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.
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.
Aaron is currently a student at Miramonte High School, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. As an avid debater, he enjoys researching and writing about a variety of current issues, and is eager to help the Rainforest Partnership blog about the rainforests and climate change. He also enjoys playing the violin, guitar, and electric bass, as well as doing a little star watching on the side.
Dylan is a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara pursuing a double-major in environmental studies and psychology. He has always been passionate about challenges facing the environment and is writing blogs for Rainforest Partnership's website as a way to help spread awareness for the global importance of rainforests. His goals for the future include building and promoting sustainable communities and helping young people who have been disadvantaged due to difficult circumstances in their lives. Outside of school, Dylan enjoys running, playing tennis and hunting for good music.
Ashley Esparza is currently a freshman attending St. Edward's University. She's an Environmental Science and Policy major and has a big interest in the conservation and sustainability of the tropical rainforests around the world. She just moved here to Austin in August and is from College Station, Texas where she lived for 13 years. She will be conducting research for different blog posts that she will also be writing for the website. She's really excited to be working with this organization that benefits everyone for the greater good!
Brandon is an Environmental Studies student at Austin Community College. Originally hailing from Las Vegas, he moved to Austin in 2012 to become a part of the active culture here. His main interest lies in conservation and restoration, and he intends to join the Peace Corps after graduating. He is happy to have the opportunity to effect change on a direct level, and is confident that, through social media and community outreach, Rainforest Partnership can gain substantial awareness and support. When not volunteering, Brandon works full time for Apple Inc. and enjoys hiking in his free time.