Meet the Team
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.
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.
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.
Board Member - Data Management
Tara Matthews is a Senior Digital Analyst at the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation & Performance and Principal of Nonius Consulting. She first got involved with Rukmini Foundation in 2013 when she volunteered to fundraise for them at Dream Cream Ice Cream. After learning about their mission, she has been involved ever since. She is also on the Board of Directors of Birmingham Foundation, a member of the University of Pittsburgh Young Alumni Advisory Team and a member of the Code for Pittsburgh brigade. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling and watching Netflix with her cat.
Victoria "Tori" Snyder
Board Member - Events & PR
Victoria Snyder is the founder of Self-Care Señorita, Producer for OpticVoices, 3x Telly Award winning Producer and has spent ten years as a diversity, inclusion and equity educator. A brand strategist and operations consultant, she has worked to support, build and grow businesses. She sits on several boards including the Latino Community Center, and Cultivating Resilient Youth. She previously has worked in Higher Education for nine years and doing diversity and inclusion, and has published and presented at conferences across the country. She is an avid community servant and leader and serves as a consultant for many community-based organizations. Victoria received her undergraduate degree in History and Media Studies from the University of Mount Union. She received her first Masters from the University of Akron in Higher Education Administration and received her second masters from Duquesne University in Leadership in Professional Administration. She is the 2019 recipient of Cribs for Kids Women of Achievement Award, 2019 Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 along with several other community and national recognition.
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.
Fundraising and Resource Development Director
Linda has a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management and Program Evaluation. She has a wealth of experience in proposal development, research, strategic planning, grants management, and full-cycle program management.
Linda is passionate about community development, education, global health, combating gender discrimination, and eliminating human rights violations. She 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 manages Rukmini’s Fundraising and Development program and provides technical expertise on pre-and-post award data management processes.
Board Member - Health & Wellness
Thayjas Patil is an MD candidate at Drexel University College of Medicine. Thayjas first became involved with the Rukmini foundation during his undergraduate years at the University of Pittsburgh. There he helped establish the first collegiate branch of the Rukmini foundation. He has spent much of his educational career understanding social and public health inequities, and it has taken him around the world, from understanding healthcare access of refugees in Berlin to working with Rukmini to assess educational and nutritional access of villagers in Nepal. With his background in public health work and his current medical education, Thayjas serves as the Chair of Health & Wellness to help facilitate, improve, and expand the Aayush health and wellness programs.
Sr. Program Officer (Operations & Finance Manager)
Usha has a leadership role with the foundation and manages the efforts of the Didis, volunteers, and other support staff in Nepal. With a Masters in Sociology and Anthropology and training in Administration and Finance, Usha brings with her a valuable skill in numbers and a unique perspective of society. She is in charge of both the operations and the finance in Nepal, and is responsible for ensuring proper Accounting while dealing with daily operations. Usha also works closely with the Chair of the Nepal Team Committee to ensure that the Board is kept updated on key activities on the ground. Usha’s hard work and her dedication to Rukmini’s mission in empowering girls makes her is a true role model for not just our Rukmini Scholars but our staff and mentors.
Dipa Kuikel Pudasaini
Partnership Coordinator / Assistant Program Officer
I live in Gopaleswor, a place just a bit outside Pharping. I live with my husband's joint family of 8 including our little baby boy. I earned my Masters’ degree from Tri Chandra College in Kathmandu and I have worked as a Primary school teacher at Shikharapur School and also as a +2 Level teacher at Shikharapur Open school. I really love teaching, and in the little free time I have I love reading books (especially novels) and listening to music. At the foundation I am excited to take on the challenge of leading our GLOW Club Nepal program as a Partnership Coordinator. This fantastic program, which is supported by our amazing partners Global GLOW is an important part of our overall program and we have clubs in many different schools and communities, and I am excited to do everything I can to continue it success.
Assistant Program Officer
Sirjana Waiba, once a girl supported by the foundation has grown up to be a mentor and is now supporting the foundation. Hers is a transformation that shows why we do what we do. Sirjana joined our program as a Rukmini Scholar in 2014, and over the last few years, she has been working as a mentor while also pursuing her Bachelors in Education at Shikharapur Campus. Sirjana focuses her energies ion mentoring young Bahinis, and also writing compelling reports about the programs we conduct. Sirjana is passionate about learning the English language and wants to be a teacher later on. She believes that every person has a unique talent and teachers have to guide their students to find it. Once a shy girl, she is now teaching Bahinis about public speaking. Sirjana knows more than most what it takes to succeeed in school despite hardships, and she is using her experience and the new skills she has acquired to empower other girls through education.
Intern - Didi (Mentor)
Tamanna’ s parents migrated to Pharping from a remote rural village of Eastern part of the country, where finding work to make a living was difficult. Even more difficult was ensuring their kids’ schooling. Tamanna is grateful for this move as she had a better chance of getting education, and she completed high school and is now attending Shikharapur Community College in Pharping seeking a Bachelors in Business. Tamanna was a little familiar with Rukmini Foundation’s work in the community, but her interest to come and support the work of the Foundation grew when she participated in a self-defense training organized in the summer of 2022.
She joins us as an Intern where she is not only learning more about the foundation's programs, but is also helping younger girls as a Didi (mentor). She is involved in home visits, school visits, and assisting in the overall program activities. She has been attending programs and writing reports about them. She is happy to be a part of the team working while continuing her education in the morning. Outside of work, she likes to visit new places, make new friends, listen to music, read books and learn new things. She feels like a natural mentor and is quite at ease talking to younger girls to find out if they are experiencing any problems. Her personality traits will be a great help our Bahinis to have someone, a younger person, to talk to who understands their problems and also cares to help them through it.
Sabina Bisunke is a graduate of Shikharapur Campus and is currently a student at PadmaKanya Campus pursuing a MA in Rural Development. Being a local from Dakshinkali, an area very close to Pharping, she has great understanding of our work in Pharping. She joined Rukmini Foundation as our new Head Mentor (Didi) and is working closely with all Rukmini scholars.
Sabina supports the operations of the foundation by helping out with 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 also works 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.
As someone who is always excited to experience and try new things, I was very excited to be joining the Rukmini foundation and be a part of its journey. Before joining the team I only knew a little bit about the full scope of the foundation's programs, so when I joined the foundation as the Technology officer, I thought that my job was to handle technical parts like handling web sites, applications and other related IT tasks. However, as I am now getting fully involved and leading a program like our Digital Education & Empowerment Program, to teach girls and women of all levels about technology, I am amazed by the impact of the foundation and its programs, especially with innovative programs like what we do in terms of promoting and teaching technology.
Isn’t it the basic goal of technology to uplift society?
I certainly believe it is, and the first step is to increase knowledge and interest about technology and then to provide access. If we want our girls to be advanced enough in technology to be future programmers, we need to start at the basic level, and I am proud to be a part of that. While I am loving teaching my younger sisters, I am also excited about teaching women who are doing continuing education as part of our collaboration with a local Open School. In short, I am loving my new experiences and am excited about the journey for the foundation and for myself.
Intern - Didi (Mentor)
Ranjana Karki joined the foundation as a shy, little girl back in 2017. She and her family survived the devastating earthquake of 2015 in her village, Sindhupalchok, which was the epicenter of the disaster. Her family lost their home and livelihood, but thankfully, one of her relatives gave her a helping hand and was able to move in with them at a place called, Bhanjyang, one of the surrounding villages where the foundation operates.
Admitted in Setidevi High school in Sokhel, Ranjana had a hard time adjusting to this new environment away from her home. At the time, the teachers and other students had little idea of the trauma she was dealing with, and Ranjana appeared withdrawn and uncommunicative with teachers and classmates. The school recommended her for our program, and through our Didi Program and frequent visits to provide her support and encouragement, she started making progress in school and also started opening up in class. Her school Headmaster was so impressed with her progress that he even expressed to our team, “What kind of magic does the foundation do to make such a difference to a girl like Ranjana. This shy girl is now one of the most vocal in the school.”
Most of the credit in this transformation goes to Ranjana herself for her hard work, but she also credits the support from her mentors. She is currently studying Bachelors Degree in Business at Shikharapur College and is eager to give back by working as a Didi mentoring other young Bahinis who have their own challenges and traumas. She knows better than most what the girls need and how to provide them the care and support they need. We are so proud of her transformation from a shy girl to a confident young lady, and she is now performing the very same magic for other younger Bahinis as a Didi / Mentor.
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.
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.
Chief Technology Advisor
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.
Dr. Nabin Aryal, PhD
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.
Special Advisor on Technology and Education
An assistant professor of Management Information Systems at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), Arun teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Information Systems and Analytics. Prior to CSULA, he worked as a Teaching Fellow for Georgia State University (GSU) where he was part of the team that designed GSU’s enterprise systems concentrations within the computer information systems major. He is the recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award (2014 & 2015) and his research focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies, analytics, and enterprise systems. He earned a Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems from Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University and has worked in the IT industry for about seven years prior to entering the academic world.
For the foundation, Arun provides guidance on how to make the best use of technology to solve problems in developing countries, and also lends his teaching philosophies and ideals as we look to innovate around education for students in rural areas of Nepal.
Volunteer - Youth Mentor
Aasha Poudel joins us as a Volunteer to support our team. The meaning of her name Aasha, is hope, and it is very fitting because she wants to become an inspiration for her younger sisters who hope to achieve their dreams through education. Aasha is happiest when she sees others being happy, and her goal with the foundation is to help bring smiles to the girls we work with. As a local of our community, we are proud to have such a talented person who also believes in impacting the community.
She believes that if a girl gets an education, she can raise her voice against serious issues like child marriage. She also believes that education can make people in our community aware about discrimination that exists between boys and girls, and highlight major issues like child marriage, gender-based violence, and more.
Her motto is that positive thought create positive actions, and if you believe in yourself then nothing can stop you to be what you want. We are positive that you will hear more from Aasha in the future.
Pallavi aspires to work towards social development in intercultural communities and currently works for a non-profit organization to promote healthy lifestyle in different cultural groups of her community. She has a degree in Sociology and hopes to further her education in the field of social development and social justice. She is an avid reader and takes inspiration from various world literature, which reflects in her writing and thoughts on community development.
For the foundation, Pallavi's key responsibility is to review all field reports and edit for publication.
Join Our Team
We're a passionate group of people who believe we can change the world. Contact us to find out more about how you can help.