US Headquarters Staff

Mitra Shavarini
Executive Director

As a child of immigrants who has benefitted from having access to quality education in the U.S., Mitra deeply values the transformative power of education. Originally from Iran, Mitra’s history with WorldTeach dates back to 1987 when she was accepted into its Kenya volunteer program. Though she could not go due to her immigration status at the time, she’s always kept WorldTeach on her proverbial radar and is delighted to now serve as its executive director. Mitra holds a doctorate from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and brings to WorldTeach an eclectic array of international and educational experiences, particularly in the realm of girls/women’s education, immigrant/refugee children, and the MENA region. Among her publications Desert Roots: Journey of an Iranian Immigrant Family presents a genuinely personal narrative chronicling the events and people that brought her parents from Iran to America, and then back again. Mitra’s role model is her maternal grandmother who taught herself hundreds of proverbs and poems, despite not having been allowed to read and write because she was a girl; revealing the quest for education is more profound than we tend to imagine. Mitra is passionate about the work of WorldTeach and is determined to further expand the reach of this wonderful organization.

Eva Ng
Director of Finance

Eva grew up in Hong Kong and Boston, with an academic background in Biology  (A.B from Harvard University, Masters from Tufts, Doctorate from Universitaet Wuerzburg).  She worked in research for some number of years in Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, a Biotech startup in Seattle, and on a genome project in Europe (Universitaet Wuerzburg and Institut Pasteur). She also assisted in Economic History research and ran Graduate Admissions for Economics at Harvard. Eva loves the mission of WorldTeach and is excited to make the switch from academia to international development.

Caitlin Ivester
Director of Admissions
 Costa Rica Summer ’08

Caitlin’s first introduction to WorldTeach was as a participant in the Costa Rica Summer program in 2008, where she lived in a tiny village in the mountains of Costa Rica, battling scorpions and falling in love with her students and the Costa Rican countryside. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in English and Spanish, Caitlin pursued her Masters of Education with Notre Dame while teaching middle school Language Arts on the U.S.-Mexico border for two years. She then decided to explore South America and moved to Santiago, Chile, not before spending several months in Quito, Ecuador. After two years teaching in Chile, she has returned to New England, where she was born, and is thrilled to be in Boston enjoying all the city has to offer.  She recently acquired a National Parks Passport, so be on the lookout for her on the trails and feel free to ask about her #30before30bucket list (now #40before40)!  She has greatly enjoyed her three years as the Director of Admissions at WorldTeach.

Heather Tang
Senior Director of Programs
Chile ’10, Chile FD ’11

Raised first generation by parents from Hong Kong in a small town in Massachusetts, Heather’s insatiable curiosity for cultures and people has taken her to 30 countries on six continents and given her a command of four languages, with a particular affinity for Spanish. She earned a degree in Psychology from Boston University, including a semester abroad in New Zealand. After graduating, she taught English in Japan for a year and a half, discovering her enthusiasm for education. When it was time to move on to new adventures, Heather joined WorldTeach Chile as a volunteer and continued as WorldTeach Field Director in Chile the year after. After returning to the States and serving the urban schools of Boston on City Year staff for two years, Heather is excited to help lead WorldTeach into its next vision, and overseeing American Samoa, Chile, China, Morocco, Nepal, and Thailand.

Liz Blanco
Program Director
FSM Chuuk ’13, American Samoa FD ’14

A California native, Liz received her BA from California State University, Northridge. Prior to joining WorldTeach, she worked in the private sector in Los Angeles, and although she loved the company she worked for, her love for education and her Pacific Islander heritage were calling her in a different direction. That’s when she found WorldTeach. In 2013, she joined WorldTeach in Chuuk, Micronesia, as a volunteer English teacher at Chuuk High School. After a long list of meaningful experiences in Chuuk, Liz continued her relationship with WorldTeach as Field Director in American Samoa. She has since made her way to Boston where she now serves as a Program Director in the WorldTeach head office and is pursuing her MA in International Affairs from Northeastern University.

Bret McSpadden
Program Director/Technology Director
Namibia ’11, ’12, Namibia FD ’13, ’14

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Bret is excited to continue working for WorldTeach as Program Director for the Bangladesh, Guyana, Marshall Islands, Namibia, and South Africa programs. He previously worked for WorldTeach in Namibia as a volunteer teacher and as Field Director where he focused on teaching English, improving the use of technology at schools, and strengthening the relationship between WorldTeach, the Ministry of Education, and other organizations. Outside of travel and working in international education, Bret is an avid sports fan and outdoor enthusiast. In his new role with WorldTeach he is looking forward to seeing another side of development and helping ensure positive experiences for volunteers.

Alex La
Admissions Associate
Costa Rica ’14

Alex first discovered WorldTeach while completing his undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. From there, he served as a summer volunteer in the Costa Rica Summer Program in 2014. Alex greatly enjoys studying different languages and cultures. While at Notre Dame, he also participated in study abroad programs in Chile and Spain. After graduating from college, he then went on to pursue a Masters of Arts in Teaching at the University of Louisville while simultaneously working as a Spanish teacher for Jefferson County Public Schools. After completing his graduate degree, Alex made the move to Boston to further pursue his professional development in the field of education. He is exceptionally excited to rejoin WorldTeach as a member of the Admissions Team. When he’s not working in education, you can find him trying to be funny in the Boston comedy scene!

Office Dog

Lanikai loves catching tennis balls, chasing squirrels, and scavenging for scraps off the floor.

Yearlong Field Staff

Shivaun Wolf
American Samoa Field Director

After growing up in Wisconsin, Shivaun moved to Mexico and finished high school as a Rotary Youth Ambassador. From there she went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Jacksonville University where she had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain and South Africa. After graduating, she taught 5th grade ELA in Jacksonville Florida as part of Teach for America, basic English and math skills to young adults in the Philippines, and 6th grade ELA  at a charter school in Watsonville, California. Wanting to expand her knowledge of intercultural education she went on to complete her master’s degree in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University, teach ESL to adults in Boston, and serve as the Academic Director at a language school in San Diego, California. Shivaun loves people, new adventures, puns, basketball, hugs, reading, and sunshine. Shivaun is delighted to be a part of the WorldTeach team and support the volunteers in American Samoa!

J. Derek Forrester
China Field Director
China ’09

Raised in Florida’s Tampa Bay, “Jay” received his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from High Point University, with minors in Economics and Political Science. His interest in seeing how people outside the U.S. lived, led him to join WorldTeach’s China program as a volunteer during the 2009-2010 academic year. Afterwards, Jay remained in Hunan teaching for another two years, taking every opportunity to travel around the region. Jay then returned to the States, earning a JD and an MBA degree from American University; all the while continuing to explore, spending his summers in northwest China, Turkey, eastern Europe, and Hong Kong. Jay returns to WorldTeach as a Field Director, excited to utilize his education and experience to help build WorldTeach’s mission abroad.

Lindsay Dudley
Ecuador Field Director

Lindsay was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas. She attended Northwestern University where she graduated with a BA in Economics and an ad hoc major in Latin American & Latino Studies. During her undergraduate experience, Lindsay studied abroad in Santiago, Chile which sparked her interest and passion for South America. After graduation, Lindsay enrolled in the Peace Corps and worked in Micro-enterprise Development in Bolivia. Later, Lindsay transferred to Peace Corps Ecuador where she worked for two years in the programs of Sustainable Agriculture and Youth & Families. After Peace Corps, Lindsay completed a Master´s Degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Kansas. Eager to return to Ecuador, Lindsay started working in 2014 with Global Citizen Year, an NGO based out of Oakland, California that conducts bridge year programs for high school graduates. Lindsay was the Team Leader in Ecuador for the province of Imbabura during which time she led, taught, and coached a cohort of fellows, managed local home-stays and apprenticeship partners, and supported leadership training development. Lindsay is thrilled to be part of the World Teach team and looks forward to working with the volunteers. 

Elizabeth Paiva
Ecuador Assistant Field Director
Ecuador ’15

Elizabeth is originally from the Central Valley of California. Growing up in a heavily-Latino farm town sparked her interest in Latin America from a young age. She graduated with a degree History with an emphasis on Modern Latin America from the University of California, Berkeley, in May 2015. In college, Elizabeth was involved with various volunteer projects involving Latin American immigrants and Latin American history. Her passion for Latin America, education, and social justice motivated her to serve as a volunteer with WorldTeach Ecuador in September 2015. She loved her time teaching, practicing her Spanish, salsa dancing, and hiking in the Andes and the Amazon while in Ecuador. She is thrilled to be returning to work with WorldTeach Ecuador as a new Global Fellowship Program Assistant Field Director. She is looking forward to mentoring fellows and working with local school administrators and host families. In her free time, she enjoys being outside, cooking Ecuadorian food, playing the guitar, exploring, and hanging out in Quito´s beautiful parks.

Devin Mack
Ecuador Assistant Field Director
Ecuador Global Education Fellowship ’16

Devin’s first exposure to Ecuador was through a year-long program in high school that culminated in a three-week service-learning trip that traversed each region of the country. This program helped demonstrate the importance of cultural exchange, sustainable development, and global citizenship, and sparked her interest in Latin America, foreign affairs, and international development. A proud native of Bar Harbor, Maine and a nine-year resident of Washington, DC, Devin graduated from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish/Latin American Studies. Prior to serving as a 2016-2017 Global Education Fellow with WorldTeach in Cayambe, Ecuador, she worked for the U.S. Department of State, gaining experience in human resources, criminal justice sector assistance, conflict, stabilization, and counterterrorism issues. The WorldTeach Fellowship reinforced her desire to continue to pursue hands-on opportunities abroad, focused on public service, sustainable development, cultural exchange, global citizenship, and humanitarian assistance.  Devin is excited to be joining the field team in Ecuador and looks forward to supporting volunteers and continuing to promote responsible global citizenship.  In her free time, Devin enjoys spontaneous travel adventures, salsa dancing, hiking, finding good coffee, and spending time with friends, new and old.

Melissa Fairless
Marshall Islands Field Director

Melissa was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She received her Bachelor’s degree from New York University and her Master’s in New Orleans where she studied International Development and Disaster Response in the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane University. Melissa joined the Peace Corps in Ecuador in 2006 and taught health education to junior high and high school students. This was where she encountered her first World Teach volunteer and helped the Ecuador field director set up a new volunteer location in Guaranda, Ecuador. Soon after, she traveled to Japan and then to Uganda to teach English. She also had the opportunity to volunteer as director of a children’s center in Bali, Indonesia where impoverished children were given free math, English, and computer classes. Her most recent experience has been as the Director of the English Department in a women’s private language academy in Saudi Arabia. In her free time, Melissa loves to travel, go jogging, read novels, and try to convince local cats to be her friend.

Christian Colo
Marshall Islands Assistant Field Director
RMI ’16

Christian was born and raised in Euclid, Ohio, a suburb just outside of Cleveland, and he then attended Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina where he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics with a minor in Theatre. Throughout his life, he fell in love with the outdoors and traveling thanks to his family vacations all around the United States as well as his opportunities to travel and study abroad during high school and college to places like the Dominican Republic, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Upon graduation, he decided to combine his interest in teaching and love of travel by participating in the WorldTeach Marshall Islands program during the 2016-2017 school year. In the Marshall Islands, he taught elementary school English and Math in the remote outer island of Nallo in Mili Atoll where he was immersed in the Marshallese culture and language and lived with a wonderful Marshallese host family. After his year of teaching, he was thrilled to come back to the Marshall Islands where he is currently serving as the Assistant Field Director.

Damaris Darling
Namibia Field Director
Summer Program Coordinator
Namibia ‘12, ’13, Namibia SPC ’15

Originally from Vermont, Damaris has always loved to travel and began exploring the world through study abroad programs in high school and college. While studying at the University of Vermont, she spent a semester in Thailand where she traveled alone for the first time and volunteered with children recently affected by a tsunami. It was an experience that inspired her dream to one day live and volunteer abroad. After university she spent several years working in Boston before she decided it was time to drop everything and live her dream. She joined WorldTeach as a volunteer in Namibia in 2012, loving the experience so much that she extended for a second year in 2013. She continued to stay in Namibia, later serving as the Summer Program Coordinator in 2015. Damaris is thrilled to be the new Namibia Field Director, facilitating a program that had such impact on her own life. She loves the beach even on the cold days, playing in the Namibian sand dunes, going on safari, camping, running, and her Boston Terrier,  from Boston, now living with her in Namibia!

Melissa Rossi
Thailand Field Director
Chile Head Teacher ’16

Born in New York and raised in California, Melissa graduated from Bethany University with a B.A. in Intercultural Child Development and minors in Spanish and Psychology. During her undergraduate experience, Melissa studied abroad in Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic which furthered her passion to live and work abroad. After graduation, Melissa was accepted into the Peace Corps and worked in Panama training teachers in new co-teaching techniques and English curriculum. Shortly after her two years in Panama, Melissa then chose to serve in Peace Corps Response in Colombia. During her year in Colombia, Melissa worked closely with a Colombian nonprofit Foundation to create a new English program for young mothers in the community. Looking for a new challenge, Melissa then moved to Brazil to learn Portuguese and work as a Curriculum Developer, creating new ways for online students to learn English. After heading the WorldTeach Chile program in 2016, Melissa is excited to continue with WorldTeach by taking the reins in Thailand.

Summer Field Staff

Rafaela Rolim
Brazil Summer Program Coordinator

Rafaela has been working in the field of cultural exchange since 2006 and started Brazilian Experience in 2009 due to her passion for Brazil and for travelling the world and meeting new cultures. It all started when she was an international student herself in the US during High School. Later during university, she went for an internship in France and also studied Spanish in Barcelona, Spain, experiences that have shaped her life. In the past years, she has visited over 25 different countries in four different continents for work and leisure, and enjoys collecting magnets of all the cities she visits. Her fridge is full of memories and helps remind her of her goals. Brazil is really diverse and has a lot to offer for visitors, but she believes the highlight is still her people, how welcoming and hospitable they are. Rafaela truly believes that living abroad is a unique opportunity of cultural understanding, inspiring mutual respect, and personal growth, and that’s what enchants her in her work. She is always searching for new ways of making Brazilian Experience’s programs more impactful to build global citizens.

Ecuador Summer Program Coordinator

Coming soon!

Behzad Larry
India Summer Program Coordinator

Behzad is an adventurer, entrepreneur, and professional with a decade of experience running ventures and development programs in South Asia, Eastern Africa, and the United States. He has worked in partnership with the private sector and state and national governments in India and Africa in the fields of waste management, public infrastructure, environmental policy, education policy, and livelihood development. He has also served in India as a William J. Clinton Fellow. Behzad has a BA from Colby College, Maine, where he was a Ralph J. Bunche Scholar and majored in History and Classical Civilizations. Originally from Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, India, he is a keen trekker, outdoorsman, and professional photographer. Behzad has traveled the length and breadth of the Himalayas and loves leading photo expeditions for Voygr Expeditions into the seldom visited remote reaches of Ladakh. He splits his time between the Voygr offices in Ladakh and the USA.

Boubker Mazoz
Morocco Summer Program Coordinator

Boubker Mazoz has over 40 years of experience in exchanges between Morocco and the United States in the fields of education, culture, business and intercultural learning.  From 1979 to 2010 he worked for the US Department of State as resource manager, Library Director and Public Affairs Specialist with the Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy section of the US Embassy in Morocco. Mazoz has initiated and organized an impressive number of programs and exchanges for individuals, groups and institutions representing different backgrounds and fields of interest. Aside from his former official positions at the US Department of State and the Moroccan Government, he has been heavily involved in NGO and non-profit work. He founded, initiated and is an active member of numerous organizations and associations, including as a member of the International Executive Board of Directors of Sister Cities International in Washington DC and as a current member of its Honorary Board, and President/Founder of Sister Cities Africa – People to People Diplomacy, in charge of promoting sister cities partnerships in the Arab Maghreb and Francophone Africa. He is the founder & president of Neighborhoods Association IDMAJ, of Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Moroccan American Circle (MAC), the Moroccan Intellectual Association (AIM) and Morocco Association of Sister Cities International, as well as a founding member of Rotary Club Californie and Hermitage. In addition, Mazoz is the CEO of the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center and Ain Borja Community Center, which he founded in 2006 and 2013. 

Damaris Darling
Namibia Field Director
Summer Program Coordinator
Namibia ‘12, ’13, Namibia SPC ’15

Originally from Vermont, Damaris has always loved to travel and began exploring the world through study abroad programs in high school and college. While studying at the University of Vermont, she spent a semester in Thailand where she traveled alone for the first time and volunteered with children recently affected by a tsunami. It was an experience that inspired her dream to one day live and volunteer abroad. After university she spent several years working in Boston before she decided it was time to drop everything and live her dream. She joined WorldTeach as a volunteer in Namibia in 2012, loving the experience so much that she extended for a second year in 2013. She continued to stay in Namibia, later serving as the Summer Program Coordinator in 2015. Damaris is thrilled to be the new Namibia Field Director, facilitating a program that had such impact on her own life. She loves the beach even on the cold days, playing in the Namibian sand dunes, going on safari, camping, running, and her Boston Terrier,  from Boston, now living with her in Namibia!

Ganga Ram Gautam
Nepal Summer Program Coordinator

Ganga Ram Gautam, an Associate Professor at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, runs the WorldTeach summer program in Nepal. Besides teaching, supervising research and evaluating student work, Ganga also designs training packages and prepares trainers for the teacher education program of the Ministry of Education. As a Member of the Subject Committee of the University he contributes to the revision and dissemination of B. Ed. and M. Ed. curricula in English Education throughout Nepal.   Ganga is the past president of the Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association, NELTA, which he co-founded in 1992. With NELTA he often collaborates with the Ministry of Education, the US Embassy, the British Council and other national and international ELT associations sponsoring training and other conferences throughout Nepal.  Ganga holds a M.Ed. in English Education from Tribhuvan University and an MA in ELT from Lancaster University in the UK. He was a Humphrey Fellow at Boston University, in the USA, in 2010-2011.

Fenton, Peter - SA SPC

Peter Fenton
South Africa Summer Program Coordinator

Having graduated with a B.SC. in Marine Geology, Peter has been in involved with education since 1982, when he started two community schools in rural Zululand. He subsequently taught for eight years in the South Peninsula and spent eight years managing the non-profit organization The Education Resources Network in Cape Town Teachers’ Centre. The past eight years, Peter has been a Chief Education Specialist in one of nine South African provincial education departments where he manages the Lifeskills and HIV/AIDS programs, serving 1,500 schools and almost 1 million children. He works closely with the Harvard School of Public Health on a peer education program that employs over 250 facilitators and utilizes some 8,000 secondary school youth as volunteer health educators. Peter has also previously worked with Boston-based World Education on micro-enterprise development. He is a registered tour guide, and has coordinated a Swedish student-teacher exchange program and school twinning initiative. He lives in the South Peninsula – the community in which WorldTeach currently operates – and has been active in a number of community-based organizations that serve the Masiphumelele, Ocean View, and Fish Hoek communities. He has a post-grad diploma in Education, and diplomas in Business Management, Financial Management, and Project Management.