Steve Brescia is the Executive Director of Groundswell International and one of its co-founders. Steve has over 30 years of experience supporting international development, social change, and grassroots advocacy. From 1996-2009 he worked for World Neighbors in positions including Area Representative for Mesoamerica and Haiti; Latin America Regional Coordinator; and Associate VP for Program Learning and Innovation – facilitating the documentation of a program methodology guide. He previously worked for the Inter-American Foundation, the International Liaison Office for President Aristide of Haiti, and with community-based organizations in Nicaragua. He holds an MA in International Development from American University and a certificate in Asset-Based Community Development from the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.
Christopher Sacco serves as Deputy Director and is a co-founder of Groundswell. He has 20 years of experience working in humanitarian relief and development, including more than seven years working full-time in Ecuador as a project manager for Catholic Relief Services and the Yachana Foundation. Chris continues to consult on humanitarian relief, regenerative development, and conservation for a number of international organizations, including CRS. His academic preparation includes a Master’s in Natural Resources from Oregon State University, a BA in Government and Spanish from Franklin & Marshall College, a graduate certificate in the Design, Management and Evaluation of Sustainable Development Projects from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, and a graduate certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from UNC Chapel Hill.
Rhonda Devan is the Director of Finance and Administration for Groundswell International and the organization’s Chief Financial Officer. She has also served as the Chief Financial Officer for various entities over her career in North Carolina and New York. Rhonda, who is a Certified Public Account in both New York and North Carolina, received her MS in Education / Certificate of Advanced Study, School Business Administration from SUNY at Brockport and her BS in Accounting from Roberts Wesleyan College. She also serves on the board of directors of an Asheville-based nonprofit organization working for women’s empowerment and to solve food insecurity issues.
Peter Gubbels is Groundswell’s Director of Action Learning and Advocacy for West Africa and is one of Groundswell’s co-founders. He has 38 years of experience in rural development, including over 28 years living and working in West Africa. Peter is the co-author of From the Roots Up: Strengthening Organizational Capacity through Guided Self-Assessment. He has also written numerous articles, research reports, evaluations, case studies and policy briefs on agroecology. Peter was recently appointed senior fellow with the Global Evergreening Alliance, and he holds an MA in Rural Development from the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, an Honor’s degree in History from the University of Western Ontario, and a college diploma in Agricultural Production and Management.t
Tsuamba Bourgou is Groundswell’s Regional Coordinator for West Africa. Tsuamba brings decades of experience supporting community-led development in his native Burkina Faso and across West Africa. Before joining Groundswell, Tsuamba served as the Executive Director of the NGO Association Nourrir Sans Détruire, where he played a critical role in the emergence of a dynamic agroecology and farmers movement in eastern Burkina. Tsuamba’s key areas of experience include adult education, action research, evaluation, impact assessment, strategic planning, program development, training and facilitation and strengthening local organizational capacities. He holds a Master’s in Linguistics from the University of Ouagadougou.
Larry Bostian is Interim Development Director at Groundswell International. For more than 35 years, he has been helping nonprofit organizations find resources for their work to promote citizen involvement and social justice. Groundswell’s farmer-to-farmer learning and amplification approach to promoting agroecology echoes the pioneering work at Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, where Larry worked from 1981-1985. His recent work at the Boston-based Disability Rights Fund, which provides grants to organizations of persons with disabilities in select developing countries, gives him insight into the vital partnerships that Groundswell has established. A native Tar Heel now living in the Washington, DC, area, Larry graduated from the University of North Carolina and has a Master’s in Religious Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary.
Edwin Escoto is Groundswell’s Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining Groundswell, Edwin worked for nearly a decade as the Executive Director of Vecinos Honduras, a leading NGO promoting rural development and agroecology. Before taking on the leadership role at Vecinos, Edwin worked for five years as World Neighbors’ Coordinator for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods in Mesoamerica (Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua), and, prior to that, as the Agricultural Extension Coordinator for a large FAO food security program in Honduras. Edwin holds a degree in Agronomy from Honduras’ National Agriculture University.
Gaylord Chambers works as an Operations Consultant for Groundswell. In this role she provides overall administrative support to the organization. Gaylord has supported non-profits for the last 10 years and has played pivotal roles in starting a number of local private and charter schools and in creating school garden programs. She holds a BA from the University of Vermont. Gaylord has served on three local non-profit boards of directors in the Asheville area, and she is currently the treasurer for an Asheville nonprofit organization.