Luke is a student at Austin High School. He spends his time coding, working with technology, taking photographs, and enjoying music. He has been with Rainforest Partnership since 2012 and has redone rainforestpartnership.org and filmsfortheforest.org. He helps with web and technology needs at Rainforest Partnership.
Priyakshi has a M.S. in Environmental Science from Central University, Tezpur, Assam, India. Priyakshi has worked for the sustainability of tea garden environments in Assam, India (Assam is the world's largest tea growing region). At Rainforest Partnership, Priyaski is currently conducting research on coffee and other tropical commodities.
Bobbie has been working with special needs children and their families for the last 13 years in
home, educational, and community settings, as a BCBA Senior Behavior Analyst, consultant, researcher, teacher, and adjunct university professor in New York and Texas. Her passion for environmental concerns and desire to 'do more' has inspired her to join the Rainforest Partnership team. Currently Bobbie is conducting research and writing articles on the global value of rainforests and the link between consumption patterns and rainforest deforestation.
Sarah has over 10 years of accounting experience for manufacturing, trading, construction, engineering and public accounting firms in Singapore and Austin, and 7 years of experience conducting audits of several non-profit organizations. Sarah is volunteering her accounting expertise at Rainforest Partnership.
Nate is originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa. He is currently a graduate student earning his Master of Arts in Biological Anthropology at Texas State University. In 2012, he earned a Bachelor of Science and certificate in Geographic Information Systems, also from Texas State University. Nate has traveled to many countries including China, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, and Thailand and loves to experience new cultures. He worked as an archaeologist and curator for the Center for Archaeological Studies for two years, and conducted his own research on the healing practices of the Blue Mountain Metis Native Americans. His current interests with the Rainforest Partnership are to help enhance the effectiveness of rainforest conservation efforts, as well as open doors for future Texas State researchers to work with the RP.
Karen Hood is a freelance writer interested in sustainability and green living. Her current interest with the Rainforest Partnership is to help spread the word about rainforest conservation and the communities that share the land. Karen loves to travel and learn about other cultures and enjoys the great outdoors. She has visited several countries including Ireland, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Canada, and Mexico. While in Argentina, she had the chance to hike through the rainforest in Iguazu. Before becoming a freelance writer, she worked as a curator, librarian, outreach professional, and film reviewer. Learn more about Karen at www.freelanceword.com
Laura Lee is a public relations major at the University of Texas @ Austin and is excited for the opportunity to be an intern at the Rainforest Partnership. In her free time she loves to go hiking, kayaking and exploring the great city of Austin. She is a member of the Texas Belles event planning organization and in the future either sees herself working in either the public relations or event planning fields.
Gianna Sturiale is originally from the San Francisco/Bay Area region of California. She is currently an environmental science major at The University of Texas at Austin and expects to graduate in one year. She fell in love with sustainability and the environment during her studies in high school and is very excited to help out with all the various projects at Rainforest Partnership this summer. In her free time, Gianna likes to be outdoors playing lacrosse, mountain biking, and kickboxing. In the future, she wants to graduate from UT and remain working in Austin.
Shruti is originally from India. She came to Austin last year after her marriage. She has completed her M.S in Physics from Punjab University, India. Before joining RP, she was volunteering with APIE. She is happy to join the team and help with CRM and data management.
Ruchi is originally from Bangalore, India. She is a Software Engineer and has been working for Wipro technologies and having experience of 3 years in IT industry. She likes travelling across, is foody and loves to interact with the people across the globe. She is enthusiastic to serve Rainforest Partnership in all ways possible with IT and also learn as many things she can.
Samantha is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, although she's frequently displaced and the question "where are you from" takes her about five minutes to answer on average. She's currently working towards a master's degree in public policy in Berlin, Germany. She holds a BA in International Affairs with a concentration in International Environmental Resources from GWU, and has had a lifelong interest in environmental policy issues that she's pretty sure can be traced all the way back to watching too much Captain Planet. She's happy that she's been given the opportunity to contribute to the Rainforest Partnership blog from afar.
Shawna was raised in Austin and graduated from Westlake High School, but is currently a senior at the University of Denver where she studies International Studies with a concentration in development and human rights. She recently spent a semester studying abroad along the coast of Chile, and loves all projects involving sustainable development. When she isn't in the office, she might be found climbing Colorado's 14ers, baking pies, or kicking back with a good book.
Sean is from Cedar Park, Texas. She's a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in Anthropology with a focus in cultural anthropology. She will be graduating with my Bachelors degree at the end of December. She previously interned at the UTSA Mexico Center, and she was also a youth mentor for at-risk youth. She's a musician, loves to travel and explore, play video games, and dance. She is really looking forward to being part of the RP team, and especially interested in helping and learning about the people, culture, and current events of the indigenous communities we are working with.
Lynne Tovar has a graduate degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs with experience in environmental policy and advocacy at the U.S. Federal government. She also holds a M.A. Degree in Anthropology and worked in the rainforest of Belize as a Mayan archeologist. She has three kids and is volunteering at Rainforest Partnership, so that she can be an active part of protecting the rainforest in South America for her children and generations to come.
Alena Follestad-Jutilla, originally from from Arizona and California, moved to Austin in February, 2013. Currently Alena is a junior in high school and hopes to study International Relations, International Business, & Gender Studies in college. She's extremely passionate about humanitarian work, female empowerment, equality, and find ways to protect our natural resources. Besides volunteering at RP, Alena stays very active in modeling, theater, reading, writing, dancing, hiking, traveling, exploring -- and anything creative or adventurous. After attending Films of the Forest at SXSW in March, she was very inspired by the work RP is doing and wanted to be a part of it.
Erynn, originally from the Chicago area, moved to Austin recently from Columbus, Ohio where she lived for 11 years and received her BFA in Fine Art from Ohio State University. Erynn's graphics background includes working as a designer for a magazine publishing company as well as years of freelance work. She is also a traditional artist, working primarily in oil and watercolor.
Lavanya Selvam Alli is a freelance documentary film-maker and photographer originally from India. She has worked on the research and production of documentaries and media campaigns with a focus on environmental and social issues. She is excited to be a part of Rainforest Partnership and is volunteering with them on their social and media outreach efforts.
Ahmed Bilal Hakeem completed his Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 and BS in Politics and Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan in 2009. Prior to volunteering for Rainforest Partnership, he has worked on various social programs ranging from microfinance to education to family policy.
In 2013, he completed a fellowship with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) where he developed an annual evaluation framework for the reengagement program targeted towards at risk youth. He worked with the Office of Alternative Education at CPS to analyze past data from juvenile detention centers and identify characteristics associated with recidivism and truancy. He used these findings to recommend improvements in the reengagement program and created a performance management system to track the success of the program.
In 2012, he worked in the Republic of Georgia to design and implement an evaluation plan for McLain Association for Children- a non-profit that provides trainings to educators around the country on educating children with disabilities. Before pursuing graduate studies in the US, Bilal worked for 2 years in Pakistan as a research and product development specialist at Kashf Microfinance Bank. In this position, he led field research projects and developed evidence based microfinance services for the urban poor.