Shannah brings extensive hands-on experience in international, cross-cultural social impact work, with a demonstrated track record in designing exchange program strategies, launching and managing international operations, building and leading diverse teams, and executing experiences from start to finish. Most recently, Shannah designed and led the Global Citizen Year bridge year program for global leadership development with operations in Ecuador, Brazil, Senegal, India, and the US. She was responsible for launching the Ecuador Program, where she hired Andy Gavilanes to lead programming in the Amazon Region. Prior to her work with Global Citizen Year, Shannah spent nearly a decade focused on the human rights of indigenous peoples, primarily in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Shannah holds a BA and MA in Environmental Anthropology from Stanford University. She is married to an Ecuadorian and maintains close ties to both the US and Ecuador.
Tyler is the Co-Founder and CEO of Runa, a social enterprise that makes energizing beverages with guayusa ("gwhy-you-sa"), a rare Amazonian tea. Runa now supports over 3,000 farming families in Ecuador that grow guayusa organically, and Runa products are sold in over 10,000 stores across the US and Canada. After graduating from Brown University, Tyler turned down a Fulbright grant so that he could co-found Runa, for which he was named a Forbes “30 Under 30 Entrepreneur" and the Citizen Leader of the Year Award by the Specialty Food Association. For his work growing RUNA in to one of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the US according to Inc Magainze, Tyler has been featured by National Geographic, Fast Company, and in Richard Branson’s book “Screw Business as Usual.”
Leonore is an intercultural trainer, bilingual counselor, and director of overseas academic programs. She moved to Ecuador in 1981, with a Master's in Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco in California. She has dual nationality with the United States and Italy, and is an Ecuadorian resident. She has raised her two children in a bilingual, bicultural environment. Leonore worked for 8 years training Peace Corps Volunteers, and then moved to the field of International Education. She has been an Academic Director for SIT Study Abroad for over 20 years, and currently works as Intercultural Specialist supporting both both SIT Study Abroad programs in Ecuador. She regularly presents sessions to Peace Corps trainees and volunteers, teachers, students, and retirees from the United States and Canada. Her talks cover historical perspectives on culture, cultural adjustment, culture shock and adaptation strategies, safety and security, intercultural relationships, professionalism in the workplace, and return readjustment. She is the author of various manuals and educational publications, including “20 Questions: A Handbook for Cross-Cultural Dialogue” and “The S.I.T. Readjustment Manual for Parents”.
Cass is a social entrepreneur, educator, and non-profit strategist. Originally from England, she has over eight years of experience working in social entrepreneurship and business development, non-profit management, and education in Latin America, USA and UK. Cass currently works as the Social and Environmental Innovation Program Manager for Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and Yale Centre for Business and Environment, where she is developing the Social Entrepreneurship landscape at Yale University. She has founded two non-profits: SelvaKids, which aims to provide sustainable solutions to increase educational resources in the Amazon, and Girls Thinking Global, which aims to increase collaboration and best practices in the non-profit sector to improve opportunities for adolescent girls worldwide. Cass has also worked extensively with RUNA, a social enterprise that works with indigenous farmers to create sustainable livelihoods in the Amazon. She has coached and mentored students in Ecuador, USA, and UK, and is passionate about gender equality, and creating change through social innovation. Cass has a Masters in International Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education and received the Harvard Graduate School of Education Entrepreneurship Fellowship in 2014.
Juan F. Dueñas-Serrano
Juan was born and raised in the hilly neighborhoods of north-central Quito. Despite being a city boy, he heard the calling of nature from an early age. Driven by the love of outdoor sports and adventure, Juan traveled to almost every corner of his beloved Ecuador. Not satisfied with this, he travel through the Andes of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile on numerous adventures. These travels fueled his interest in Ecology and research. Juan was admitted at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in 2000. During his university years, Juan worked part time as a naturalist and adventure sports guide in the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. He obtained a B. Sc. in Biological Sciences working as an associate researcher at PUCE Zoology Museum, position he held until 2010. During this period, Juan was involved in conservation biology and biodiversity research of herpeto-fauna in the Andes of Ecuador. He moved to New Zealand in early 2010 where he gained a Master degree in Applied Ecology at Lincoln University. In New Zealand, Juan was involved in a project aiming to improve methodologies to determine the abundance of a pervasive invasive species, the brush tail possum. Upon his return to Ecuador, Juan was appointed research director of Fundación Runa, an international NGO working to improve the livelihoods of Amazonian indigenous small holder farmers by the development of non timber forest products. In early 2014 Juan started consulting for an environmental services company and collaborated with research projects in stream ecology at the Quijos river basin. He then moved back to his beloved Andes in late 2014 where he held a position as a biology tutor at Yachay Tech University in Ibarra, Ecuador. In late 2015, Juan moved to Berlin, Germany, where he started as a Doctoral student at the Freie Universität. His PhD thesis will focus on the diversity and functionality of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the tropical montane forest of the Podocarpus National Park located in southern Ecuador.
Sora Friedman has worked in the field of International Education (IE) for over 30 years, focusing on the preparation of new professionals into the field, IE management training, high school exchanges, the administration of adult exchanges in public diplomacy, and international policy advocacy. She joined the SIT Graduate Institute faculty in 2005 and was an adjunct faculty member for three years before that. Sora is responsible for teaching and advising, and serves as Chair of SIT’s IE master’s degree programs (low-residency and on-campus). In addition to her work at SIT, Sora is often sought out as a peer reviewer for various journals and professional training programs (NAFSA’s Trainer Corps, Academy for International Education). Recent consulting include working with secondary and higher education institutions on various aspects of campus internationalization, including the development of global studies curricula across the curriculum, development of education abroad programs, and integration of international students into academic and campus life. In 2015, Sora received the NAFSA Region XI James Leck Award for Distinguished Service. Previously, she served on the New England region (Region XI) of NAFSA: Association of International Educators Chair-stream (2013-2015), as a member of CISabroad’s Board of Advisers (2008-2015), and as Chair of NAFSA’s Trainer Corps (2011-2012) and Training Coordination Subcommittee (2008-2010). Before joining SIT, Sora taught at George Mason University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute, in Mexico and Chile. She has lived in Bolivia, Colombia, and England, and is fluent in Spanish. Sora holds a doctorate in Cultural Studies (with foci on immigration policy, community development, and advocacy) as well as a master’s in International Administration and a certificate in distance education. Outside of work, Sora enjoys contra dancing, listening to live folk music, cooking with local Vermont foods, and working in her yard.