Meet the Members of Rustic’s Global Impact Committee Who Ensure the Success of Our Service Projects

Rustic Pathways has always worked with community partners to prioritise projects based on their needs. The Rustic Pathways Foundation, Rustic’s nonprofit, now oversees that work and has taken steps recently to solidify not only those processes, but how they’re monitored by local Community Impact Managers.

Here’s an example of what that work looks like in one of our partner communities:

Brendan, the Community Impact Manager in the Dominican Republic, takes the bumpy bus ride about an hour from Santo Domingo to a community meeting in Batey Monte Coca, a community of marginalised sugarcane workers of Haitian descent where Rustic has built homes since 2012. When he arrives, Carlos, Rustic’s Program Manager who oversees our Life in the Bateyes program, and Roberto, the community leader in Monte Coca, are already there. They greet each other and briefly catch up as local families start to trickle in for a meeting to hear updates about the housing projects, answer questions, and potentially discuss additional needs in the community.

In the past two years, Rustic has hired five Community Impact Managers like Brendan, many of whom are either from the countries where they work or lived there for years working in roles related to international development.

Introducing Rustic’s Global Impact Committee

In addition to their responsibility managing community impact in their own countries, Community Impact Managers are also key members of the Global Impact Committee, alongside Rustic Pathways Foundation Director Andrea Bouch, and Erin Murphy, Rustic’s Director of Student Impact. The purpose of this committee is to take on global projects related to our community impact work, provide shared accountability, and continue to lead Rustic Pathways in our company-wide alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The committee prioritises how we plan community service projects with our local partners, establishes Rustic’s roadmap for sustainability, and determines how we measure our impact.

For the past year, they’ve revamped Rustic’s structure to ensure environmental sustainability. Through this process, they have established a system for staff to own responsibility for the local operations in each country.

Our Global Impact Committee established sustainability levels with the expectation that we achieve company-wide compliance one step at a time. These levels give country teams practical goals they can work toward to make sure that as a company we’re doing everything we can to protect and restore our environment.

The Global Impact Committee also equips Program Leaders with facilitation tools needed to process meaningful service work with our students. This team is comprised of thoughtful, go-getter, development experts committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we work.

Meet the Global Impact Committee

Background: Andrea has a MBA in nonprofit management and international development from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where she was also an adjunct professor in social entrepreneurship, and a bachelor’s from UC San Diego. She’s spent her career exploring social impact and sustainable development while working in microfinance, impact investing, philanthropy, education, and tech.

What is your favorite part of working on the GIC?

My favorite part about working on the GIC is working with such a diverse group of people. We all come from different backgrounds and live in different countries, but we have this incredible thing that unifies us, which is a true passion for creating positive change through travel. I love working with a team that I constantly learn from, and that pushes me to think about things from different perspectives. We also have a blast when we see each other (either virtually or in-person)!

Fun fact: andrea traveled with Rustic Pathways as a high school student in 1998 and has since visited more than 50 countries. Travel highlights include summiting Kilimanjaro on her 30th birthday with five of her best friends, skydiving in Hawaii, and backpacking around South America for seven months.

Background: after graduating from Notre Dame, Erin spent three years in northeastern Thailand teaching business English at Khon Kaen University through a Princeton in Asia Fellowship. Erin earned her master’s in education at Harvard and brings great energy to our team of educators.

What does a typical day in the “office” look like for you? 

I work from home in D.C. usually with the dog at my feet. My goal for each day is to balance the amount I eat with the amount of coffee I drink so I don’t talk too fast (I already talk really fast as is). Thrival Academies and the Critical Issues Summit are my favorite things I work on at Rustic Pathways.

Fun fact: I’m working on a children’s book about my dog—it’s about discrimination against pit bulls and hopefully will help parents talk with their kids about discrimination in general. I also speak Thai and am an advanced open water scuba diver.

Background: Cassie comes to us from outside Melbourne, Australia, and has extensive experience managing community service programs in Fiji. She comes to us after working for some of Melbourne’s biggest sporting and music events and finishing bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees in sports management, exercise science and international community development.

What is your favorite aspect of your role?

My favourite aspects of my role as community impact manager in Fiji is that I get to work with amazing coworkers, community members, community partners, vendors, chaperones and students everyday.

What are your favorite experiences while working at Rustic? 

One of my favourite experiences with Rustic Pathways was travelling all the way from Fiji to Tanzania to lead a program, see and learn more about Rustic Pathways’ operation in Tanzania and of course going on safari!

Fun fact: I have two pet dogs, Nugget and Big Mac! they are fun and full of personality. Big Mac is cheeky, loves photos and has three legs and Nugget is a protector and likes to come everywhere including in the car to town and out to the islands!

Background: Tusekile holds a master’s degree in Human Rights Law from Tumaini University Makumira. Before joining Rustic Pathways in 2018 as Tanzania Community Impact Manager, Tusekile was a law lecturer at Tumaini University Makumira, Arusha majoring in human rights law. She was a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow, a flagship program by former United States President Barack Obama for connecting young African leaders.

What is your favorite aspect of your role?

My favorite aspect of my role is working with our community partners. Having interactions beyond just the projects and making genuine connections. I enjoy every part of that from working with village leaders to student leaders.

Fun fact: I love African hair and I used to be a freelance hair-stylist when I was in college.

Background: Brendan was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 2012 to 2015 and later went on to earn his master’s in Latin American & Caribbean Studies at New York University. Before joining Rustic, he managed public health projects on the Dominican-Haitian border with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children.

What does a typical day in the “office” look like for you?

I feel like I have lots of offices! When I’m not in our Santo Domingo office working with our awesome DR team, I’m out in the mountains, sugar cane communities, and national parks collaborating with our community partners to plan fun and effective service projects.

Fun fact: I love coffee and am slowly collecting different coffee making devices. I love trying new coffees from around the world!

Background: Australian born and raised, Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in international development from Australian Catholic University. Back home in Melbourne, Laura founded a nonprofit organisation which provides basic-essentials to communities in need.

What does a typical day in the “office” look like for you?

a typical day in the Rustic Pathways office involves fun, hard work and of course office snacks! Within my role though I travel quite a bit to different states within Australia so the only similarities in my work days are working with amazing people. Whether it’s in our office, on a plane or on a community service site.

What has been your favorite experience since working with Rustic Pathways?

My best experience with Rustic was having the opportunity to program lead in Nepal and see the profound impact that the program had on the Rustic students and local community.

Fun fact: Secretly, I am a singer and back in my teen years I loved performing and actually considered pursuing it as a career. These days I mostly sing in my bedroom with my dog Ruby as my audience of one.

Background: Dani holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Costa Rica and was later granted a full scholarship from the European Commission, earning his master’s in international rural development in Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Dani is from Costa Rica and is dedicated to international development work in Central America.

What are you most proud of when working in your role?

I am proud that I am able, as a Community Impact Manager to make a real, positive impact in many communities around Costa Rica. Because of my job I am able to ameliorate many critical situations in the country where I was born and raised, and at the same time make the world a better place through students that come to Costa Rica on programs and later go out and become change makers.

Fun fact: I learned to run before I could walk! When I was just a year old, I was visiting my aunt’s farm, when a cow came up to me and scared me so much that I started running! Also, I’m a very happy person, so much so that I was once stopped at immigration for “looking too happy.”

Background: Growing up with a love for maps and geography, Chone developed his interest in global issues and travelling at a very young age. From cleaning horse stables in Turkey, picking berries in South Korea, chasing after sheep in Peru, and so much more, he considers his travel experience as the biggest contributor to personal growth. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Thammasat University in Thailand and went on to further his studies in international development in France.

What is an exciting project or initiative you’re working on right now? 

We normally measure our impact by the amount of service work completed and the final product of infrastructure built, however, I am excited to measure our impact beyond this. I am researching non-quantifiable aspects of positive impact, such as cross-cultural understanding, exchanging of new innovative ideas, etc. I have the opportunity to carry out in-depth-interviews with stakeholders in the communities we work with. By doing this, we can actually further amplify positive impacts from our projects both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Fun fact: I really like to spend my free time painting, and because of that I haven’t seen many popular movies including: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Twilight, or popular superhero movies.