A Global Network
Jamie Sweeting – President
Jamie has spent the last 25 years working in tourism, conservation, development, and business management. He is passionate about Planeterra because in his decades of traversing the globe, he has yet to encounter another organization that is so effective at using tourism to improve the lives of some of the most under-resourced people on this planet — especially marginalized women, disadvantaged youth, and rural communities (with a priority focus on indigenous communities.) Prior to Planeterra, Jamie was Global Chief Environmental Officer at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and headed up the travel industry program at the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business at Conservation International. He was formerly Chairman at Sustainable Travel International and has served on the boards of The International Ecotourism Society, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Travel. When Jamie is not working, you can find him enjoying time with his family or fishing (unfortunately rarely both at the same time!).
Kelly Galaski – Director of Global Programs
Kelly loves working for an exciting, ever-changing, fulfilling organization, that is changing people’s lives, including her own. Working at Planeterra has afforded her many opportunities that she would never have imagined. Kelly is responsible for the development and implementation of our community projects globally, and also focuses on sustainability strategies for Planeterra. She has been in the tourism sector since 1998, graduating with a Masters, which focused on community tourism planning in Costa Rica. This experience set the foundation for her to understand the dynamics of community tourism planning. She loves to travel (surprise, surprise!) … but when she’s not wearing her backpack, you can find her flying down the Canadian Rockies on her snowboard!
Victoria Houle – Director of Development
Victoria is a passionate leader within the strategic philanthropy sector and loves building partnerships between businesses and nonprofits to create the greatest impact. With a BSc in Psychology from the University of Toronto, over 15 yrs experience in the non profit world as a fundraiser and program manager and an avid traveller since her early years, she has dedicated her career to changing people’s lives and finds inspiration in the people and places she visits around the world. Victoria overseas the revenue development for Planeterra, ensuring the growth and development of the organization. In her down time, she can be found walking her dog Charlotte at the beach, spending time with her family and planning her next adventures!
Joel Callañaupa – Program Manager, Latin America & the Caribbean
Joel believes that Planeterra’s philosophy and approach to community tourism is one of the most appropriate models to minimize impacts on the environment, respect local people and culture, and create economic benefits for local communities — this is why Joel works for Planeterra. Joel manages our South America projects and works closely with the Indigenous communities in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Joel holds a post-secondary degree in Tourism and has worked in the sustainable tourism sector since 2007. He has worked with a number of stakeholder groups, which include public, private and international organizations. A native speaker of Spanish and Quechua, Joel loves to learn new languages in his free time, especially native language’s sayings and slang.
Alanna Wallace – Program Manager, Africa, Europe & North America
Alanna is passionate about finding new ways to engage travellers in making positive, lasting impact on communities across the world. Holding a Masters in Global Development Challenges from the University of Edinburgh, and having worked across Africa in youth travel and voluntourism since 2011, Alanna sees unlimited opportunity in Planeterra’s strategy to empower social enterprises to create sustainable livelihoods. She’s a strong advocate for protection of culture and wildlife on any adventure abroad. As a Program Manager for Planeterra, Alanna focuses on the implementation of projects in Africa, Europe and the Americas. Alanna loves combining her passions for being active and outdoors, so you’ll find her (rain or shine!) on a hike with her rescue dog, Goose.
Rhea Simms – Program Manager, Asia Pacific
Rhea strongly believes that the creation of sustainable businesses across the developing world can open doors for the next generation to think bigger, create more, and change the world. Rhea has a Masters of Development Practice from the University of Waterloo, focusing on interdisciplinary solutions for sustainable development. She is passionate about preserving environmental integrity and empowering at-risk groups, particularly women and indigenous populations, and in 2012 began working in Pakistan and Cambodia in the non-profit sector. As a Program Manager for Planeterra, Rhea focuses on project development and communications for Asia and Oceania. Rhea spends her free time whipping up desserts that are too healthy to be delicious.
Panot Pakongsup – Field Manager, Asia
Panot, also known as Tung, enjoys seeing how responsible tourism can benefit sustainable development in communities. He has seen the positive change tourism can bring to help people live a better life in some of the most rural parts of Thailand and Myanmar. Tung is responsible for the in-country research, coordination, and facilitation of Planeterra projects with local communities and organizations in Asia. He has been working in the tourism industry since 2001, owning a tour operator that specializes in community based tourism experiences with the hill-tribe communities of Northern Thailand. When he’s not travelling, Tung spends his free time taking photos of scenic places and spaces, and meeting locals wherever he goes.
Vanessa Valenzuela – Development Lead
Vanessa fell in love with travel at a very young age, on family trips to Colombia. After completing an interdisciplinary degree in Humanities, with a focus on philosophical and practical approaches to contemporary social issues, she explored Europe and Asia. Vanessa first learned about Planeterra while working in Product Development for our partner, G Adventures. Inspired by Planeterra’s leading work in community development and motivated by her passion for responsible tourism, Vanessa became a volunteer fundraiser and advocate for Planeterra before officially joining the team in 2018. After living and working in Japan for two years, Vanessa loves all things Japanese and can often be spotted feasting at Japanese restaurants around Toronto.
Crystal Browne – Fundraising Coordinator
Crystal has always loved to travel and knows that responsible travel is the only way to do it! After graduating from Queen’s University and then spending time in Northern Brazil, Crystal applied to a Master of Arts program studying International Relations, Politics at the University of Manchester in England. There, she wrote her dissertation on girls’ education, its significant implications on development and security of nations through a feminist post-structuralist lens. After finishing her degree, she spent time exploring Southeast Asia and it quickly became one of her favourite places to explore! Planeterra is the perfect combination of all the things Crystal is passionate about! Crystal currently works as Planeterra’s Fundraising Coordinator and is excited to be working on a number of Planeterra’s future projects! When Crystal isn’t busy planning her next trip you can find her exploring the city with her friends or hanging out at home with her rescue cat!
Evie Ndhlovu – Community Development Specialist, East & Southern Africa
Evie is a Zimbabwean with a passion for community development and Indigenous tourism. From a very young age she has been actively engaged in social work and developmental roles that saw her pursuing a career in community service and global development. She holds a degree in Economic Development and Management from Monash University South Africa and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Global Development. Evie is very passionate about sustainable tourism and micro-economical business training for Indigenous entrepreneurs. She is an activist for gender-based equality and has been involved with key organizations that are firm in raising awareness and aid for young women and children in Zimbabwe. Evie believes that there are a very few problems in life that can’t be fixed with a smile or a hug.
Sheyla Olivera Flores – Community Development Specialist, South America
Sheyla has a degree in tourism, and is passionate about living with and learning from local cultures. She first started working in community development in 2013 in rural areas of Peru with community and women’s organizations as well as non-profit and government organizations in programs related to community based tourism. Sheyla believes that tourism is a great tool for local development, that it brings great opportunity for people who live in tourist destinations, and that the industry can be a life-changing force when it is well-managed. Alongside the Planeterra team as the Community Development Specialist for South America, Sheyla is committed to rural development, women empowerment and nature conservation.
Priyanka Singh- Community Development Specialist, South Asia
Priyanka is an avid traveller and passionate development worker. For Priyanka, Planeterra provided the perfect synergy to continue doing what she loves while spreading the benefits of tourism. With almost 15 years experience working with communities and a Masters degree in Conflict Analysis and Peace Building, Priyanka’s work has brought her to remote locations across India, as well as Cambodia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These experiences made her see the kindness and desire to provide a healthy life for our families that connects us all. As the Community Development Specialist for South Asia, Priyanka works closely with our partners across India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In her free time, Priyanka likes to make travel plans (if not already travelling), and spends most days keeping busy with the theatrics of her toddler and her furry baby (dog!).
Carlota Morales – Community Development Specialist, Central America
Carlota is a Costa Rican living in Guatemala who is passionate about meaningful travel and getting to know communities on a deeper level. She has spent her entire career in the non-profit and social business sectors facilitating volunteer engagement programs, hosting volunteers from all over the world, and supporting community development projects. Carlota holds a Masters degree from the UN Mandate University for Peace in Responsible Management and Sustainable Economic Development. Passionate about languages and the cultures they represent, Carlota has learned several different languages throughout her travels – French while living in France, English while living in the USA and Portuguese during an internship in Mozambique. When she is not at work, you can find her designing and creating original textile art for “De Carlota” or diving in the deepest parts of the ocean.