GIN Team



Jean-Francois Rischard

World Bank Vice President

Author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them:

Rischard’s book was the inspiration for the Global Issues Network


Jean-François Rischard ( Luxembourg 1948), is a recognized economist who used to be the World Bank Vice President in charge of Europe, acting as the Bank’s chief spokesman both to the European Union and to individual European countries from 1998-2005.

He is a frequent speaker and covers such topics as managing financial crises, sustainable development, corporate governance, the role of business beyond its traditional borders, new technologies and their applications for development, the changing rules and inner workings of the new world economy, and the need for new global governance mechanisms in an increasingly complex and inter-linked world.

He holds graduate and post-graduate degrees in economics (University of Aix-Marseille), a law doctorate (Luxembourg), and a Master’s in business administration (Harvard Business School). He is the author of, inter alia, High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, in which he argues that traditional institutions are incapable of addressing a growing list of complex global issues.  This book inspired what is now known as the Global Issues Network around the world.


Lee Fertig

International School of Brussels (ISB), Belgium


Lee Fertig is currently the Director of the International School of Brussels (ISB) in Belgium. He has more than 30 years of administrative and teaching experience in a wide variety of educational settings including five international schools (in Ethiopia, Brazil, Spain, and Belgium), a private school in New York City, and a voluntary integration public magnet school in Minneapolis. Lee is a trainer for the Principals’ Training Center (PTC), has taught in the College of Education at the University of Minnesota, and is a guest speaker on contemporary educational issues at a wide variety of community events. He provides consulting services for schools and educational organizations around the world in the areas of governance, learning innovation, development and fundraising, and school-based continuous improvement.

Lee currently serves as a board trustee for the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE); Council for Advancement  and Support of Education (CASE) in Europe; Global Issues Network (GIN); and Sao Paulo Education Foundation (SPEF). He also serves on the International Schools Advisory Committee (ISAC) for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


Michael Furdyck

Co-Founder of TakingITGlobal, Canada


Michael Furdyk is the Co-founder of TakingITGlobal (, which provides innovative global education programs that empower youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges. In the past, he turned his interest in technology into several successful online companies, including, which sold to in 1999. In 2008, he was named by Contribute Magazine as one of 10 Tech Revolutionaries Redefining the Power and Face of Philanthropy. Michael has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, presented at the Emerging Leader Forum TED conference, and was named one of Teen People’s “Twenty Teens that will Change the World”. Over the last decade, he has keynoted over 100 events across various sectors, sharing his social media expertise and insights on youth engagement and educational reform to audiences in over 30 countries. He sits on several non-profit boards, including the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition and on the International Advisory Council for Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program.



Jessica Huang

GIN Alumnus, Instructor & Youth Program Coordinator for MIT Design Lab (D-Lab)


Through her work with GIN, Jessica was inspired to develop her understanding and skills in youth empowerment and exploration. Jessica joined D-Lab in 2009 through her involvement with the International Development Design Summit. Her current work is in areas that she has long been passionate about: youth empowerment and the intersection of environment and development. She is a co-instructor of the D-Lab: Biodiversity and D-Lab: Education classes and coordinates the new youth outreach program. Jessica has degrees in civil and environmental engineering and business from the University of California, Berkeley. On the side, she works with Zimba to improve access to safe drinking water through chlorination in eastern India and Bangladesh. She is currently earning her Masters studying design thinking curricula development at Stanford University.



Michael Johnston

Colegio Maya, Guatemala


Mike Johnston is currently head of school at Colegio Maya in Guatemala. He has lead workshops and keynoted for teachers and administrators around the world on sustainability, global curriculum K-12 and how service learning should not just be what you do, but who you are as a school. As a member of the Compass Education team he is part of a growing community of passionate educators aiming to equip schools as learning communities to educate and act for a sustainable future. He has dedicated much of his time to not only ensuring students are properly prepared for the world’s most pressing issues but that they have the skills and desire to take action. In pursuing his Doctorate in Organizational Systems Mike helps to inspire and lead schools through times of change. He researches and writes on the intersection of sustainability, systems and educational transformation.


Clayton Lewis

Washington International School, DC, USA

One of the original founding Global Issues Network innovative educators


Clayton Lewis was appointed head of Washington International School in 2007. He has administered international schools for the last 32 years, formerly as director of the International School of Luxembourg, and as high school principal at the American School in London and the American School of The Hague. Mr. Lewis is recognized as one of the co-founders of the Global Issues Network, now involving over 500 schools around the world, and was honored by the National Association of Independent Schools with the first Leadership Award for Global Initiatives. He holds a B.A. in history from Rhodes College and an M.S. in educational administration from the George Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University. Mr. Lewis currently serves on the board of trustees of Independent Education, the Association for the Advancement of International Education, and the Tregaron Conservancy.





Linda Sills

Executive Director for the Global Issues Network


Linda Sills is a dedicated lifelong learner and global citizen. She earned her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley followed by a teaching credential from San Francisco State University. She went on to earn a Masters in Educational Leadership from Harvard University with a concentration in Administration, Planning, and Human Development. Years later, she graduated with a Masters in Counseling School Psychology from Tufts University.  She has been working as an innovative educator with youth for over forty years.

Linda began her teaching career in Oakland, California within the public school system. She continued her work as an international educator, as a teacher, guidance counselor and school psychologist in schools around the world; beginning in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Thailand, Morocco and Israel. After 32 years working directly in schools as an educator, Linda was chosen to lead the educational professional development for the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS).  While serving as the Executive Director of EARCOS, she developed Global Issues Network programming and curricula for the region.  In 2005 she established the Global Citizen Award for the East Asia Region.  Presently, Linda is the Executive Director of Global Issues Network (GIN), working with students, educators and organizers around the world who are addressing global issues in their local community on five continents.

Contact Linda at :  


Ashley Sills

Deputy Executive Director for the Global Issues Network


Born overseas and raised by a community of passionate international school educators, mentors, and leaders, it is no wonder that Ashley Sills found a place to thrive within the Global Issues Network as a GIN community organizer, GIN mentor, and a co-developer of GIN programming and curricula since her GIN internship in 2007.

Ashley earned her Bachelors degree in Community Studies and Philosophy, studying structures of power and social movements with a focus on youth empowerment and global citizenry.  She has applied herself as an administrator as well as “on-the-ground” for a number of youth empowerment community building non-profits.  She has created and developed many educational program opportunities that value and emphasize youth leadership in her time working with community non-profits and schools.

Ashley identifies as a global citizen who is constantly and continuously inspired by the GIN collective of innovators and change-makers.  The  collaborative GIN commitment to sustainable solutions through equitable exchange and empathetic action gives her hope and the drive to continue. Ashley sincerely thanks the GIN community for all of their hard work and dedication to building a global community of positive change-makers. It takes teamwork to make the dream work!

Contact Ashley at : 


Youth Directors Team


Rafaela Damasceno

Social Media Program Youth Director

GIN Project Leader, GINtern, GAP Course Co-Developer and Mentor


Rafaela is an 18-year-old senior at the International School of Curitiba, in Brazil. As an individual captivated by the international environment, Rafaela enjoys meeting people with different backgrounds, nationalities, and experiences, to widen her cultural and social view of the world. She has been involved with GIN since 2013, when she first attended a GIN conference in Quito, Ecuador. Rafaela is most fond of the networking and sharing opportunities provided by the conference environment. Most recently, her interests have expanded to marketing and communication. She plans to study both in college. In her role as the Social Media Youth Director she is working to grow global learning, dialogue and action with the Global Issues Network and beyond.


Social Media Program (SMP) Overview


The Social Media Program will engage the Global Issues Network community and provide ongoing support for students and their GIN projects through the course of the year.  Students around the world will actively leverage the power of social media when working to solve local-global issues. GIN recognizes that students face challenges in both creative and active stages of their GIN projects. We will answer this challenge by creating global access to successful tools, strategies and network members to address local-global issues.


The program consists of a focus on three major areas of empowerment by social media: active participation, effective marketing, and the use of media. Corresponding to the three branches of the program, these areas will be taken up by the GIN Social Media Team, with the purpose of helping the GIN community by sharing examples, successes and challenges of project-based solutions. With the concept of leading by example, this program will also serve the purpose of developing GIN’s own social media activity.

If you would like to join Rafaela in her efforts as a Social Media Program Team Member please contact Rafaela at:


Guilherme Grupenmacher

Global Mentors Program Youth Director

GIN Project Leader, GINtern, GAP Course Co-Developer and Mentor


Gui is 17 years old and was born in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. He has been an active member of GIN since 6th grade, participating in several conferences around Latin America and the world. He believes that genuine global citizenship comes as a result of meaningful interactions between individuals of different backgrounds and perspectives, and strives to fulfill this in several segments of his extracurricular life. One of Gui’s main GIN Projects, presented at  GIN Argentina 2015, led him to establish an NGO accredited by the Brazilian Government that helps break social barriers that limit the well-being of kids with disabilities in his local community.  Currently a senior at the International School of Curitiba, Gui plans on attending university in the United States and plans to continue to collaborate as a GIN leader working to provide fulfilling experiences to global citizens all over the world.


Global Mentors Program (GMP) Overview


The Global Mentors Program seeks to provide determined, engaged and passionate GIN students a unique opportunity to receive one-on-one mentorship from professionals who are working to address the same global issue(s) they’ve selected for their respective projects. The Global Mentor Program strives to create collaborative intergenerational partnerships that grow sustainable impact and a global culture of engaged global citizenry. We will guide the GIN student experience and understanding as community-centered leaders through the GIN Levels of Engagement and GIN best practices approaches within the mentorship experience.

If you would like to join Gui in his efforts as a Global Mentor Team Member please contact Gui at:


Rodrigo Rose

Creating Connections Program Youth Director

GIN Project Leader, GINtern, GAP Course Co-Developer and Mentor


Rodrigo Rose is 17 years old and lives in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, where he was born and raised. He is currently a senior at the International School of Curitiba (ISC), which has given him all the opportunities he could hope for to have a promising future. He has attended two Global Issues Network conferences and served as a facilitator in the UNESCO Center for Peace Summer Program, since becoming an intern with GIN in 2014. This has provided him important skills and abilities in solving issues on both a local and global scale, and has shown him how each and every one of us, regardless of our differences, can work together to create a better planet. This involvement, together with his passion for learning and growth, is what motivates him to help GIN develop and is why he devotes his time and effort to make GIN better for all students who love it through the GIN Creating Connections Program. He believes that all things in life, good or bad, help us grow, and wishes to see the entire world grow to become a place everyone shares and enjoys together.


Creating Connections Program (CC) Overview


The Creating Connections (CC) Program is a GIN initiative whose objective is to provide our global community with high-quality, multifaceted resources and materials that empower students, teachers and administrators worldwide to create positive sustainable change on a local-global scale. This youth led and designed program is structured into three spheres of influence, each responsible for different aspects of the development of GIN resources: education and learning, communication and design, and research and enGINeering. The CC Program manages and perfects resources through these lenses, and works collaboratively with the GIN community and other programs to ensure the most effective and widespread impact.

If you would like to join Rodrigo in his efforts as a Creating Connections Team Member please contact Rodrigo at :


Valeria Wu

Global Ambassador Program Youth Director

GIN Project Leader, GINtern, GAP Course Co-Developer and Mentor


Valeria is a senior studying at Colegio Roosevelt, in Lima, Peru.  Her work with GIN dates back to 2011, as a 6th-grade photographer for the first AASSA GIN Conference hosted by F.D.R, The American School of Lima.  Ever since then, she has built a strong connection to the program and participates actively as a GIN community leader.  She has attended five GIN conferences in Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, United States (UNESCO GIN) and Brazil. As part of her own GIN project, Valeria co-led an installation of 14 solar water heaters in her school that save approximately 75 metric tons of Co2 annually.  The project got selected as finalist of the Americas for the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2014, and received a 50,000 USD grant to expand renewable energy at her school.


Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) Overview


GAP aims to create a network of student leaders at every international school who will promote service, leadership and broaden accessibility to Global Issues Network programming.  In two years, the program has already served over 80 students from 30 nationalities and has been presented at 10+ conferences across the world. As GAP Youth Director, Valeria has been invited to keynote, present and facilitate GAP workshops in the Speaker Series hosted by Singapore American School in Pulau Ujong, Singapore and the GIN Bali Conference hosted by Canggu Community School in Bali, Indonesia.


If you would like to join Valeria in her efforts as a Global Ambassador Team Member please contact her at:






Manuel Maqueda

Founder and Director: KUMU

Focus: GIN Strategic Planning


Manuel is passionate about innovating and accelerating our transition towards a sustainable, just, and thriving way of life on Earth.  This is something that he doesn’t know how to do, and that’s is why he founded Kumu, and has founded / is involved in a variety of value-driven organizations and projects. Manuel has an eclectic past as an entrepreneur, a tech startup consultant in Silicon Valley, and he holds a graduate degree in macroeconomics and a Law degree. However his main teachers are oceans, mountains, forests, animals, plants, art, elders, and children.




Britta McCarthy

Educator: The Columbus School, Medellin Colombia

Focus: GIN In-Class and Club Curriculum for GIN Projects


An Arizona-native, currently teaching in Medellin, Colombia from La Paz, Bolivia, Britta is an international teacher that has found a home in South America.

After researching GIN programs worldwide, Britta begain to build standards-based curricular units that utilized Understanding By Design. Within that framework, her students were and are able to research, interview, develop and implement community service projects on global issues while receiving school credit. Britta taught GIN for two years as a class in La Paz, and continues to work on creating resources to help teachers and students build GIN programs in their local contexts, and develop traits of global citizenship.

Britta is extremely proud of the three teams that were forged under her leadership in La Paz that continue to make community change; the Carbon Cutters working to lower the institutional footprint of the school and educate the community on causes and ways to fight global warming; the BIO Guardians, working to end the demand for trafficked animals and preserve biodiversity; and the Guild Against Poverty, working to support organizations that fight poverty and create opportunities to expand education and self-sustainability.



Mark McGinnis

Independent Financial Advisor

Focus: GIN Funding and Strategic Planning


JMark cares deeply about the instruction of today’s youth and the power of global focus and project based learning to create an enthusiastic and capable generation of young adults ready to tackle the world’s many complex problems. He has many years of finance and business experience and is proud to be involved with GIN to support its finance and strategic work. He has worked at the World Bank, in private equity, at a start-up, and in several senior finance roles at a large multi-national corporation. For the last several years he has worked as an independent financial consultant, helping individuals with their personal financial planning. In tandem he is also advising non-profits and small businesses with their strategic plans, financial systems, processes, fundraising, accounting, and reporting requirements. He has also started a small business selling sustainable and fair trade products to non-profit organizations. Mark holds business degrees from University of Pennsylvania and MIT.




Jose Vega

Educator: The Columbus School, Medellin, Colombia

Focus: GIN Conference Curriculum


Jose began teaching in his native California, but has taught abroad for the last seven years in Thailand, Mexico, and now Colombia. As a science teacher at The Columbus School in Medellin, Colombia for the past five years, Jose has focused on using STEM as a driver of solutions for global issues. Jose values collaboration and building the capacity of learners to become changemakers by using innovative tools and protocols. He is trained in Buck Institute’s Project Based Learning methodologies, as well as Design Thinking from the Nueva Design Institute. Jose most recently was able to embed such changemaker tools as the on-site GIN coordinator for the conference in March of 2016 in Medellín. During this conference, Jose and his students were able to showcase their greenhouse and solar charging stations, which are examples of products developed through these changemaker processes. He is currently leading his school through its Ashoka nomination to be recognized as a Changemaker School. He hopes to form community partnerships to strengthen the school’s initiatives towards their sustainability goals.


GIN Local-Regional Conference Collaborative Coordinators

Please contact us to discuss your past to present role as a network builder. We would love to add you to our team if you are an annual GIN Conference Coordinator.



Kayti Denham

Educator: Canggu Community School, Bali, Indonesia


She is dedicating her life to the empowerment of those who want to make a difference. Kayti began her work in environmental education in Bali with a play called, “Is It Really Rubbish,” that toured Bali during 2004/2005.  She and her students were later asked to attend, perform and address the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change plenary council on the final day in 2007.  She continued her work in the classroom alongside environmental activist Robi Navicula.  Together they co-created and taught a Humanities unit on the future of the planet. This opened up many opportunities for real life applications and project based learning such as planning and planting a school garden behind the school grounds as well as collaborative mural painted by the school’s students for an inner city suburb of Denpasar.

After Kayti and her students had participated at multiple GIN conferences in the region: Hong Kong, Singapore and Jakarta, they decided it was time for Bali to host a GIN conference.

In 2013 Kayti and her students focused on creating GINBali to engage and educate students through the power of peer to peer learning, workshops, and examples of and interaction with youth leadership in the field.  Since this time Kayti and her students have worked to create a school culture that is passionate about creating sustainable change in the world for today, tomorrow and all tomorrows, hosting regional GIN Conferences in Kalimantan, Borneo and Bali, Indonesia. In March 2017 GINBali will host a regional GIN leadership workshop to boost GIN in Indonesia.




GIN has received essential support from partners around the world to create and continue a global network of change-makers.



Buckminster Fuller Institute programs combine unique insight into global trends and local needs with a comprehensive approach to design. We encourage participants to conceive and apply transformative strategies based on a crucial synthesis of whole systems thinking, Nature’s fundamental principles, and an ethically driven worldview.

By facilitating convergence across the disciplines of art, science, design and technology, our work extends the profoundly relevant legacy of R. Buckminster Fuller. In this way, we strive to catalyze the collective intelligence required to fully address the unprecedented challenges before us.

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In 2013 GIN started being accelerated and sponsored by KUMU, an innovation lab headquartered in Berkeley, California, supporting and incubating ideas that drive cultural transformation towards a thriving, just and sustainable future.

As a part of KUMU, GIN receives acceleration, training, and mentorship, and benefits from an amazing network of forward thinking innovators.  KUMU’s and( therefore GIN’s) fiscal sponsor and Innovation Partner is the Buckminster Fuller Institute.




TakingITGlobal has been a committed partner with Global Issues Network since 2006.

TakingITGlobal Mission: TakingITGlobal empowers youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges.

TakingITGlobal Vision: Youth around the world actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world.






Office of Overseas Schools US State Department





Association of American School in South America (AASSA)


Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA)


East Asia Regional Council of International Schools (EARCOS)


European Council of International Schools (ECIS)


TRI-ASSOCIATION: The Association of American Schools of Central America Colombia-Caribbean and Mexico


The Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE)


GIN conferences have been sponsored and supported by locally based businesses, organizations, and corporations.