Meet our Executive Team

Team Member
Shona Luciani
Director of International Programs

Shona originally hails from a small town on the border of Ontario/Quebec Canada. A traveller since a young age, after graduating in 2000 from Algonquin College in Ottawa Canada, she headed off to Australia, (which she know calls home :) In the past 10 years she has spent time working in the travel industry, with other volunteer organizations and travelling to over 40 different countries.

She is presently out Director of International Programs, which sees her setting up VESA's Volunteer projects, meeting with village chiefs and local NGO's and making sure that our participants have the experience of their lives when they choose to travel on a VESA program.

When not on the road Shona enjoys chilling with friends, the beach and a good book!

Team Member
Thomas Constable-McDowell
Managing Director

Tom was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and travelled extensively as a child. Having caught the travel bug at an early age he set off for an epic three year journey with the main aim of circumnavigating the globe while always remaining in summer. This landed him sometimes knee deep in snow with only a pair of thongs and a t-shirt as protection.

Tom's adventures have taken him to many out of the way places in South America, Africa, Asia, India and Europe. This led him to trek the Darien Gap where no man usually ventures, deciding that staying in the slums of Nairobi while waiting for a visa to come through was a good idea and cruising the West Indies in a 30 foot yacht during a hurricane.

Having witnessed firsthand so many beautiful but disadvantaged places in the world Tom founded VESA in 2009 the main aim of which was to take direct action to improve the lives of some of the many wonderful people he had met along the way. You may meet Tom on your VESA program as he is actively involved in all our volunteer work with an active interest in the construction side of our projects.

Team Member
Virginia Little
Participant Coordinator – Office Manager

Virginia was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.

Having caught the travel bug at an early age she has journeyed to many corners of the world. Some of the highlights have been trekking to visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda which she describes as “an awe inspiring experience”, “conquering” the Inca Trail in South America as well as recently walking the Camino del Santiago in Northern Spain.

Virginia has been with VESA since 2009 including helping to prepare for the inaugural program in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Virginia is happy to answer your questions and concerns regarding the programs as the Participant Coordinator.

In her free time she loves being with her three energetic sons, playing tennis or being immersed in a good novel.

Team Member
Participant Coordinator - North America and Europe

Diane is a graduate of St. Lawrence College-Business Administration and spent most of her leisure time hiking the Rocky Mountains with her dogs enjoying the beautiful scenery while dodging bears and cougars. Now enjoying a quieter life closer to family, her motto is ‘Keep it simple’.

Team Member
Namiko Okamoto
Conference Coordinator

Namiko migrated to Sydney, Australia as a teenager moving to Melbourne at nineteen to complete her diploma at RMIT. She travelled around Europe for five years basing her self in London and Berlin. She misses travelling but has enjoyed settling down in her second home, Melbourne, and spending time with family and her loving Australian cattle dog.

Team Member
Brittanie O'Reilly
Conference team

Brittanie is a graduate from Algonquin college in Ottawa Canada studying Tourism. Her education has lead her to varied jobs in the travel industry and provided her with amazing opportunities worldwide, visiting 25+ countries and counting. When settled, she enjoys spending as much time outdoors as she possible can even in those crazy Canadian winters.

Pepe and his family run a local hotel in the Amazon and you will be their guest after trekking in this incredible environment. With great company, an amazing environment and the chance to learn more from one of the best, your Amazon experience will be a memory you will treasure long after your trip has concluded.

Meet our Program Leaders

Team Member
Amazonas Explored 2017
Team Leaders

L-R: Xavier, Maria Jose, Kirsten, Bobby 

Team Member
Africa Unearthed 2017
Team Leaders L-R: Zine, Cat, Tom, Becky and Ty
Team Member
Fiji Islands Discovered 2017
Team Leaders

L-R Roni, Dave, Meg, Michelle, Josh and Philipe

Team Member
Southeast Asia Encountered 2017
Team Leaders

L-R top: Lydia, Sarah, L-R bottom: Mike, Tommy

Team Member
Michelle Hausman
Fiji Islands Discovered - program leader 2017

Michelle, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio graduated from the University of Cincinnati receiving her Bachelor’s in Communication and PR and Master’s in Marketing. Her work with VESA started back in 2014 when she went on an Africa Unearthed program as a volunteer, fell in love with the program and was determined to make it back. One year later, she led our Mozambique tour, snorkelled with her first whale shark and fell in love with island life. She’s now back in Fiji and enjoying every minute of living in paradise. As much as she’s become a beach lover, surprisingly enough, she grew up as a mountain girl who loved the cold, snow and skiing.

Team Member
Josh Hore
Fiji Islands Discovered project leader 2017

Josh grew up in a small dairy farming town called "Cohuna" in Victoria, Australia. He studied at Charles Sturt University graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Science. Josh was originally a volunteer with VESA on the Africa Unearthed program. He is happily returning to Fiji for a third VESA season helping out our volunteers in the local villages. Josh loves the outdoor life; camping, fishing, hiking, surfing, wakeboarding, scuba diving and of course travelling

Team Member
David Benoit
Fiji Islands project leader 2017

David is from Abercrombie, Nova Scotia, Canada, a tiny little community outside of New Glasgow. He has a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University where he majored in Kinesiology and Biology. He was a  VESA volunteer in May of 2015 on the first ever program to Laos in Southeast Asia! David is now a valued member of our Fiji team! He played basketball in university and loves music, traveling, athletics in general, and toying around with Rubik's cubes!

Team Member
Catherine Wilson
Africa Unearthed program leader 2017

Cat went to school for Environmental Studies and graduated from Carleton University in 2010. She grew up in the capital of Canada and has always shared a deep love for travel. After summiting her first mountain in South America she travelled to over 50+ countries in search for the best hikes and views. She spent a few years in Australia working and living out of her van as she travelled up the coast. Catherine has worked on VESA projects in both Laos and Fiji and she’s looking forward to swapping stories with you!

Team Member
Ty Lively
Africa Unearthed - project leader 2017

Ty hails from Tampa, Florida graduating from Florida State University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. While at university, Ty had the opportunity to work on and receive appropriate publication for several projects within cancer research. He joined VESA in 2014 as a volunteer on the Africa Unearthed program. Now a team leader of construction in South Africa, Ty aims to work with volunteers to continue to aid impoverished communities by restoring schools, houses, and day-cares to an acceptable condition.

Team Member
Tom Rowe
Africa Unearthed project leader 2017

Tom was born and raised in Ararat, Victoria before moving to Geelong to study International Relations and Journalism at Deakin University. He currently lives and works in Melbourne where he spends his time playing sports, enjoying live music and hanging out with mates. He volunteered on the Africa Unearthed program in 2015, and is excited to be returning to St Lucia this year as a VESA project leader 

Team Member
Rebecca Sicard
Africa Unearthed project leader 2017

Becky has a nursing degree from Sir Sanford Fleming in Peterborough Ontario. Hailing from a small town in Ontario, Canada, Becky grew up in the country, loving the outdoors, fishing, hiking, 4 wheeling, camping… and country music!  Not many people leave the area, which urged her to want to be different and explore different cities, countries and cultures. Her love for travel started when she went on her first VESA program in 2013, Africa Unearthed, and has travelled to over a dozen countries since.

Team Member
Michael Falshaw
Southeast Asia Encountered - program leader 2017

Mike started out as a volunteer on VESA’s Amazonas Explored program in 2014. From there he joined our recruitment team and worked in Australia, the USA, Canada and the UK. Born and raised in Liverpool, England he now works for us in Laos as our Conservation and Construction leader at the Elephant Conservation Centre.

Team Member
Lydia Cornu
Southeast Asia Encountered - project leader 2017

Lydia was born and raised in Kenya. She moved to Singapore at the age of 12, and then to Sydney, Australia at 18 where she completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Sydney. Since then, Lydia spent two years working in the Africa Unearthed program and is now a valuable member of the team  in Laos! 

Team Member
Sarah Glavic
Southeast Asia Encountered project leader 2017

Sarah grew up in Barrie, Newmarket and Orillia, Ontario in Canada and spent five years studying and working in St. Catharines Ontario near Niagara Falls. She studied Political Science at Brock University and fulfilling a dream to help those less fortunate than her, volunteered with VESA in South Africa in 2012. Sarah has been a project leader in South Africa for two seasons and is now enjoying her second season in Fiji.

Team Member
Maria Jose Tapia
Amazonas Explored - Education coordinator 2017

Maria Jose Tapia was born in the Amazonas region of Ecuador in 1988, growing up in Misahualli, a magical place famous for its monkeys that roam freely through the streets and square of this small riverside town. After gaining a degree in business administration, she began her role with VESA in 2011. Because of the direct connection she has with the people and children in the Quichua communities she finds her role extremely rewarding. Maria Jose loves animals and spends her free time cycling, relaxing on the beach and likes singing at the ‘karaoque’.

Team Member
Dario Xavier Rosero Cartagena
Amazonas Explored - project leader 2017

Xavier was born in Ibarra, Ecuador. He played music in church and then joined a rock band called Java which became an important local band of the time. Xavier teaches guitar and drums and plays romantic music in some bars. He works for VESA as a project leader and loves it as to him it is the perfect gift to the local communities. In his spare time he likes football, playing music, reading a good book and playing on his PlayStation.

Team Member
Waseroma Kalouniviti
Marine Conservation - team leader 2017

Wase was born in Fiji, originally from the the northern island of Vanua Levu but now resides in the capital city, Suva.. He is 24 years old and graduated with a Degree in Environmental Science in 2015 .He now works as our marine tour leader and is going into his third season with VESA. 

Team Member
Kirsten Lee
Amazonas Explored project leader 2017

Kirsten grew up in British Columbia, Canada. With a love of mountains, snow, and sports, she grew up skiing, climbing and playing hockey! Kirsten studied sport event management and tourism, graduating in 2015. With a love of travel, she hopped on a plane to volunteer in Fiji in May 2015. The following year she led the Mozambique program and is now the jungle leader in Ecuador! 

Team Member
Robert Dearing
Amazonas Explored - project leader 2017

Bobby was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Arizona State University in Phoenix, he is an avid marathon runner, hiker and camper. Bobby is a veteran Project Leader who has led programs in Fiji as well as several season in Ecuador. Having lived in Latin America, Bobby is fluent in Spanish and the various customs of this part of the world. With a passion for sustainable contruction projects in developing countries and a certified Emergency First Aid responder Bobby is a key man on the VESA work site in the Amazon

Team Member
Road to Mozambique 2017
Tour Guides

L-R: Adriano, Kennedy, Nelson 

Team Member
Pepe Tapia
Amazonas Explored - jungle guide

Pepe has lived in the Amazon for over 25 years, has a degree in English and lectures the on biodiversity of the Amazon at universities across the UK. Pepe will take you on an extraordinary trek deep into the Amazon jungle. You won’t find a better guide to show you the secrets of the jungle; the amazing animals, incredible bird life and the most beautiful plant life you will ever see. Pepe and his family run a local hotel in the Amazon and you will be their guest after trekking in this incredible environment. With great company, an amazing environment and the chance to learn more from one of the best, your Amazon experience will be a memory you will treasure long after your trip has concluded.