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Our People

This is OGHQ

From journalists to artists, accountants to mountain guides, our crew is unified by our love for experiencing everything this world has to offer. Together we’ve covered continents, climbed epic peaks and lived far off the grid. We’re here to help you experience the world the OG way.

BEN SAMPSON-COBURN

Managing Director, Programs

It didn’t take long for Ben to figure out that he suffered from an acute case of wanderlust. On one fateful day, a commute home from school turned into a multi-year backpacking trip that eventually landed him in Latin America. After a brief stint as a freelance journalist, Ben was both incensed and inspired by what he saw and returned to school at the University of Toronto to complete degrees in Latin American Studies and International Development while living out of a backpack in Argentina, Ghana, Guatemala, and Kenya. The experience taught Ben the value of learning by doing and now after 10 years as Program Leader, Regional Director and Board Member, Ben continues to explore the world as Operation Groundswell’s Managing Director. When he’s not at his desk, you can find Ben scaling a wall or hitting some sort of ball.

Get in touch: ben@operationgroundswell.com.

LAUREN CHU

Officer, Communications

As an enthusiastic International Development student and an aspiring vagabond, Evelyn embarked on her first journey with OG in 2015. Little did she know, this experience would ignite a passion for social impact work and cultivate a lifelong thirst for learning through adventure. Evelyn soon found herself following this passion to India as a Program Leader with OG. She also dedicated her time to the Human Rights Department at the University of Guelph, as well as supported the resettlement of refugees through the university’s Student Refugee Program. Additionally, she assisted with communications at the Guelph Humane Society, furthering her commitment to lending her voice to causes she believes in. Now, as our Communications Officer, she is thrilled to inspire others to chase their sparks and backpack with a purpose. When not in the office or on the open road, Evelyn can be found practicing yoga, salsa dancing or curled up reading a good book.

Get in touch: evelyn@operationgroundswell.com.

LAUREN CHU

Assistant, Communications

Camila grew up all over the place: Guatemala City, Washington DC, Toronto, and then most recently a small riverside town in Connecticut. She stuck around the Northeast for college, but then after a short, but grueling stint at a corporate law firm in NYC, she hit the road for a change of pace. While living in Xela, Guatemala working with nonprofits, Camila got connected to OG and eventually joined the family as a PL in 2020. With the temporary shift in the travel industry during the pandemic, Camila switched gears and now works on the Communications Team. If you’re ever in Mexico City where she is currently based, you might see her sitting in the sun in Chapultepec Park, hiking up a nearby mountain/volcano, or tucked into a street market corner eating elotes. 

Get in touch: camila@operationgroundswell.com.

ERWIN CHAYAX

Manager, Guatemala Hub

Lucia is originally from the municipality of San Pablo La Laguna, a town located on the shore of Lake Atitlan in the department of Solola in the southwestern region of Guatemala. She graduated from the IMEB Luisa and Benjamin Paul Institute of Business Administration. Her enthusiasm and desire to learn and grow in life, allowed her to thrive in the student environment as a Business Administrator at the University Mariano Galvez. Without leaving behind her roots she is also a great artisan and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with locals and tourists especially through her work at the OG HUB where she has been working for a year. She loves to share her knowledge with foreigners about the culture, traditions and customs of the Mayan ancestors, as well as to learn about other cultures that exist in the world.

Get in touch: info@hubguatemala.com

OGHQ BY THE NUMBERS

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meet our advisors

 Lauren Chu

Growth Specialist at Carbonhound

Despite studying engineering, Lauren much prefers valleys and mountains over valves and mechanics. She has hiked thousands of kilometres around the world, once planted 7000 trees in a day, cycled the length of Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and has been on a 500km hike through the Appalachian Wilderness. In the summer you can find her on canoe trips or hike & bike adventures; in the winter, playing shinny on outdoor rinks or flying down a mountain on a snowboard. Lauren is keen to marry a passion for education with a love of travel with OG!

EYAL ROSENBLUM

COO at Neighbourhood Capital

Eyal was Operation Groundswell’s fearless Executive Director from 2012 to 2019. A compassionate leader with over ten years of experiential education development under his belt, Eyal found a home at OG after planning the inaugural Middle East program in 2008. Eyal was also on the founding team for the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada, which became the first and largest organization in Canada to promote and support socially enterprising youth in achieving their goals. Eyal received a certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Schulich School of Business, and was awarded the Social Economy Scholarship Award for his contribution to the social economy.

CLAIRE FERGUSON

Consultant at Look Good Feel Better

Claire is a facilitator, leader, coach and project manager with 5+ years experience in non-for-profit leadership and 7+ years in the education sector. With a Masters in Political Science, a BA in International Development, and 10 years of international travel and work experience, she has an incredible ability to bring together diverse teams and connect with all kinds of people. Claire’s OG story started in 2014 as a Program Leader in India. From 2015-2019 she served as OG’s Programs Director, guiding OG through its most rapid and extensive growth. Claire loves to bring her travels to the kitchen, where she can often be found recreating delicious dishes from around the world!

JO SORRENTINO

Executive Director at New Leaf Tree Professionals

Jo has been with OG since the very beginning. She helped coordinate the pilot program in Ghana in 2007 and has been a part of the OG family ever since. Jo developed a passion for building alternative curriculums while facilitating OG programs as Programs Director and as a member of the board. At her core Jo is an educator. The thread that runs through all her work is facilitating change in the world through service to community and environment. As the founder and Executive Director of New Leaf Tree Professionals, Jo connects formerly incarcerated, and system impacted young adults to hands on job training for careers in conservation and climate resilience. She is fiercely dedicated to creating space for people in roles that they have been traditionally excluded from.

Jazzmine Raine

Founder at Hara World

Jazzmine Raine is a social entrepreneur, storyteller, and experiential education facilitator. She is the founder of Hara World and Hara House, India’s first zero-waste hospitality space. Jazzmine leverages the power of story to support recent grads, aspiring entrepreneurs, marginalized groups, and ethical brands to challenge the status quo and work towards a sustainable, inclusive, and inspiring future. Jazzmine has been nominated for multiple awards for her Hara World initiatives and was named 1 of 35 social entrepreneurs to watch by Causeartist. She has spoken on her passions and journey across the globe, including at BoldTalks Dubai, Tourism Shala India, and with many education institutions and community platforms across the globe. Jazzmine is a 2021-22 Western Union Fellow under Watson Institute. In her spare time, you’ll find her writing short stories and working on her first YA novel, Generation Uprising.

Meet a few of our Program Leaders

Jhoselyn (Jhoss)

South America

Jhoss hails from the beautiful town of Ambato in Ecuador but lived in the big apple where she received her bachelor’s degree in International business. More recently, she completed a Masters degree in Rural Development in New Zealand. In between, Jhoss managed to backpack around South America and work with a number of different NGO’s and learn to teach Yoga and Reiki. When she’s not in the classroom or out on the trail with OG, Jhoss loves to explore nature, read a good book, dance!, do a little yoga, or chow down on Ecuadorian chocolate!

Jigar

East Africa & South Asia

Born and raised in Tanzania, Jigar is a nomadic polyglot and philosopher who is always ready for a cathartic dance-off. He believes that travel is about an inner journey of self-growth and transformation as much as it is about seeing and experiencing the beauty of our extraordinary world. An adventure filmmaker by profession, he yearns to connect deeply with the people he meets on the road and seeks meaningful stories to tell.

Kayla

South & Central America

Kayla studied and worked in the fashion industry in Los Angeles, but chose to trade it all in for a little backpack and big adventure. She set off on a solo trip through South America that was only meant to last a few months, but ended up changing her life and turning her into a true nomad. She’s since worked in a number of countries around the world, growing all sorts of things and facilitating lots of different trips for others. She even did a stint as a wilderness therapy guide but more recently returned to the US to explore the country in her own truck camper.

Evelyn (Eve)

The World

Evelyn was working towards a career in criminology in Costa Rica but switched to psychology after taking a class on psychological first aids for victims of natural disasters. This new passion had Eve working closely with rural communities and slowly evolved to include the coordination of local community development projects and cultural immersion programs. Her work also took Eve all over the world from Latin America to Asia and back again. When Eve’s not leading OG programs, she’s just as happy in the mountains as she is on a beach but rainy days are meant for watching movies. 

Nicté

Central America

Nicté is a proud Maya K’iche’ woman. She was born in Totonicapán, in western Guatemala but currently lives with her family in the capital. Nicte has always been passionate about tourism and quickly became a certified local guide leading treks and tours around the highlands. Nicte also studied Business Administration and teaches English to kids but is happiest outside climbing volcanoes and walking in the mountains around Quetzaltenango and Guatemala. She is excited to make new friends, share her culture, and show everyone what life is really like in Guatemala.  Also, she’ll gladly trade a little help with your Spanish for some practice with her English!

Pete

Central & South America

Pete originally hails from jolly old England, but has been, in no particular order, living, working, travelling, volunteering and learning in Central America for the better part of decade. But he’s still got an accent. Pete is an accomplished trail guide, certified scuba instructor and the best person to take off the beaten path. He’s excited to show you around his neighbourhood, introduce you to some of his friends, share a few laughs, and explore the nooks and crannies of the region he now calls home.

WORK WITH US

Want to work with our tight-knit team of backpacktivists behind the scenes and make some magic?  If you’re passionate about travel, social justice, and laughing (a lot), you might be a great fit for us!

If Not Now, Then When?

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