Our Team

Clarissa Bury
IT Intern

Clarissa is the IT Intern for the summer and fall of 2018. In her role, Clarissa supports the President's office and the Senior Director for Strategic Alliances and Communications to analyze current IT capabilities and recommend options for improved, more effective communications. She also provides technical support throughout the office.

Before joining the Partners team, Clarissa was a Project Supervisor with Amigos de las Americas in Nicaragua where she collaborated with youth leaders to create a tech center in their community. In addition, she was a 2015 Global Citizen Year Fellow in Ecuador where she worked at the local Association for People with Disabilities.

Clarissa will graduate from American University in December 2018 with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Information Technology.

Ukiah Busch
Director, Public Private Partnerships

Ukiah Busch is the Director of Public Private Partnerships at Partners of the Americas, where he oversees the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund and the Study Abroad Diversity Fund, as well as Partners’ annual Higher Education Partnership conference.  In a previous role, Mr. Busch led Partners’ higher education membership strategy and played a key role in building the network of more than 1,800 institutions that currently make up the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Network.  In 2011, Mr. Busch became the first recipient of the Machado “Intrapreneurial” Fellowship for his development of the PartnersCampus Student Chapter initiative, which connects university students at institutions across the Americas for international service and leadership activities.  

In 2010, Mr. Busch served in Ecuador as a legal advisor for immigrants and refugees in the human rights organization, Movilidad Humana.

Mr. Busch earned degrees in Italian, French and Spanish from the University of Georgia and a Masters of International Relations from American University in Washington, DC.

Diana Cartagena
Executive Administrative Office Intern

Diana Cartagena is the Executive Administrative Office Intern at Partners of the Americas.

Originally from Colombia, Diana graduated in December 2017 with a Finance and International Commerce Degree with an emphasis in International Business. Driven by her interests in international relations and development, she has completed certification programs such as International Digital Marketing from Florida International University (FIU) and Collaborative Economy from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain. Prior to joining Partners, Diana worked as an intern at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in Bogota, Colombia, where she supported the Foreign Investment and Commerce of Services Area.

Additionally, Diana worked in a political campaign where she was part of the social and youth committee, leading numerous activities related to increasing youth participation in local politics and social activities to help the most vulnerable population.

Michael Christopher
Senior Director, Strategic Alliances and Communications

Michael Christopher is the Senior Director for Strategic Alliances and Communications for Partners of the Americas. With over twenty years experience managing international development and technology projects in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the U.S. working in the health, knowledge management, investment promotion and ICT4D sectors. Michael leads the Business Development Unit and oversees public communications.​

Prior to joining Partners of the Americas, Michael worked with diverse public and private sector agencies such as the World Bank Group, USAID, CDC, the United Nations, Yahoo! Inc., the International Medical Corps, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Peace Corps.​

Michael also holds an MPA in International Management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a BA in International Relations and History from Michigan State University. A certified PMP® and Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM), you can follow him on Twitter at @mickchristopher.

Morgan Doggett
Communications and Outreach Officer, Economic Development & Health
Morgan Doggett is the Communications and Outreach Officer of Economic Development & Health at Partners of the Americas. Specializing in agriculture and food security, she works directly with implementers of the international USAID-funded Farmer-To-Farmer program, leading media and communications, outreach, digital strategy, and program integration. 
Morgan's previous professional experiences include the Illinois Association FFA, Illinois Corn Growers Association, IllinoisVENTURES, University of Illinois I-STEM, USAID Soybean Innovation Lab, IL State Senator Chapin Rose, and working for U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis. When not in Washington, D.C., she takes an active role in her home community and her family's 5th-generation farm in Illinois. She is a recipient of the U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award.
Morgan is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of ACES and Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Illinois.
Rachel Falek
Communications Officer

Rachel Falek is the Communications Officer at Partners of the Americas. Her primary role is to share Partner’s story and impact by collaborating closely with over a dozen international development programs and a grassroots chapter across 30 countries. 

Prior to joining Partners, Rachel strived to better communities and ensure access to human rights at numerous organizations, including the Center for Health and Gender Equity, Girls Inc., PAI, Prevent Human Trafficking, and the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault. At the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, Rachel worked on a six-figure national media ad buy that led to over 35,000 constituents contacting their Congress members. She is eager to continue working to make a difference in minority communities. 

Rachel graduated summa cum laude from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Gender Studies.

Melissa L. Golladay
Vice President, Education & Global Citizenship

Melissa Golladay is the Vice President of Education & Global Citizenship at Partners of the Americas. She has over 12 years of professional experience working in Latin America and the US on citizen diplomacy, volunteerism, leadership and community development.

As Interim President, Ms. Golladay leads programs that connect volunteers, students, youth, and professionals across borders to collaborate on issues such as workforce development, community-led development, climate change, entrepreneurship, and government transparency. She previously served as Director for Professional Leadership Exchanges and Youth Engagement as well as Program Officer with the Center for Civil Society, where she worked to build the capacity of CSOs and government to increase citizen participation in local decision-making. Ms. Golladay has co-authored four publications on civil society participation in the Inter-American System and case studies of successful programs.

Ms. Golladay is a trained facilitator and has led sessions for more than 900 youth and adults in volunteer management, proposal development, and leadership skills. Ms. Golladay has given presentations at the Youth Service Institute, the Conference on Higher Education and International Volunteer Service, and the National Conference on International Citizen Diplomacy. In addition, Ms. Golladay has planned numerous conferences including the International Youth Ambassador Summit and the Conference on International Volunteering and Higher Education. Ms. Golladay served as the Chair of the Agenda Committee for the 2nd World Summit on Youth Volunteering in 2011. In addition, Ms. Golladay served as mentor and facilitator at the Youth Forum of the Americas preceding Sixth Summit of the Americas in 2012 and led a delegation of youth leaders at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009.

Ms.Golladay serves as Treasurer of the Board for the Building Bridges Coalition, a coalition over 300 organizations, private sector corporations, and universities working to scale up and improve the quality of international service.

She earned a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, concentrating in Social Development and a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Penelope Kim
Assistant Director, 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

Penelope Kim is the Assistant Director for the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. She has a background in international affairs and international development with a regional focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. Her work and studies abroad have taken her to nearly 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

One of these overseas opportunities was through the Peace Corps, where she served in Costa Rica in 2009-2011 as a Rural Community Development Volunteer working in youth development. Ms. Kim holds a Global Master’s of Arts in International Relations from Webster University through their global program, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, with a European and Asian Concentration, and a Minor in Spanish from Hawai’i Pacific University.

Randi Knox
Program Officer, Education and Exchanges

Randi is a Program Officer for Education and Exchanges, working primarily on U.S. Department of State-funded programs that promote professional development among U.S. exchange alumni and leadership development among youth in Latin America.  

Originally from Nebraska, Randi studied abroad in Mexico during her undergraduate career and has experience traveling in Asia and South America. Her passion for international development and education led her to intern at Partners with the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund in the spring of 2018. Following her internship, Randi continued to contribute to the Education & Global Citizenship Unit as a consultant. Randi is excited to once again support the personal and professional development of youth and young professionals in the Americas.

Randi holds a B.A. in Modern Language Studies and a B.S. in Political Science from Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU). Randi was a member of NWU’s Global Service Learning, the country’s first student-led global service learning group. She has volunteered with organizations across the U.S. and previously served as the Community Life Coordinator at a small Nebraska-based non-profit.

Summar Lyons
Senior Program Officer, Youth Leadership & Higher Education Initiatives

Ms. Lyons leads international youth leadership programming by preparing youth leaders to build mutual understanding between Latin America and the United States and to develop skills that foster long-term commitment to volunteerism and service. Ms. Lyons also oversees the grant competition review process for Higher Education Institutions applying for opportunities through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund.

Throughout her professional and academic experience, she has become well-versed in Latin American culture, youth leadership capacity building and international development. Ms. Lyons has had the opportunity to travel through Central America on a study abroad program in Merida, Mexico in 2006 and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica from 2009-2012.

While living in Costa Rica, she served as a project management advisor and youth development liaison in collaboration with the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (P.A.N.I.) and the Board of Directors of two Development Associations where she helped implement children’s right and environmental awareness campaigns, youth leadership and life skills workshops and the constructions of a sports court project. Upon her return to the U.S., she was selected to be a Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow. In this role, she volunteered at Woodrow Wilson High School, D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School and Next Step supporting global studies resource development and English learning initiatives.

She earned a M.A. in International Development from American University’s School of International Service with a concentration in Children and Youth Development and a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from Northwestern University.

Ms. Lyons is deeply passionate about sharing how volunteerism abroad not only has a meaningful impact on improving the lives of others but also has a lasting effect on one’s personal and professional growth. 

Danielle Martin
Senior Finance and Administration Officer

Danielle Martin is a Senior Finance and Administration Officer at Partners of the Americas. She started with Partners as part of the President’s Internship Program in May 2014 working with the Professional Leadership Exchanges team. She now has joined the staff at Partners in October 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Professions and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management with a focus on International Business from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

During her studies in Wisconsin, Ms. Martin has had the opportunity to study abroad twice, once in Costa Rica and another time in Italy. In Costa Rica, she studied at a local school to obtain fluency and better understanding of Spanish. In addition, she spent two weeks living with the BriBri tribe in Costa Rica, whom are an indigenous tribal group located in the southern half of the country near Buenos Aires. During her study abroad in Italy, Ms. Martin had a great introduction to the arts, history, language and foods of the region. She is deeply passionate about international development and volunteerism abroad, and hopes to continue to help others in the Americas throughout her work at Partners.

John McPhail
President & CEO of Partners of the Américas

John is the President & CEO at Partners of the Americas. He brings over 20 years of leadership experience at nonprofit organizations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean and is a seasoned expert in partnership building, strategic planning, and stakeholder engagement. He is passionate about community development in Latin America and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador. After his service, he remained in country for a total of over fifteen years, marrying a Salvadoran doctor and raising their three daughters.​

John brings significant experience as a country and regional director for international nonprofits including Save the Children, World Vision, and Project Concern International. He has held leadership positions on the Boards of numerous local nonprofits and associations in El Salvador, providing operational and strategic direction. He coordinated or co-coordinated  multiple national and regional networks in Central America in health, water & sanitation and agriculture/food security. John received a BSc in Civil Engineering from MIT and a Master's in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign. He is fluent in Spanish and has a working knowledge of French.​

Michael Moscarelli
Director, Agriculture and Food Security

Michael Moscarelli is the Director of Agriculture and Food Security. His primary responsibilities include leading strategic planning and business development efforts in the unit, establishing and maintaining relationships with donors and partners, and supporting the implementation of current programs.

Prior to his work at Partners, Mr. Moscarelli worked on the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems team at International Relief and Development, where he managed food security and value chain programs in West Africa and helped develop USAID, USDA, and DFID proposals. He also spent three years working in Ecuador’s highlands and Amazonian region as a Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer in the Peace Corps.

Mr. Moscarelli has expertise in agronomy, horticulture, and farmer-centered research and extension. He holds a Master’s degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington.

Susanna Meyer
Membership Officer

Susie Meyer is the Membership Officer at Partners of the Americas. She is returning to the Partners team after interning in the Membership Unit from September to December 2017. She is eager to continue supporting and growing the Partners network, providing chapter members, HEIs, and affiliates with the resources and information they need to make a difference in their local communities and connections across borders.

Susie is a mentor and coordinator for the PartnersCampus student chapters, motivating and encouraging their development as they continue to inspire the network with their commitment and enthusiasm. She also helps to facilitate the Education & Culture program, providing all chapter members with the information they need to apply for grants and pursue their passions. She is the point of contact for any issues on membership and is a co-organizer of Partners’ international events such as the Higher Education Partnership and What Works.

Susie is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and holds a B.A. in Geography and Latin American Studies from Colgate University. She served as a Fulbright García Robles scholar in Aguascalientes, México from 2015-2016, and subsequently worked as an English professor at the Universidad Tecnológica del Retoño in El Llano, Aguascalientes, Mexico.

She is thrilled to be a part of the Partners team and is eager to use her passion for the region and deep love and appreciation for Latinx peoples to support and collaborate with the diverse Partners community.

Sergey Nikolin
Chief Financial Officer

Sergey Nikolin is the Chief Financial Officer at Partners of the Americas. In his role, Sergey oversees all accounts, ledgers, and reporting systems, maintains internal control and safeguards for receipt of revenue, costs, and program budgets and actual expenditures and coordinates all audit activities, including annual audits, OIG financial audits, donor-specific reviews. In addition, Sergey manages the annual budgeting and planning process; as well as analyzing financial data and presenting financial reports to Senior Leadership team.

Sergey brings twenty years of experience working with USAID and an additional five years of work experience at a similar nonprofit organization. He has in-depth experience with financial management (including accounting, internal controls, audits, budgeting, cash flow, payments and reporting), grant and contract administration (policies and procedures, procurement, USG rules & regulations, compliance with the new Supercircular and managing a diverse portfolio of USG and private donors), just to name a few areas of expertise.

Carmen Peña
Vice President, Child Protection Unit

Carmen Peña, a native Colombian, leads the Child Labor Unit. In her role, she oversees three flagship projects – EducaFuturo, Paraguay Okakuaa and Colombia Avanza. She also manages a sub-agreements for a USDOL funded project in Costa Rica and a USAID funded project in Honduras.

Carmen has a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies with a concentration in Development at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. A former Georgia Rotary Scholar, she also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia.

Carmen started at Partners as Field Operations Officer, coordinating and monitoring international development programs in Latin America in compliance with donor’s rules and regulations. She backstopped the USDOL funded program Educare in Guayana and Educame Primero in Colombia to combat the worst forms of child labor through education. Carmen’s prior work experience at the Organization of American States and her knowledge on international development in Latin America enable her to expertly research, analyze, and present opportunities to hold and expand our programs in the field. She has had the opportunity to extensively travel, study and work in several Latin American countries.

Yohana Romero-Lopez
Finance and Accounting Trainee

Yohana Romero-Lopez is a Finance and Accounting Trainee at Partners of the Americas. Her primary role at Partners is to support the Finance staff in their daily operations. During the weekends, Yohana volunteers at her church as a teaching assistant in Washington, DC.

 Prior to joining Partners, Yohana has worked for the Cabbage Patch Settlement House, a social service organization in Louisville, Kentucky and the Arlington Community Foundation in Virginia.

Yohana is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Marymount University. Previously, she obtained an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies from the Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College in May 2015.

Janira Romero Reyes
Assistant Director, Economic Development & Health

Janira Romero Reyes, Assistant Director for Economic Development & Health, supports and monitors country directors for the Farmer-to-Farmer projects funded by USAID. Her primary role is to assist the operations of field offices in Latin America and the Caribbean and evaluate the progress of countries’ projects. Janira brings project management knowledge and experience of working in the field with local community members.

Janira is a former TEFL volunteer for Peace Corps Ukraine from 2010-2012 and a former Network Support Officer for Teach A Man To Fish (a London-based NGO) in Guatemala from 2014-2015. In both roles, Janira liaised with the implementing organization and the beneficiaries of the programs, leveraging communications with stakeholders in the local, regional, and national levels. Janira is a master’s graduate in Education, Gender, & International Development from University College London and has exercised this knowledge by developing curriculum plans for diversity & inclusion programs. She continues to be a passionate advocate of cross-cultural exchanges for developing global competence, as well as improved livelihoods of women & youth through economic development opportunities.


Javiera Salinas
Program Officer, Child Protection

Javiera Salinas is the Program Officer for the Child Protection Unit. Her primary role is to support the implementation and oversight of the Unit's United States Department of Labor-funded and USAID projects. She acts as the main point of contact for the field offices in Paraguay, Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras. 

In her junior year of college, Javiera interned at Partners for the Program Development department through the Global Politics Fellows program at GMU she interned at Partners for the Program Development department.

Javiera is originally from Santiago, Chile and is passionate about economic/social development and youth empowerment in Latin America. Javiera is eager to continue supporting the various programs in her unit, making an impact in the lives of youth and families throughout Latin America.

Javiera holds a B.A. in Global Affairs with a concentration in Global Governance and a minor in Latin American Studies from George Mason University.

Carmen Sepassi
Senior Program Officer, Education and Culture

Carmen Sepassi is the Senior Program Officer of the Education and Culture Program of Partners of the Americas. This program is funded by U.S. Department of State. The Education and Culture Program aims to connect people and institutions, serve communities, strengthen local institutions and enhance cross-cultural understanding and cooperation between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Partners of the Americas does this through travel grants, small grants and thematic workshops. For the past 25 years, the Education and Culture Program has worked with over 20,000 volunteers throughout the region to build partnerships across borders, mutual understanding and provide needed services to communities.

Formerly, Ms. Sepassi was the Program Assistant for the Fellowship in International Development Program – Fellows I through Fellows X for 20 years. This program was sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation.

Ms. Sepassi came to Partners of the Americas in April 1979 after living in the Middle East for one and a half years.

From 1972 to 1977, Carmen was the Executive Secretary for Deferred Compensation Plans, Inc., a private insurance company in Washington, D.C.

Renata Torres
Executive Administrative Officer

Renata is the Executive Administrative Officer at Partners of the Americas. In her role, Renata supports the President’s Office and manages the human resources, facilities functionalities and contracts compliance.

Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Renata worked with one of the most successful organizations in the healthcare management field of her country. She brings more than 12 years of experience in office management, finance operations and quality control management systems to Partners.

After her arrival in the U.S., Renata graduated with a Business Administration degree from Marymount University, in Arlington, VA. She also gained experience in contract management, specifically as it relates to federal awards and mandatory provisions of USAID, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of State. Additionally, Renata has excellent interpersonal skills and a deep passion for development in Latin America.

Renata joined Partners in August 2017, when she was looking for an organization where she could maximize her mission and values. According to Renata, what she likes most about being part of the Partners’ team is the opportunity to be part of something bigger than herself, capable of changing lives.

Stephanie Verganza
Program Officer, Agriculture and Food Security

Stephanie Verganza is a program officer for the Agriculture & Food Security unit. Her primary role is in assisting with the implementation of the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program in Latin America & the Caribbean. Prior to joining Partners, Stephanie spent a year in Brazil as a Boren Scholar studying Portuguese and Brazilian culture. Her previous professional experiences include working at the Women's Foreign Policy Group, the US National Committee on UN Women-Los Angeles, and the Pacific Council on International Affairs.

Stephanie graduated from the University of California, Irvine with Bachelors degrees in economics and international studies. As an undergraduate, she participated in the Public Policy and International Affairs fellowship at Princeton University and spent two years studying security and development in Central America. As the daughter of Guatemalan parents, Stephanie is very passionate about economic development and social issues in Latin America.


William Webber
Program Officer, Education and Exchanges

William D. Webber is the Program Officer for Education and Exchanges at Partners of the Americas where he works primarily to support the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund.  
Prior to joining Partners, William worked for NAFSA: Association of International Educators where he supported professionals who assist and advise international students and scholars. During his graduate studies, he studied education in Cuba as well as completed field research on international academic exchanges in Mexico. His additional international experiences include study abroad programs in France, Chile, and Tanzania. Adding to his experience, he was an English Program Coordinator in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has extensive travel experience to over 30 countries.
He earned his M.A. in International Education from The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education & Human Development with a specialization in Latin American & Hemispheric Studies. William completed a B.S. in International Studies with a concentration in European Cultural Studies and a B.A. in French and Spanish as well as minors in Adolescence Education and Political Science from The State University of New York at Fredonia.

Hanyu Zhang
Finance and Accounting Trainee

Hanyu Zhang is a Finance and Accounting Trainee at Partners of the Americas. His responsibilities include data entry and audit of staff and volunteer expense reports and check/wire requests. At the same time, He also supports the Finance team in its core functions and day-to-day operations.

In the Spring of 2018, Hanyu worked as an Executive Business Center extern at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and helped process hundreds of meeting requests during the 2018 Spring Meetings held by the IMF and the World Bank Group.

Hanyu believes that helping people and making the world a better place is one of the most rewarding experiences in life he is proud to work at the Partners and do meaningful work that helps communities.

Prior to coming to U.S., Hanyu worked as a self-employed trader in China for four years. During these years, he devised a personalized trading system to find investment opportunities with best risk.

Hanyu is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Finance from George Washington University. He obtained his undergraduate degree in both economics and management from the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China.