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Meet the People of Rukmini Foundation

We would like to acknowledge our team of board members, staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to realize the mission of the Rukmini Foundation. We are fortunate to have such a diverse group of talented people working with us to achieve our common goal of empowering underprivileged girls through the power of education.

Our Board

Bibhuti Aryal

President / Chair of the Board

Bibhuti is responsible for ensuring that the organization fulfills its mission and achieves the goals set by the board through coordination of efforts of all volunteers of the Rukmini Foundation. Bibhuti brings his years of experience in various industries like: government, construction, finance and technology along with a strong desire to initiate a positive change in the world.

    Priti Bhattarai

    Vice President and Chair of Nepal Team Committee

    With a Masters from London School of Economics in NGOs and Development, along with courses in Social Policy and Gender and Development, Priti brings with her the experience of both policy and development. She was born in Nepal, brought up in Japan, and has lived in England for eight years. Before moving to the United States, she went back to Nepal and worked on issues concerning Education for All and Gender Equality. Her work entailed creating awareness amongst the communities in rural Nepal on issues concerning both health and education, whilst striving for change in the country’s education policy. She recently moved to the Untied States and has become part of the Rukmini Foundation. With her previous experience working in Nepal, she has a great understanding of Rukmini Foundation’s mission and vision and will chair the Nepal Team Committee to work closely with our team on the ground to ensure progress, productivity and help forge new relationship with other entities in Nepal.

      Allyce Pinchback

      Chair of Community Outreach Committee

      Allyce is Professional Development Project Manager for Pittsburgh Public Schools where she is responsible for providing professional development supports for teachers around the District’s Measures of Effective Teaching. Previously employed at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, she has a strong passion for urban education and international affairs and hopes to utilize her skills and talents to promote cross-cultural communication and understanding between the girls the foundation serves and urban students in the Pittsburgh region.

        Linda Githiora

        Chair of Fundraising and Development Committee/Grants and Research Manager

        Linda has a Masters in Public Administration and brings her talents in proposal development, research, strategic planning, grants management, and program development, implementation, and evaluation. She has firsthand experience in combating gender discrimination in her homeland of Kenya. Linda has seen the positive impact that grassroots development can have in a community, and plans to utilize her skills and experience to make an impact in the communities that Rukmini Foundation serves. Linda will build a sustainable source of funding for our programs through the development and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising plan that reflects the mission, vision, and goals of the Foundation.

          Ang Dawa Sherpa

          Board Member & Chair of Marketing Committee

          Ang Sherpa, or Dawa as he is known to us, brings a blend of technical expertise and an eye for aesthetics that helps us present our ideas in a visually stunning manner. He has years of experience in the Technology and Marketing disciplines, but he also has a passion for photography and design. Dawa comes from a proud Sherpa family and has a desire to contribute to the development of Nepal through education. He has been a key member of the foundation from the beginning, and was recently voted into the board to help take our PR & Marketing efforts to a whole new level.

            Nikolas “Nik” Ristev

            Treasurer / Chair of Budget & Finance Committee

            An Ohio State University (OSU) graduate in Accounting and Law, Nik is responsible for the financial and regulatory oversight of the foundation. As Treasurer of the foundation, Nik will ensure transparency in all financial transactions and help the foundation to make the most effective use of capital in execution of the foundation’s programs.

                Susan Majcher

                Chair of Technology Committee

                Susan leads Rukmini Foundation’s Technology-related initiatives to help run the organization as efficiently as possible through the use of information technology. Susan is currently a sales operations manager focused on data governance and data warehousing for a global biotech organization.  Her vast experience includes applications and data management, database marketing, marketing automation, IT solution delivery, data warehouse operations, data governance and business intelligence.  She has a degree in business administration from Robert Morris University.

                  Angelina Mertens

                  Chair of Sustainability Committee

                  With a background in international development (MA in Global Studies) and social work (BA), Angelina possesses a wide range of work experiences in the non-profit sector. Being a German native who is living in Silicon Valley, California and has worked or researched in Asia, Latin America and Europe, Angelina brings a unique perspective to challenges that societies and organizations are facing today.

                  During her UNESCO fellowship in Kathmandu in 2011, Angelina was introduced to the work of the Rukmini Foundation and has continued to be involved. She will help the Rukmini Foundation to focus on a sustainable development strategy, as well as innovative and self-empowering solutions.

                    Our Staff

                      Rojin Shrestha

                      Rojin Shrestha lives in Pharping and has recently completed his Bachelor of Business Studies (Management) from Shikharapur Community Campus. He is joining our team in Nepal as a Program Assistant to help with our mentoring (Didi) program. Rojin will support our mentors in planning and executing activities as well as in data collection and other day to day activities. Besides supporting the Didis, Rojin will also serve as a positive male role model for the girls of our program as well as the boys of our partner schools.

                      Rojin is very excited to be able to help and mentor his younger sisters and brothers. Away from school and work, Rojin loves to play sports as well as indoor games and is an excellent chess player.

                          Sabina Bisunke

                          Lead Mentor

                          Sabina Bisunke is a 3rd year student of Humanities at Shikharapur Community Campus. She is a local as she is originally from Dakshinkali, an area very close to Pharping. She recently joined as our new Head Mentor (Didi) and will be working closely with all Rukmini scholars.

                          Sabina will be responsible for the day to day activities of the Rukmini Foundation and will assist our Program Officers to ensure that the foundation programs are running smoothly and that all scholars are receiving the necessary support to be successful. Sabina will also be working closely with Foundation Didis and other mentors to provide interesting mentoring programs for the scholars and school students. Sabina is enthusiastic, positive and very active in the community. As a local girl, Sabina is proud to be a role model for other girls and is looking forward to learning as well as mentoring.

                            Niroj Shrestha

                            Program Officer

                            Niroj has been managing many of the activities of A School for Community (ASC) in Nepal that has been established to not only promote formal education, but also to leverage the experiences and skills of community leaders and members to promote local development. Niroj will bring his local expertise as well as his experience in managing programs at the grassroots level. He seeks to help the foundation to continually improve the delivery of programs while also building the capacity of our Didis and local volunteers.

                              Pramila Gajmer

                              Administration & Accounting

                              Pramila will work with Rasmita to support the day-to-day affairs, but will also be working with the Program Manager to ensure that all expenses are accounted for. Pramila will be responsible for record-keeping and providing regular reports to Foundation leadership in Nepal. She will also be supporting the Didi Program and will serve as a mentor to the girls.

                                Our Advisory Council

                                Dennis Kremer

                                Vice-President / Chair of Technology Committee

                                As a Director for Technology for EFI (a leading printing software vendor), Dennis has been spearheading technical architecture work for many years. He brings over 17 years of software development and management experience to the table in areas ranging from large corporate development in the finance industry, transportation/logistics and independent software vendor experience in the print industry. Dennis also possesses a keen understanding of how technologies can transform and enable agile organizations to achieve success. As a key member of our Advisory Committee, Dennis will help the organization make the best use of technologies in an effort to run the foundation efficiently as well as outline new and innovative ways to bridge the technology gap that exists between students in the US and the students and school(s) that Rukmini Foundation is supporting in Nepal.

                                  Dr. Nabin Aryal, PhD

                                  Special Adviser

                                  Nabin led the foundation’s work in Nepal from the inception till April 2015. He is now serving as a special adviser from his new home in Nairobi, Kenya where he will be working with the US and Nepal Teams to provide strategic guidance for the foundation. Dr. Nabin Aryal received a PhD in Economics from Hitotsubashi University and has been managing NGO programs in underdeveloped areas in India and Sri Lanka and has extensive experience in grassroots development efforts.

                                    Laxmi Aryal

                                    Advisor

                                    Laxmi was the first female in her family to receive an education. While the education she received was limited, she was able to make the best of it and became the first person from her family and village to complete high school, undergraduate studies and eventually a Masters degree. She eventually earned a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Public Policy. Hers is an inspirational story that the Rukmini Foundation hopes to replicate. She serves as an inspiration for the foundation and its leadership.

                                      Eri Taniguchi

                                      Gender & Development Issues Advisor

                                      With a M Phil in Development Studies from Oxford University, Eri is an expert in the field of development with a focus on gender equality. Her studies and works have been dedicated to bringing more gender equality and opportunities for women, especially in underdeveloped areas. She serves as a consultant by helping to set the agenda of the Rukmini Foundation as we strive to provide young girls more opportunities in the area of education. She is currently stationed in Ulan Bator, Mongolia with the UNFPA program.

                                        Our Volunteers

                                          Shashi Sharma

                                          Regional Director

                                          Mr. Sharma has been leading community development work in the areas surrounding Pharping for nearly 40 years. He has led programs to bring infrastructure to the villages, such as: providing running water to homes, building electricity and telephony infrastructure, establishing school systems, and building healthcare facilities. Mr. Sharma will serve in an advisory capacity to develop partnerships with local organizations and build consensus with local leaders in order to effectively implement our programs.

                                              Kedar Nath Acharya

                                              Head of Student Selection Committee Head

                                              Mr. Acharya has been an educator in the Pharping region for over 35 years, and is keenly aware of the challenges faced by potential students there. He is also driven by the opportunities that exist for providing a bright future to people in the surrounding communities. As an educator and a local community leader, Mr. Acharya provides our foundation with the energy needed at the local level to make this program a success.

                                                Bandana Aryal

                                                Program Manager

                                                Bandana Aryal has over 8 years of experience in the NGO sector working with organizations that focus on poverty in rural areas in Nepal. Her expertise are in the area of food security, rural livelihoods, and local economic development in Nepal. She has had a big impact on various projects and programs, including work with the French Cooperation/Ministry of Agriculture, Plan Nepal, and LGCDP/MoFALD. She received a Master’s Degree in Agriculture from Wageningen University of the Netherlands in 2008. Bandana has been able to combine her research knowledge with hands-on experience from the field to design, monitor, and evaluate programs that result in positive outcomes. She is excited to bring those attributes to help improve the programs of Rukmini Foundation. Being a great-granddaughter of Rukmini, the foundation’s inspirations, Bandana has extra motivation to help the foundation reach a new level of success. As a mother of a young daughter, and as a female who has had to fight against perceptions of what a girl and woman is capable of, Bandana knows all too well the challenges facing the girls of Rukmini Foundation. Despite these challenges, she is confident that a combination of a positive attitude and hard work along with the support from the community, we will be able to provide new opportunities and a better future for the girls and their families.

                                                  Prakriti Nepal

                                                  Didi Program & Nepal Community Outreach Lead

                                                  As a student of Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Prakriti has a keen interest in grassroots development that can lead to a lasting peace and sustained development for Nepal. Along with her passion for promoting gender equality and education for all, she brings a wealth of experience in working with various youth groups on different projects and programs. With Rukmini Foundation, she is serving as a Lead for the mentoring program (Didi) as well as being the liaison between the foundation and partners in Nepal. Through her leadership and efforts, she is not only inspiring Rukmini scholars but also the other young ladies who serve as mentors for the organization.

                                                    Sandesh Aryal

                                                    Chief Technology Officer

                                                    Sandesh will lead all technology initiatives of the foundation. One of his chief goals will be to establish Internet connectivity for the students in Nepal and to implement a distance learning program. He is also responsible for the technical infrastructure that supports our foundation’s communication and marketing initiatives. He brings expertise in technology and communications as well as his credentials as an educator. He received a PhD in Computer Science from Texas A&M University and works as a research scientist in a speech technology company.

                                                        Shruthi Shankar

                                                        Volunteer Intern

                                                        Hello! My name is Shruthi and I’m a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying neuroscience and philosophy. I am very excited to work with Rukmini because I am interested in the intersection between women’s health, rights, and education. Throughout the next several years, I will be supporting Rukmini’s various community events, as well as raising awareness of South Asian women’s cultural issues within the Pitt campus. I hope that my work here helps pave the way so that a girl’s education is no longer seen as a privilege, but as a right.

                                                            Yuan Ren

                                                            Volunteer Intern

                                                            Yuan Ren is currently a candidate for  a Master of Public Administration degree at Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at University of Pittsburgh. Her fields are Policy Analysis and Non-profit Management. Based on her academic background, she assists the Rukmini Foundation with the program evaluation, marketing improvement and fundraising. She believes that there is no other effective way to improve the gender equality than to empower girls through education.

                                                                Sangya Gyawali

                                                                Volunteer Intern - Project Management

                                                                Sangya is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Anthropology and Economics with a background in medicine and healthcare. She began interning with Rukmini Foundation on December, 2015. Since then she has been working closely with the Nepal Team to evaluate and improve project planning and reporting while also managing marketing strategies. She is interested in using business as a way to lift the bottom billion out of poverty. She is constantly motivated by her time in Nepal, and various parts of Africa where she worked closely on community development projects in the realm on healthcare to non-profit capacity building during the past three years. She is very excited to continue using her skills to strengthen Rukmini’s goals to empower girls in rural Nepal through education.

                                                                    Bhakti Patel

                                                                    Volunteer Intern

                                                                    Hello! My name is Bhakti and I’m a rising sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Finance and Supply Chain Management. I am very honored to be given the opportunity to work with Rukmini because I am extremely interested advocating and reducing the educational gap between South Asian men and women. Over the course of my college career, I will be supporting Rukmini’s various community events, as well as raising awareness of South Asian women’s cultural issues within the Pitt campus. I hope that my work here helps inspire more people to join the cause to make the cultural and educational equality envisioned by the founders of Rukmini into a reality.

                                                                        Carly Amann

                                                                        Volunteer Intern - Marketing / Graphics Design

                                                                        Carly is a recently graduated student of the Graphic Design program at La Roche College and began working with the Rukmini Foundation in May 2016. She found a passion for girls’ rights for education through a senior research project and thought the Rukmini Foundation to be a great fit. Through design, she hopes to create appeal to in the foundation to promote the education of these girls.

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