October 8, 2014

2014 Panelist Bios

By attending Rotary Day at the Nations, you have opportunities to hear wonderful keynote speakers, including these successful individuals highlighted below according to panel topic.


Economic Development

Jan Holz
Jan Holz is currently working as an IT Project Manager for Lufthansa German Airlines in Singapore. As one of the youngest members of the Rotary Club of Wall Street. He is a co-founder of the Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp. He has been passionate about social projects for most of his life, including previous international projects in Tanzania.

Dr. Jens Unger
Jens Unger is a trained psychologist and researcher in the field of Work and Organizational Psychology. After 7 years of lecturing at the University of Giessen and doing research on psychological success factors in entrepreneurship Jens took on a job in the training department of Lufthansa German Airlines. His responsibilities included leadership training, the operation of the Lufthansa Brand Academy, and other soft-skills training for ground staff. In his current position, Jens is a Project Leader in Change Management at Lufthansa Cargo. For as long as Jens can think back, he has been strongly interested in projects in the developing world. Driven by a vision of enabling nascent entrepreneurs to develop and better run their businesses, Jens became involved in a number of projects in Southern Africa. In the Haiti project, Jens is responsible for the educational concept.

Antonio Guaiana
Antonio Guaiana is currently the General Manager of Accompany Management Trainings. As a known Management Trainer and Consultant, Antonio trained managers and leaders of international companies in Europe, USA, Africa and the Middle East. Antonio has been a Rotarian since 1999 and is the incoming president of the Rotary Club Rüsselsheim-Mainspitze in Germany, District 1820 and a Paul Harris Fellow. He is strongly involved in various social projects. This year he was a speaker in the Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014 and overtook afterwards the responsibility to further develop and improve the educational concept of the program.

Water and Peace

Scott Carlin
Dr. Scott Carlin is an associate professor of geography at LIU Post. Dr.Carlin teaches several course in LIU Post’s new Master’s Program in Environmental Sustainability, and coordinates their Campus Sustainability Committee. This year, Dr. Carlin is also at fellow at Columbia University’s MetroCITI program, an initiative to enhance student learning outcomes. Over the past two decades, Dr. Carlin has worked on a variety of sustainable development projects on Long Island including breast cancer and environmental mapping, green buildings, waste water management, climate change, renewable energy.

Evariste Kouassi-Komlan
Evariste is a Senior Adviser for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at UNICEF headquarters. Immediately prior to this position, Evariste managed the WASH program in the UNICEF Madagascar Office. While in Madagascar, he strengthened the country program; advocated for good institutional platforms; and worked on innovative projects in urban areas. He also addressed crossectorial issues. At UNICEF headquarters, Evariste’s responsibilities include capacity building at a global level for the sector, knowledge management, research, advocacy, and monitoring. In addition, he continues to address crossectorial issues, now on the global stage, focusing on intersections (for instance) between WASH and nutrition and WASH and health. Prior to joining UNICEF in 2008, Evariste worked in Burkina Faso with the Regional Center for Low-Cost Water Supply and Sanitation Services which covered 18 countries. There Evariste supported research, advanced innovations, helped to build capacity of the sector, and provided partnership and strategic planning advice. He also did a significant work on planning for sustainable cost recovery in community-based water supply services in West and Central Africa as well as in Eastern Africa. Evariste’s 21 years professional experience also includes, consulting in the areas of institutional strengthening, partnership building, resource mobilization and management. He holds MSc degrees from Delft (Netherlands).

Avner Fuchs
For the past 15 years, Avner Fuchs has been the owner and active manager of a large Israeli hospital for patients suffering from chronic diseases. He has long standing experience in business data and advertising, mainly on water and agricultural issues. Mr. Fuchs has more than 30 years of experience with fruit plantations, with a large knowledge in irrigation and water saving strategies. His Rotary Experience is very extensive. Avner is the founder and first president of the Gedera Rotary Club in District 2490, Israel. He served as District Governor in 2005-2006 and Chair of his District’s Water and Sanitation Committee for several years. In 2013, he served as the Chair of the Zones 14, 19, 20A, 20B Zone Institute. Avner served as the Chair of several Water and Sanitation Conferences including the Water and Sanitation Conference in October 2011 held in the framework of WATEC 2013 on “Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation in the Developing World, Chair of the International Water Symposium on “Water and Sanitation Resources – for Health and Peace Worldwide” held within WATEC 2011 with the participation of RIP 2011-2012 Kalyan Banerjee, Chair of the International Water Symposium on “Water and Water Related Diseases” held Within AGRITECH 2009, with the participation of RIP 2008-09 Dong Kurn Lee. He was also an active participation in water and sanitation forums in numerous Rotary Conventions from 2004 – 2014.

Youth and Peace

Navin Valliappan
Navin Valliappan lives in Washington, DC. His BA is from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and he received an MBA in International Business from George Washington University. He currently works as a Public Relations Associate at a financial firm in Washington, DC working with public listed companies. Navin is currently President and charter member of the Rotary Club of Federal City (Washington, DC) in Rotary District 7620, which includes Washington, DC, and Central Maryland. Navin’s club is the newest Rotary Club in the District, and 95% of its membership is still in their 20s and 30s. Navin comes from a family of Rotarians and is a third generation Rotarian, with his grandfather joining Rotary in 1958 and his sister is a Rotarian (former Interactor and Rotaractor) in Windermere, Florida.

Zineb Touzani
Zineb was born and raised in Morocco and later came to live in the US at the age of 9. She has resided in NY ever since. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors degree in International Relations and Political Science at the City College of New York. Zineb hopes to go on to studying Peace and Conflict Resolution or law for her post-graduate degree. Her aspiration is to work within peace sectors that strive for a goal such as that of Rotary’s. She is currently interning at the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Zineb has been involved with the Rotaract Club of New York at the United Nations for four years. She was immediately attracted to the club after seeing the fellowship and diverse nature of the organization. She is delighted to have served on the board for two consecutive years; vice-president 2012-2013 and president 2013-2014. During her time on the board, Zineb and her team made an effort to strengthen ties between the different generations in Rotary.

Joseph Lee Suh
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Joseph completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California as a Warren Christopher Scholar and National Coca-Cola Scholar before teaching the youth of Detroit as a Teach For America Corps Member and College Board AP Fellow. During his time as an educator, Joseph earned his graduate degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at the University of Michigan, where he was twice elected to serve in the Central Student Government. Joseph serves as a Selector for Teach For America and has trained and coached incoming Corps Members as a Corps Member Advisor.  Joseph currently serves as the Global Citizenship Fellow for Education at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, where he responsible for education resource, program, brand, and partnership development. Joseph is deeply invested in a life-long commitment to addressing issues of access, diversity, and equity and passionate about the people and policies which create the space, structure, and support for individuals and their communities to thrive and flourish. Joseph has journeyed through and experienced the diverse peoples and cultures of over two dozen countries—creating and sustaining transformative initiatives and cross-cultural exchanges in partnership with children, youth, and their communities.


Peace and Conflict Resolution

Sten Ritterfeld
Sten was an exchange student in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program (RYE) of 2012-2013. He was sent out from D1850 in Germany to D6170 in Arkansas in the United States. He was the first Rotary exchange student the district received after seven years. He managed to pick up valuable impressions of the American culture and spread the spirit of RYE by presenting in Rotary clubs on several occasions throughout the state of Arkansas. In addition, he was involved in Interact and RYLA during his exchange year. He also attended a RYLA conference in Germany after his return where many interesting debates were held.

Arik Gulter-Ofir
A member of the Rotary Peace Fellows Volunteer Vocational Training Team in Saint Louise (District 6060, Israel), Arik has been a teacher of politics and a theater in Manor-Cabri Art High School since 1998. In 2008, he was Founder and Artistic Director for a a theater festival entitled War and Peace and Social Justice. He has facilitated several theater workshops using the Theater of the Oppressed methods.He holds a B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in General History and Theater and and Advanced M.A. from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution.

Human Trafficking

Deepa B. Willingham
Deepa Willingham, PDG of Rotary District 5240, is the Founder & President of PACE Universal, an US501-c-3 organization dedicated to work related to eradication of poverty through a Girls school. A student of Mother Teresa, she is a motivating speaker from Calcutta, India, who has spoken at a number of Rotary International Conventions. “She wants to change the face of poverty one child, one community, and one village at a time.” Deepa has over 30 years of experience in operational, financial and marketing management.

Diana Mao
Diana Mao is Co-Founder and President of Nomi. She says, “It’s hard to believe that modern day slavery exists. It’s even harder to believe there are 32 million slaves and that the human trafficking industry is a $99 billion industry. Stats of human trafficking were truly meaningless to me until I witnessed the horrors of sex trafficking first hand. In 2007, I traveled to Cambodia for a micro-finance research fellowship, and it was there that my eyes were opened to this unbelievable world. After that experience, human trafficking stats were not only meaningful; they became the inspiration and reason for Nomi Network. My micro-finance research brought me to some of the poorest and most remote villages in Cambodia.

Vera Kolesnik
Vera Kolesnik graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology with Bachelors of Science in Merchandising Management in New York. She had exposure to complete product life cycle from concept to final sale in major public companies such as Walmart and Macy’s. She has expertise in design, product development, sourcing, buying and planning of apparel with innovative approach to drive growth in multimillion dollar businesses. Vera was a pioneer in development of omni-channel strategy for a category of business at Macy’s by integrating existing infrastructure with ever changing consumer trends and technology. Vera loves practicing yoga and meditation and is passionate about bringing mindfulness to the workplace.

Sarah Wilbanks
Sarah Wilbanks is the End Trafficking Fellow at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in New York, working to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking at both a local and global level, and to mobilize communities to take action. She co-chairs the Youth and Children Taskforce at the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons (NGOCSTIP), advocating at the United Nations (UN) for the eradication of human trafficking. Sarah is a graduate of Brown University (2012) with a BA in International Relations and a focus on Global Security and the Middle East. While in college she served as President of the Brown UNICEF Chapter, and E-Board member of Brown’s J-Street club. She has interned at organizations including Human Rights First, the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, and Oxfam International’s Legal Response Team to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference at the UN. After graduating from Brown, Sarah worked for one year at the Polyphony Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking to bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel through the unique power of music. She spent the 2013-2014 academic year studying for her MA degree in Peace and Conflict Management at the University of Haifa, and volunteering part-time for the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel. Sarah has conducted extensive research at both the graduate and undergraduate levels on an array of human rights issues including the selectivity of military humanitarian interventions, and the influence of the military on politics in Israel.

Women’s Health

Kani Dop
Born and raised in Senegal, Mame Kani Diop is an African activist and organizer in African women’s human rights groups. Kani emigrated to the United Stated in her young adult life in an attempt to further her education and settled in New Jersey since then. Armed with courage and open-mindedness while defying harmful traditional cultural practices as well as denouncing violence against women and girls, kani speaks out about the controversial issues pertaining to female genital mutilation (FGM). She has presented scholarly papers on FGM and polygamy at numerous conferences and has written her master’s thesis on the “Risk factors and impacts of female genital mutilation practice in Senegal”. Mame Kani Diop is a Family Studies Ph.D. Fellow at Montclair State University who has dedicated her academic endeavor to the exploration of issues and solutions to Female Genital Mutilation in African contexts and around the world specifically in Western immigration lands. Kani believes that awareness-raising education campaigns along with lifting African women out of poverty as well as the promotion of social behavior change involving both women and men will lead to the path to FGM eradication. Kani is also the author of a multicultural children’s book entitled “Eye on Africa” conceived to dispel misconceptions about Africa.

Katharine Frost
A lifelong resident of New Jersey, Katharine Frost works as Community Relations Manager for Five Star Premier Residences in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is a graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology and spent many years as a publicist in the fashion world before applying her marketing skills in the senior care field where she has worked for over 25 years. Now in her second term as president of the Rotary Club of Teaneck, Katharine has dedicated her term to humanitarian aid in developing nations. The club helps to fund a water-filter project in Haiti run by Pure Water for the World, and is currently raising funds for an educational and humanitarian project for the boarding section of The Freetown Secondary School for Girls in Sierra Leone. The project will allow girls from remote provinces to attend school, providing them with not only an education, but also a safe haven from the cultural practice of female genital mutilation. This project and the cause of ending these barbaric practices have become Katharine’s passion. She knows that these cultural beliefs can be changed through education, changing the culture of the nation, one girl at a time!

Jordan Koletic
Jordan Koletic is an Analytics Consultant in the Strategy Group of a major bank where she is based in Charlotte, North Carolina and has both lead and support responsibilities for strategic initiatives in the wealth management, retirement and brokerage division.Prior to joining the banking industry, Jordan interned as an investigative reporter at KosovaLive, a major news agency located in the capital city of Pristina, Kosovo where she researched, interviewed and reported on a variety of key issues for this freshly minted country, including its push for United Nations recognized sovereignty and efforts to field a 2012 Olympic team. Jordan also held an internship in Miami University’s Office of Government Relations, the main lobbying arm for the university where she assisted with initiatives in the state capital of Columbus, OH and in Washington, DC.Jordan holds BA degrees in Journalism and International Relations from Miami University. While at Miami, Jordan was a member of the Varsity Swim and Dive team and spent five months studying in East Africa focused on zoology, culture and language, politics and economics, and the regional health care system in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In addition, Jordan lived and traveled throughout Kenya and Tanzania, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.