The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Chris Westcott, MA, Program Director
Chris is an educator and change-maker with extensive experience working with grassroots human rights NGOs and social change–oriented study abroad programs. Chris’s human rights work has focused predominately on the provision of economic, social, and cultural rights. Chris has worked on housing and workers’ rights campaigns with the Urban Justice Center and the Freelancers Union in New York City. Additionally, Chris was a founding staff member of ENGAGE, where he worked in Thailand and the San Francisco Bay area on trade justice campaigns affecting the economic rights of farmers and access to affordable medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS. Chris has worked as a traveling faculty member, then as a program manager with IHP since 2012. Earlier, Chris worked for two years on CIEE Thailand’s study abroad program focusing on globalization and development. Chris has a BA in environmental studies from Bates College and an MA in international educational development from Columbia University. Chris has conducted ethnographic research on the land reform process in post-apartheid South Africa and has done participatory action research on housing rights and educational equity in New York City. Chris currently serves on the solidarity board of Community Voices Heard, a social, economic, and racial justice organization based in New York.
Lucas Shapiro, Launch Coordinator
Lucas Shapiro comes to IHP after years of working as a community organizer for housing rights and racial justice in New York City. Most recently, Lucas served as senior organizer at Families United for Racial and Economy Equality (FUREE), based in downtown Brooklyn. At FUREE, Lucas worked with members to fight for living wage jobs, affordable housing, access to healthy food, and a seat at the table in shaping local development. After earning a degree in Studies in Social Change from Ithaca College, Lucas moved to New York City to become the national organizer for a progressive youth and student organization and later worked as an organizer with a tenants’ rights nonprofit. Lucas is dedicated to multi-issue movement-building, strengthening member-driven organizations, and he has a keen interest in political strategy, public policy, and popular education. He is currently working to launch Mayday Space in Bushwick — a dynamic center for social justice organizing, community empowerment, and creative expression. He lives in a cooperative house located in Fort Greene and enjoys reading articles, watching films, playing games, going on bike adventures, and visiting friends and family in Spain.
Dema Al Oun, Country Coordinator, Jordan
Dema received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from Jordan University. She has completed her required legal training and is expecting to take the Jordanian Bar exam shortly. She is qualified in many aspects of both civil and criminal law within Jordan and has completed over 35 training courses in legal issues. These courses dealt with civil and criminal law, and several pertained specifically to the rights of the child or the rights of women. Additionally, she is trained in international treaties and agreements pertaining to related human rights issues. Since 2004, she has volunteered at the National Center for Human Rights in Jordan, and is a member of Talal Abu-Ghazala, a famous law firm in Jordan which trains in civil and criminal law. Her past experience includes two and a half years in a law firm as a legal trainer. She has been the homestay coordinator at SIT since 2008, and was advisor for SIT students studying topics related to women, culture, and youth.
Radoš Piletic, Country Coordinator, Chile
Radoš Piletic is senior development consultant with the Observatorio Ciudadano, a Chilean human rights organization with niche expertise in the rights of indigenous people, political participation, and globalization and human rights. Previously, he was senior development officer at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he contributed to building the capacity of the ICJ's regional programs in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the CIS, and Latin America. Prior to the ICJ he worked as senior development officer at the NYU School of Law, strengthening the work of the school's public interest, human rights, environmental law, and international studies centers and institutes. Earlier, he worked as a development officer for the New York Foundation for the Arts. Radoš holds a master's degree in international affairs from the New School University. He has conducted research on international cultural policy in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina; amnesties in the peace processes in Chile, Mozambique, and Cambodia; and assessment of human rights in Chile. He is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives with his family in Santiago, Chile.
Yanik Shrestha, Country Coordinator, Nepal
Yanik is the director of Passage International, which facilitates experiential education and global understanding by creating opportunities for students to live and learn abroad. He has been working intermittently with study abroad programs since 2002. He has also assisted in guiding several treks in Nepal and India, for Passage as well as for other trek operators.
A man with eclectic tastes and passion, in 2002 Yanik participated in the No Education: No Freedom, No Opportunity seminar in Germany, organized by GTZ, on “whether education should be liberalized or not.” He was involved in an Antenna Foundation project — a dramatized TV series broadcast on the national TV channel that raised issues on women’s rights and attempted to break taboos through the program. He had the opportunity to work with two of Nepal's most acclaimed comedians Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya during the project. He has been working in radio since 2005, first with Hits FM 91.2, a 24-hour commercial radio station. At present he is associated with Revolution Radio, an online radio station. He is also a part of a hip-hop/slam poetry group, Word Warriors. The group has played a big role in inspiring other young poets to use poetry and music as mediums of expression.
Clelia Rodriguez, Traveling Faculty (Spring)
Clelia O. Rodríguez received her BA from York University and her PhD from the University of Toronto. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Toronto, Washington College, the University of Ghana, and most recently at SIT as a human rights professor in the International Honors Program. Her international expertise conducting inter-disciplinary research and engaged pedagogy derives from studies of literature, ethnicity, culture, race, gender, class, refugee, identity, memory, trauma, and decolonization in El Salvador, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana. She recently published two articles, “Reconfiguring Historical Colonial Identity” in Postcolonial Studies and “A Nnanga, lástima que no sepa leer” in Revista Iberoamericana.
Clelia’s pedagogy is unconventional. She values nurturing ideas, self-evolution, and a deep exploration of the self to encounter new ways of reading, unlearning, writing, and understanding texts, challenging paradigms and narratives. She uses a decolonizing methodology to promote an altering of knowledge, allowing students to enter a space of boundless wisdom. She has developed a style that challenges students and demands honest growth. She wants students to invest time in mindful thinking, reflecting, seeking, transcending, adapting to uncomfortable moments, developing a sense of inspiration, and unpacking truths at the surface level. She pushes students to look at where we have come from in terms of students’ worldviews and the types of assumptions students carry with them. She looks at the classroom as a space of wholeness and empowerment.
Mamamdi Matlhako, Traveling Faculty (Fall)
Mamadi Matlhako is a sociologist who earned her BA in political science and sociology from University of the North in South Africa, an MA and a PhD in sociology from Emory University. She has worked in higher education for more than 15 years as both teacher and administrator at Emory University, James Madison University, St. Norbert College, Purchase College, and Empire State College.
Mamadi's research interests include international comparative education, comparative transitional justice, and human rights. Mamadi has conducted research on poverty in South Africa, the relationship between education and economic growth, political and economic understandings of education restructuring, and policy reforms in Southern Africa. In addition to teaching and research, Mamadi works on advocacy and outreach for advancing quality of life for marginalized groups. She was a board member for African refugees based in Staten Island, NY (2009–2011), and works with a small NGO in Alexandra, South Africa. She also worked for the United States Peace Corps in Swaziland prior to attending Emory University. Mamadi resides in the Bronx, NY, and is a native of Tembisa Township in South Africa.
Weddy Worjroh, Trustees Fellow (Fall)
A 2010 alumna of SIT Study Abroad, Weddy Worjroh graduated from Villanova University in 2012 with a double major in global interdisciplinary studies and sociology, concentrating in peace and justice studies with minors in Spanish and Africana studies. Upon graduating, she worked as an English teaching assistant on a Fulbright grant to Argentina, where she immersed herself into the culture of Argentine Patagonia. A strong advocate for immigrants’ rights, she has conducted research on immigrant integration and worked extensively with nonprofit organizations serving immigrant communities in Philadelphia, Spain, and Argentina. Weddy has combined her passion for social justice and art by co-producing an award-winning documentary, Out of the Shadows, which highlights the experiences of undocumented immigrant youth in Philadelphia. She is also an avid photographer and enjoys tasting food from around the world.
Jessica French Smith, Trustees Fellow (Spring)
Jessica French Smith is an alumna of SIT Study Abroad. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in anthropology and Latin American studies. She has worked in direct services with survivors of domestic violence and most recently in foreclosure prevention in New York City. She has also dedicated seven years to coordinating high school and college experiential learning trips in Nicaragua. She will be graduating from the New School for Public Engagement in December 2014 with an MA in international affairs, with a concentration in governance and rights. Her interests include housing rights, LGBTQ issues, right to the city, and growing things.