

“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” –Antonio Machado (Spanish poet) 

From: Brazil Brazil

Magdalena - Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator

Being part of United Planet's wonderful team has given me an amazing opportunity to better understand the role of volunteerism and cultural exchange in creating a united world in which people support and respect one another. I’m proud that through my work for United Planet I can also contribute to making a positive impact in the world.

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

From: Poland United States

Andrea - Marketing Supervisor

Working at United Planet is an exciting opportunity because I believe everyone can benefit from an understanding and appreciation of cultures that differ from their own. Cross-cultural understanding is the key to a peaceful future, and I'm so glad to be working in an environment that promotes acceptance, generosity, and curiosity.

"It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - J.K Rowling

From: United States United States

Kristin - Senior Marketing Coordinator

United Planet provides the opportunity for individuals to grow with their contributions. By helping one another, we can begin to understand one another, and ultimately gain valuable insight into others as well as ourselves. These kinds of perspectives affect your perception of life and that is something worth discovering.

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try” –John F. Kennedy

From: United States United States

Teagan - Digital Marketing Specialist

Having been born in Australia and raised in Amsterdam, I consider myself well-versed in the benefits of global cultural exchange. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to use social media to reach people all over the world and spread United Planet’s message.

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal." – Albert Pine

From: Australia Australia

Maurice - Marketing Coordinator

Growing up in an academic and migrating city such as Cambridge provided opportunities for idea exchange, expression and experiences with diverse populations. Traveling outside the U.S. to Central America and the Caribbean gave me the chance to understand the true meaning of global perspective and citizenship. I believe others should witness and share this as well. I appreciate the chance to work for United Planet, an organization which shares the philosophy of learning through cultural immersion.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." – Martin Luther King, Jr.

From: United States United States

Chelsea - Marketing Coordinator

There are too many barriers that separate us all, many of which are man made. I believe hope and understanding can simply reshape those barriers and help all to realize that other people are not as far as they may seem. We all have different blessings and therefore have various gifts to share with one another. The more we see and learn the more we have the potential to break down those barriers set up in our own mind. Working with United Planet I truly believe we can start the chain of creating a world without borders.

"A traveler without observation is a bird without wings." –Moslih Eddin Saadi

From: United States United States

Joy - Marketing Coordinator

Volunteering abroad while in high school completely changed my life and aided in choosing my major in college. Travelling gave me insight as to how valuable understanding and immersing oneself in another culture can be. United Planet champions this belief that through education, immersion, and exploration, we can gain a world of insight which can only lead to further growth and progress in helping to create a more globalized and compassionate society.

"There are no boundaries, only possibilities." –Sakyong Mipham

From: United States United States

Rebekah - Marketing Coordinator

Spending a semester abroad in Barcelona during my junior year of college evoked my interest in learning about other cultures and the diversity of the world that exists outside of the bubble know as New England that I have rarely had the opportunity to leave. United Planet’s underlying principle of relational diplomacy, recognizing diverse backgrounds as a way to unite the world, and my interest in the marketing field drew me to this internship position. It is the perfect fit to combine both my interest in travel and my studies of communication, media and culture.

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." –Oscar Wilde

From: United States United States

Lin - Accounting Coordinator

Working at United Planet has given me the opportunity to learn about different cultures existing in different places. It allows me to understand how people with diverse backgrounds can be united as one world. I believe that hope, respect and understanding can make this world become a wonderful place.

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." – Albert Einstein

From: China United States

Leo - Web Administrator and Developer

Working at United Planet has allowed me to gain new perspectives on other cultures, and the world has become a much more fascinating place.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucius

From: Taiwan Taiwan


International Coordinators


Severin Mapunda - Executive Director, United Planet Tanzania

Severin Mapunda began his career in volunteer work when he served as an SPW volunteer in Lushoto (in Usambara Mountains), Tanzania in 1999. Since that time he has worked with national and international volunteers with SPW, Restless Development, and VSO in Tanzania. He has experience in volunteerism, youth programs, program management, and a wide range of professional experience. He has worked as a professional social worker at Tanzania Heart Institute, as team leader for Students Partnership Worldwide researchers in Tanzania, as a community mobilizer with NGOs and government departments, and with youth programs and HIV/AIDS campaigns.

Severin has a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work, specialized in Children and Youth Development and an Advanced Diploma equivalent to a degree from the Institute of Social Work Tanzania. He is enthusiastic about learning about others’ cultures, and he enjoys football and swimming.

From: Tanzania Tanzania

Rama Mlegelo - Tanzania

Rama Mlegelo is the Volunteer Liaison for United Planet Tanzania and is the staff member you will work with most closely on the ground. In this role, he checks in with volunteers throughout their Quest about their work at the projects. Rama is originally from Dar es Salaam and has been devoted to volunteer work since he had his first experience as a community development volunteer with Student Partnerships Worldwide. He has a degree in Industrial Relations at the Institute of Social Work in Dar es Salaam.

From: Tanzania 

Yaw Gyamfi - Ghana

Yaw studied at the Hotel Catering and Tourism Training Institute and have a B.A in Political Science from the University of Ghana and an M.A in International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, Vermont. He also spent a number of years volunteering in different towns and villages in support of developmental projects in Ghana. I welcome volunteers to come and explore the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality!

"Sharing Ghana with the rest of the world has been a passion of mine since childhood. My passion for Ghana is fueled by how much I learn every time I share my country with others."

From: Ghana Ghana

Manfred Molin - Peru

Manfred's background is in general physics and technology management. He has been living in Peru since 2003. He truly loves coordinating the volunteer programs, cultural activities, excursions, Spanish lessons, family stays and more through United Planet.

From: Netherlands Netherlands

Vishwaraj (Raj) Gyawali - Nepal

Apart from United Planet, Raj is involved in socialtours.com (the Founder Director) and socialtreks.com, in Nepal River Conservation Trust as Board member, in Joy Foundation Nepal as Life Member (honourary), KEEP Nepal (life member) and Namaste Nepal (board member).

From: Nepal Nepal

Binita - Nepal

Binita comes from Handigaon, a district of Kathmandu. She went to Welham’s College in Kathmandu and graduated in Finance and Accounts. She has been working for Socialtours since 2009 and is in charge of trainees, especially the many volunteers coming to work in an orphanage or a school here Nepal. What Binita likes the most about working here? The trust we have in each other, and the teamwork.

From: Nepal Nepal
Pablo Proano

Pablo Proano - Ecuador

Pablo is from Quito, Ecuador where he has years of experience working with international students and volunteers through Spanish language schools and academic exchange programs. He has been United Planet's Ecuador Country Coordinator since 2005.

"As United Planet's Coordinator in Ecuador, I have strengthened my communication with national and international volunteers. In addition, I have gained a great deal of experience organizing and promoting cultural activities and academic trips, and supporting volunteers in their adjusting processes to a new environment and with their Spanish learning skills."

From: Ecuador Ecuador

Paul Fischer - Chile

Paul is a high school teacher and university professor in Santiago, Chile and he obtained a B.A. Degree from Duke University and an M.A. Degree in History from the University of Denver. He has operated his own trade-related business in Chile and worked for the U. S. Foreign & Commercial Service at the American Embassy in Santiago. Paul also spent several years in Africa with the Peace Corps. He currently lives in the Lo Barnechea sector of Santiago with his wife and their three children.

From: United States United States

Hannah Clare - South Africa

Hannah is the General Manager at United Through Sport Foundation, and is perfectly placed to manage the volunteer program, having been a volunteer herself back in 2005 (she never went home). Originally from the UK, Hannah has a great balance between understanding western expectations mixed with knowledge of the local context after running programs in South Africa for 6 years.

From: United Kingdom United Kingdom

Nick Mould - South Africa

Nick is the Director and Founder of the United Through Sport Foundation, which partners with United Planet in South Africa. United Through Sport is a non-profit organization focused on development through sport, under which the volunteer program operates. Nick is half English half South African, was born and studied in the UK (at Cardiff University) before returning to the land of his father in 2005 to set-up United Through Sport.

From: United Kingdom United Kingdom

Melanie & Mihail - Romania

Melanie Tanase and her husband Mihail coordinate our volunteers in Romania and the two of them and their family manage the orphanage in Valea Plopului. They have been accepting United Planet volunteers for their organization since 2005.

From: United Kingdom United Kingdom

Jessica Blas - Costa Rica

Jessica is a native of Costa Rica and works as the short-term coordinator for the United Planet volunteers. Jessica has been a Girl Scout for more than twenty years in addition to participating in a volunteer abroad program in Sweden and working with children. She is very proud to show United Planet volunteers how beautiful Costa Rica is!

From: Costa Rica Tanzania
Anne Triest

Anne Triest - China

Anne started out as a volunteer on the China Summer program in 2007, and somewhat to her own surprise, loved it so much that she ended up continuing to come back each summer. She now lives in Changsha, China, and teaches high school English.

From: United States United States
Yanxu Wu

Yanxu Wu - China

Yanxu Wu has been involved in running the China Summer program since 2006. His background is in business, but he now serves as the director of the Feifeng Center, a non-profit promoting educational equality and cross-cultural exchange.

From: China China

Meet our Advisory Council!