Global Alliance

Our Board

Jake Allison, President

“Through compassion and entrepreneurship we can invoke positive systemic change; and I passionately apply this to all work and life endeavors.”

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In 2011 Jake Founded GIVE Volunteers with the intent of offering university students opportunities for personal growth and development while leaving a positive and enriching impact on the places and communities they visit through GIVE’s programs. Jake has spent the last decade promoting global citizenship through international travel. He has initiated volunteer programs in 9 countries across 5 continents with over 6,000 participants. GIVE works in tandem with the GIVE Foundation and is responsible for numerous projects overseas, focusing on capacity building through developing physical, human, and social capital. Jake graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arizona with a BA in International Studies and Sustainable Development.

Ken Cohen, Vice President

Ken is an Associate Professor at SUNY Cortland and the Director of the International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI). He holds a Master of Public Administration from Lewis & Clark College with a focus on organizational development and a Ph.D. in Conservation Social Sciences from the University of Idaho.

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Dr. Cohen has extensive professional experience in volunteer management, international sustainable development, fund raising, risk management, and community capacity building. Dr. Cohen’s research focuses on cultural imprints on ecological practices in sustainable operations. Dr. Cohen conducts applied research programs on how the confluence of natural resource management, cultural context, and economic development can be optimized to achieve positive sustainable outcomes. His research projects range from ecology projects in the Ngorongoro Crater, to serving as a leadership coach on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Northern Idaho, to designing cultural tourism strategies for the city of Liuzhou, China. As the Director of the ISDI, Dr. Cohen designed, developed, and delivered hybrid courses on international sustainable development in Tanzania, Zanzibar, Thailand, Nicaragua, Nepal and Ecuador. Dr. Cohen is the Vice President of the Give Foundation, a consortium of experts leveraging market-driven approaches and social entrepreneurial enterprises to address issues and opportunities within the interrelated fields of environmental conservation, economic development, education, and health.

Katence Olson, Board Member

Katence co-founded GIVE Volunteers in 2011 and is currently the Director of Operations and Marketing. She completed her B.A. degree cum laude with a double major in Psychology and Applied Communications at Gonzaga University, then continued her studies at Willamette School of Law.

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Katence’s passionate about providing culturally immersive travel experiences that uplift and empower local community members, while inspiring travelers to think and act globally. Katence built and scaled GIVE’s domestic foundation, business processes, and customer communications. Katence is currently responsible for overseeing operations, business strategy, marketing and website development, and has an integral role in the volunteer experience and ongoing engagement of past volunteers.

Our Staff

Mcheni Abeid – Education Coordinator

Tanzania

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Better known as MC, Mcheni exemplifies the power and potential of our equitable education initiatives. We first came to know MC as a teenager attending our English lessons in his home community of Kairo, Zanzibar in 2012. He had dreams of pursuing higher education to become a teacher himself, so he committed himself to his studies and started offering Swahili classes to our volunteers and other tourists to save money for his education.

After completing secondary school, MC returned to Kairo to join our education program as an intern in 2018. During this time he grew his classroom experience and lesson planning capabilities, earning a promotion to our Education Coordinator position the following year. MC now teaches full time at the Skuli Ya Kairo GIVE and has become an incredible role model for children in his home community.

Dave Boongullaya – Project Director

Southeast Asia

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Born and raised in the concrete jungle of Bangkok, Thailand, Dave always felt more at home in the tropical jungle and countryside of his home country. After studying International Relations and Politics at Webster University, Dave decided to pursue his passions in reforestation, organic agriculture and self reliance. Inspired by the principles of King Rama IX’s sufficiency economy, Dave spent several years learning from experts in the field, restoring tropical forests and supporting Thai farmers to transition to more sustainable methods of agriculture.

In 2018, Dave joined the GIVE team as our Project Director in Southeast Asia, where he oversees the planning and implementation of our agroforestry initiatives in Thailand and Laos.

Wendy Patterson – Reading Room Director

Nicaragua

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A native of Little Corn Island, Miss Wendy has always looked out for her community. Her true passion lies in education. She runs the reading room on Little Corn where she welcomes children to her after-school literacy and reading classes. She most recently began teaching pre-school as there was not another teacher qualified to take that position.

Many children on the island cannot read or write and Miss Wendy focuses on developing the students from a young age. She is a firm believer that through education you can bring out your personality, culture and values. Teacher Wendy as the children around the island call her has brought immense educational value to the children.

Geljen Sherpa – President of GIVE Nepal Foundation

Nepal

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With an extensive background in managing nonprofits, responsible trekking operations and mountaineering expeditions, Geljen deeply understands the importance of hard work, perseverance and community. His passion lies in helping his country recover from the devastating 2015 earthquake, expanding access to quality education for Nepal’s youth and preserving the critical alpine ecosystems of the Himalayas. Geljen is an extraordinarily humble, principled and effective leader for our projects and personnel in Nepal, and never ceases to amaze us with stories from his mountaineering days!

Bikash Magar – Project Coordinator

Nepal

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As a member of our host community of Paslang, Bikash’s work ethic, compassion for his community, and desire to learn has established him as an essential member of our Nepal team. Quickly adapting his project managerial experience and training in sustainable agriculture, Bikash has become our Project Coordinator in Nepal. In this role he oversees the planning, budgeting and execution of our projects, while also acting as a community liaison for the Paslang Homestay Committee. He goes above and beyond for his community and you can always catch him with a smile.

Sarah Levitt – Regional Coordinator

Tanzania

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Sarah grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree in Psychology from the University of Cape Town. She then went on to earn her postgraduate degree in Developmental Organizational Psychology, strengthening her interpersonal skills and problem solving abilities. After finishing her degree, Sarah became involved in GIVE’s volunteer program in Nicaragua in 2013, where she helped to facilitate our Reef Conservation program for several years before transitioning to our Tanzania program in 2017. Sarah’s compassionate and determined spirit have allowed her to forge powerful relationships with our community partners and play a critical role in developing our projects and personnel in Tanzania.

Our Social Entrepreneurs

The GIVE Foundation was built upon the idea that international travel, when facilitated with purpose and intent, can have profoundly positive impacts on the communities we visit, the wilderness we explore and the people who participate. Over the last decade, we have formed dynamic partnerships with effective social enterprises, NGO’s, institutions, nonprofits, cooperatives and educators who share that vision. This strategic alliance promotes equitable education, environmental conservation and social entrepreneurship through a variety of grassroots, market-driven and outcomes-based initiatives. These are the stories of the social entrepreneurs driving our success:

Responsible Travel Alliance

David Chogo – Founder of Green Paw Adventures

Tanzania

“So far I’m coming from a poor family, I wish to be able to give job opportunities, education and focus to many of the youths. I know this is going to be an inspiration…. I will be able to show them the real ways of any successful life, starting from the bottom.”

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In 2013, after working with GIVE for nearly two years as a climbing guide on Mt. Kilimanjaro, David reached out to GIVE to express his desire to start his own safari company, but his motivations went far beyond just building his own business

In partnership with GIVE, David Chogo finally realized his dream in 2016, founding Green Paw Adventures. Green Paw has since taken hundreds of people on safari and to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Their mission is to provide fair wages and quality opportunities to Tanzanians while also directing a percentage of profits towards community development initiatives. Thanks to David’s passion and commitment, Green Paw Adventures has become a model for responsible tourism in Tanzania.

Ann Tidarat Jisook – Founder of Hand2Trunk

Thailand

“It has always been my dream to share my passion for elephants with people from around the world and introduce them to the local people who care for them.”

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Ann’s love for elephants was born not long after she was. Her father was a mahout (elephant caretaker) and many of her earliest memories are of being around elephants. In her adult life, she continued to build her connection with elephants while working for various elephant welfare organizations. These positions allowed her to work alongside many fellow elephant advocates and experts in the field of elephant conservation.

Ann started working with GIVE’s Thailand program in 2016, helping to educate volunteers on ethical elephant tourism and coordinating our project initiatives. While working alongside GIVE’s host communities, Ann was reminded of her own community in Mae Chaem, Thailand, and the local people who have been caring for elephants for generations. This experience inspired Ann to found Hand2Trunk in 2018, an ethical tourism venture that empowers communities like her own to promote the welfare and conservation of Asian Elephants.

Touyvilai Kommamuang – Owner of iPlanet Tours

Laos

“I want to bring tourists to remote communities to experience the real Lao way of life and give opportunities to local families.”

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Raised in the Lao countryside of Xiangkhouang Province, Touy has always felt a connection to the rural communities sparsely populated throughout the rugged mountainous landscape of Laos. As owner of iPlanet Tours, he strives to connect these communities with the economic opportunities provided by tourism. Based in the popular destination of Luang Prabang, iPlanet strives to stand out from other tourism providers by offering genuine, off-the-beaten-path experiences that are designed and led by local people. For example, a Lao cooking class where you collect the ingredients from your homestay host’s garden, a handmade garment you can learn to make alongside the artisan, or a longtail boat journey to a hidden cave led by a local fisherman.

With a background in engineering, Touy has also been integral in coordinating and executing various infrastructure projects in our host communities over the years. He’s one of the most hardworking, trustworthy and genuine people on the planet, and an exceptional ambassador for the GIVE Foundation.

Pasang Sherpa – Founder of Green Paw Adventures

Nepal

“Thanks to GIVE’s mission that empowers local entrepreneurs through their field of expertise and makes them responsible global citizens.”

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Growing up in the shadow of Mount Everest, Pasang has been actively involved in the trekking and mountaineering community for most of his life. After playing an integral role in establishing GIVE’s Nepal Volunteer Program in 2017, it became clear that Pasang cared deeply about our education, conservation and earthquake reconstruction initiatives. In 2018, he decided to combine both passions by starting his own Responsible Trekking company: Green Paw Adventures – Nepal.

In partnership with GIVE, GPA Nepal has since taken hundreds of travelers to Everest Base Camp and the Langtang Valley, while fulfilling Pasang’s commitment to pay fair wages to all guides and porters, spread income to as many local families and businesses as possible, limit environmental impacts and invest tourism revenue into education and earthquake reconstruction initiatives. In just over two years, GPA Nepal has quickly become a beacon for Responsible Trekking in the Himalayas.

Chaue Palae (Tony) – Founder of Chiang Mai Expeditions

Thailand

“Tourism brings income and opportunities to hill tribe communities like mine and helps to save our culture. Local people don’t have to move away to the city. They can make money sharing their culture and doing what they love.”

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Tony grew up in the remote community of Pong Ngen in the mountains of Northern Thailand – a Lahu hill-tribe village with no road access that is only accessible via bamboo raft or jungle trekking. From the day he was born, Tony has been living, learning and thriving in the jungle, mountains and rivers surrounding our host communities. Over the years, he has worked as a guide for jungle trekking, white-water rafting, rock climbing, and ethical elephant camps. However, it wasn’t until joining the GIVE Thailand team in 2014 that Tony realized how much of an impact responsible tourism could have on communities like his own.

In 2018, he launched his own tour company, Chiang Mai Expeditions, to provide authentic, ethical and eco-friendly tours to remote hill-tribe communities in Northern Thailand. By creating a sustainable tourism demand that is built around the strengths of these communities, Tony believes that he can incentivize the most talented local people to stay home, invest in their own communities and preserve their unique culture.

Our Community Partners

Blanca Maria Morales Tijerino – Community Liaison

Jiquillilo, Nicaragua

“As the youngest of three siblings, I was the first in my family to graduate from university and I saw all the doors that opened for me. I understand that in my country education is not as apt as it can be therefore I strive to focus on educating the youth so they can begin developing intellectually, socially and economically from a young age in hopes they continue their educational journey and become more active members in society. That’s what this country really needs”

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At a young age Blanca has managed to make a massive difference in the community of Jiquilillo thanks to her wealth of knowledge in social work, community development, environmental development, and computer science. Blanca’s main role is as the computer science teacher at GIVE’s Flagship project, the Bottle School however, she goes above and beyond and has helped start environmental, women empowerment, and preventive health workshops in the community. As a young woman, she also shows the women in the village that anything is possible. She does all this while also attending English classes. Blanca is a wealth of knowledge, sunshine, and humility and we are grateful to work alongside her.

Dgee Chanthasone – Leader of Women’s Weaving Cooperative

Sop Chem, Laos

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Dgee is the charismatic and visionary leader of the Sop Chem Weaving Cooperative, a group of 42 skilled artisans supporting one another to produce and sell a variety of handwoven products through microfinance. However, Dgee’s impact goes far beyond the weaving group. She is an innovative entrepreneur who has invested in accommodations, storefronts and vehicles that have helped to grow the local tourism industry and created significant income-generating opportunities for the rest of her community. Dgee is a leading advocate for education in Sop Chem and encourages her friends and neighbors to invest additional income into their children’s education.

Mann Bahadur Magar – Chief of Homestay Committee

Paslang, Nepal

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Mann Bahadur is a strong and gentle representation of both the resilience and the warm hearted nature of his community. He was a compassionate leader during the tragic events of the 2015 Earthquake and supported his community with direction and innovation during the rebuilding process. His balanced and composed nature while chairing community meetings has allowed clear and open communication among members and has been vital to the success of the Paslang Homestay program. Mann Bahadur is well respected and proudly represents Paslang village in the wider Gorkha region. His powerful speeches during welcome and farewell events inspire us all to lead with a passionate and emotive heart.

Fatima Abeid – President of Letu Women’s Cooperative

Kairo, Zanzibar

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Fatima was nominated by her peers to be president of the Letu Women’s Cooperative, as she always acts with other’s best interest in mind. She is incredibly hard-working and committed to uplifting herself, her family and the community of Kairo. Her passion for education is contagious and she always leads by example. We are so lucky to work hand in hand with Fatima and all of the inspiring women of the Letu Women’s Cooperative, as they band together to supplement family income and enhance their self reliance through making and selling handmade soaps and handicrafts.

Insorn Tiprajorn (P’Sorn) – Community Liaison

Muang Khong, Thailand

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P’Sorn is our one-stop shop for all things productive in Muang Khong. With her past experience working in local government, P’Sorn has built strong coalitions amongst various hill-tribes throughout the geographically and culturally fragmented region. She currently serves as Director of the Wang Phra Community Center and is actively involved in the local Women’s Union and Youth Groups. No matter what your problem or proposal, P’Sorn always greets you with her signature smile, directs you to exactly who can help, and works with you until the job is done.

Our Legacy

This is how we ignite sustainable change worldwide

The GIVE Foundation works hand-in-hand with our sister company, GIVE (Growth International Volunteer Excursions). Since 2012, GIVE has facilitated international trips for more than 6,000 travelers in Nicaragua, Tanzania, Thailand, Laos and Nepal. This dynamic partnership has allowed us to expand the GIVE Foundation’s mission far beyond the borders of our host countries and communities.

By offering hands-on, eye-opening and culturally-immersive experiences, GIVE fosters authentic connections between our travelers and host community members. These life-changing experiences inspire our travelers to become active global citizens when they return home, as they continue to promote equitable education, environmental conservation and social entrepreneurship in their own communities.

Click the images below to learn more about the lasting legacy our GIVE Alumni are fulfilling around the world:

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