A Global Network

Planeterra is made up of a dedicated team of individuals who work in Canada, United States, Vietnam, Zambia, Costa Rica, India, Cambodia and Peru with frequent travel in the field. Our entire global community – including our in-country partners, board, and advisors – are integral to the success of our work.

Gotshezhy Wiwa Community Tourism Sierra Nevada, Colombia

Our Team

TRICIA SCHERS Director, Partnerships and Development

Tricia Schers

Director, Partnerships and Development

With over 20 years of experience in tourism, nonprofit organizations, and international development, Tricia purposefully chooses to work for organizations that make a positive impact. As the Director of Partnerships and Development, Tricia is responsible for developing and stewarding strategic partnerships, executing fundraising, and overseeing communications activities for Planeterra.  

Tricia’s love of travel began the moment she peered out the airplane window on her first trip abroad. Years later while living in Paramaribo, Suriname she saw first-hand the potential of the tourism industry to create economic opportunities, especially for women. Returning to Canada, Tricia knew that someday she wanted to combine her experience in international development with her love of travel. Tricia joined the team at UNICEF Canada raising funds and awareness to help advance the rights of children and youth around the world before setting her site on an opportunity in the travel industry. She spent nearly 10 years promoting adventure travel experiences in northern Canada and telling the world how her home province of Manitoba is the best place to see polar bears and beluga whales and experience the breathtaking northern lights.

Tricia is a proud graduate of the Creative Communications program at Red River College and has a Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. 

When Tricia isn’t supporting Planeterra’s mission to uplift communities through tourism, she can be found planning her next travel adventure, and ever since that first plane ride, she has always opted for the window seat.

Joel Callañaupa

Global Program Manager

Joel has over 10  years of experience in community tourism development, leading community tourism programs for public, private and international organizations. He has worked with several Indigenous communities in Latin America, including Perú, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize, providing management support, technical assistance, training, and capacity-building help.

He holds a degree in Tourism Development and a Master’s degree in Cooperation for Development. Currently, he works as Planeterra’s Program Manager for the Americas, overseeing more than 25 community projects which include rural, women and Indigenous communities. Joel has a proven and demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and to achieve results alongside Indigenous communities and different stakeholders.

Joel has led projects such as Tour Operator’s Plan for Sustainable Tourism, co-financed by the IDB as well as G Adventures. During the last 10 years, he has led more than 15 community tourism projects in Latin America for Planeterra.

Evie Ndhlovu

Regional Program Manager – Africa, Middle East & Europe

Evie is a native of one of Southern Africa’s most popular tourism hubs: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. From a very early age, she had a passion for ensuring that her community would benefit from the booming tourism industry. She is a graduate of Monash University, having attained the skills and certifications in Economic Development, Statistics and Business Management, but has over her career been involved in tourism and experience development. In the past, she was heavily involved in community education and cultural conservation programs, first in Roodepoort, South Africa for three years and later on in the rural areas around her hometown of Victoria Falls for a further three years. 

She is a tourism and development professional, who in her role at Planeterra, specializes in tourism experience development, enterprise mentorship and the development and implementation of Planeterra’s Regional Strategy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in accordance with the SDG’s as well as the core of Planeterra’s work. She is passionate about expanding Planeterra’s reach through sharing Planeterra’s stories to peers and influencers with the tourism industry and does so through speaking engagements in trade shows, webinars, conferences as well as regional expo’s.

EVIE NDHLOVU Regional Program Manager, Africa, Middle East and Europe
RICHARD BAZÁN Regional Manager - Americas

Richard Bazán

Regional Program Manager – Americas

Richard’s 11 years of experience include leadership in public, non-governmental, and private projects in community tourism, value chains, tourism destination marketing, cultural identity, and food and music heritage. He has spent 10 years involved in university teaching in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, and France, and has conducted more than 110 conferences and seminars both within and outside his country. This wealth of experience is also shared with the teams of his own foundation and company.

After graduating in Tourism Administration, he completed a master’s degree in Public Management and pursued studies in Marketing and Communication of Tourist Destinations. He has dedicated his career to promoting tourism as a development tool, employing a territorial approach based on multidisciplinary complexity.

With a humanistic and eclectic vision of the world, encompassing the 21 countries he has traveled, Richard shares his passion for books, gastronomy, music, and travel as universal languages capable of bringing people together and valuing differences. In the words of his favorite philosopher, Michel Onfray, he believes in creating “countertimes” that, especially today, can generate new paths for tourism and its relationship with culture and identity, people and their rights, and the ecology and future of communities in conditions of vulnerability and inequality.

Today, alongside his team, Richard leads all programs in the Americas and directs their growth, in alignment with stakeholders who represent one of the most biodiverse destinations on this planet.

Priyanka Singh

Community Tourism Project Manager –  Asia-Pacific

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!).

JULIA PITCHER Communications and Development Coordinator

Julia Pitcher

Development Coordinator

Julia knows that when done responsibly, tourism has the power to create positive change for all those involved. From travellers experiencing new cultures and perspectives to communities celebrating and protecting the places, they call home. She is passionate about exploring and supporting partnerships to create a more equal and just tourism industry.

After completing a Bachelor of Commerce with a focus on Tourism Management at Toronto Metropolitan University, Julia focused on supporting Indigenous tourism businesses in Canada. While working for an Inuit-owned tourism social enterprise in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, she saw firsthand how transformative community tourism could be for communities and travellers alike.

As the Communications and Development Coordinator, Julia is involved in fundraising and communications to grow Planeterra’s network of supporters and assists in new opportunities to uplift community tourism. She loves connecting with individuals and organizations over the belief that, together, we can turn travel into impact.

SELENE ORELLANA

Communications Lead

Selene firmly believes in the potential of tourism to create a better world. With over 9 years of experience in the industry, she has had the opportunity to explore the dynamics of tourism from professional, academic, and traveler perspectives, both in her native Ecuador and abroad. She holds a degree in Tourism and Hotel Management and a Master’s in Sustainable Tourist Destinations and Planning, focusing her research on finding alternatives to use tourism as a force for good.

Her goal is to add value to tourism development by sharing her insights and knowledge. As the Global Coordinator, Selene oversees Planeterra’s communications.

In the Field

Planeterra’s team extends into the field, with part-time staff members around the world assisting our partners in their regions. At Planeterra, we call these individuals Community Development Specialists, and they are an integral component of our regional work. These individuals can communicate with Planeterra’s partners in local languages, understand local customs, and their proximity to the communities they work alongside means Planeterra can be more effective as a global organization.

CARLOTA MORALES Community Development Specialist, Central America

Carlota Morales

Community Tourism Development Specialist, Central America

Carlota Morales has more than 10 years of experience in community development, with communities all over her home country Costa Rica, and across Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Carlota has experience in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors in both development and project management. Her approach to community development is supported by her degree in psychology and a Masters’s in Responsible Management and Sustainable Economic Development.

As a Community Development Specialist for Planeterra, Carlota coordinates and stewards the relationship between Planeterra, community projects, and stakeholders in the region, ensuring smooth operations, that community needs and goals are being met, the impact goals, and monitoring and acting as the main point of contact for Planeterra on the region.

Rosselin Rodriguez

Community Tourism Development Specialist, South America

Rosselin holds a degree in Tourism from the National University of Cusco, and has more than 10 years’ experience in the travel industry, focused on responsible travel and quality service. She has worked in hospitality, tour operations, and as a tour leader leading tours in Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, working directly with community tourism enterprises selecting and giving technical advice to their experiences. 

As a Community Development Specialist for Planeterra in South America, Rosselin coordinates and stewards the relationship between Planeterra, community projects, and stakeholders in the region, ensuring smooth operations, that community needs and goals are being met, and acting as the main point of contact for Planeterra on the continent.

ATHENA VRIES Community Development Specialist, AMEE

Athena Vries

Community Tourism Development Specialist, Africa, Middle East, Europe

Athena is a self-motivated, passionate, and goal-driven worker. She has a hotel, tourism, hospitality, and marketing management background. With ten years of experience in the field, she knows that when executed accurately, her expertise can contribute positively to the development of the tourism industry.

She has actively worked on outreach programs to educate her community on creative marketing on their various media platforms. Athena is a Community Tourism Development team player committed to connecting people with authentic experiences.

Through Planeterra, she is working tirelessly to play her part in the betterment of the social and economic status of communities in tourism. When she’s not out and about exploring Southern Africa, you can find Athena in her hometown of Harare, Zimbabwe providing virtual mentorship to communities in the tourism industry.

YULISSA CASTAÑEDA

Community Tourism Development Specialist, Europe and the Middle East

Yulissa has a strong commitment to human rights and gender equality in tourism. She believes that sustainable travel can contribute to creating more equitable societies, which is why she is passionate about Planeterra’s mission.

With over 9 years of experience, Yulissa has worked on the design, implementation, and supervision of projects related to community tourism and rural entrepreneurship. Her work has extended to Indigenous communities, where she collaborates with public organizations and NGOs in Peru, Guatemala, and Spain.

She holds a degree in Tourism Management and a master’s in Development Cooperation from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, as well as another master’s in Gender Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Intercultural Gender Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

Yulissa is based in Madrid, Spain, where she works as a Community Tourism Development Specialist for Europe and the Middle East at Planeterra.

SANYA SAIF Community Tourism Development Specialist, Southeast Asia

SANYA SAIF

Community Tourism Development Specialist, Southeast Asia

Passionate about creating positive impacts through her work, Sanya has dedicated her career to the development sector, focusing on community building to uplift under-represented communities, including women, marginalized individuals, and differently-abled people. Her extensive experience extends to enhancing social entrepreneurship, with projects spanning countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, and the UK.

With a Master’s degree in Marketing, Sanya has used her skills for storytelling to highlight the impact her projects have created around the world.

Based in Bangkok, she is an avid traveler who thrives on immersing herself in new cultures and connecting with people. Sanya passionately advocates for the potential of community tourism in Southeast Asia, driven by her dedication to making travel a positive force for good.