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Meet the Leadership Team



Asha Gervan

Executive Director, Operations

has been working in the non-profit sector for over 20 years, holding leadership positions in the health care, education and child protection sectors. Throughout her career, Asha has led teams and designed projects in many of the most challenging humanitarian contexts around the world, including Uganda, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Haiti. In her home country of Canada, Asha served as Deputy Director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and led the International Development Institute at Humber College, where she was also a part-time faculty member. Asha holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics.

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Dr. Kirsten Pontalti

Executive Director, Business Development

is a researcher, policy advisor and mother with over 15 years of experience on issues related to children, youth and social change in conflict-affected, low-income contexts. Kirsten earned her doctorate from the University of Oxford for her dissertation on how childhood and children's transitions to adulthood have been changing in Rwanda and how children influence social change processes across generations, from colonialism to the present. She also has thematic expertise on governance and conflict, complex emergencies and development. Her recent clients include UNICEF, ECPAT International, UK DfID, Oxfam International, Girl Effect Rwanda, Grand Challenges Canada and the Rwanda Ministry of Justice.


Madison Bachmann

Administrative & Communications Associate

has been involved in non-profit administration for over 15 years and has been a member of the Proteknon team for almost 3 of them. Her focus includes providing project support, communications, and proposal development for the Executive Directors and Proteknon associates. Madison lives in Canada.

Board Directors


Alison Sutton

worked for over 35 years in the human rights field for international NGOs and UN organizations, promoting system building and accountability, with a focus on Latin America, especially Brazil and Mexico, and later globally. Her last position was as Global Director of Child Protection for Save the Children International co-ordinating a network of child protection experts facing challenges across development, humanitarian and high-income contexts in 120 countries. She previously worked for the United Nations Children’s Fund, Amnesty International’s International Secretariat and Anti-Slavery International. Alison has a Degree in Modern History from the University of Cambridge, and incomplete doctoral studies from the University of Brasilia.

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Dr. David Conner

is the Director of Talent Development at Duke University. He oversees professional development and training and leads strategies that address talent development needs within the university-wide alumni and development community. Dave has an EdD in Adult Continuing Education with a concentration in Southeast Asian Studies. Professionally, Dave holds certifications in both human resources and coaching. He has experience in higher education, international relief and development, fundraising consulting, and church ministry and administration. His expertise includes non-formal education, self-directed learning, coaching, human resource management and development, organisational development, non-profit management and fundraising, intercultural education and communications, and cross-cultural research. Dave worked in Thailand for ten years and is fluent in Central Thai.


Irene Rizzini

is a sociologist, Ph.D. from the Instituto Universitário de Pesquisa do Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ), with a degree in Psychology from the University of Santa Úrsula, a master’s degree in Social Service from the University of Chicago (School of Social Service Administration). She is a professor in the Department of Social Service at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (Undergraduate and Graduate Studies) and director of the International Centre for Childhood Studies and Research (CIESPI) in partnership with PUC-Rio. At the international level, she was President of the Childwatch International Research Network, 2002-2009, and was a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame, at the Institute for International Studies, with a focus on Latin American Studies in 2006. Irene Rizzini received the Guggenheim award for 2008-2009 and The Global Citizens Award (2016). She was a visiting professor (Leverhulme professorship grant) at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, from August to November 2017, associated with the Center for Research on Families and Relationships (2017). She actively participates in several editorial boards of scientific journals and coordinates several scientific cooperation research projects with universities on all continents, with publications at national and international levels.


Shaheen Nanji

is acting Executive Director, SFU International and is responsible for the collaborative development and implementation of the University’s international engagement. As a convener of projects and dialogue on global issues, she is committed to collaboration between diverse disciplines, sectors, cultures, perspectives and interests for deeper impact. She has worked on development projects in the areas of the Sustainable Development Goals; refugees and immigration; equity, diversity and inclusion; education; diaspora; public health; and environment policy. Her international work has been focused in Africa and Asia. Shaheen is on the Boards of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation, and the Proteknon Foundation for Innovation and Learning, is a member of the Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table, and an Associate of the SFU Centre for Dialogue.

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Dr. Shrochis Karki

is the Head of Research, Impact, and Learning at UnLtd, a charity that finds, funds, and supports social entrepreneurs in the UK. He is also the Executive Director of Samaanta Foundation, which provides comprehensive higher education scholarships to meritorious public school graduates from underserved communities in Nepal. He is passionate about equity, inclusion, and social justice for all. Shrochis has previously served on the Senior Management Team of a leading international development consultancy. He brings extensive experience of working on education systems, organisational development, and policy reform in over 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. He has a D. Phil. in International Development, with a focus on education and employment issues, from the University of Oxford.

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