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Bright Light Volunteers has a dedicated and passionate team of members to make sure that our programs are the best they can be, thereby helping Make The World A Brighter Place!
Catherine provided the vision behind Bright Light Volunteers and believes that giving students the opportunity to travel while involved in international service creates the global leaders that our future needs. She is also our Latin America specialist and a program Trip Leader. She advocates for cross-cultural understanding through sustainable action and interactive cultural opportunities.
Melissa received her B.A. in Communication in 2004 from Dallas Baptist University where she graduated with honors. Shortly after graduation, she began working on a government contract where she quickly moved up to a supervisory position. In addition to working with Bright Light Volunteers, she has volunteered with hospice, wildlife rehabilitation, and worked in a business expansion role for a Chamber of Commerce. Melissa loves to travel and is an avid reader. She is excited to be a part of Bright Light Volunteers and to share the knowledge she has gained from her experiences, both professionally and personally.
Scott Jennings comes to Bright Light with over a decade of experience in strategy consulting with a focus on telecom, media and technology. He has extensive experience guiding organizations through business plan development, raising capital and implementation. He has personally guided students on Bright Light programs and takes great pride in his work contributing to make the world a brighter place. When he is not leading service trips with Bright Light he volunteers in his local community as a Tier I member of CERT San Diego.
If you are lucky enough to have Tim guiding you on your service adventure, you are in for a treat because he is quite possibly the coolest state-side trip leader we have! With a professional back ground in developing business leadership, he is a great role model for our student participants.
Mary comes from a very diverse background in theatre, education, non-profit volunteering, promotional test development and traveling overseas to numerous destinations. She obtained a BA in Theatre Arts as well as Secondary Education Certification, which allowed her to first pursue a career in stage management and audience services for a professional opera company and then to teach English, theatre and speech to secondary level students for a number of years. In addition to that, Mary volunteered extensively for non-profit theatre companies in the locations she lived in while in Texas both onstage and with fundraising, special events, stage management and educational outreach programs.
In recent years, she has worked as a test developer for Booth Research Group in Colorado, preparing written exams for public sector clientele. Mary has traveled extensively in Europe and the United States, and has traveled to Uganda, New Zealand and parts of Asia and the Caribbean. Four years ago, Mary traveled to Cambodia on a service trip and fell in love with the possibilities that exist for helping others improve their lives. She assisted in starting the International Development Center (IVDC) in Pouk, Cambodia, which offers free beginning English lessons and English for trade and tourism, and remains its core benefactor.
She has returned to school to obtain a MA degree in International Development at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, housed at the University of Denver. She believes that education can be the beginning of a better life for many people living in developing nations, particularly women.
Amy has deep roots in education and always seemed to know she would teach. Amy earned her BA in English, teaching credential, and MA in Education from California State University, Chico. She has taught high school English in Chico for 17 years and teaches part-time for the university in the Education Department. Amy is passionate about Global Education and was selected to participate in the TGC (Teachers for Global Classrooms) program which allowed her to learn and teach in Indonesia.
Amy brought her experiences home and shared her knowledge through workshops and in the classroom. Amy helps to coordinate the International Baccalaureate program at her school and focuses great effort on her students' service learning. Amy has taken groups of students to Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Peru on service-based trips, which has changed the lives of her students as much as the residents of the areas they helped. Amy's husband is a school principal and together they have two young boys. Amy hopes to instill her passion for education and service in her children and students.
A native of Dallas, Texas Paul has raised 2 daughters, now 20, and 27 years old. He has traveled extensively world wide with 35 years working as a self employed award wining video producer. He brings a wealth of visual marketing experience to the BLV board.
Stacie serves as an Associate Professor of Sociology and Human Services in the Bethel University College of Arts and Sciences. She is a 2005 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she earned a Master of Science in Social Work degree. Her primary academic interests are in community-engaged teaching, learning, and scholarship, gender issues, race relations, and global sociology. Since joining the BU faculty in 2006, she has earned several awards including Faculty Member of the Year and The Roy and Mary Shelton Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.
In addition to her faculty appointment, she currently serves as the founding director of Bethel University's Community Engagement Scholarship Program. Since its inception in 2011, scholars and faculty have served an average of 3200 hours each year in the local community. Ms. Freeman also organizes international service-learning opportunities as the founder and lead faculty member of Bethel University's Global Service-Learning Program. In that capacity, Ms. Freeman has led seven groups of students to serve and learn in five different Caribbean, Central American, and South American countries.
In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her family, practicing photography, restoring her old house, and drinking coffee.
Joe's passion for making a difference in the lives of many and his desire to help those in need has allowed him to experience the giving of his gifts through actions such as teaching, building construction, physical and emotional support to the suffering and all things revealed through prayer and his personal practice of living with positive intention.
After serving four years in the United States Army, Joe returned to the states and attended College in Florida. Post college, while working in various capacities for the same company, Swagelok, Joe experienced the stability and comforts of long term employment and at the same time, realized his desire to expand his scope of helping others. Joe has volunteered in countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia as well as giving assistance to local needs found within the United States. While volunteering outside of the country, Joe assisted in teaching children in their local schools as well as planning, developing and teaching adults how to generate income, ultimately allowing them to be a sustainable financial resource for their families and within their communities. (i.e. When in Cambodia, Joe taught locals how to build concrete forms used to fabricate a suitable concrete surface for their family water well).
Local volunteer opportunities participated in include, but are not limited to, helping flooding victims in Baton Rouge Louisiana, participation in a local nonprofit organization called Family Promise of Greater Cleveland. Their mission is to inspire and empower homeless families to transform their lives, by becoming self-sufficient. Joe is an active participant in the non-profit mankind project (MKP). MKP is a global network of charitable and educational organizations, with the stated purpose to "support men in leading meaningful lives of integrity, accountability, responsibility and emotional intelligence."
Doug's professional career in the children's television industry over the past 20 years has allowed him to develop his skills and interests in education, both within his daily work and in the context of his personal interests. As a lead staff educator at Corus Entertainment, Doug has numerous professional accreditations to his credit. He has trained new employees, acted as a mentor to junior editors, and has spoken at educational events within the industry as well as at post-secondary institutions.
Currently completing his Adobe Master Certification, he continues to learn and pass on his knowledge to fellow employees. Doug's educational pursuits also extend to his personal life. As Scout Leader for many years he ensured that the youth in his charge learned a great deal about the natural world and their place in it. Having a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, he also had the pleasure of instructing students of all ages in this Korean martial art. With interests in many fields, he studied for several years and recently attained certification as a Beer Sommelier and now teaches seminars and leads tutored tastings on a regular basis throughout Ontario.
Doug has also volunteered in developing countries, including work on a documentary about school-building in Ghana, and teaching English to children and young adults both in Ghana and Cambodia. Doug views learning as a life long process and is grateful that keeping an open mind and seeking out new experiences has allowed him these opportunities.
Marc has had a diverse background in business, law, and real estate investment over the past 40 years. He was an accomplished lawyer before starting several businesses that included a Mexican Mercado that catered to the immigrant population in Dallas, Texas, restaurants, ball rooms for special events, and rental of commercial retail spaces. He comes from a large family of successful entrepreneurs. He is now semi-retired and greatly enjoys traveling throughout Mexico and taking in its cultural and environmental beauties. He uses both his legal and business expertise to help ensure that Bright Light Volunteers remains a success.
Amanda has nine years of previous experience in customer service and business management. She is currently a non-traditional college student at the University of Tennessee at Martin, working toward a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Business Administration. Amanda plans to continue her education and pursue an M.B.A. upon graduation.
Amanda currently holds several leadership roles at her university, such as Supplemental Instructor for Introduction to Sociology and Peer Enabling Program Leader for other non-traditional students. She also serves as president of Alpha Kappa Delta - International Sociology Honor Society and treasurer of the Non-Traditional Student Association.
Amanda first joined Bright Light Volunteers on a program to Cuba, where she fell in love with global travel and service. Since then, she has offered her services to help with coordinating existing programs and helping to develop new and exciting future endeavors for our volunteers.
Aaron is a developer from Dallas Texas who specializes in website development, search engine optimization, online marketing, and engagement. He programmed throughout his adolescence, sharpening his computer skills and graduated the University of Michigan with a degree in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science. For fun he spends time playing soccer, hiking, learning, and reading. He enjoys working with Bright Light Volunteers because of the charity's myriad of charitable works, impassioned vision, and selfless spirit that is embodied in their work.
Jemma is the light and inspiration behind all of the Bright Light branding and messaging. She encompasses all that is Bright Light- enthusiasm for our mission to help our international family and the vision to convey our message of inclusivity to the public. She is a shining light in this world and her work with Bright Light exemplifies what a broad range of professionals, working towards the common good, can achieve.
Always in search of his next adventure, Andrew is often found hiking backcountry trails, carrying equal weights food and camera gear. Andrew's passion for the outdoors and landscape photography has taken him to some of the most remote places on Earth. From the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia to the heart of the Australian Outback, he is perpetually seeking the "perfect shot".
Andrew's wanderlust roots can be traced back to a semester abroad in Buenos Aires during his senior year at Texas Christian University where he received his bachelor's degree in economics. The experience left him eager for more international travel but graduation and a full-time job loomed on the horizon.
A fortuitous relocation to Los Angeles for work provided Andrew with exposure to the California Sierras and the canyons of southern Utah where he further honed his backpacking and photography skills. And in May of 2012, Andrew left his job in the aerospace industry to focus on his career as a professional photographer.
Since then Andrew has travelled extensively through the western United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. Along the way he has captured some incredible shots, but if you ask Andrew what it is that drives his passion for travel he'll tell you it's the people. According to Andrew, Christopher McCandless said it best when he said, "Happiness is only really when shared".
Katarina began studying English in California during high school. She continued her studies in Greece, accumulating degrees in English, German, and classical piano. Katarina's other passions include studying archeology and the history of Greece. After founding and running several private schools in Athens, she obtained her BA in psychology from the American College in Athens in 2002. She is an excellent local guide with a true passion for teaching others about all that Rhodes as to offer.
Yaniel is 32 years old. He graduated in Economics from the University of Pinar del Río in 2006, He has been working in Viñales, declared a National Park in 2001 and World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1999, as a guide for more than 8 years. He has worked in the National center of Cultural heritage for more than 6 years and specializes as a with a focus in ecological tourism, giving especial interest to the protection of the local flora and fauna and to the local traditions like in the cultivation of the tobacco. He can't wait to meet all of you and lead you on a service adventure of a lifetime!
Dine is a native of Siem Reap and has long worked in Cambodia's sustainable tourism industry. He loves meeting new people, being able to share information about his culture, and being able to be part of initiatives that help his local community. He has a beautiful wife three adorable children.
Ella is originally from the UK and studied at the University of Manchester and has been volunteering with the Children's Home in Arequipa for the last two years. She loves working with the children there and is excited to lead your group on an amazing service adventure in Peru!
Richard has a passion for helping the people of Ghana and has been engaged in community development initiatives for the last 15 years. He is the ultimate guide and community host. He will ensure that your time in Ghana is safe, productive, meaningful, and a life changing experience!
Noah was an International Baccalaureate student at Pleasant Valley High school in Chico, California. During the fall of his senior year in 2014, he took a service trip to Cambodia through Bright Light Volunteers after a love for international travel was sparked from a trip to Costa Rica earlier in 2014. He wants to help other people find love in international service work. He now attends Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a business administration major and works for Bright Light as a social media manager and a project researcher. His passions include basketball, meeting new people and spending time with people who are closest to him.
Gabby Pero first became involved with BrightLight her senior year of high school on an IB trip to Cambodia. From that time forward, she fell in love with service work, travel, and BLV. She is currently a freshman at Pepperdine University, majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Music.