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. 

MICHELLE GILMAN | CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Michelle Gilman, M.Ed - Educational Psychology, brings with her over 20 years of educational resource experience.  Michelle has spent a large part of her career creating and administering educational assessments, collaborating with school-based resource teams and being the liaison between parents, teachers, professionals and students. While living in Arizona, Michelle was an associate professor at Arizona state University teaching reading in the faculty of education. Michelle is excited to join TWSB and share her resources and teaching materials with schools in developing countries.

MICHELLE GILMAN | CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Michelle Gilman, M.Ed - Educational Psychology, brings with her over 20 years of educational resource experience.  Michelle has spent a large part of her career creating and administering educational assessments, collaborating with school-based resource teams and being the liaison between parents, teachers, professionals and students. While living in Arizona, Michelle was an associate professor at Arizona state University teaching reading in the faculty of education. Michelle is excited to join TWSB and share her resources and teaching materials with schools in developing countries.

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. 

 
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!

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. 

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.

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.