We are delighted to introduce the 2020-21 Vera Solutions Fellowship cohort. These 14 fellows – from Brazil, India, Italy, South Africa, the United States – bring a variety of unique passions and skill sets, including technology, social entrepreneurship, consulting, education, finance, and business administration. They will play key roles across our marketing, operations, consulting, and product development teams, and benefit from ongoing learning opportunities, leadership development, and mentorship from leaders within Vera Solutions.
“The facilitators did an excellent job of making our onboarding happen despite the global pandemic,” says DC-based Fellow Garrett Ruley. “It has really been special getting to work together with the other fellows and learn more about each other, even virtually.”
A Shift to Virtual Onboarding and Training
“Platforms like Slack were huge in making the remote part of training feel a little less remote and disconnected,” Vera Solutions COO Sam Gordon notes. “The in-person element of our onboarding has always been vital to welcoming new staff and inculcating them to our culture – the daily video calls and commitment to team-building from the fellows proved that with the right tools and perspective, we can build community remotely. ”
“Despite the fact that we didn’t get to spend time together in person, there has been nothing but pure commitment this year,” says Wilmarié Moreland, who designed and managed the fellows’ onboarding. “With fellows joining remotely from around the world, we had to accommodate a significant time difference with a mix of pre-recorded and live sessions. I’m inspired to see how everyone powered through the month of introductions, technical training, and onboarding sessions, and I’m excited to see what this next class of fellows will bring to their full-time roles at Vera Solutions.”
Introducing the 2020-2021 Fellowship Class
Bryce Lindsey (Product Associate) has extensive internship experience working on the ground with various US-based nonprofits and South Asia-based NGOs. In her last role, Bryce worked as a Senior Business Analyst and led the company’s IT department overseeing all system implementations, rollouts, and integrations. She received a BA in Global Development and Anthropology from the University of Virginia and is a proud Posse Foundation scholar. In her free time, she loves to watch bad horror movies and binge cartoons like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Avatar the Last Airbender.
Caitlin Graaf (Associate Consultant) has spent the past few years working remotely with a South African grassroots youth engagement program and consulting in the sustainable tourism sector. Most recently, she designed and lectured a course in Social Economic Development for the University of California Riverside. Caitlin completed her Master’s degree at King’s College London, where she researched social equity in protected areas. She earned a Bachelor’s in Environmental Management at the University of South Africa and earned a professional certificate in Sustainable Business Strategy from Harvard Business School. Caitlin’s happy place is with a lengthy journal article and a cup of tea.
Caroline Deignan (Associate Consultant) is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and has been living in Cape Town since 2016. Caroline has always had an interest in preventative health initiatives and has become involved in public health projects on tuberculosis, climate change, and vaccination research. Caroline holds a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Cape Town and a Bachelor’s in Public Health from Elon University in North Carolina. In her spare time, Caroline enjoys getting outside. You can usually find her climbing, hiking, running, or reading at the beach.
Cassio Roman (Associate Consultant) brings hands-on experience with non-formal education in urban poor communities in Brazil, and also in rural and underserved communities in Malaysia. He has spent the past few years as the project manager of an award-winning project which provides English, IT, and personal development to low-income households from different communities all over Malaysia. He holds a BA in International Relations from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais. In his spare time, you might find him enjoying a book or watching a movie.
Garrett Ruley (Associate Consultant) has experience with business operations, company culture-building, and math education. Before joining Vera Solutions, Garrett worked as Director of Operations for an eco-conscious restaurant group, maintaining standard operating procedures and growing workplace systems and culture (as well as spending plenty of time cooking in the kitchens). Garrett studied Sociology, Mathematics, and Education at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When off the clock, he volunteers as a math tutor, dances Argentine Tango, and practices martial arts.
Hasti Sawla (Associate Consultant) comes with consulting experience as a Decision Analytics Associate at ZS Associates, a data-driven consulting firm focused largely in the pharmaceutical sector. She has worked for pharmaceutical clients primarily in the US market, helping them estimate the right deployment plans for face-to-face promotion of their brands. She holds a B.Tech in Computer Engineering from Mumbai University. In her spare time, she volunteers online with ToolBox India Foundation, watches anime, and reads books. Hasti loves swimming and is desperately waiting for the day when swimming pools will be open to the public again.
Isabella Hamilton Russell (Business Development Representative) is passionate about social enterpreneurship and started a student social enterprise last year aimed at addressing the problem of poverty. She has an undergraduate degree from Stellenbosch University specializing in Sociology, Media Studies, and English Literature. She earned her postgraduate degree from University of Cape Town, where she specialized in Entrepreneurship Management. Isabella is particularly interested in early childhood development as a pivotal period in an individual’s life. She sits on the board of trustees for an early childhood development center and public benefit organization. In her spare time Isabella loves to thrift shop and give old clothes a new home.
Kanishk Shekhar (Associate Consultant) has experience building and implementing technology-enabled monitoring & evaluation systems for early childhood development projects across low-income households in urban India. He also served as a Teach for India Fellow in Pune, India where he taught English, mathematics and science to middle school students in a public-private partnership school for 2 years. He holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Delhi. In his spare time, Kanishk loves to endlessly scroll through food blogs, and he also enjoys reading and blogging about books on education, economics, equality, and science.
Karina Coetzee (Operations Associate) is passionate about people and education–especially the impact it can have within the South African context. It’s no wonder that for most of her career she worked in the education sector, supporting different business units to fulfill their roles well. She holds a degree in Applied Social Sciences, a diploma in Counselling and Communication and an advanced diploma in Business Analysis. To de-stress, Karina enjoys a weekly pottery class and spending time with her big Portuguese family.
Kristi Chon (Marketing Associate) has worked with global social enterprises for the past two years. She consulted with Uganda-based coffee social enterprise called NUCAFE to help scale their organization and served as a Program Assistant for an accelerator program with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. She graduated from Santa Clara University with degrees in Economics and Sustainability, and thus has a passion for economic development and protecting the environment. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, upcycling clothes, creative writing, playing cello, and listening to jazz music.
Pratibha Sharma (HR Manager) is a self-motivated Human Resources professional passionate about building capabilities and accelerating HR practices to foster a work culture that promotes employee engagement and organizational growth. She holds a Master’s degree in HR and has worked across a diverse range of industries over the last 9 years. A fitness enthusiast and a globetrotter, she loves to explore and experience the gems of the world. When at home you’ll find her gardening or organizing things during most of her spare time.
Rory Mc Lean (Account Manager) has over 10 years in the digital and information technology sector, working for one of South Africa’s leading software development houses as a Head of Business Development. He holds various certifications ranging from Theology, Business Management, Business Analysis, Data Science, and Web Development. Rory is passionate about fostering partnerships with global players doing incredible things in the space and has found a perfect home in Vera Solutions. In his spare time, Rory enjoys traveling and spending time with his newborn son. He is an aspiring football blogger.
Sofia Guerrieri (Associate Consultant) has experience in CRM and database management, having worked in this field for the last 2.5 years in Bangalore, India. She has a MSc in International Crimes and Criminology (Amsterdam), and a BA in Women’s Studies and Religion Studies (Montréal). She focused most of her academic research and activism on anti-racism and sexual violence awareness and prevention. An Italian citizen, Sofia has lived in 3 continents, 4 states, and 5 cities in the last decade, and her days are filled with unplanned adventures with her adorable rescue dog named Curcuma – which means turmeric.
Vikram Thomas (Product Associate) has cross-functional experience in the technology industry working as a backend developer, product growth lead, and a customer success manager across startups and companies that operate at scale. He completed an undergraduate degree in computer engineering from Model Engineering College (Cochin, India). He has also volunteered with multiple nonprofit organizations, pursued a social venture, and worked on independent social projects. In his spare time, Vikram loves playing soccer, catching up with friends, and exploring hiking trails.