Executive Director, Co-founder
Merry is the leader of Vort Port International (VPI), with a M.Eng degree in Energy Systems Engineering and a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Merry has a strong background in energy systems involving efficiency and legislation work as a consultant for the U. S. Department of Energy. She has worked in advanced energy storage technologies for General Motor’s Chevy Volt and performed research into various energy technologies and business solutions. Merry serves as VPI”s Executive Director.
Contact Merry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shivangi is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental Health and Epidemiology. She also graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Environmental Health Science and a minor in Applied Statistics. Shivangi worked as an Emergency Management Analyst and Consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC from 2008-2010. During her time at Emory University from 2010-2012, Shivangi worked as a Research Assistant for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) Climate Change Program and the Environmental Health Services Branch focusing on foodborne and waterborne illness. Shivangi currently works at Deloitte as a Consultant for the CDC. She has a personal interest in the global water crisis, food and water sustainability, and the relationship between climate change and human health, and hopes to incorporate these issues into future VPI projects.
Legal Director, Co-founder
Marianna Oykhman is third year law student at American University, Washington College of Law, where she serves as a student attorney in the Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic. She currently works in GEICO’s Office of Legislative Counsel as a law clerk and has experience working for a plethora of legal jobs, including clerking for the Tax Exempt division in the Internal Revenue Service and for the Corporate Litigation department at Zurich North America. Marianna brings to VPI extensive legal knowledge in nonprofit and tax law and has been an integral part of our development as a nonprofit organization. As a future attorney, she aspires to specialize in nonprofit development and tax law.
Business Director and Solar Lamps Project Lead
Chandni holds a MS from Carnegie Mellon in Engineering Technology Innovation Management. She also received her BSE and BA at Carnegie Mellon in both Electrical and Computer Engineering and Economics. She focused her engineering degree in electrical power systems and signal processing. She’s currently working in energy consulting and has experience in quantitative economic modeling. Her personal interests are in communication and technology as a means for rural economic development and she has always been a strong community leader.
Muhammad is a MS in Accounting student at the American University. He holds a BS degree in Economics with a specialization in Economic Development from the University of Houston. He has a lot experience working for Not for Profit organizations and recently helped start one as well. He serves as the Accountant to VPI.
Media Director, Co-founder
Patrick is a video artist from Northern Michigan. While studying film/video production at Grand Valley State University, he was drawn to non-fiction media and ultimately graduated with an emphasis in documentary. Patrick has also worked on feature film sets, in the editing rooms for United Way and American Experience, and most recently produced and co-directed a music video for the folk-rock group The Hollows. His true passion belongs to non-fiction media, recognizing the genre as a powerful tool of fostering emotion, awareness, and critical thinking on issues embedded in the human experience. Patrick currently works at Eastern Effects Inc in Brooklyn and, in addition, he is leading the media efforts of VPI.
Media Team Member
Joe is a media professional whose credentials include work in documentary and feature films, reality television, and radio. A fervent supporter of sustainable and renewable energy solutions, he is excited to work with VPI by helping to raise awareness of humanitarian issues through media. Joe brings to the VPI media department a filmmaker’s intuition from his years of shooting documentary and live event footage both domestically and abroad. He earned a BA degree in film & video production from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and studied philosophy at East China Normal University in Shanghai. Hailing from Northern Michigan, he currently resides in Brooklyn.
Public Relations/Events Coordinator
Nkechi holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland. She honed her multimedia and journalistic skills at Soundprint Media Center, a nonprofit science-based media organization. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Relations Management from the University of Maryland University College and is excited about contributing her talents in spreading the mission and vision of VPI.
N. Janice Essien
Human Resources Representative
Nnene Janice Essien is a Human Resources professional passionate about finding the most effective way to provide a solution. She has over 5 years of HR experience in the nonprofit and for profit arena in Maryland and in West Africa, Nigeria. Janice is a strong believer in accountability and daily coaching so people can meet their full potential. She believes that everyone and everything can be better and strives toward that goal on a daily basis. She has worked in employee and labor relations, HR Compliance audits, developing and interpreting personnel policies and procedures, FMLA implementation and administration, employee benefits, and most recently, HR information systems. She holds a MA in Human Resources Development from Towson University and a Bachelors’ Degree in Social Work.
Debbie currently works as a People Analyst at Google, where she supports data-driven people decisions. Her work involves analyses and experiments in how people are hired, how their careers develop, and how to keep them happy. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California. Debbie is excited to work on internal communications, retention strategy, and trainings for VP.
Marketing and Branding Specialist
Susan is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a BA in Communications and has more than 13 years of marketing and publishing experience for a DC-based trade association. She has also volunteered regularly for various local non-profits including renovation projects, park cleanups and local animal shelters. She is excited to join the VPI team and help further the organization’s mission of giving people the tools they need to help pull themselves and their communities out of poverty.
Biodigester Project Lead
Rahul is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a BSE in Electrical Engineering and a BA in Economics. He is currently working as a Software Developer for Deltek, Inc. Rahul has over 5 years of international development experience with several nonprofits, including Engineers Without Borders and Health Empowering Humanity, and has implemented water distribution/treatment systems and computer centers in rural communities in Haiti, Panama, Mexico and Honduras. He has an interest in working with indigenous communities that reside in extremely remote locations. An avid traveler, Rahul has visited over 30 countries and speaks 5 languages.
Phillip Dixon, P.E., LEED Green Associate
Phillip Dixon is a civil and environmental professional engineer. Phillip has a MSE in Environmental Engineering and a BSE in Civil Engineering from Cornell University. Phillip is LEED Green Associate, and is HAZWOPPER, FEMA, and Confined Space certified. He has spent the last 8.5 years working as an environmental engineer in the fields of renewable energy, drinking water, waste water remediation, and operation and maintenance. Phillip’s goal on this project is to engineer systems and operations so the world can be more sustainable.
Biodigester Project Technical Advisor
Jim is acting as an advisor to the Madagascar Biodigester project in D.C. He earned an MSE in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas and an MBA in International Business at the University of Houston. He has been managing the construction of waste water projects for over thirty years.
Biodigester Project Business Analyst
Megan graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Economics, a BA in International Relations and a minor in statistics. Her experiences include working in international trade relations with the WTO and NGOs in Geneva, Switzerland, and conducting quantitative research on project’s cost and schedule targets. Currently, she is consulting on capital projects and project work processes within the private industry, but continues to have a strong interest in economic development for least developed countries.
Biodigester Project Engineer
Dan Wahl is a Research Engineer working on the Biodigester team at VPI. He has an MSE in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and has spent the last five years working as a Control Systems Engineer in the fields of renewable energy and robotics. Dan joined VPI with the idea of using his energy and expertise to enact positive change in the world around him, and is working hard to make that idea a reality.
Biodigester Project Engineer
Narindra has her BSE in civil engineering from the Institut Supérieur de technologie of Antananarivo in Madagascar. Narindra specializes in building construction concept and worked as an intern for SOCOTEC Madagascar as a concept technician. She is interested in bio-technology, and believes that VPI’s projects deals with her own interests to provide energy resource solutions in Madagascar. Narindra currently obtaining her MS in Town and City planning at the Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris in France. Narindra hopes her motivation and skills will be helpful to apprehend and contribute to the success of all VPI’s projects.
Caroline holds a BSE degree in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University and a MSE degree in Electrical Engineering from George Mason University. She has spent the past six years doing ship design for the US Navy, and has also worked as a patent examiner for the US Patent and Trademark Office. She has a personal interest in energy engineering and a passion for improving the lives of others through technology.
Solar Lamp Project Technical Lead
Nick works as an engineer on VPI’s Solar Lamps for India project, designing the lighting and solar charging circuitry. He holds a BSE and MS in Electrical Engineering from Brown University. His experience includes research in dynamic integrated circuit test methodology, consulting in energy efficiency policy for the U.S. Department of Energy, and working as a design engineer for Intel. In addition to his work on the Solar Lamps project, Nick is a regular contributor to VPI’s blog, his articles focusing on sustainability and appropriate technology.
Solar Lamps Project Business Analyst
Charu graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Economics and a BA in International Development. Her experiences include research on microfinance practices with case studies of organizations in South India, women’s empowerment and adult skill building work with a refugee resettlement agency, and volunteering in and travelling to nine developing countries. Charu is passionate about international development, particularly in developing multi dimensional approaches to poverty reduction. She looks forward to pursuing an MS in development economics.
Solar Lamps Design Engineer
Matt holds MSE and BSE degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He focused his studies in product design and manufacturing, and has a diverse design background, including project work for transportation, consumer products, biomechanics, and international development. Matt is interested in sustainability and scalability of design and contributing to projects with positive and tangible social impact.
Solar Lamps Educational Analyst
Eric Shu, a proud Texan, serves as an Education Plans Analyst where he develops curriculum and training programs for the India Solar Lamps project. He currently works at a public affairs firm and specializes in social media communications, coalition building, and event management. Prior to his current position, he has worked as a Research Assistant for various international security-focused think tanks and as a middle school social studies teacher. Eric holds a BA from Brown University where he studied International Relations.
Bandha Bikes Project Lead
Song holds her BS in Human Development and Family Studies, and minor in Psychology from the University of Vermont. She also has her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University. Song is eager to learn about communities and people around her as she aims to work with under-resourced populations. Her experiences have involved engagement with low-crime offenders through Restorative Justice and families within the DC Public School system. Currently, her involvements are broadening internationally. Her personal interests fall within the maternal and child community, and access to health-promoting resources as these relate to development across the lifespan.
Laurel grew up on the Oregon Coast and spent her 20′s in beautiful Bellingham, Washington where she obtained a BS in Bio-Anthropology and worked in social work. She developed a passion for learning about new ways of living and connecting to the world through traveling to many developing countries for pleasure, volunteering, and study. She came to DC to pursue international work and complete her MPH at George Washington University where she was given the opportunity to study and work in Kenya and Ethiopia for 8 months. Laurel is passionate about sustainable integrated community-based approaches to health and environment challenges and is excited to be part of the Bandha Bikes team. In her spare time she is a cyclist and a dancer.
Bandha Bikes Project Business Analyst
Shakir holds a BBA in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and a MBA with a concentration in Strategic Management. Shakir is interested in the intersection between business and public policy thusly; he has aimed his educational pursuits largely on public private partnerships, microfinance and impact investing. He is looking forward to utilizing his business background to support the mission and vision of VPI.
Caroline is a senior at the George Washington University, majoring in International Affairs, with a concentration in global public health. During her undergraduate career she studied abroad in Madagascar and did research on how the Malagasy combine their traditional and allopathic health systems. She also has extensive experience working to improve healthcare for low-income DC residents. Her interests include health behaviors and behavior change interventions, along with cross-cultural communication about healthcare practices.