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

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From: United States United States

Howard Kang - Director of Marketing & Communications

United Planet is actively creating a world with more empathy. I’m proud to work for an organization where my hours count.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay

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


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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

Pat Thapanangkun - Accounting and Finance Manager

It’s a great pleasure for me to be a part of such a wonderful organization like United Planet. With love, respect and understanding, I strongly believe that we can unite the world and create a community beyond borders.

"There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others." - Mandy Hale

From: Thailand Canada

Kait - Senior Program 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

Aurelia - Short-Term Program Coordinator

Past opportunities and experiences abroad have made the choice to work with United Planet an easy one, as my experiences have been life-changing, and continue to be the memories that I hold closest. Today’s globalizing world is one in which many cultures are connecting and colliding, and I think it is increasingly important to gain understanding of this world that is quickly becoming so cohesive. I am excited to work with United Planet to provide others the opportunity to delve into a different culture and change their lives for the better.

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

From: United States United States

Smriti - Short-Term Program Coordinator

I understand the importance of cross-cultural immersion and strongly believe in United Planet’s goal of Relational Diplomacy. Working here is extremely gratifying as we are able to facilitate intercultural exchange while also giving back to the community.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu

From: Nepal United States

Clémence - Long-Term Program Coordinator

It is exciting for me 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. Working at United Planet is a chance for me to gain a better understanding of the value of intercultural exchanges, and I am honored to be part of the team!

"You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world." - Oprah Winfrey

From: France Canada 

Vickey - Long-Term Incoming Program Coordinator

Having majored in Nonprofit Management and International Affairs, I believe that people from different cultures should help each other, as well as nonprofit organizations. The diversity of team members at United Planet, and its mission, and collaborations with so many nonprofit organizations are extremely appealing to me. I have received a lot of inspiration from team members. It’s fun and rewarding working here!

"Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud." - Maya Angelou

From: China Canada 

Andi - Alumni Relations Coordinator

My love for travel and experiencing the beauty of different cultures inspired me to work for United Planet. It is so gratifying to be a part of such an amazing team. I am so lucky to be a member of an organization that is truly dedicated to uniting the world through the cultivation of relationships between people from different cultures and backgrounds.

"A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of." - Nelson Mandela

From: United States United States

Rachael - Outreach & Partnerships Coordinator

As a student of Social Justice and International Affairs, It has been a personal goal of mine to work for an organization that fosters positive social change world wide and global unity. I am honored to be part of an organization that strives to create such a positive world.

"I feel like if you're a really good human being, you can try to find something beautiful in every single person, no matter what." - Lady Gaga

From: United States United States

Andrea - Senior 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

Elaina - Marketing Coordinator

United Planet provides me with an opportunity to learn more about the cultures from many other countries. Being a part of an organization that works to bring communities together from around the world is something that I am extremely proud of.

"True belonging is born of relationships not only to one another but to a place of shared responsibilities and benefits. We love not so much what we have acquired as what we have made and whom we have made it with." – Robert Finch

From: United States 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 Mohamedi - 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

Domenique Scott - South Africa

From the great state of Delaware, Domenique Scott was an assistant field hockey coach for five years at numerous universities both in Pennsylvania and Virginia before beginning her work at United Through Sport. Before becoming the Mass Participation Program Manager at United Through Sport South Africa, she volunteered with them from January to April of 2014.

"Volunteering is such a passion for me since it allows me to focus on others and not so much on yourself. This experience has made me become more open-minded, flexible, and adaptable. I think making a difference is the key in life."

From: United States United States

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!