top of page
Meet the Staff

Clare Dowd (She/Her)

Executive Director

Clare is the founding Executive Director of Creative Action Institute. With over 20 years of international experience that straddles the private and non-profit sectors, Clare brings a unique background that blends an entrepreneurial business mind with strong non-profit management skills. She has worked with hundreds of international and grassroots partners across Central America and Africa to design powerful programs that leverage creative methodologies to advance women's and girls' equality and build resiliency in the face of climate change. Clare holds a BA in English Literature from Saint Michael’s College and an MBA in International Business from the University of San Francisco. When not trotting across the globe to remote locations, Clare loves being in her garden, at the beach or in the woods, preferably with her husband, grown boys and devoted dog.

CLD.jpg

Louisa Trackman (She/Her)

Deputy Executive Director

As Deputy Executive Director, Louisa manages and leads Creative Action Institute’s global teams, strategic priorities, and consulting work. Louisa has 15 years of non-profit experience in US and international contexts, including 10 years with Creative Action Institute. Louisa has expertise in gender and climate justice and has led the development and implementation of numerous climate education and climate justice focused courses, toolkits, and workshops, globally. She holds a Master’s in Development Economics and Human Security from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA in Political Science and Human Rights Studies from Barnard College. When not dreaming about her next international adventure, Louisa enjoys reading novels, listening to climate action-focused podcasts, and spending time outside – especially on her mountain bike.

Louisa Trackman

Doris Kamathi (She/Her)

Regional Program Manager - East Africa

Doris began her career as a journalist in Kenya where she used her skills and passion in storytelling to produce documentaries and films that highlighted challenges facing communities across the country. After 2 years of practicing journalism, she has spent the last 8 years in the development sector directly contributing to the disruption of inequality-ridden status quo. Doris joins us from Akili Dada, where she has been spearheading the implementation of different gender-focused projects in Kenya and East Africa. She brings a wealth of experience in strategy and programs development, and she is a firm believer that if afforded the space, skills and knowledge, women and girls have the ability to bring meaningful change in all levels.

Doris Kamathi

Isabel Carrió (She/Her)

Project and Community Engagement Manager

Isabel is a Project Manager, Creative Facilitator, and Community Artist for the Creative Environmental Leadership Program (CELP) and Creative Advocacy Practicums (CAPS) in the Latin America and Africa regions. After many years of working in the field and learning from it, she now applies her artistic experience by co-facilitating participatory process activities and community art projects to generate community-driven solutions to contemporary challenges. She is passionate about leveraging art as an advocacy tool to promote community actions for positive environmental and social change. Isabel holds a Master's Degree in Visual Arts from Argentina and The Art Students League of New York. In addition, she graduated from the Mural program at the National Academy of New York.

Isabel Carrio

Madhavi Phadke (She/Her)

Instructional Designer and Trainer

Madhavi Phadke joined Creative Action Institute in 2022 as an Instructional Designer and Trainer. Madhavi utilizes project-based learning, inquiry, and structured collaboration to provide context and purpose in science instruction. Madhavi’s current focus is to bring science tools and practices that may be customized for community initiatives improving climate mitigation, gender equity, and access to education. Madhavi believes that community engagement and purpose-driven education are key to building climate-resilient communities. In her free time, Madhavi is busy exploring things with her curious kiddo, pursuing her passion for North Indian Classical music as a vocalist, and growing or cooking lots of food. Madhavi has nine years of teaching, mentoring, and instructional design experience. Madhavi holds a Master’s in Science Education from Rutgers University.

Madhavi Phadke

Allison Havens (She/Her)

Development and Communications Specialist

Allison brings over 12 years of experience working in international non-profit administration, communication, and fundraising roles. She began her work in the field as a muralist and arts facilitator with the ArtCorps organization in Honduras over a decade ago, and from there, has dedicated her career to empowering women in Latin America. She was the director of a women's artisan organization, a fundraising coordinator for a domestic violence shelter, and has supported a variety of other women's organizations through marketing and coordination roles. She enjoys facilitating multicultural communication and is passionate about creating a future where women and girls lead the path forward towards a more sustainable future. Allison holds a BLA with a focus on studio art from Macalester College. In her free time, Allison enjoys hiking, studying Chinese Medicine, dancing, and trying new foods.

Allison Havens

Luis Quino (He/Him)

Project Manager

Luis Quino has worked for more than 15 years in community development promoting community mobilization, educational reading programs, community libraries, youth development, leadership, creativity, art, and popular education. He has dedicated many years to the design, facilitation, monitoring and evaluation of training and leadership programs for organizations, Boards of Directors, volunteers, youth, and both women and men at the community, municipal and regional levels. In recent years, his work has focused on developing socio-emotional skills and STEM in young people from rural communities in Guatemala. Luis has managed programs and strategies at a national and regional level, promoting their preparation, implementation, evaluation and documentation. He has also created and maintained a network of institutional contacts with whom he has made project presentations and established close relationships for collaborations. Luis enjoys art, music, playing the guitar, the marimba and accompanying children and young people to develop their talent for community service.

Luis quino

Wanjiru Ndung'u (She/Her)

Program Officer

Wanjiru is our Program Officer for East Africa. She joins the team from Akili Dada and brings four years of experience in the humanitarian sector. In various capacities, Wanjiru has worked to promote youth development, access to quality education, and economic empowerment. She is passionate about gender equality and supporting the next generation of girl leaders. She says she is her happiest when working directly in the field with youth and adolescent girls! ​Wanjiru holds a B.A. in Gender and Development Studies from Kenyatta University.

Wanjiru Ndungu

Denise Shannon (She/Her)

Institutional Funding Consultant

Denise Shannon is an independent consultant to foundations and nonprofits. She has decades of experience working toward a more just and equitable world, with a special emphasis in the sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice field and more than 20 years in foundation philanthropy. Denise has been a proficient nonprofit executive director with experience fundraising, managing, budgeting, and working with boards of directors. She is an accomplished communicator, and has published pieces in the New York Times, Inside Philanthropy, and other outlets. She currently serves on the board of directors of Impact Austin, a women’s collective giving nonprofit. She lives in Austin, TX, with her wife, Shannon. Their daughter, Josie, attends Texas A&M University.

DeniseFinals(5of6).jpg

Alyssa Wright (She/Her)

Development Consultant

Alyssa is an award-winning artist, strategic philanthropic advisor, and creative social impact strategist. Alyssa is a featured contributor to Feminist Wednesday, Levo League, Global Giving and Women @ Forbes, where she writes to offer communications, fundraising and leadership tips to all those working in the fields of philanthropy & social change. She is a recent Tedx speaker who debuted her talk, "Claim Your Philanthropy" in Portsmouth, NH and she is a sought after national nonprofit facilitator who can be found around the country discussing how one instills a successful "Culture of Philanthropy" at their organization. In her free time, Alyssa can be found volunteering at the York Art Association in York, Maine where she resides with her husband William, her beautiful daughter Piper and their big orange cat, Izzie.

Alyssa Wright
Meet our Board

Emily DeMasi (She/Her)

Chair

Emily DeMasi is passionate about the empowerment of women and girls globally; and the power of the arts to inspire and express. Currently, she is the director of engagement at EOS Federated Hermes where she integrates issues of gender equality, pay equity and opportunity access for all women. She spent nearly a decade in the socially responsible investing field, first as an academic publishing her graduate thesis on corporate social responsibility in commercial banks, then as a portfolio manager and investment adviser integrating the social and financial objectives of her clients into her investment process. Her diverse background also includes non-profit fundraising, impact investing and community investing, as well as serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. She earned her MBA and Master of Public Policy from Duquesne University and her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Boston University

Emily DeMasi

Deborah Calvanese (She/Her)

Secretary

Deborah is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice, specializing in treating post traumatic stress disorder and maternal mental health. She also enjoys serves as a guide for fellow therapists in the process of starting their own practices. Deborah earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Roger Williams University and her Masters in Clinical Psychology at American International College, and joined the Creative Action Institute Board in April of 2022, where she will serve as an Officer. 

Deborah Calvanese

Tracie Hines (She/Her)

Treasurer

Tracie is a non-profit strategy and fundraising consultant specializing in institutional relations, grants, and partnerships, working directly with and advising executive leadership across a variety of mission-driven organizations. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years, including the fields of land conservation, international study abroad, homelessness, and youth arts. She is a passionate environmentalist and believes that every individual can make a difference in minimizing our impact on the earth. Tracie holds a B.A. in geography and environmental studies from Framingham State University and a Masters of Regional Planning with a concentration in environmental policy and planning from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Tracie is also a certified plant-based chef and holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition. In her free time, she enjoys travel, yoga, and cooking for her family and friends.

Tracie Hines

Nyasha Laing (She/Her)

Officer

While Nyasha has spent much of her career working as a transactional attorney and human rights consultant, recently her creative pursuits have transitioned her out of a narrow legal practice into a wider role. In 2008, she released a documentary film entitled Punta Soul, tracing the evolution of afro-indigenous music from Central America. The film led her to a six-year sojourn in Belize, and active work in the service of arts and culture, notably for the Belize National Institute of Culture and History where she reactivated cultural revival programs, and for The Global Parish Project, a U.S. State Department-funded community service organization that she founded. The Global Parish Project cultivated the voices of hundreds of young artists and leaders in Belize City, Belmopan, and Punta Gorda through media literacy, poetic expression and filmmaking skills until 2014. Since that time, she has continued to cultivate her own voice as an emerging documentary filmmaker.

Nyasha Laing

Kruti Patel (She/Her)

Officer

Kruti is a Research and Development Scientist with over 15 years of experience in the biotech industry. She has led the development and deployment of various tools that have been used to further the advancement of cancer and agricultural research. Currently, she is a Senior Scientist at Directed Genomics, a technology development company focused on building and optimizing sample preparation workflows for next generation sequencing. For the past year, Kruti has also served as secretary of the board for an agricultural biotech company. She holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. When she is not busy with work, Kruti enjoys traveling, hiking, and live music.

Kruti Patel

Brooke Bauer (She/Her)

Officer

Brooke is passionate about driving equitable solutions through biotechnology, public health, education, and leadership. Currently, she works in biotechnology research and development mapping the mechanism for chronic kidney disease treatments. Additionally, she supports studies assessing health equity in her home state, North Carolina. There, she works to uncover social determinants of health, as well as shed light on food-insecure communities across the state. She believes strongly in building a more sustainable, equitable world by creating education and leadership opportunities for women and girls. She holds a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, traveling, and hiking with her dog, Beatrice.

original-2DB11AA9-5E24-4E73-B97A-8DD3B4AB0C17.jpeg
Meet our Kenyan Board

Yvette Kathurima (She/Her)

Yvette Kathurima is a feminist and social justice professional based in Nairobi with over 14 years of experience in gender programming, women’s and girls’ rights advocacy, and grant management. Yvette is a Manager of Equity, Gender & Youth at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). She leads CIFF’s funding and field engagement on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and co-leads CIFF’s Anti-racism and DEI working group. Yvette has a master’s degree in Development focused on Women, Gender, and Development from the Institute of Social Studies and an undergraduate degree in International Relations. She firmly believes in facilitating resources so that they go where they are most needed.

YK CAI profile pic_edited.jpg

Kavinya E. Makau (She/Her)

Kavinya E. Makau is an African feminist lawyer with over 15 years of experience. She draws on her expertise and networks in the areas of gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and women’s leadership to address discrimination against girls and women. Kavinya is a seasoned public policy advocate,  researcher, and facilitator who currently serves as Womankind Worldwide’s Policy and Advocacy Manager of Violence Against Women and Girls. She’s previously worked as an Independent Consultant with Equality Now’s Africa regional office, Akili Dada, and Urgent Action Fund- Africa. As an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, Kavinya received her law degree from the University of Reading in 2004. She holds an LL.M. (Master of Laws) in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington D.C., where she was a Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Fellow from 2011 to 2012.

K.E.M Work 4.jpg

Donald Onyoni (He/Him)

Donald Onyoni has over two decades of experience in finance management in the development sector. He is passionate about programs that foster sustainable positive social impact through leadership training, gender equality, poverty eradication, food security, climate change mitigation, and sustainable natural resource management. Donald is the Senior Manager, Operations Administration and Finance at Africa Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). He has been instrumental in the successful conceptualization, resource mobilization, and project management of several multi-year and multi-million-dollar projects covering a variety of sectors such as international wildlife conservation (CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants MIKE Program), public health with a focus on HIV and TB, Columbia University International AIDS Care and Treatment Program (ICAP), and gender in agricultural research and development with AWARD.

image2.png

Veronica Thamaini (She/Her)

Veronica Thamaini finds fulfillment when working on programs that focus on the equitable development of communities through sustainable innovations. She has over eight years of broad geographical experience in program management in development issues, including education, gender equality, and technology for development. Veronica serves as Manager of Regional Programs, Community Resources for the Wikimedia Foundation. Before joining Wikimedia Foundation, she worked at Creative Action Institute across Africa on projects focused on gender equality and building a sustainable planet.

Profile Picture (1).jpeg
bottom of page