Ben Gucciardi, Founding Director, Oakland, CA
Ben founded Soccer Without Borders while earning a Master's degree in Global Educational Leadership from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA in 2006. An undergraduate of Lehigh as well, Ben captained the Lehigh Men's Soccer Team who regularly appeared in the NCAA Division I Top 25 rankings. After graduate school, Ben played two seasons with the San Francisco Seals of the USL. In addition to his experience on the field, Ben has worked extensively in the fields of coaching and youth development, acting as the Girls' Sports Coordinator and Coaching Coordinator at the Jamestown Community Center in the Mission District of San Francisco. He has studied conflict resolution, interactive theatre, team building, and methods of teaching mindfulness practices to youth. Ben has coached youth ages 5-18 at a variety of skill levels, and is currently the Head Coach of both the boys and girls SWB Oakland U-19 teams at Oakland International High School. Ben has also worked as a consultant for leading sports based youth-development organizations in the US, Europe, Zambia and South Africa, including Coaching Corps, Women Win, Amandla EduFootball, and Beyond Sport Inc.
Mary McVeigh, Executive Director, Boston, MA
Mary McVeigh currently serves as the Executive Director of Soccer Without Borders, having co-founded the Granada, Nicaragua girls program in 2008. Prior to her efforts with Soccer Without Borders, McVeigh earned her Master's degree in Sociology from Lehigh University and served four seasons (2004-2007) as an assistant coach in the Lehigh Women's Varsity Soccer program. Subsequently, she returned to her Alma Mater, Dartmouth College, as an Assistant Coach. While a student and Philosophy major at Dartmouth (1999-2003), McVeigh left her mark on the Big Green. A two-time first team All-Ivy honoree and an All-America in 2002, McVeigh led the team to two Sweet Sixteen appearances and a national ranking of 13 in 2001. Upon graduation from Dartmouth, McVeigh headed to the professional field as the seventh overall draft pick for the Philadelphia Charge, playing in the third and final year of the WUSA in 2003 and subsequently for IBV of the Westman Islands, Iceland in 2004. In her five years with Soccer Without Borders, Mary has remained Program Director of SWB Granada, Nicaragua, having also supported programs in Egypt, Guatemala, Boston, Greeley, New York, and Oakland through camps and coaches clinics. In 2012, Mary was honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Jerry Yeagley Award for Personal Service for her work with SWB.
Myra Sack, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator, Boston, MA
Myra Sack rejoined Soccer Without Borders in a capacity-building role in 2010, after her 2009 stint as a program volunteer with SWB Granada. A recent graduate of Dartmouth College, Myra left quite a mark during her four years in Hanover, as a Scholar All-America selection on the soccer field and a cum laude Government major off the field. In 2008, she co-founded Athletes United, a student-led initiative whose mission is to unite children of the Upper Valley with Dartmouth student-athletes through a free, organized and fun sports league, gaining attention from ESPN.com for her efforts. Earning a post-graduate fellowship from Dartmouth's Dickey Center for International Understanding to work with SWB for 2010-2011, Myra focused her efforts in the areas of program structure and curriculum development, grant-writing and US outreach, and coordination of SWB Latin American programs. Myra currently serves as SWB's Volunteer and Intern Coordinator, overseeing the placement and training of domestic and international volunteers and interns.
Lindsey Whitford, Development and Evaluation Associate/AmeriCorps VISTA, Boston, MA
Lindsey Whitford is currently in her third year with Soccer Without Borders, where she began as a Team Leader in 2010 with SWB Granada, Nicaragua. She wears many hats, including her primary roles as Development and Evaluation Associate for SWB, and the Director of SWB Boston. Lindsey focuses specifically on monitoring and evaluation of SWB programs, grant research, donor management, while providing support to the program team. As Director of SWB Boston, Lindsey facilitated the program's growth to a seasonal program in just one year, directly serving more than 200 newcomer youth throughout the year, and 75 through ongoing programming. Before joining SWB in 2010, Lindsey graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in Hispanic Studies. While at Lewis and Clark, Lindsey competed for the Pioneers, and also honed her Spanish language skills, studying abroad for a year in the Dominican Republic and Chile.
Karima Modjadidi, Administrator, Bethlehem, PA
Karima played soccer at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2001 before transferring to nearby Moravian College, where she graduated summa cum laude, earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is currently working at 6th Street Shelter, serving homeless families in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Karima continued on to coach for FC Lehigh, a non-profit soccer club dedicated to developing youth soccer players. She also continued her soccer career playing for the Northampton Laurels in the Women’s Professional Soccer League in 2008 and the Pocono Snow in the Mid-Atlantic Soccer League the following year.
Veronica Balladares, Team Leader, Granada, Nicaragua
Veronica was one of the first ever participants and first ever coaches of SWB Granada. She began as a member of the oldest group of girls in 2008, but was simultaneously trained as a coach for the younger girls. During the years that followed, Veronica moved into a more permanent leadership role, signing on as a staff member of SWB Granada, Nicaragua in July of 2010. Currently she is a TEAM leader for the 11-15 year old age group. As the leader of the off-field activities she applies knowledge she has gained studying psychology at Universidad Hispanoamericana to address assertive communication, responsibility, trust and teamwork along with other issues that prove relevant among the adolescent participants. On the field, Veronica works as an assistant coach for the same age group. Outside of SWB, Veronica completed a degree in pyschology from La Universidad Hispanoamericana in 2012 and works as statistician for the Ministry of Health in Granada.
Meghan Belaski, Program Director, Greeley, CO, USA
Meghan Belaski graduated with a BS in Political Science and spent two years in graduate school for cultural anthropology before leaving to work full-time in refugee resettlement. Meghan was drawn to Soccer Without Borders by her commitment to providing crucial services to the refugee population in Colorado. While working with Storm Academy, Fort Collins and local Colorado non-profit Be Active Be Strong, Meghan learned of the Greeley program established by Amy Snider, and is committed to building out the seasonal program in Greeley into an SWB core program.
Rachel Belgrade, Head Coach, Boston, MA, USA
Rachel is the head coach of the 10-12 year old team at SWB Boston. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Rachel studied Psychology and graduated in 2012. While working towards her degree, Rachel worked for two years at the Boys & Girls Club in Burlington, VT. There, she filled many roles ranging from the SMART Program Coordinator to after school and summer camp staff member. The experience she brings from the Boys & Girls Club creating and executing programming for middle-school youth around health, fitness, self-esteem and bullying prevention makes her a great addition to the SWB Boston team.
Estefan Bolanos, Team Leader, Granada, Nicaragua
Estefan first became involved in SWB in Granada, Nicaragua as a volunteer coach in February 2009. Estefan is currently a TEAM leader for the 11-15 year old age group. As the head soccer coach of this group he has worked to strengthen their technical skills and teach them the fundamentals of team tactics as they participate in their first season of competitive play. In addition to his on-field responsibilities, Estefan helps to facilitate off-field activities and makes bracelets that are distributed through SWB’s ambassador program. Estefan is currently a secondary school student at Granada’s Instituto Nacional del Oriente.
Alyssa Budros, Director of Coaching and Youth Dev., Coach Across America, Baltimore, MD, USA
Originally from Traverse City, Michigan, Alyssa graduated from Olivet College with degrees in Sociology and Anthropology with a concentration in Communications and an eye on furthering her education in the form of a master’s in Sports Psychology. Following graduation, she worked in a suburb of Chicago coaching college soccer and starting a girls’ high-school and middle-school program at The Islamic Foundation School. Through this program and experience, Alyssa developed a passion for coaching and first-hand knowledge of how sport can be used to engage, challenge, and transform kids from all backgrounds. Alyssa began her tenure at Soccer Without Borders as a summer 2012 intern for the Baltimore program. The connections she made with the kids and volunteers were powerful and Budros stayed on and is now Director of Coaching and Youth Development as supported by Coach Across America.
Larkin Brown, Local Program Director, Granada, Nicaragua
Larkin rejoins SWB Granada as the first-ever Local Program Director, after spending a year as a Team Leader and Intern from 2010-2011. During her intern year, Larkin was a head coach and off-field leader for Granada's oldest girls team, the Nicoyas. Alongside former co-intern and current Program Coordinator Lindsey Whitford, Larkin played a crucial role in the expansion of the program from two teams to three, and the institution of critical program monitoring systems. Following her year in Granada, Larkin served as a Teaching Fellow at Phillips Andover, teaching Spanish, managing a residence hall, and coaching soccer. A 2010 graduate of Bowdoin College, Larkin was a standout defender for the Polar Bears, serving as team captain in her senior year.
Hassell Chavez Bustamante, Team Leader, Granada, Nicaragua
Hassell began with Soccer Without Borders as a participant in the fall of 2010 with what is now the Nicoya team. As a participant she was a dedicated member of her team on and off the field and multiple times was chosen to be captain by her coaches and peers. In January 2012 she graduated from the Nicoya team and made the transition from SWB player to coach. After a year as Assistant Coach, Hassell took on the Head Coach role with the youngest Mariposa team, ages 7-9. She also continues to play soccer with the SWB Veteran team. Outside of SWB, Hassell recently completed a one-year degree to become a surgical technician at the Escuela de Enfermeria Silvia Ferrufino in Jinotepe. She is also a graduate of the English language program at Granada's ABC Academy.
Sara is a recent graduate of Princeton University where she studied psychology with a concentration in social psychology. While attending Princeton, she competed on the Varsity Women's Soccer team and was a co-captain of the team. Off the field, she spent multiple years of her undergraduate career volunteering for local non-profits: Circle of Women, an organization dedicated to creating education opportunities for girls and women and the EDEN Institute, whose mission is to improve the lives of children and adults with autism. Fluent in Farsi, Sara spent five summers in her hometown of San Jose, CA, Sara working as the Production Manager Assistant at the Center of Persian Language Preservation Incorporation.
Gina Gabelia is a “third culture kid,” who was raised in five countries, speaks three languages proficiently and a handful at a “survival” level. She double majored in Political Science and Art at Drew University, and worked as an educator and paralegal in the Washington, D.C. metro area for several years before succumbing to her globetrotter roots and relocating to South Korea to travel, teach English, and paint/write. Experiencing the contrast of life in the Global North and Global South as an adult inspired her to pursue a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University, where she focused her studies on the conjunction of global health, trafficking, and human rights. An internship at an anti-trafficking NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal sparked an interest in refugee populations, which combined with a passion for working with children, led her to Soccer Without Borders in September 2010, where her role evolved from occasional volunteer to permanent staff.
Eden Guadamuz, Team Leader, Granada, Nicaragua
Allie Horwitz, Team Leader, External Relations Associate, Granada, Nicaragua
A talented goalkeeper, Allie joins the SWB team in Granada after four years at Amherst College, where she led her team to three NESCAC Championships while earning her undergraduate degree. During her time at Amherst, she was an active member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and also a member of the Amherst Lacrosse Team. In Granada, Allie coaches the Estrellas (ages 13-15) and serves as the External Relations Associate, working to connect the program with community partners and raise awareness about FSF in the US and Nicaragua. A determined and talented coach, Allie brings a wealth of playing experience and will be the first full time FSF coach with a goalkeeping background.
Originally from Poulsbo, WA, Mady graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2010 where she majored in English and minored in Spanish. Following graduation, Mady spent a year as an AmeriCorps member, working at a Seattle-based non-profit called Solid Ground, which works to build community as a means to end poverty. At Solid Ground, Mady worked at the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center. There, she collaborated with different community members to plan and run after school programs for kids and instituted creative writing classes and soccer practices for the youth involved with the program. As a Team Leader in Granada with the Mariposas she is excited to get to know the girls and build on the experiences she had at Solid Ground.
Jason Lemberg is the Program Director for SWB-Chicago. Jason comes to SWB via friendships he built while serving as a Peace Corp Volunteer (PCV) in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan. In 2005 Jason graduated from Aurora University with a B.A. in English. At AU he played soccer for four years, serving as team captain his senior year. After graduating, Jason took off to Kyrgyzstan to start his service with Peace Corps. As a PCV, Jason lived and worked as an English teacher in a village of about 5,000. In addition to teaching, Jason was a member of the village soccer team where he traveled to neighboring villages to participate in tournaments. After serving in Peace Corps, Jason attended Loyola University Chicago, completing his M.Ed. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies in December, 2012. Throughout his entire life, Jason has benefited from the support of mentors, teachers, and coaches. At SWB-Chicago, he is looking forward to helping others grow and learn through the Beautiful Game. Jason grew up in the Chicago-area and currently lives on the north-side of Chicago with his wife and their beautiful baby boy. He believes Chicago's diversity is one of its greatest strengths and believes SWB-Chicago can help unify many of the cultural divides across the city.
Nippeannboth Long, Head Coach, Boston, MA, USA
Nippeannboth is the Head Coach of the 7-9 year old team at SWB Boston. While not coaching, he is a student at Boston College, where he will graduate from in May 2013 with a BA in Spanish. Nippeannboth's undergraduate studies have brought him to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Barcelona, Spain where he studied and played on local leagues in each city. Nippeanboth has a great deal of experience working with youth as an assistant coach at Meadowbrook School, camp counselor at the Belmont Day Go Sports Camp and as a tutor through the PULSE program at Nativity Preparatory Middle School.
Olivier was born in Rwanda. In 1994, he left Rwanda for Bukavu in Democratic Republic of Congo. Olivier and his family left DRC in 2001 for Uganda. Olivier has played football for a number of clubs in Uganda and Rwanda, including Nsambya F.C. in Uganda’s 2nd Division and two Rwandan 1st Division clubs (Kiyoku F.C. and Amagaju F.C.). Olivier was among the founding coaches of Soccer Without Borders Kampala in 2007, and he has coached U14 and U17 teams for 4 years. Olivier is very grateful to be a part of the S.W.B. Uganda family.
Cesar Morales, Team Leader, Granada, Nicaragua
Cesar joined SWB Granada, Nicaragua in April 2009. Before joining SWB staff he completed a degree in accounting at the Universidad de Centroamerica in Managua, Nicaragua. Currently he is the TEAM leader for the youngest age group (7-10 year olds), working as both their head soccer coach and leader of off-field activities. The skills and knowledge he gained from a leadership program also completed through the Universidad de Centroamerica are apparent in the strong sense of team unity and pride that he has been instrumental in developing among his team members.
Originally from Brattleboro, VT, Jean-Christophe has extensive experience living and working abroad. As an undergraduate student studying Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton College (Northfield, MN) he spent a term in Salvador, Brazil. Following his graduation from Carleton, he spent one year in France and another two years in Spain teaching English, helping to design curricula, facilitating cross-cultural activities and leading after-school programs. Jean-Christophe has also worked in multiple contexts for the Experiment in International Living, first as a Summer Abroad Group Leader, leading high school students in exchange opportunities to Brazil and Spain, and then as a Leadership Outreach Assistant in Brattleboro. Most recently, Jean-Christophe completed coursework for a Master of Arts in International Service, Leadership and Management from SIT Institute in Brattleboro.
Born on 5 November 1992 in Democratic Republic of the Congo (Bukavu), Jeremiah completed his O level (secondary school) in 2008. He started working at Childlife Hope Center as a team captain for the Nazarites’ team and as a winning kids coach. In 2010, he joined Soccer Without Borders where he is working as a teacher and a coach. He believes in the ability of kids.
Byamo grew up in Democratic Republic of Congo where he completed his university studies in pedagogy and computer application. In Congo, he also captained for Mulengeza football club for seven years. Byamo left D.R.C. in 2006. In Uganda, he has taught English and mathematics to immigrants and refugees of all ages, as well as working as a tailor. Byamo has been an English teacher and coach with Soccer Without Borders since 2010.
Raphael Murumbi, Program Director, Kampala, Uganda
Raphael has been coaching with SWB in the Nsambya neighborhood of Kampala since the program began in 2007. With each year, Raphael has assumed more responsibility, and now serves as the Local Program Director for SWB Kampala. Raphael is originally from the Kivu Region or the Democratic Republic of Congo. He fled the conflict in Kivu in 2003, living in a refugee camp in Kenya for two years before leaving the camp to try and make his way in Kampala with his brother Byamoo. Raphael’s passion for coaching and his dedication to serving the community of urban refugees in Kampala are truly remarkable. In addition to the many hours he spends on the field, Raphael regularly conducts free coaches clinics, conveying the basics of designing a practice session and his favorite games to other youth and interested coaches.
Katy Nagy, Team Leader, External Relations Associate, Kampala, Uganda
A recent graduate of Villanova University, Katy originally hails from Bellmore, New York. While at Villanova she was a member and co-captain of the Varsity Women's Soccer team. She was also very involved in the university’s community service program. Most notably, she took part in two service trips to El Salvador, one year as a participant and the second year as a group coordinator. As coordinator she was the point-person for all volunteer participants, holding meetings to prepare them and facilitating their experiences once arriving in El Salvador. Closer to campus, she also volunteered as ESL tutor to recently-arrived immigrants in the Villanova area.
Rebecca Nunley, Team Leader, Grant Coordinator, Facilities Manager, Granada, Nicaragua
No stranger to living abroad, Rebecca recently earned a Master's degree in Development from the City University of Hong Kong. Prior to moving to Hong Kong she completed her undergrad in her home state at West Virginia University, during which she studied abroad and taught English in both Mexico and Hong Kong. Rebecca brings a contagious energy to the Mariposa team (ages 9-11), where she will serve as a Team Leader through December 2013. In addition to her role with the Mariposas, Rebecca will take the lead on coordinating a State Department sponsored two-way exchange between SWB Nicaragua and the US.
Sean O'Sullivan partnered up with Jason Lemberg to help launch Soccer Without Borders-Chicago after Jason asked him very politely. They first met in the Peace Corps while they were both serving as TEFL volunteers in the country of Kyrgyzstan. Sean has an extensive history of working in the non-profit sector, consistently focusing on development, volunteerism, and at-risk youth services. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Sean has had an interest in working with kids since his time at Wayne State University, where he reported on lead paint abatement and cognitive abilities of children in Detroit neighborhoods. Currently, Sean has his Master's Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Management for the University of Illinois at Chicago, and works at a youth services non-profit organization focusing on developing relationships with corporate partners. Sean loves working with kids so much because he believes everyone deserves a fair shot, no matter where they come from or their economic situation. Sean has a large skill set and is able to help out the SWB-Chicago program through organizing, development, relationship building, outreach, volunteer management, and writing in the third person. He is extremely excited about the future of the program, working directly with these great kids, and hanging out with his old yoga buddy, Jason Lemberg.
Jill Pardini, Program Director, Baltimore City, MD, USA
Jill Pardini has her Masters in Public Policy degree from Johns Hopkins University. Her concentration of study was International, Immigration, and Education policy and specifically how these policy issues intersect. Due to these academic interests she interned with the Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees (MORA) and became involved with the growing refugee population in Baltimore City, MD, USA. As an adjunct professor at Baltimore City Community College in the English Language Institute and as a volunteer tutor with the Refugee Youth Project, Jill quickly became exposed to the different issues and concerns facing the recently resettled refugees. As a former soccer player at the University of Iowa with a strong passion for working with youth, Jill launched SWB Baltimore, MD, USA in the summer of 2010. The program has grown to include 50 student-athletes from Iraq, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Nepal who now play on year round soccer teams in an organized soccer league.
Kelly Pope, Team leader, Monitoring and Evaluation Associate
Originally from Beverly, MA, Kelly is a recent graduate of Bowdoin University where she majored in Spanish and minored in Sociology. While at Bowdoin she was a member and co-captain of the Women's Soccer team and volunteered as the community outreach coordinator for Relay For Life, collaborating on a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. As a part of her major requirements, Kelly spent a semester of her junior year in Buenos Aires, Argentina studying at La Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad del Salvador. During this exchange she interned at Mujeres en Igualdad (Women in Equality), working with the organization's staff to plan social events aimed at improving young girls' body image and self-confidence.
Helen Ramirez Montiel, Assistant Team Leader, Granada, Nicaragua
Helen, who began as a participant of SWB in 2007 is one of the most long-standing members of SWB Granada. In January 2012 she graduated from the Nicoya team and made the transition to assistant TEAM leader of the Estrella group, girls age 11-14. In this role she helps plan and execute practices on the field and activities at the office. Helen also continues to play soccer with the SWB Veteran team in Granada. Outside of SWB Helen has begun studying tourism at INTAE and hopes to finish this program in the upcoming years.
Kareem Rassas, Athletic Director, Chicago, IL, USA
Kareem is a freshman at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota where he is playing soccer and working towards degrees in accounting and finance. Kareem graduated from Huntley High School where he was a four year varsity starter and two year captain. Kareem first joined Soccer Without Borders-Chicago as an intern in the summer of 2012. He currently lives in Winona during the school year and Lake in the Hills, IL during the summer when he is working with Soccer Without Borders – Chicago. As the Athletic Director, Kareem is excited to be a part of the growth and development of Soccer Without Borders – Chicago.
Iga Ronald, Head Coach for Younger Youth, Kampala, Uganda
Iga was born in Masaka district in the central region of Uganda. He moved to Kampala in 1990, and played for several football clubs including State House F.C. in the Ugandan 1st Division. After a career-ending injury, Iga decided to use his talent to coach youth soccer. He coached several school and community teams before becoming a coach with Soccer Without Borders Uganda in 2010. He is very happy to be involved in S.W.B.’s work.
Junior Kasereka Shabusha, Center Manager, Kampala, Uganda
Junior grew up in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where he completed his university studies at Rwenzori Official University of Butembo in political science and international relations. While in university, Junior captained the university team for three years. Menaced by the serious problem of insecurity in eastern Congo, he decided to leave the country and came to Uganda as a refugee in January 2011. Junior has been volunteering as a coach of U7 boys and girls since October 2011.
Amy Snider, Program Director, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Amy Snider co-founded the Colorado Force in 1996, playing a lead role in the management of the business and non-profit outreach. A graduate of Cornell University, Amy was recently awarded "Outstanding Women in Business" by the Denver Business Journal. In 2011, Amy secured a grant to launch the Greeley program, running a pilot season in the spring, and expanding her efforts in the fall. A former collegiate athlete and co-captain of the Force W-League Championship team in 1998, when she's not coaching or working with the Force, Storm Academy, or SWB Greeley, Amy focuses on raising two children, Jackson and Summer, with her husband Matt.
Demetrios Yatrakis, Program Director, New York City, NY, USA
Demetrios grew up in Brooklyn, NY and attended Columbia College where he played Varsity soccer. After working for three years Demetrios obtained his MBA from Columbia University where he focused on Real Estate and Entrepreneurship as well as working with the non-profit, The Acumen Fund focusing on the expansion of Maternity Hospitals in India. Since graduating business school Demetrios has been working with SWB New York City running the weekly practices and managing the team of volunteer coaches.