Training Instructors

David Bartecchi, M.A.

Dave received his M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Colorado State University and has worked with Village Earth since 1998.  He is now the executive director of Village Earth.  Since 2000 he has been working with grassroots groups on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to recover lands for community-based bison restoration. He has also worked with the indigenous groups in Peru and Ecuador and trained and consulted on community-based development projects in in Azerbaijan, Armenia, India as well as with Native American tribes in California and Oklahoma.  He has been an instrumental part of several research projects with CSU’s Department of Anthropology including a 6 year longitudinal study of the informal economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota funded by the National Science Foundation, a survey of farmers and ranchers participating in the National Conservation Reserve Program conducted by CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab and funded by the USDA, and community-based censuses on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota.

Dave teaches online courses in Approaches to Community Development, Community Mobilization, and Community-based Mapping.

frankFrank Bergh, EIT, LEED-AP

Frank Bergh is a 2011 alumnus of the Certificate of Community-Based Development Program at Colorado State University and has collaborated with Village Earth in training workshops in Community Mobilization for Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA).

Frank has been an active member and leader within Engineers Without Borders USA since 2005, and has held officer positions in the Washington University student chapter and both the Kansas City and Chicago professional chapters. He is the former president of EWB-USA’s Great Lakes Region and currently serves as the chair of the Energy Standing Content Committee, a team of subject-matter experts which advises EWB-USA on renewable energy projects in the developing world.

Frank has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (2008) from Washington University in St. Louis. He is an electrical engineer in the renewable energy industry specializing in the technology and policy to promote integration of wind energy on the electrical transmission grid in North and South America. His professional and volunteer work has spanned 11 countries and 4 continents.  He served as Interim CTO responsible for electrical and mechanical design process for Light Up Africa, a start-up social enterprise and has advised several NGOs on appropriate technology and participatory community development.

DSC07503Mila Birnbaum, MBA

Mila holds an MBA in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise from Colorado State University and a B.A. in political science from Reed College with a specialty in repressive governments’ relation to civil society. She has over 17 years’ experience as a senior corporate paralegal, specializing in corporate and securities law, mergers and acquisitions, IPO’s, financings, corporate governance, and investor relations for public and private companies in both the profit and non-profit sectors. Her extensive business background includes serving clients in a wide variety of industries including biotech, alternative energy, manufacturing, venture capital, software and education. Mila is fluent in Spanish, has been an educator and trainer for 20 years, customizing participatory trainings for non-profit organizations, and is a certified ESL teacher. She is also the co-founder, community development and legal director for Living Roots (a Village Earth affiliate).

Luminita Cuna, M.S.

TedxLuminita Cuna has a Master of Science in Sustainable Development with focus on Environmental Management from the University of London/School of Oriental and African Studies. Her Master’s thesis researched the impact of conservation policies on protected areas in the Amazon and their effects on the indigenous people that live in these areas. Luminita worked for 10 years in Information Technology, including at the United Nations. She studied International Economics and French at Mount Holyoke College, where she earned her BA. Luminita holds a Graduate Certificate in Management of Information Systems and a Professional Certificate in Journalism, both from New York University and a Certificate of Community Development from Colorado State University.

 Luminita is the founder and director of Maloca (a Village Earth affiliate), a grassroots support organization that works with indigenous communities living in the Amazon basin. Luminita has been traveling extensively to the Amazon region to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil and has been working with indigenous communities in the Amazon since 2006. She participated several times in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, and in June 2012 she attended the Kari-Oca II indigenous conference, part of Rio+20 – United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Cynthia Ord, M.S.

Cynthia Ord holds a Masters of Tourism and Environmental Economics degree from the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and a B.A. in Spanish and Philosophy from Colorado State University. Her M.S. program focused on the socio-cultural, environmental and economic impacts of global tourism. Ord’s research focused on non-commercial volunteer tourism networks. She currently lives in Addis Ababa and works in tech solutions for tour operators in Ethiopia. In the past, she’s worked on e-market access and business development for small and medium sized tourism enterprises in the Global South, with a specialty in Latin America. In her spare time, she is a travel blogger.

Kamala Parekh, M.S.

Kamala has a Master’s in Economics from the University of Allahabad, India. Radio Journalism with a BBC affiliated International Broadcasting Company. Community Development Training: Institute of Cultural Affairs-International, Chicago, USA.  Currently she coordinates village and community based activities in Maharashtra, teaches English language to non-English speaking European women in Maharashtra, trains village women and craftsmen in making and marketing local handicrafts in Zambia and India, trains government and private sector multinational organizations and NGOs in the techniques of community development through participative methods, and has coordinated an entrepreneurial development program for village youth in Maharashtra in collaboration with Village Earth.  She also conducts Personality Development Courses for college and university students in India, conducts finishing school courses/women’s empowerment workshops (‘Stree Shakti’) for rural and urban women in India, and holds summer camps for children through non-academic activities to develop their overall personality and build confidence.  Kamala teaches an online course in Microfinance and the Role of Women in Sustainable Community Development.

Raul O. Paz Pastrana

Raul has been an organizer for over eight years and has given many workshops around the country and Latin America. These workshops have focused on diverse topics such as theater of the oppressed, popular education, participatory filmmaking, strategic organizing and base building.

He has worked as the Organizing Director for Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores, a non-profit that works to empower immigrant workers in the Denver, Colorado area.  He currently works as a Director/Producer and Cinematographer at Andar Films in New York, NY.

Kristina Miller, M.A.

Kristina Miller has over a decade of practical international development experience in strategic planning, capacity building, program development, gender mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation, all across a broad range of development sectors including health, business/economic development, conservation, education, water and natural resources management.  Kristina received her M.A. in international development from Colorado State University.  She has field experience in Latin America, the South Pacific, Eastern Europe, and US native communities.  Some of her specialties include Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, Strategic Planning Methods, Group Facilitation and Consensus-building, Community-based mapping, Ethnographic and Survey Research – Qualitative and Quantitative, Participatory Action Research and Learning Methods, Gender Equity Approaches and Gender Mainstreaming, Training in Integrated Community Development, and Community-based Natural Resources Management and Conservation.  She currently teaches online courses in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, Gender Equity in Development, and Participatory Research and Development.

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

Pilar Robledo

Pilar is currently Director of Programming and Training for US Peace Corps in Kiev, Ukraine. She’s also serves as Education Cluster Co-lead at UNICEF Pakistan. Previously she’s worked for UNHCR, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and IREX. She holds an MPA in Public Administration from University of Colorado, Denver and a BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from CU Boulder.


V. Lee Scharf, M.A., J.D.

Lee Scharf has worked as a mediator in community mediation, peer mediation in public school systems, court-ordered mediation within tribal, federal and community mediation contexts, has conducted large national facilitations and worked in environmental conflict resolution in all media. She has a Masters’ degree in Environmental Conflict Resolution and over twenty years’ experience as a mediator working with tribal nations. Ms. Scharf’s environmental conflict resolution taxonomy and annotated bibliography was published by the American Bar Association in 2002. She worked for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1991 until 2006, first in the Superfund Enforcement program and then in the Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC. From 2000 until 2006 Ms. Scharf was the National Tribal Mediation Lead for EPA through EPA’s Conflict and Prevention and Resolution Center. She is a Coordination Committee member of the Native Dispute Resolution program for the United States Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. Ms Scharf is currently an Associate Fellow at Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for this Center.

Ms Scharf lived on the Navajo Nation from 1956-1959 and this experience shaped her professional life and her view of the world. She has mediated with many tribal nations in the United States, and is currently working with the Northern Arapaho on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming and with traditional Navajo people living on Hopi Partitioned Lands in Arizona. Ms. Scharf is also leading a national project through Colorado State University to explore the use of dispute resolution practices within tribal governments as part of tribal self- determination efforts, knowing that each tribal world view is unique and valuable and that power and colonialism is always an issue when dispute resolution processes are used or proposed. Ms Scharf is the mother of three children and the grandmother of two. Lee teaches a course in Community-Driven Dispute Resolution.

Vanitha Sivarajan, M.S.

Vanitha’s background includes over 10 years of conservation and water resource management with local communities, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, and the private sector.  She has worked on natural resource management initiatives both domestically and internationally with a focus on Latin America, India, and the U.S. Vanitha’s areas of programmatic knowledge and expertise include climate change adaptation, participatory water resource management, community-based conservation, and international development.  Vanitha holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from Yale University, where she specialized in water science, policy and management.  She was also a William J. Clinton Fellow and holds an undergraduate degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Microbiology and Anthropology.

Currently Vanitha is a Development and Outreach Consultant for Model Forest Policy Program and Wildlands Network where she promotes water resource protection and resilient rural communities from climate impacts as well as connectivity in North America.  She is also the Sustainability Director for World Water Relief, working to ensure the long-term success of water and sanitation projects in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

George Stetson, Ph.D.

George received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Colorado State University, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of the Andes (Mérida, Venezuela), and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona.  George has worked as the Director of Educational Community Center at Fe y Alegría in Loma de los Maitines squatter village, Mérida, Venezuela, at the National Housing Council, and as a researcher at the University of the Andes (Regional Integration Group) on subjects such as poverty, social policy, and democracy.  His areas of expertise include sustainable development, Latin American politics, participatory development methodologies in Venezuelan squatter villages, and grassroots ecosystem management.  He has also worked extensively in the Peruvian Amazon looking at the politics of oil development.  He also has taught short courses for a Ph.D. program for Trisakti University in Indonesia.

JohnStrawJohn Straw, M.Ed.

John Straw has an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, focused on social justice education, and his bachelors from the University of Michigan with a degree in Spanish and Education. John has spent five years working in Honduras and Guatemala on community-based health and development projects, and the past 15 years working with Concern America, an international development and refugee aid organization, based in southern California, with health, water, and income-generation projects in Latin America and Africa. He has been the Executive Director of Concern America since 2012.

Jamie Way, M.A.

Jamie received her M.A. in Political Science from Colorado State University. Her academic work focused on Latin America, international development, political theory and indigenous rights. She has worked with Village Earth since 2008 and now holds the position of Training Director for Village Earth/Colorado State University’s online certificate program in Community-Based Development. She has also been involved with Village Earth’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in the Peruvian Amazon for the past three years. Her specialties include advocacy campaigns, strategic planning, issue framing and training for social justice.

Jamie speaks Spanish and Portuguese and is studying Chinese in Beijing. She is also currently working as Media and Communications Coordinator at Alliance for Global Justice, a Latin America solidarity organization.  Jamie teaches online courses on Approaches to Community Development, Development and the Politics of Empowerment and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation.