Meet our Executive Team

Team Member
Shona Luciani
Director of International Programs

Shona originally hails from a small town on the border of Ontario/Quebec Canada. A traveller since a young age, after graduating in 2000 from Algonquin College in Ottawa Canada, she headed off to Australia, (which she know calls home :) In the past 10 years she has spent time working in the travel industry, with other volunteer organizations and travelling to over 40 different countries.

She is presently out Director of International Programs, which sees her setting up VESA's Volunteer projects, meeting with village chiefs and local NGO's and making sure that our participants have the experience of their lives when they choose to travel on a VESA program.

When not on the road Shona enjoys chilling with friends, the beach and a good book!

Team Member
Thomas Constable-McDowell
Managing Director

Tom was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and travelled extensively as a child. Having caught the travel bug at an early age he set off for an epic three year journey with the main aim of circumnavigating the globe while always remaining in summer. This landed him sometimes knee deep in snow with only a pair of thongs and a t-shirt as protection.

Tom's adventures have taken him to many out of the way places in South America, Africa, Asia, India and Europe. This led him to trek the Darien Gap where no man usually ventures, deciding that staying in the slums of Nairobi while waiting for a visa to come through was a good idea and cruising the West Indies in a 30 foot yacht during a hurricane.

Having witnessed firsthand so many beautiful but disadvantaged places in the world Tom founded VESA in 2009 the main aim of which was to take direct action to improve the lives of some of the many wonderful people he had met along the way. You may meet Tom on your VESA program as he is actively involved in all our volunteer work with an active interest in the construction side of our projects.

Team Member
Virginia Constable
Participant Coordinator – Office Manager

Ginny was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.

Having caught the travel bug at an early age she has journeyed to many corners of the world. Some of the highlights have been trekking to visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda which she describes as “an awe inspiring experience”, “conquering” the Inca Trail in South America as well as recently walking the Camino del Santiago in Northern Spain.

Virginia has been with VESA since 2009 including helping to prepare for the inaugural program in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Virginia is happy to answer your questions and concerns regarding the programs as the Participant Coordinator.

Team Member
Participant Coordinator - North America and Europe

Diane is a graduate of St. Lawrence College-Business Administration and spent most of her leisure time hiking the Rocky Mountains with her dogs enjoying the beautiful scenery while dodging bears and cougars. Now enjoying a quieter life closer to family, her motto is ‘Keep it simple’.

Team Member
Namiko Okamoto
Conference Coordinator

Namiko migrated to Sydney, Australia as a teenager moving to Melbourne at nineteen to complete her diploma at RMIT. She travelled around Europe for five years basing her self in London and Berlin. She misses travelling but has enjoyed settling down in her second home, Melbourne, and spending time with family and her loving Australian cattle dog.

Meet our Program Leaders

Team Member
Amazonas Explored 2016-2017
Team leaders

L-R: Xavier, Barbara, Maria Jose, Jacqui

Team Member
Fiji Islands Discovered 2017-2018
Team leaders

L-R Ronny, Sierra, Meg, Dave

Team Member
Africa Unearthed 2017-2018
Team leaders

L-R: Tom, Cat, Ty, Zine, Becky

Team Member
Southeast Asia 2017-2018
Team leaders

L-R top: Stuart, Michelle L-R Bottom: Ben, Miranda

Team Member
Amazonas Explored 2017-2018
Team leaders

L-R: Maria Jose, Xavier, Katrine.

Team Member
The Road to Mozambique 2017-2018
Mozambique team

L-R; Nelson, Beth, Adriano.

Team Member
David Benoit
Fiji Islands project leader 2016-2017 - construction

David is from Abercrombie, Nova Scotia, Canada, a tiny little community outside of New Glasgow. He has a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University where he majored in Kinesiology and Biology. He was a  VESA volunteer in May of 2015 on the first ever program to Laos in Southeast Asia! David is an experienced member of our Fiji Team and couldn't be more excited to be getting back to paradise! 

Team Member
Becky Sicard
Africa Unearthed program leader 2016-2017 - Croc wrangler

Becky has a nursing degree from Sir Sanford Fleming in Peterborough Ontario. Hailing from a small town in Ontario, Canada, Becky grew up in the country, loving the outdoors, fishing, hiking, 4 wheeling, camping… and country music!  Not many people leave the area, which urged her to want to be different and explore different cities, countries and cultures. Her love for travel started when she went on her first VESA program in 2013, Africa Unearthed, and has travelled to over a dozen countries since. She is now a tour leader for our Africa Unearthed program, working at the crocodile sanctuary!

Team Member
Michelle Hausman
Southeast Asia Encountered - program leader 2017-2018

Michelle graduated from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio receiving her Bachelor’s in Communication and PR and Master’s in Marketing. Her work with VESA started back in 2014 when she went to South Africa as a VESA volunteer, fell in love with the program and was determined to make it back. She then accompanied our volunteers on our Mozambique tour in 2016 and then becoming the Fiji team leader in 2017. 

Team Member
Megan Luxford
Fiji Islands Discovered - team leader 2017-2018

Meg is originally from London, England and began her travels shortly after finishing her A Levels visiting four different continents and becoming avid and experienced traveller. This will be Meg’s second season assisting our projects in Fiji.  

Team Member
Katrine Cere-Boivin
Amazonas Explored team 2017-2018

Born and raised in a small town near Québec City, Canada, Kat graduated with a diploma in Social Work at Cégep de Ste-Foy in 2015.  Shortly after, she embarked on a two year backpacking trip around New Zealand, Asia and Australia, where she joined the VESA team. She loves live music and spending time connecting with nature: hiking, scuba diving and camping. Kat has an open and positive perspective on life and the world at large! 

Team Member
Sierra Lovell
Fiji Islands Discovered project leader 2017-2018

Sierra is from Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada. She graduated in 2017 from St. Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology. Sierra was a VESA volunteer on the Fiji program in June of 2016.

Team Member
Tom Rowe
Africa Unearthed project leader 2016-2017

Tom was born and raised in Ararat, Victoria before moving to Geelong to study International Relations and Journalism at Deakin University. He currently lives and works in Melbourne where he spends his time playing sports, enjoying live music and hanging out with mates. He volunteered on the Africa Unearthed program in 2015, and is excited to be returning to St Lucia this year as a VESA project leader .

Team Member
Benjamin Leach
Southeast Asia Encountered project leader 2017-2018

Ben was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia and completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in banking and finance at the University of Notre Dame. Ben has completed both our Fiji Islands program in 2015 and the Southeast Asia program in 2016. 
Ben has a skydive and parachute license and has undertaken twenty-five solo jumps. He believes strongly in living a waste free and minimalistic life. 

Team Member
Maria Jose Tapia
Amazonas Explored - Education coordinator 2016-2017

Maria Jose Tapia was born in the Amazonas region of Ecuador in 1988, growing up in Misahualli, a magical place famous for its monkeys that roam freely through the streets and square of this small riverside town. After gaining a degree in business administration, she began her role with VESA in 2011. Because of the direct connection she has with the people and children in the Quichua communities she finds her role extremely rewarding. Every day is a great adventure for Maria Jose as she gets to know the many VESA volunteers from around the world who come to help out in the local communities. Maria Jose loves animals and spends her free time cycling, relaxing on the beach and likes singing at the ‘karaoque’.

Team Member
Stuart King
Southeast Asia Encountered - project leader 2017-2018

Stuart was born and raised in Worcestershire in the United Kingdom. Growing up he loved exploring and adventure sports, from mountain biking and kayaking to hiking and playing rugby. Photography and cinematography are two of his biggest passions. He started as a volunteer on VESA’s Fiji Islands program in 2016, which sparked his desire to travel and make a change. 

Team Member
Pepe Tapia
Amazonas Explored - jungle guide

Pepe has lived in the Amazon for over 25 years, has a degree in English and lectures the on biodiversity of the Amazon at universities across the UK.

Pepe will take you on an extraordinary trek deep into the Amazon jungle. You won’t find a better guide to show you the secrets of the jungle; the amazing animals, incredible bird life and the most beautiful plant life you will ever see.

Pepe and his family run a local hotel in the Amazon and you will be their guest after trekking in this incredible environment. With great company, an amazing environment and the chance to learn more from one of the best, your Amazon experience will be a memory you will treasure long after your trip has concluded.

Team Member
Dario Xavier Rosero Cartagena
Amazonas Explored - project leader 2016-2017

Xavier was born in Ibarra (province of Imbabura) a medium-sized city in the inter-Andean region Mountain range. Imbabura was populated around 2100BC. by the Caranqui people who left behind good structures and a series of legends. The province is famous for its lakes and the two volcanoes, Imbabura and Cotacachi.
When he was 12 years old he played music in church and then joined a rock band called Java covering the band 'Heroes of Silence'. With time the name of the band changed to 'Heroes' performing original material and becoming an important local band of the time.
At the moment Xavier teach guitar and drums and plays romantic music in some bars. He works for VESA as a project leader and loves it as to him it is the perfect gift to the local communities. In his spare time he likes football, playing music, reading a good book and playing on his PlayStation.

Team Member
Zine Buthelezi
Africa Unearthed project leader 2017-2018

Zine grew up in a township near Richard’s Bay called Esikhawini before moving to Khula Village where she now resides. She has worked as education leader on the Africa Unearthed program since it began in 2010. Her first language is isiZulu and she loves to share her culture and heritage with volunteers wanting to learn more about Zulu people. When she is not working for VESA she enjoys catering and spending time with friends and family.