Janay Daniel, Program Manager, International Leadership Program
Janay is the newest addition to the Global LAB team, joining the organization as the Program Manager of the International Leadership Program (ILP). She is energized and excited to be working with the Global LAB team and ILP's New York City high school students. Janay brings non-profit experience working with young scholars from several previous organizations, including: the Noble Street Charter School in Chicago as a University of Chicago Public Interest Fellow, the Young Women's Leadership Network as a Program Management and Evaluation Intern, and with Peer Health Exchange as a Peer Health Educator. Janay earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where she also worked as a Marketing Coordinator and Peer Educator for the University's Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention organization.
Deborah Friedman, Director of Programs
Deborah received her Master's degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management with a concentration in International Education from School for International Training (SIT). Her thesis, The American Gap Year, examined the Gap Year trend in America from college admissions advisors' perspectives and has presented her research at the Federation EIL Poland General Assembly and, as a guest lecturer, at SIT. Deborah has designed, developed, and lead intercultural programs, both domestically and abroad, with organizations such as The Experiment in International Living, Semester at Sea, and Kids Can Free the Children / Leaders Today, The Institute for Civic Leadership at the Dwight School, and CIEE. From 2004-2005, Deborah served on the Board of World Learning as a Student Trustee and is now a Leader of their New York Alumni Chapter. Deborah has her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Communication Arts with a minor in Business and attended Boston University's Study Abroad Internship Program in Sydney, Australia.
John Eastman, Executive Director
John brings more than 20 years of non-profit experience to Global LAB, including extensive international experience, having spent five years in Asia working for NGO's before dedicating himself to non-profit global education initiatives based in the United States. His intercultural education background includes design and development of global studies and service programs in Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Morocco, and Vietnam; ESL instruction in Hanoi for the Vietnam-USA Friendship Society; and teaching at Houston's Taiwanese-American Community Association and Park Place School, serving Vietnamese and Mexican children of recent immigrants. In the early 1990's John was an editor at Oxford University Press in New York City and later helped design and manage PEN America Center's national literacy program for at-risk populations. He is a graduate of Amherst College.
Alex Safos, Director of Middle East and North Africa Programs
Alex brings to Global LAB 15 years of domestic and international experience as a management consultant with BearingPoint and Chemonics international. He has lived and worked in several overseas locales, including Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine. Alex was a business development manager with Chemonics International, specializing in international development funded by USAID and The World Bank. In its Middle East and North Africa division, he managed major projects for sustainable tourism and cultural heritage preservation in Jordan, fisheries management in Oman, and civil society promotion in Egypt. He was also the US-based manager for Chemonics' offices in Cairo, Egypt and Palestine. Alex's seminal overseas experience occurred in Fes, Morocco where he lived for a year and taught beginning and advanced English classes at the American Language Center (ALC). In addition, he assisted with the roll-out of the Arabic Language Institute/Fes, now the leading Arabic instruction center in Morocco. Alex holds a M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies--where he achieved proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic--and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin's Plan II Liberal Arts Program.
Kempie Blythe, Program Leader
Kempie leads Global LAB programs in Morocco and India. A native of Charlotte, NC, Kempie graduated from Colorado College where she majored in religion with a comparative concentration in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. In her high school years she began traveling in Asia, seeking perspectives drastically different from her own. Kempie's initial intrigue with traveling developed into a passion for global learning and experiential education. She has lived, studied, taught, and volunteered in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. One of her most memorable experiences was the semester she spent in Morocco with The School for International Training (SIT). There she pursued intensive Arabic study and conducted an independent project on Gnawa identity. While in Morocco, she fell in love with the unique play of cultures and influences. During college, she also studied abroad in India, New Zealand, and Mexico where she examined the struggles of several indigenous communities. This interest has sparked her current intrigue with indigenous desert cultures. Furthermore, Kempie has been involved in the field of education for the past five years. Most recently this passion led her to Indonesia where she completed a 10-month Fulbright Teaching Fellowship in East Java. She has also taught ESL in the States and served as a teacher's aide at an environmental education school in Colorado. Kempie currently resides in San Francisco, CA where she works at a nonprofit that places at-risk youth in employment in local arts organizations. She is also an active volunteer at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where she aids newly arrived refugees in their resettlement. An avid photographer, yogi, jewelry-maker, and outdoorswoman, Kempie loves creative endeavors and the fresh air. When she has the time, she is likely to be found cooking harira, a delectable Moroccan soup, for her friends.
Jackie Dennis, Program Leader
As the Program Director for the India Semester, Jackie brings more than ten years of international travel experience to Global LAB. Jackie's incendiary preoccupation with Modern Tibetan Studies was fueled while a student on the University of Wisconsin College Year in Nepal Program '99-00. During this time, she traveled independently throughout India, Tibet and Thailand, acquiring a taste for adventure that has yet to be sated. She has since made seven extended return visits to this region, both as a graduate student and as three-time field instructor for study abroad organizations. As a field instructor, Jackie designed and taught several comprehensive Tibetan Studies curricula - focusing on Art History, Religion, Current Events and Political History. In 2007, Jackie received her MA from Naropa University in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies. Trained as an oral and textual Tibetan-English interpreter, Jackie now teaches Tibetan language, culture and religion to her students on rooftops and mountaintops throughout the pan-Himalayan region. She has spent the better part of the last decade traveling, working and studying in South Asia, North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America. In her free time, Jackie studies Sanskrit and Hebrew; translates Tibetan poetry for publication; writes travel narratives; dreams of her next adventure and the mountain hermitages of Tibet. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Kai Johnson, Program Leader
Kai currently leads India semester programs for Global LAB. He holds a B.A. in Human Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has spent the last several years in transit from the US to South Asia and the Pacific for study, work, and travel. During his time at UW-Madison, Kai spent two semesters abroad--the first in Suva, Fiji, and the second in Hyderabad, India. While in Hyderabad Kai studied Hindi, Urdu and Nyaya and Vedanta Philosophy and afterwards spent three months in an internship with the Micro Insurance Academy in Delhi. These experiences imbued him with a passion for the challenges and rewards inherent in international and experiential education, as well as a love for the intensity and the diversity of life in India, which he hopes to communicate to students. In addition to leading with Global LAB, Kai has also criss-crossed the US as a leader with Trek America and was a founding member of an organization aimed at increasing the availability of literary resources in Fiji.
Tracy Joosten, Program Leader
Tracy leads India Semester Programs for Global LAB. She has recently completed her M.A. in Conflict Transformation from the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont. Her thesis explores how public schools in the United States teach conflict mediation and social competency skills to their students. A program facilitator for SIT's Youth Programs, Tracy works with youth from Vermont, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom teaching workshops on social networking, prison industrial complex, restorative justice, and nonviolent communication. She also facilitates dialogues on gender, social identity, and spirituality. Tracy lived in Ladakh in 2006 while teaching for the Vermont Intercultural Semester. She created and implemented courses in Ladakhi Language, cross-cultural communication, and co-wrote and taught curriculum for a high school honors level research methods course. Her passion for Himalayan cultures stems from her studies in Nepal with SIT's Culture and Development program in 2001. Resulting from her SIT education, Tracy's teaching style strives to meld independent study and academic inquiry with personal transformation. Fascinated with communication, Tracy enjoys focusing on language learning, ritual, and music as a means to create connection across cultural divides.
Galen Murton, Program Leader
Galen has designed and directed cross-cultural educational programs in South and Central Asia for Global LAB and other organizations since 2005. He first visited South Asia as a student on the University of Wisconsin-College Year in Nepal program in 1998-99, and following graduation from Middlebury College in 2000 (with a degree in comparative religion), spent five subsequent years trekking, studying, and working in remote areas of India, Nepal, Tibet, and Pakistan. His tireless enthusiasm for exploration, and genuine appreciation for peoples of all cultures and walks of life, has been a subtle invitation for many to put aside their reservations and concerns and to lead a similarly exhilarating nomadic lifestyle. To this end, since 2005 Galen has led numerous experiential education programs in the Himalayan regions of India and Tibet as well as instructed with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School/Outward Bound USA on the Atlantic coast near his hometown of Portland, Maine. He has been trained as a certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT), and in addition to working as an educator in South and Central Asia, Galen has worked for the UNHCR with Afghan refugees in Islamabad and aided research projects on the sacred geography of the Kathmandu Valley. Most recently, Galen completed his Master's Degree in International Relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, concentrating on Political Geography and Conflict Resolution and with a thesis on the development of transportation infrastructure across the Tibetan Plateau. A father, a student, and an observer of diverse religious traditions, Galen continues to visit South and Central Asia virtually every year and strives to inspire in others the deep sensitivity to cultural and religious nuance that is gained through responsible, immersive travel in both foreign and familiar lands.
Erin Popek, Program Leader
Erin is currently an MA candidate in International Education at the School for International Training. Her first visit to South Asia and the Himalaya began in the spring of 2000 through Gonzaga University, her undergraduate institution, where she focused on International Studies and Political Science. With P.I.E.R (Program for International Education and Relief), Erin spent the summer teaching--and being taught-in an orphanage in Delhi, afterwards gravitating toward the mountains. There, while continuing her own pilgrimage, she researched for her undergraduate thesis, The Future of Chinese Tibet, through the eyes of Tibetan refugees. While listening to HH the Dalai Lama speak during a Kalachakra Initiation ceremony on the Tibetan-Indian border, Erin encountered a group of US high school students and their leaders who were also fortunate enough to be present for this holy occasion. Fascinated with this form of education she determined to become involved. The past five years have been a winding path of leading experientially-based international education programs, exploring the world's mountainous and wild places, including her own backyard in Alaska, white-water river guiding, teaching Spanish and being a student herself. She is a NOLS Alaska Mountaineering graduate and recently finished a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician course in the White Mountains of New England. Erin's wanderlust spirit, nomadic life-style and true love for putting herself outside of her comfort-zone can be contagious.
Jonathan Zalman, Program Leader
Jonathan earned a B.S. in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University and will be attending New York University this Fall 2010 in the M.A. program in Media, Culture & Communication. He has been traveling extensively since the age of 17 and has been to nearly 20 countries. He continues to study foreign languages, especially Mandarin. He lived in China for a year teaching English, Business and Marketing in Fuzhou, Fujian. While there, he volunteered at an orphanage on a weekly basis, and personally fundraised enough money to support the surgeries necessary to mend the cleft palate of a beautiful baby girl--she has since been adopted by an American family. He also lived in the Philippines working on creative writing, which resulted in the creation of a socio-cultural study and documentary pitch. Jonathan currently works as a freelance English, Hebrew and Chess teacher, writer, editor and marketer in Chicago, IL. He graduated from the improvisation program at Second City-Chicago. He doesn't own a television, attempts crosswords daily, and loves Chinese tea, dark comedy, the internet, philosophy, candy and basketball.