Steve Brescia is the Executive Director of Groundswell International and one of its co-founders. Steve has over 25 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.
Fatou Batta, in 2019 left her position as Regional Coordinator for West Africa, and is supporting our program as a part-time consultant. She is one of Groundswell’s co-founders and also founded Association Nourrir Sans Détruire (ANSD), Groundswell’s local partner in Burkina Faso. Until 2009, Fatou worked for over 15 years as the World Neighbors’ Area Representative for West Africa, overseeing all aspects of strategy, programs and management for the region. She has also held several positions with the government of her native Burkina Faso, where she helped to develop family planning policy and planned and administered projects sponsored by international agencies. She received her Master’s degree in Public Health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, her undergraduate degree at the School of Technical Education in Paris, and completed a diploma in participatory development at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.
Tsuamba Bourgou Regional Coordinator for West Africa: Tsuamba brings decades of experience supporting community-led development in his native Burkina Faso and West Africa, including as Director of Association Nourrir Sans Détruire (ANSD). He has supported the emergence of a dynamic agroecology farmers movement in eastern Burkina.
Rhonda Devan is the Director of Finance for Groundswell International and is responsible for the organization’s overall financial and accounting areas. In addition, Rhonda owns her own accounting firm where she provides similar accounting and financial services to small businesses and nonprofit clients in the Asheville, NC area. 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.
Edwin Escoto, Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean: Edwin is splitting his time in 2019 as Director of Vecinos Honduras and LAC Regional Coordinator, before taking up the latter role full time in 2020. Since 2009 Edwin has helped build Vecinos Honduras into a leading NGO promoting rural development and agroecology.
Peter Gubbels is Groundswell’s Director of Action Learning and Advocacy for West Africa and is one of Groundswell’s co-founders. He has 35 years of experience in rural development, including over 20 years living and working in West Africa. Currently based in Ghana, Peter provides action research and advocacy support to Groundswell’s partners who empower rural communities to build equitable and ecologically sound local economies, spread lasting solutions, and engage in wider coalitions for change. Peter is also the co-author of From the Roots Up: Strengthening Organizational Capacity through Guided Self-Assessment. He previously served as the Vice President of International Programs for World Neighbors. Peter holds a college diploma in Agricultural Production and Management, an Honor’s degree in History from the University of Western Ontario and an MA in Rural Development from the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.
Bern Guri, Program Advisor for West Africa (half-time): Bern wears many hats: founder of CIKOD in Ghana; former chair of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa; a representative to the Groundswell Board from 2014-18. We are grateful that he is bringing his wealth of experience and skills to our regional team.
Christopher Sacco serves as Director Strategic Initiatives and is a co-founder of Groundswell. He has more than 15 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 disaster risk reduction and response projects for a number of international organizations, including CRS. His academic preparation includes 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.