Leadership:

Together we bring a diverse skill set from varied backgrounds including Economics, Education, and Nutrition to ensure Access. 

AARON FRIEDLAND | FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Aaron developed his passion for economic development and education while working and researching abroad. He recognized that students in places such as Uganda, South Africa, and India who struggled academically would often fall into the poverty trap. His personal experiences opened his eyes to myriad barriers to education including distance to school and lack of nutrition. These experiences in conjunction with his work at UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-profit taught him a great deal about education in developing countries and gave him the foundation to create an organization called The Walking School Bus, which aims to help students worldwide access education. In addition to founding the organization, he serves as the Executive Director. Aaron currently works as an Economics Lecturer. He brings enthusiasm and a research-based approach to his teaching. He is passionate about motivating his students through experiential learning, a model that he has applied in the classroom as well as at TWSB through a global reading program and various nutrition initiatives. 

AARON FRIEDLAND | FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Aaron developed his passion for economic development and education while working and researching abroad. He recognized that students in places such as Uganda, South Africa, and India who struggled academically would often fall into the poverty trap. His personal experiences opened his eyes to myriad barriers to education including distance to school and lack of nutrition. These experiences in conjunction with his work at UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-profit taught him a great deal about education in developing countries and gave him the foundation to create an organization called The Walking School Bus, which aims to help students worldwide access education. In addition to founding the organization, he serves as the Executive Director.

Aaron currently works as an Economics Lecturer. He brings enthusiasm and a research-based approach to his teaching. He is passionate about motivating his students through experiential learning, a model that he has applied in the classroom as well as at TWSB through a global reading program and various nutrition initiatives. 

Poonam Gill | CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Poonam Gill has over 6 years of sales and business development experience working with Fortune 500 companies across various industries. She has developed a skill set to identify new opportunities, build pipelines to fuel growth, deliver significant brand enhancement and execute strategic plans. She’s also skilled in cultivating and maintaining relationships with prospects and constituents. She has an MBA from Hult International Business School and a Bachelors of Commerce, specializing in entrepreneurship from the University of Victoria. The biggest life lesson she’s learned thus far comes from her grandfather’s philosophy of always giving back more than you take. This pursuit is reflected in her experience working with nonprofit organizations and her most recent works as a consultant for nonprofits across North America in providing cloud-based technology solutions to business challenges. Poonam recently joined the team as the COO and will work closely with the Executive Director to create the strategic 5-year plan and implement new processes and approaches on achieving our mission and goals.

Poonam Gill | CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Poonam Gill has over 6 years of sales and business development experience working with Fortune 500 companies across various industries. She has developed a skill set to identify new opportunities, build pipelines to fuel growth, deliver significant brand enhancement and execute strategic plans. She’s also skilled in cultivating and maintaining relationships with prospects and constituents. She has an MBA from Hult International Business School and a Bachelors of Commerce, specializing in entrepreneurship from the University of Victoria.

The biggest life lesson she’s learned thus far comes from her grandfather’s philosophy of always giving back more than you take. This pursuit is reflected in her experience working with nonprofit organizations and her most recent works as a consultant for nonprofits across North America in providing cloud-based technology solutions to business challenges.

Poonam recently joined the team as the COO and will work closely with the Executive Director to create the strategic 5-year plan and implement new processes and approaches on achieving our mission and goals.

MIDO DESANTI | EXECUTIVE ADVISOR Mido is a social entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of the social change app, Pixhug. He is also the principal of the early stage technology investment fund Rubiq Ventures. Prior to his current roles he launched several companies in the luxury goods and services sector. He has studied at the American University of Rome and the International University of Monaco. Mido has spoken on the importance of social entrepreneurship at McGill University and Columbia Business School alongside Deepak Chopra. He sits on the board of Julian Lennon's White Feather Foundation and is fluent in English, French, Italian and Croatian. 

MIDO DESANTI | EXECUTIVE ADVISOR

Mido is a social entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of the social change app, Pixhug. He is also the principal of the early stage technology investment fund Rubiq Ventures. Prior to his current roles he launched several companies in the luxury goods and services sector. He has studied at the American University of Rome and the International University of Monaco. Mido has spoken on the importance of social entrepreneurship at McGill University and Columbia Business School alongside Deepak Chopra. He sits on the board of Julian Lennon's White Feather Foundation and is fluent in English, French, Italian and Croatian. 

Sukriti Sachar | Director of India Operations Sukriti is a founder, entrepreneur, and is passionate about social impact. After working in corporate events for 7 years, Sukriti founded Powerlabs, a content design studio.  Her journey with The Walking School Bus (TWSB) began in 2016 which started with a Ugandan Expedition and resulted in Sukriti founding the India Chapter of TWSB. Working with communities content with the limited resources available to them and appreciative of TWSB's impact moved Sukriti. She became more interested in adapting the model that worked in the Ugandan context to fit similar issues pervasive across India.  As director of India Operations, Sukriti works to further her remarkable team of believers and achievers to bring the life and vision of The Walking School Bus to India.

Sukriti Sachar | Director of India Operations

Sukriti is a founder, entrepreneur, and is passionate about social impact. After working in corporate events for 7 years, Sukriti founded Powerlabs, a content design studio. 

Her journey with The Walking School Bus (TWSB) began in 2016 which started with a Ugandan Expedition and resulted in Sukriti founding the India Chapter of TWSB. Working with communities content with the limited resources available to them and appreciative of TWSB's impact moved Sukriti. She became more interested in adapting the model that worked in the Ugandan context to fit similar issues pervasive across India. 

As director of India Operations, Sukriti works to further her remarkable team of believers and achievers to bring the life and vision of The Walking School Bus to India.

DANIELLE SACHAR | MEDIA RELATIONS COORDINATOR Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Danielle is a true west coast girl at heart. She is currently in the Public Relations program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Previously, Danielle studied fine arts at Emily Carr University and it was there that she got to explore her passion for painting, drawing, ceramics and graphic design. As she shifts focus to Public Relations, Danielle believes it is imperative to partner with organizations that are looking to make a positive social and environmental impact. She believes that public and media relations are about storytelling and when you work with organizations that are making a positive change in the world, the stories speak for themselves. This is one of the many reasons why she is so excited to work with The Walking School Bus. Danielle is the Media Relations Coordinator for The Walking School Bus, which means she is the liaison between the organization and the media. Danielle is delighted to assist TWSB gain additional media exposure for a truly worthy cause, as well as support them in sharing their story with the world.

DANIELLE SACHAR | MEDIA RELATIONS COORDINATOR

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Danielle is a true west coast girl at heart. She is currently in the Public Relations program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Previously, Danielle studied fine arts at Emily Carr University and it was there that she got to explore her passion for painting, drawing, ceramics and graphic design. As she shifts focus to Public Relations, Danielle believes it is imperative to partner with organizations that are looking to make a positive social and environmental impact. She believes that public and media relations are about storytelling and when you work with organizations that are making a positive change in the world, the stories speak for themselves. This is one of the many reasons why she is so excited to work with The Walking School Bus.

Danielle is the Media Relations Coordinator for The Walking School Bus, which means she is the liaison between the organization and the media. Danielle is delighted to assist TWSB gain additional media exposure for a truly worthy cause, as well as support them in sharing their story with the world.

SANJEEVA RAJAPAKSE | DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH Drawing from both his undergraduate experience at McGill University and his medical training at the University of British Columbia, Sanjeeva is wildly passionate about tackling global health challenges that keep developing countries from leapfrogging ahead. His hope one day is to manage large-scale international public health projects, working alongside organizations such as The World Bank, World Health Organization, and Gates Foundation. With a rich research background at some of the top institutions in Canada, and across the world (Ghana, Sri Lanka), Sanjeeva leads the The Walking School Bus' research team with expertise in peer-reviewed research and academic design in international settings. When not juggling his 3rd year of medicine at UBC and The Walking School Bus, you can find Sanjeeva running along the Vancouver Seawall or reading his favourite new news publication, STAT News. 

SANJEEVA RAJAPAKSE | DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH

Drawing from both his undergraduate experience at McGill University and his medical training at the University of British Columbia, Sanjeeva is wildly passionate about tackling global health challenges that keep developing countries from leapfrogging ahead. His hope one day is to manage large-scale international public health projects, working alongside organizations such as The World Bank, World Health Organization, and Gates Foundation. With a rich research background at some of the top institutions in Canada, and across the world (Ghana, Sri Lanka), Sanjeeva leads the The Walking School Bus' research team with expertise in peer-reviewed research and academic design in international settings.

When not juggling his 3rd year of medicine at UBC and The Walking School Bus, you can find Sanjeeva running along the Vancouver Seawall or reading his favourite new news publication, STAT News. 

STEPHANIE MRAKOVICH | DIRECTOR OF SIMBI OPERATIONS Stephanie has a passion for people and a knack for problem solving. You'll find her deeply questioning every step, whether it is to create a more efficient process or to strategize ways to improve it. While completing her Bachelor of Science and Minor in Psychology at UBC, she sat as the two term president of the Jewish Students Association, restructuring the board members and inspiring a synergy of skills and backgrounds. Today, Stephanie leverages her understanding of people in a product role where she works with customers to create a positive experience and improve the softwares they use. As the Director of SiMBi Operations, Stephanie helps improve the functionality and flexibility of the platform. With the goal of eliminating barriers to accessing education, she works with various users to understand how SiMBi can benefit different types of learners from all around the world!

STEPHANIE MRAKOVICH | DIRECTOR OF SIMBI OPERATIONS

Stephanie has a passion for people and a knack for problem solving. You'll find her deeply questioning every step, whether it is to create a more efficient process or to strategize ways to improve it. While completing her Bachelor of Science and Minor in Psychology at UBC, she sat as the two term president of the Jewish Students Association, restructuring the board members and inspiring a synergy of skills and backgrounds. Today, Stephanie leverages her understanding of people in a product role where she works with customers to create a positive experience and improve the softwares they use.

As the Director of SiMBi Operations, Stephanie helps improve the functionality and flexibility of the platform. With the goal of eliminating barriers to accessing education, she works with various users to understand how SiMBi can benefit different types of learners from all around the world!

Ran Sommer | Director of Communication Ran moved back home to Vancouver after completing his Master’s in Communication Studies and Environmental Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University. Passionate about social issues and solutions, and a long-time supporter of TWSB, joining the team was both a privilege and a natural fit. Ran has experience working with social enterprises and NGOs in achieving their communication and messaging objectives. His belief in the power of communication to tackle any problem and to achieve any goal keeps him motivated and excited to be part of the TWSB team. As the Director of Communication, Ran is supporting our expansion efforts through communication and engagement with our growing audience.

Ran Sommer | Director of Communication

Ran moved back home to Vancouver after completing his Master’s in Communication Studies and Environmental Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University. Passionate about social issues and solutions, and a long-time supporter of TWSB, joining the team was both a privilege and a natural fit. Ran has experience working with social enterprises and NGOs in achieving their communication and messaging objectives.

His belief in the power of communication to tackle any problem and to achieve any goal keeps him motivated and excited to be part of the TWSB team. As the Director of Communication, Ran is supporting our expansion efforts through communication and engagement with our growing audience.

Enosh Keki | Director of Uganda Operations Enosh Keki has been working with TWSB since it's inception. In fact, Enosh and TWSB's founder Aaron have been wroking together on Education and Economic Development related projects for the last 5 years. Over time, the projects have grown in size and impact and Enosh has enjoyed the journey!  With a background in business management and experience in education, from an administrative as well as an educational viewpoint, Enosh joins TWSB with a great deal of experience.  Enosh and his team monitor TWSBprojects and identify additional communities to receive assistance and support.  Aside from his work with TWSB, Enosh and his wife Shira have adopted 7 orphans in addition to their own 5 children.

Enosh Keki | Director of Uganda Operations

Enosh Keki has been working with TWSB since it's inception. In fact, Enosh and TWSB's founder Aaron have been wroking together on Education and Economic Development related projects for the last 5 years. Over time, the projects have grown in size and impact and Enosh has enjoyed the journey! 

With a background in business management and experience in education, from an administrative as well as an educational viewpoint, Enosh joins TWSB with a great deal of experience. 

Enosh and his team monitor TWSBprojects and identify additional communities to receive assistance and support. 
Aside from his work with TWSB, Enosh and his wife Shira have adopted 7 orphans in addition to their own 5 children.

ONAMI RAHMAN | SCHOOL & COMMUNITY OUTREACH A Vancouver native and recent UBC graduate in Human Geography, Onami’s passion for community development stems from a range of personal and academic experiences both locally and globally. With extensive volunteer experience in Vancouver’s non-profit sector under her belt (Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada, Dr. Peter’s Centre, CNIB, etc.,), as well as years of holding various positions in student engagement at UBC, Onami has paved the path for a career in the development field, with particular interests in working in public engagement It wasn’t until after Onami’s undergraduate experiences, however, when she lived and worked in Ethiopia in the non-profit communications sector, that she fully realized the true local and global challenges facing Ethiopians everyday, as well as many Africans alike, to achieving optimal health and education. Her solutions lies in the belief that to reduce inequalities created by global systems of injustice, we must continually develop grassroots initiatives that aim to empower and educate individuals in the arenas of literacy, health and sustainability locally. It is this belief combined with her wealth of experiences that excites Onami to join TWSB in the fight for global equality and change.

ONAMI RAHMAN | SCHOOL & COMMUNITY OUTREACH

A Vancouver native and recent UBC graduate in Human Geography, Onami’s passion for community development stems from a range of personal and academic experiences both locally and globally. With extensive volunteer experience in Vancouver’s non-profit sector under her belt (Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada, Dr. Peter’s Centre, CNIB, etc.,), as well as years of holding various positions in student engagement at UBC, Onami has paved the path for a career in the development field, with particular interests in working in public engagement It wasn’t until after Onami’s undergraduate experiences, however, when she lived and worked in Ethiopia in the non-profit communications sector, that she fully realized the true local and global challenges facing Ethiopians everyday, as well as many Africans alike, to achieving optimal health and education. Her solutions lies in the belief that to reduce inequalities created by global systems of injustice, we must continually develop grassroots initiatives that aim to empower and educate individuals in the arenas of literacy, health and sustainability locally. It is this belief combined with her wealth of experiences that excites Onami to join TWSB in the fight for global equality and change.

Andy Chen As a film scholar from St. George’s School, Andy joined TWSB and implemented his skills in the production of many videos for TWSB. With a desire to help students in Uganda attain an education and live a better life, Andy went on the March 2017 Uganda expedition as a videographer. Aside from informing people of TWSB’s mission, he loves spending time with kids and showing them his photos, gadgets, and gizmos. 

Andy Chen

As a film scholar from St. George’s School, Andy
joined TWSB and implemented his skills in the production
of many videos for TWSB. With a desire to help students in
Uganda attain an education and live a better life, Andy went on the March 2017 Uganda expedition as a videographer. Aside from informing people of TWSB’s mission, he loves spending time with kids and showing them his photos, gadgets, and gizmos.