Our Team Leaders.
Our Team Leaders embody the philosophy of Developing World Connections. When you sign up for an International Volunteer Experience, each group is accompanied by a Team Leader. Team Leaders make all the difference by supporting the Team from start to finish.
All of our Team Leaders are volunteers, first and foremost. They take time away from their jobs and lives to provide the invaluable service of ensuring the well being of the volunteers and work hard to make sure that everyone involved – volunteers, host communities, host partners and beneficiaries - have a great experience.
Our Team Leaders are experienced travelers and past participants and possess an intimate understanding of the volunteers’ needs. They have been trained by Developing World Connections as well as hold a valid first aid certificate.
Strictly a volunteer position, a Team Leader serves as a recruiter, facilitator, liaison, and advocate of Developing World Connections.
Read the bios of some of our Team Leaders below.
How can you become a Developing World Connections Team Leader?
Before you can lead a Short Term or Create-Your-Own-Group Experience you need to first be a participant on a Developing World Connections Experience. The Team Leader on that Experience introduces you to everything that is involved. Next you must send in a resume and cover letter detailing your interests and volunteering background.
Each accepted Team Leader then goes through a Team Leader Training. However, post secondary students who wish to lead a team of volunteers, aged 16 - 29, do not have to have been a part participant.
We are currently looking for Team Leaders for both short-term and student trips. Please visit our Become a Team Leader page for more information.
MARCIA JULIAN – Marcia is a founding member of the Board of Directors with Developing World Connections. She participated on the first trip to Sri Lanka in 2005, and has been to Guatemala and lead a trip to Cambodia. Marcia is a manager with a child welfare agency in the Interior of BC. "As a Team Leader on these trips my job is to set the stage for the international experience - the project, the host relationship, the transportation and accommodations. The real joy of the position is in having the privilege of seeing how the international experience uniquely unfolds for each volunteer. It is an incredible honour."
TIM KASTEN – Tim has been to Sri Lanka twice with Developing World Connections and led a large group there in January 2008. Both his wife and his daughter have accompanied him. “The best part of being a team leader is seeing peoples’ goodwill and desire to be of service, and ending the experience feeling as if they got back more than they gave.”
RICK KURZAC – Rick has been to Sri Lanka twice and led teams to Swaziland and Peru. Rick is the owner of two Home Hardware stores in Kamloops. “I enjoy the feeling of doing good and introducing people to the same experience. Watching people make new friends and doing something meaningful is something I like to be a part of.”
TONY DUFFICY – Tony is a retired School Administrator and has, over the past 2 years, travelled to Sri Lanka twice, Kenya and Rwanda. “I have travelled to many countries in the past but as a team leader with Developing World Connections taking people to different countries I get a thrill just being able to share the experiences of being in places where I feel I personally and they, can do some things that will make life, as the local people experience it, a little easier.”
RALPH BULLIS – Ralph Bullis is a semi-retired geologist who has worked in many places in North America and internationally. He and his wife, Bonnie, linked up with Developing World Connections for a volunteer trip in February 2005. They have been on 7 trips with Developing World Connections. "Being able to provide help to people in need internationally is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It is a special privilege to be able to travel to foreign places and to learn about other people and cultures and to be able to provide some needed assistance. As a team leader, I am also able to provide support to those volunteers who may not have traveled foreign countries before and to be able to help smooth their transition into an international volunteer experience and to make their experience as fulfilling as it can be."
RAELENE SHEA - Raelene is a retired executive administrator. She has been to Sri Lanka three times and to Cambodia once. “Volunteering as a team leader is a rewarding way for me to give back to the global community and to learn more about different culture. I enjoy the experience of introducing people to the joys of international service.”
SEAN MULLIGAN - Sean is the owner of the Salt Spring Adventure Co. and is a high school facilitator for the SWOVA (Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse). His passion is ecotourism and its role in community-based international development. Sean has led groups to Cambodia. "I am proud to be a team leader with Developing World Connections because of its steadfast values and its dedication to raising Canadian's level of international understanding."
TRUDIE BONBERNARD - Trudie may be retired from her education career, but not from traveling. She has recently returned from teaching business English in Beijing and backpacking through Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Over the last twenty years, Trudie has literally backpacked around the world. She is very excited about volunteer travel and her work as a Team Leader. "Volunteering with Developing World Connections provides a very unique travel experience and allows me to connect on a personal level with local communities. It is a very rewarding and personally challenging experience."
JENNIFER FARQUHARSON - Jennifer at the University of Victoria studying political science and international relations. She has been to Cambodia twice, once as a participant and once as a team leader. "My heart lies with the beautiful people of Cambodia, because of their spirit, their love and their courage."
DAN COUTURE - Dan is studying studying political science at the University of Victoria and has been to Cambodia twice in two separate student groups, leading one of them "I love seeing all the smiling faces in the country. It's so contagious. I really like being able to bring people to a place that they may never have explored otherwise and see the way that it impacts their lives so dramatically and in so many ways."
TOM FAIR -Tom has traveled to Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Peru and Guatemala with Developing World Connections. "The experience of meeting and working with people in these countries has been fantastic. It is a great blend of personal growth and international volunteer experience."
MITCH RHODES - Mitch volunteered with Developing World Connections in Sri Lanka and will be leading groups of volunteers to Rwanda. "As a Team Leader in Rwanda I am really interested in building bridges between Canadians and Rwandans. I am looking forward to the sustainable development and film making elements incorporated into the project."
JESSICA KLEISSEN - Jessica has lived in India and Western Europe and has traveled extensively. "For me, leading a team is an amazing opportunity to introduce life enhancing experiences to people. To witness the connections made between participants and those in-country and between the group members is a real honor. I am continually inspired by those in the host country by their resilience, perseverance and abundance of smiles and by the participants. Not only do participants continue to strive to make a difference in the lives they touched overseas but also affect change within their circle of family and friends and community."
NICK FOSTER - Nick first started working with Developing World Connections after the Tsunami in 2004 and in 2005 he travelled to Sri Lanka twice to help with building houses. Nick has also travelled to Kenya to work at an orphanage and Uganda to work at a teen rescue centre and to set up a computer lab. Other building projects include trips to Ghana to lead teams for Habitat for Humanity. "I am passionate about giving people the opportunity to experience the culture of other countries. The perspective that this gives us all is a gift that changes us – we become more giving and more alive through the experience."
STUART SHARPE - Stuart participated in the Developing World Connections/UVic student trip to Cambodia. The trip had great team-leaders and a fantastic group of volunteers that bonded well, to make it an enjoyable experience. "I felt that as an impoverished country, the Cambodian people could use all the help that they can get and I think we fulfilled their expectations as volunteers. Not only did the volunteers come away with new cultural appreciation but our beneficiaries learned a great deal about Canadians and our culture. As a leader, I hope to give the volunteers a unique cultural volunteer experience that will give them an interest in volunteering overseas and helping those in need."
KEITH MEAKINS - Keith is a retired school administrator.He participated in the first trip to Sri Lanka in 2005 with the thought that it would be a "neat" experience to start retirement. "The enormity of the devastation couldn't be caught with TV news coverage, nor could the determination of the people to move forward. The smiles and positive attitudes of the volunteers was reflected in the faces of the people and their unspoken thanks an incredible reward."
ROB PLOWRIGHT - Rob is a retired teacher, having taught for over 30 years in the Mission School District. "I was profoundly moved by the determined experiences of our son, Will, through his various projects and trips on behalf of Developing World Connections. When I travelled through Swaziland with Will in 2008, I was able to see first hand the impact that a project could have. At that point, I decided I wanted to follow our son's lead, and to make a positive contribution where it is so disparately needed."
ERNIE TOEWS - Ernie is semi retired and has spent the past 32 years in the construction industry. Ernie participated with Developing World Connections in Sri Lanka. In 2008, he once again volunteered, this time in Swaziland. "The idea of a volunteer experience appeals to me because it is a holiday where we can meet new people, learn about a culture that is very foreign to us as Canadians. Volunteering by doing something meaningful that means so much to the people of the developing world, and also working side by side with the people we are helping, developing relationships with them, and in doing this it seems we get back far more than we give."
MARY HARBER - Mary is a social worker and is currently teaching in at a local university. She has traveled to Cambodia with Developing World Connections. "My experience with Developing World Connections has enabled me not only to change and grow as a global citizen but also helped me to transform my experience into learning for my students, to highlight not only difference but ‘sameness’. The common Cambodian phrase “same same but different” has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I am very excited to become a part of a growing organization that supports individual and community growth through experience and connection and to support others in opportunities to become active ‘global citizens’."
SHAYNE MINTZ - Shayne is a Firefighter and is also Chair and Volunteer Operational Lead of the Disaster Management Committee of the York Region Branch of the Canadian Red Cross. He participated in his first trip with TRIP Canada and Developing World Connections to Tangalle, Sri Lanka in December 2007. "The most memorable thoughts I have of my experience is the magnitude of need in these countries, the amazing perseverance people have in recovering from the problems and adversity created by natural or human caused disasters and the fulfillment experienced in realizing that there is a place in the world where you really can make a difference in the lives of people, their families and their community."
ANGIE LEAVEY - Angie has been a practicing Massage Therapist for eight years, in Toronto and currently in Tofino, BC. She participated as a volunteer with Developing World Connections in December 2005 to aid in Tsunami relief. "Traveling with Developing World Connections as a participant changed my perspective on how very fortunate we are in Western society. The experience of being a team leader with Developing World Connections comes with great pride. It’s my hope to be a vessel for those who are truly excited about expanding their own vision, and creating change in lives of new friends."
PRESTON THOM - Preston retired several years ago after a long career in the high technology leasing industry. Avid travelers, he and his wife Arlene, have visited over 50 different countries. "The experience of building new housing for Tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka added a wonderful element seeing how other people live. Seeing the families moving into their new houses was a moving event and we were grateful to have been a part of it."
JANET MCKELVEY - "In partnership with my husband Bruce, I have had the opportunity to lead four teams to complete the Developing World Connections-TRIP village building project near Tangalle, Sri Lanka. The experience is like no other with the opportunity to work beside families in desperate need to build them a home they would never have the chance to live in. It is difficult to decide what is the best part: the reward of hard work and leaving a home behind, getting to know the wonderful people in Sri Lanka, or the love and lifelong friendship that grows with the members of each volunteer team. The thought that always spring to mind in that we always get more than we give. The life that has changed the most is my own."
SARAH KURZAC – Sarah is studying business at Thompson Rivers University. She participated on her first Developing World Connections trip when she was 16 years old with her father to Sri Lanka. Since then Sarah has been to Swaziland, and most recently, Cambodia. "As a team leader I'm honored and excited to be able to share the same experiences that I've encountered, the friends I've met and differences I've made not just by telling stories, but by having my teammates experience it for themselves."
BRIGITTE DONOVAN - Brigitte has worked at the Miramichi Regional Health Authority as Administrative Support for the past 10 years. She traveled to Sri Lanka in November, 2006, as a TRIP/Developing World Connections volunteer. "The impact the experience has had on me is a feeling I wish I could bottle. Although I went there as part of a group to help build houses and a community for those who were less fortunate than me (or so I thought) I, in fact, came home feeling as though I was the one who was rewarded! I feel truly blessed to have been a part of something so meaningful and wish everybody could experience what I have at least once in their lifetime".
ERICA MAY - Erica is trained and experienced as a professional actor and arts marketer. One of the most remarkable experiences in Erica's life to-date was working with the community of Chamcar Bei in Cambodia. "It opened my eyes and my heart to a broader and more intricate world than I had previously perceived - and showed me how sharing of your time and spirit can make a difference. I look forward to being of service to world communities, Developing World Connections and my respective team."
KRISTIAN BRUUN - Kristian is a actor and sometimes writer from Toronto. An avid traveller, Kristian jumped at the chance to go to Sri Lanka to help rebuild a community devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. He was a member of the December 2007 Developing World Connections and TRIP... trip. He was shocked to see how much help these communities needed years after the disaster and looks forward to continuing to lend a helping hand.
IAN FORSYTHE - Ian is the owner of Caneast Shows, which produces 4 consumer shows in the Ottawa market. He participated in the December 2007 trip to Tangalle, Sri Lanka and looks forward to greater involvement in the future. "I believe strongly in community, whether it's 2 doors down or worlds away. We were put on this Earth to make a difference and Developing World Connections provides a great opportunity towards that. The impact any one individual makes is microscopic but put it all together and the difference it makes is huge." Ian's long-term goal is to volunteer internationally on a permanent part-time basis and sees becoming a team leader as an important step towards that goal.
BARB JACKSON - Barb holds a Masters degree in Environment and Management, and works as a town planner and university instructor. Barb enjoys learning about other cultures and appreciates the opportunity to give back to communities in the developing world. “It is wonderful to see our team members connect with the local people and engage in meaningful work for our host communities. Through our partnerships with local organizations we can be confident that we are working on projects that the local people want and need”. Barb has been to Sri Lanka, with Developing World Connections.
TANJA KISSLINGER - After working in the varied fields of high-technology, human rights and refugee determination, Tanja followed her “volunteer heart” to Tanzania, East Africa. Tanja volunteered at Mkombozi, a leading child-focused agency. When Tanja returned to Canada, she founded MoyoMaya Media, a communications consultancy offering branding, identity management, graphic design, web design, writing and editing to non-profit organizations in developing countries. Through MoyoMaya, Tanja continues to work with Mkombozi and a variety of Tanzanian NGOs, traveling in-country regularly for short missions. Tanja has also volunteered India, Romania, Costa Rica and Mongolia.