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: [email protected].

LAUREN CHU

Director, Communications

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!

Get in touch: [email protected].

ERWIN CHAYAX

Manager, Guatemala Hub

Erwin is originally from to the Northmost area of Guatemala, Petén. 13 years ago, he moved to the shores of Lago Atitlan in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala to get into community-based tourism and hasn’t looked back since! He graduated from San Carlos University as an Administrator of Tourist Resources, and loves sharing his knowledge of Mayan Culture with people from all over the world. Alongside his work with OG’s Hub sharing stories with and caring for visiting backpacktivists, Erwin is a passionate coffee farmer and accomplished gardener. With OG, Erwin loves learning about environmental justice, preserving Mayan culture and history, and helping people both locally and globally.

Get in touch: [email protected]

OGHQ BY THE NUMBERS

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meet our advisors

ALAN LEVINE

Founder of ICOMM

Alan is an entrepreneur, leader, experienced CEO, and winner of multiple awards including “best 50 companies” and “Entrepreneur of the Year”. Co-founder of a leading North American consumer information company, Alan also served an unprecedented 2-year term as Chairman of the Canadian Marketing Association. Alan’s consulting career includes buy-side due diligence, business strategy, Executive Coach, and two years as CEO of Infersystems, a mathematical technology company focused on “big data”. Beyond that, Alan is a passionate urban farmer, travel adventurer, reader, music lover, and fitness enthusiast.

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!

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?

THE WORLD IS CHANGING. HELP CHANGE IT FOR THE BETTER.
JOIN THE GROWING COMMUNITY OF ETHICAL TRAVELLERS.

20% off

ON all programs with February-April 2022 start dates

USE THE CODE CYBER21 WHEN YOU APPLY