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.

Board Members

Bibhuti Aryal

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.

Ang Dawa Sherpa

Ang Dawa Sherpa

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.

Tara Matthews

Tara Matthews

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

Victoria "Tori" Snyder

Board Member - Data Management

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.

Priti Bhattarai

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.

Linda Githiora

Linda Githiora

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.
Nikolas “Nik” Ristev

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.

Ashley Lynn Priore

Ashley Lynn Priore

Community Outreach / Youth Engagement

Ashley Lynn Priore is a graduate from the Ellis School for girls in Pittsburgh, PA and is a current student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in English and Philosophy & Politics with a minor in economics. An award winning and nationally ranked player under the United States Chess Federation, Ashley is a competitive chess player, writer and poet, and social entrepreneur.

In 2014, Ashley founded The Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute, a Pittsburgh based non-profit organization dedicated to teaching chess to the community and ensuring every child has the necessary tools and opportunities to learn the game through a twenty-first century approach to education. Queen’s Gambit is dedicated to using the strategy of chess to keep Pittsburgh sustainable and innovative for the future. They lead initiatives throughout the city to support economic and community development.

Ashley currently serves on several nonprofit boards, and she is passionate about the Rukmini Foundation’s history and mission. I first became involved with the Rukmini Foundation in early 2018 when inquiring about using chess to support women and girls in Nepal. I’m a chess player, and I use the strategy of the game to provide tackle social issues. Empowering women and girls is my passion, and I’m so excited to work on youth engagement with the Rukmini Foundation. I hope to create even stronger bonds between Rukmini and the Pittsburgh community.

Our Staff

Usha Adhikari

Usha Adhikari

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.

Lalita Lamicchane

Lalita Lamicchane

Program Officer

Lalita became a wife when she was supposed to still be student at school. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she had to get married at an early age, so her education seemed to end in the 8th grade. She then became a mother when she should have been graduating from high school. Despite these early setbacks, she never gave up on her dreams of graduating and continuing her education.

Years after she dropped out, she decided to join, Shikharapur Open School, a school designed for students like her who had to drop out and looking to continue their education. Through hard work, she was eventually able to graduate with great results on the national examinations. Today, she is a role model for not just girls, but everyone who may have been denied an opportunity for an education. We are proud that she is using her talents to inspire future leaders in her role as a Program Officer leading a lot of our programming work.

Apsara Adhikari

Apsara Adhikari

Partnership Coordinator / Assistant Program Officer

Apsara joined the foundation team in early 2020. Her education is in Business Studies, but she has teaching experience from her time as a lecturer at Shikharapur Community Campus as well as teaching Business Management classes to Bachelor's of Business Studies students. As a resident of the community where we work, Apsara is very excited to support the empowerment of girls and women to help develop her community. Apsara will support our programs in a variety of ways, including reporting and other program supports.

Pramila Gajmer

Pramila Gajmer

Didi Program Coordinator

Pramila’s education and career have always focused on her passion for working with girls and their families. She believes that change happens when girls are given the proper education and guidance they need to draw on their own strengths and realize their potential to live fulfilling, independent and happy lives. She loves to get involved in social work and has worked as a volunteer in Women School, Manmohan Memorial Community Hospital, Ignite Mini Grant and Sampurna Nepal. With the foundation, she serves as a Didi  Program Coordinator where she facilitates our mentoring programs and is a constant source of guidance and support for our younger sisters.

Pramila Gajmer earned her Bachelor of Arts from Shikharapur Campus and is now studying for a Master's in Rural Development at Padmakanya Campus. 

Sabina Bisunke

Sabina Bisunke

Lead Mentor

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.

Usha Poudel

Usha Poudel

Technology Officer

Usha Poudel joins us as the Technology Officer to support our team's technical needs as well as looking for ways to incorporate technology education as part of our program. With the recent need for remote learning and virtual clubs, our team realized that we needed to strengthen our technical infrastructure, and bring in additional expertise. We are fortunate to have a local talent like Usha available to work with the team.

Usha has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and Information Technology from Academia International College and she is also studying for her Master’s in Public Administration at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.

She has previously worked as a Lab Assistant in Academia International College and is also working as a freelancer doing web development and other technical work. She says that travelling and reading books brings her joy and she is most excited about encouraging more girls to pursue technology as a potential career. She realizes we have a lot of work to do to make these opportunities available, and is excited about what the foundation is looking to do with technology.

Advisory Council

Eri Taniguchi

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.

Laxmi Aryal

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.

Dr. Nabin Aryal, PhD

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.

Arun Aryal

Arun Aryal

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.

Volunteers

Sandesh Aryal

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.

Pallavi Gyawali

Pallavi Gyawali

Reporting

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.

Aasha Poudel

Aasha Poudel

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.

Kedar Nath Acharya

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.

Preeti Khanal

Preeti Khanal

Volunteer, Program Development

Preeti Khanal is a recent graduate from Dickinson College with a Bachelors’ in Neuroscience and a certificate in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She currently inspires to be a public health advocate and a social entrepreneur who serves different communities that she is a part of. As a native from Nepal, she feels a deep connection with the Rukmini Foundation and working with the team to help bridge a gap that exists between different mental health initiatives and the implementation of such initiatives. She recognizes the importance of serving in marginalized communities with compromised access to health services and wants to help create programs that can benefit the community depending on the needs and accessibility, especially in mental health care. 

For the foundation, Preeti is looking at evaluating and conducting international research to conceptualize a mental health program, which will be aimed towards empowering women from underprivileged communities in Pharping, Nepal. She is collaborating with the team of Nepal in assessing the needs of communities that can better support the mission of the organization and stand for women empowerment through education and generating a proposal that documents the results of research for higher management.

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.

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