Meet the People of Rukmini FoundationWe 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.
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. Email Bibhuti | @Bibhuti_Aryal
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. 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. Email Dennis
Secretary / Chair of Quality Education Committee
Lauren Smathers(BA: International Studies, Journalism; MA: Teaching) works as an English as a Second Language teacher at a local school district in Pittsburgh, PA. Having spent a significant amount of time conducting research, studying, and traveling throughout Nepal, she is well-versed in the challenges that face the country and its people. As a teacher who can also converse in the Nepali language, Lauren’s passion for educating international students will help the foundation to implement effective educational programs. She is also looking forward to utilizing her photo-journalistic skills to help the Rukmini Foundation produce written and visual content. Email Lauren
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. Email Allyce
Chair of Grants Committee / Grants and Research Manager
Linda brings not only her academic credentials with a Masters in Public Administration, she also brings her talents in proposal development, research, and grants management along with her 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 is looking to utilize her skills and experience to make an impact in the communities that Rukmini Foundation serves. Linda will be helping to build a sustainable source of funding for our programs by seeking grants through the various organizations that support education, gender equity initiatives and development work. Email Linda
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. Email Nik
Chair of Health & Wellness Committee
Cheryl has over thirteen years of experience in leading consulting, human resources, and marketing and communications functions for small, mid-size, profit and non-profit organizations. Cheryl is a certified instructor in behavioral change curriculums related to leadership and interpersonal skills as well as interviewing. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Management and a Senior Human Resource Professional certificate. In her current role at UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), she is the Executive Director of the Center for Connected Medicine, a $5M briefing center that is designed to educate and share how healthcare delivery is being transformed through the power of technology. At DDI, (Development Dimensions International), Cheryl led a volunteer program where she taught leadership courses to women re-entering or entering the workforce. She is currently enrolled in a Masters program focused on healthcare information management and public policy. Cheryl will chair the Health & Wellness committee and look to enhance the Aayush Program. Email Cheryl
Chair of Fundraising & Events Committee
A graduate of Penn State and a practicing nutritionist for a leading global health service company, Kristin is a firm believer that education has a huge impact on overall health. She has been a dedicated volunteer for Rukmini Foundation since the inception of the organization and has managed and organized most of the fundraising events for the foundation. As a board member who is chairing the Events and Fundraising Committee, Kristin has responsibility over the planning and execution of all fundraising events and awareness raising campaigns. With her ability to juggle multiple initiatives and exceptional organizational skills, the foundation has seen consistently more successful events. Email Kristin
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. Email Priti
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. Email Niroj
Aryashree "Arya" Aryal
Associate Program Officer
Aryashree Aryal, or Arya for short is currently pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Social Work from St. Xavier's College in Nepal. She believes that education is the single most important thing in bringing any kind of positive change in a society. She strives to bring social justice through volunteering work to raise public awareness about issues and supports the empowerment of underprivileged people through her social work. Arya has been working with organizations dealing with children and mental health and is looking forward to working with the scholars of Rukmini Foundation. Arya will help the team in Nepal to conduct, document, and evaluate programs. She will also support the efforts of the Didis (mentors). In her spare time, Arya loves to write and is always working to improve her public speaking skills.
Rasmita K C
Head Didi (Mentor) & Day to Day Operations
Rasmita manages the day to day operations of the Rukmini Foundation program by coordinating activities with school staff, parents, guardians and foundation leadership in Nepal. Her key responsibilities include making regular contact with the students to ensure that they are receiving the necessary help and support throughout the program. Rasmita is also responsible for tracking progress and escalating any potential issues. She is also attending college at Shikharapur College and will serve as a role model for the girls. Email Rasmita
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. Email Pramila
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.
Dr. Nabin Aryal, PhD
After receiving a PhD in Economics from Hitotsubashi University, Dr. Aryal has been managing NGO programs in underdeveloped areas in India and Sri Lanka and has extensive experience in grassroots development efforts. Based in Nepal, Dr. Aryal will monitor the efforts of the Rukmini Foundation and oversee the progress of the students. He will also work closely with the regional directors to ensure that the foundation’s agendas are feasible and ensure that they are met. Email Nabin
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.
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 is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science from Texas A&M University. Email Sandesh
Ang Dawa Sherpa
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. Email Ang "Dawa"
Jodi coordinates the fundraising efforts in the US and is responsible for raising the profile of the foundation, which will serve as the chief source of funds for the foundation. She works tirelessly to promote the foundation and also seeks to gain partnerships with companies that share similar values to Rukmini Foundation. Her involvement in the foundation is based on her belief that education holds the key to attaining equality for women.
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. Email Laxmi
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. Email Eri
Health & Wellness Advisor
With her background in public health, primary care, medical student and resident education, curriculum development and community service, Raquel hopes to be able to contribute to the foundation by acting as a liaison between these worlds. With a passion for underserved care, Raquel helped to start the Global Health Residency Track in the University of Pittsburgh Internal Medicine Residency Program as well as to develop the Program for Healthcare for the Underserved at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is a key faculty member in the Comprehensive Women’s Health Program in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UPMC. As an Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency in charge of Curricular Development, she trains residents on a daily basis, including in caring for the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugee population of Pittsburgh. Raquel hopes to be able to improve healthcare to this population through involving residents and medical students with the help of the foundation.
Volunteer Intern - Marketing/PR & Community Outreach
While she pursues a Master’s Degree in International Development with a focus on Human Security at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh, Sofia will be joining forces for the upcoming year. She will be supporting the team on Marketing and Communications, Events and Fundraising, and Community Outreach matters. Her currently expanding knowledge, and fresh ideas and enthusiasm will help the foundation to increase awareness and strengthen the community links.Get to know Sofia better, in her own words.
Volunteer Intern - Health & Wellness
Hi everyone! My name is Harinee Suthakar and I am a Health & Wellness (Aayush) Program Volunteer. I am an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Rehabilitation Science and Global Studies. I began working with Rukmini Foundation to evaluate, improve, and expand on their existing health education and wellness programs in September 2014. I am passionate about empowerment through education and believe every girl should have the opportunity to lead a successful, happy and healthy life. I hope to pursue a career in medicine and public health with focuses on community health education and health policy.
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.