CO-FOUNDER AND DESIGN DIRECTOR
Priyanka Bista is a Nepali-Canadian architect, and designer working at the intersection of public interest design and biodiversity conservation. She’s the Co-Founder and Executive Director of KTK-BELT studio, a non-profit based in New York that works collaboratively with local communities in Eastern Nepal to create the “Vertical University” project spanning an 8,000-meter vertical gradient from Koshi-Tappu (67 m) to Mount Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), the third tallest peak in the world. Her work has won numerous awards including the What Design Can Do Climate Action Challenge, the Energy Globe Award, the SEED Public Interest Design Award, UIAA Mountain Protection Award, and the Finalist for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. In 2019 she was selected as the Visiting Faculty Fellow for the Design for Spatial Justice Initiative at the University of Oregon. Here, she led an architectural studio focused on the design and development of a campus located in the lowest plains of the Vertical University in Koshi Tappu, home to over 5% of all world’s birds. She possesses degrees in Architecture, International Development, and Regeneration and Shelter after Disaster from Ryerson University, Toronto and Oxford Brookes University, UK. She has previously held the position of Senior Architect and Planner at Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP), Nigeria, where she worked with youth from the informal settlements of Port Harcourt on the “Human City Project”.
Rajeev K Goyal
Co-Founder & Board Chair
Born in Long Island, New York, Rajeev is the Co-Founder and Nepal Country Director of the KTK-BELT project. A graduate of Brown University, New York University School of Law and Cornell University, he is a lawyer, conservationist, and non-profit worker. At Cornell, as a masters student under Dr. Karim-Aly Kassam, his thesis focused on the concept of the 'Vertical University' for protecting indigenous knowledge and reducing ecosystem fragmentation. Between 2008 to 2011, he was the national coordinator of the 'Push for Peace Corps' Campaign, which helped increase the national budget of the Peace Corps by $60 million, the largest increase in its history. Rajeev's first book, ‘The Springs of Namje’ (Beacon Press, 2012), won the Paul D. Cowan Award for Non-Fiction. As a United Nations Volunteer (UNV), he worked for the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Kathmandu as a translator/interpreter. Rajeev worked as a consultant at the International Trade Center (ITC) in Geneva to help design their Youth and Trade program. There he also supported national environmental strategies for Myanmar and Burkina Faso. Rajeev is a recipient of the Eric Dean Bender Prize for Public Service from NYU Law School and the Franklin H. Williams Award from the Peace Corps.
KTK-BELT Nepal Country Director
Originally from eastern Nepal, Mr. Lingden comes to KTK-BELT with an extraordinary combination of credentials and experience. He possesses more than a decade of diverse professional experience in accounting, auditing, taxation, finance, management, consulting, law & governance. Prior to joining KTK-BELT, he served as a practicing chartered accountant for an array of clients across the NGO, INGO, academic, government, private, financial, and cooperative sectors. Passionate for education and ethics in governance, he has served as an expert consultant to the Government of Nepal, the then Ministry of Population & Environment, and various government agencies. He has worked as a finance expert in the Evaluation Team of the Social Welfare Council, the regulatory body of social organizations in Nepal. Mr. Lingden holds rich experience as a member of the Ethics Committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN), the apex regulatory body of auditors in Nepal. In addition, he works as a resource person of law at the ICAN and CCMA College. Also, he has served as a consultant for organizations across multiple fields. Mr. Lingden has completed his Chartered Accountancy Degree from the ICAN. Further, he holds an advocate license from the Nepal Bar Council and obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Studies from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is also currently a Ph.D. candidate.
SENIOR ADVISOR KTK-BELT
Stephanie Odegard has been involved in assisting developing countries to promote and preserve the traditional artisanal crafts since she served in the Peace Corps in Fiji in 1976. After working for the United Nations and the World Bank, she founded her revolutionary company renowned for its inspired designs, high production standards and creation of luxurious hand-knotted carpets. Now, an internationally recognized leader in contemporary design, Stephanie has garnered numerous accolades and awards that acknowledge both her design talents and her commitment to social progress and philanthropic accountability. In June 2001, the Peace Corps presented her with an award honoring a former volunteer who promotes international economic development, exemplifies respect for cultural diversity and provides a model workplace for employees. Stephanie Odegard seeks to preserve rare artistic traditions from around the world and has devoted her career to assisting artisans in developing countries promote and preserve their traditional crafts. Recognized as an international leader in contemporary design, she has expanded carpets to include finely crafted objects from regions outside Nepal and Tibet and has focused on preserving the ancient traditions which flourished during the Mughal period. Having consulted in craft sectors for 15 years, before starting her own business, she served in different nations around the world positioning her well to develop products not only in textiles but in furniture, accessories, and architectural fixtures. Stephanie gets the most excitement and inspiration working through new concepts using ancient traditional skills with designers, helping them realize their visions for interiors. Each unique piece is infused with a clear sense that the artist’s hand has been at work. Stephanie Odegard has been commissioned to re-create the entire interior surface of a mirrored glass room from a 17th-century Indian palace.
Scott Skinner, Esq.
Late Board Member and Former Treasurer
Scott was the Treasurer of KTK-BELT and also a co-founder of Phul Maya Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Vermont. He was the founding partner and an attorney in Biggam, Fox & Skinner law firm for over 20 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Scott served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal from 1964-1966 and had continuously engaged on charitable projects in the country since that time. Scott and his law partner Pat Biggam have fundraised and helped build five new primary schools in Bhedetar, numerous libraries, and water infrastructure projects.
Hom Prasad Lamsal
Hom Lamsal has served in the journalism field for over two decades in Nepal. Well known for his work with Radio Nepal and Image Channel, Lamsal currently is the news provider from the United States to Republica Media and Citizen Daily. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Khabarmala.com. Lamsal's journalistic work has focused deeply on the natural environment, biodiversity, migration, and community development. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and has held various high-level positions with the Federation of Nepali Journalists. Lamsal also serves as the NRNA ICC Co-Chair for the Media Committee. He lives between the United States and Kathmandu.
Sanjeev M. Sherchan
Senior Advisor KTK-BELT
Sanjeev M. Sherchan is the Director for Global Leadership Initiatives at the Asia Society. In this capacity, Sherchan is primarily responsible for conceptualizing and overseeing all aspects of the Society’s global initiatives. He joined the Asia Society in the fall of 2000 as a Program Assistant in the policy department. Prior to that, before returning to the United States for graduate studies in 1998, Sherchan worked as a consultant for PLAN International in Nepal. Sherchan has been a commentator on news and television programs and written op-eds on South Asia. In December 2008, he was one of the 60 National Democratic Institute (NDI) accredited foreign election monitors who observed voting and counting during Bangladesh’s Ninth Parliamentary Elections. He was deployed in the Jessore district in south western Bangladesh.Sherchan is a graduate of Baylor University in Texas; he received his M.A. in International Relations in 2000
Dr. Jules White
SENIOR ADVISOR KTK-BELT
Dr. Jules White is the Technical Director of KTK-BELT. He is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Vanderbilt University and the Art Editor of the American Center for Artists. He has been volunteering on the Bhedetar project since 2003 as a donor and strategic advisor. He is supporting KTK-BELT with innovative integration of GIS and Android technology into village knowledge management systems.
SENIOR ADVISOR KTK-BELT
Varun Saraf is the Chairman of the Saraf Foundation for Himalayan Traditions and Culture and founder of numerous social impact and business ventures.
Senior Advisor KTK-BELT
Robert is an environmental lawyer, sustainability advocate and supporter of conservation work. He is currently a Fellow at the Pace Energy and Climate Center and an advisor at The Sustainability Lab. He previously worked for over five years on renewable energy development in Africa, breaking ground on first-of-their-kind solar and battery projects. He has also worked in the IUCN Mission to the United Nations in support of biodiversity and illegal wildlife trafficking agreements. Robert is a graduate of Tulane University, Washington University School of Law and has recently received an LL.M. in climate and energy law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law
Outdoor Education Consultant
Shirine holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the George Washington University and comes to us with over ten years of experience in science education. She is primarily based in the United Arab Emirates and her experience includes work with academic publisher, McGraw-Hill Education and the World Wide Fund for Nature ( WWF), where her focus was environmental education and citizen science. She is incredibly passionate about the environment and believes the only way to live harmoniously with nature is to provide people with the appropriate tools and knowledge to do so.
WETLAND RESTORATION CONSULTANT
Swapnil has over 12 years of experience in leading conservation and development programs in South Asia, Hindu Kush Himalaya, Africa, and Europe. He holds Masters in Ecology from Pondicherry Central University, India, and M Phil in Conservation Leadership from University of Cambridge, UK. Over the years, he has served in different capacities with local, regional, national, and international agencies working on climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation, ecological agriculture. Recently he was Regional Program Officer for Kailash Sacred Transboundary Landscape Program between India, Nepal, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China where he was instrumental in bringing policy and practice changes on managing the biodiversity in high altitude areas of the Himalayas. He is well-travelled, has worked on marine turtles, Asian mega faunas, and grassland birds of the Deccan plateau. In 2020, he established the GroundUp Conservation, a consulting firm, that strengthens the organizational capacities of non-profits in South Asia. He is currently working on digital transformation in the agriculture sector of Nepal, and establishing a for-profit social enterprise for the indigenous community in India. With KTK BELT he has been associated since 2016, and currently assisting in the wetland restoration program of Koshi Tappu Learning Grounds.
Tula B Kandel
Legal Advisor and Government Relations Coordinator
Tula Bahadur Kandel is a practicing attorney in Nepal Since 2000, he has served as an advocate of the court. Mr. Kandel completed his LLM from Kathmandu School of Law. Beside his legal practice Mr. Kandel has worked as consultant to various national and international organisations and also worked as a project director on a project of Nepal Bar Association and Canadian Bar Association in support of the First Constitutional Assembly of Nepal. Mr. Kandel specializes in establishing businesses for foreigner entities and immigration law. He has worked for numerous NGOs and INGOs on human rights and other issues.
DINESH KUMAR CHAUDHARI
Karnali Zone Facilitation Coordinator
Dinesh Kumar Chaudhari, born in Jajarkot District of Karnali Province, completed his Master's Degree in Rural Development from Mahendra Multiple Campus in Nepalgunj. Holding 17 years’ experience in the development sector, he has worked with various INGOs and NGOs in Nepal, and also to strengthen the sector. For 9 years he was a Central Committee Member of the NGO Federation of Nepal, at one point serving as the main representative for all civil society partners. He has also been a writer and journalist speaking about regional social and environmental issues. At KTK-BELT, he is assisting with scaling out of the Learning Grounds/Vertical University core concept in the Karnali through partnerships with local leaders and grassroots stakeholders. He is an avid traveler, reader, and bird watcher.
UPPER BELT CONSERVATION COORDINATOR
Mohan is currently working on the Lumbasumba conservation project as an ecologist. He is originally from Syangja district with a master’s degree in Botany with a specialization in 'Ecology and Resource Management' from the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University. He is interested in research related to endangered plant species, use and harvesting patterns of wild plant resources, local ethnobotanical knowledge, impact study and management of invasive plant species, climate change, and conservation. He holds 5 years' experience in long-term vegetation monitoring, biodiversity conservation, invasive alien plant species, documentation of ethnobotanical knowledge, and other aspects of ecology. During research projects, he has worked in various districts across Nepal including the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL), Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL), and Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL).
Shankar is a qualified member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). He also possesses a Bachelor's degree in Business Studies from Tribhuwan University and currently is pursuing his masters. Before joining KTK BELT, he had over three years of experience in an Audit Firm, R.K. Associates, Chartered Accountants as a Senior Auditor conducting the internal/external audits & handling the accounting assignments of various organizations having diverse objectives including NGOs/INGOs, projects, hospitals & others. He has been working with KTK-BELT since October 2016.
Lasta Maharajan joined KTK-BELT in 2020 as the Finance and Reporting Officer. She possesses MBS and BBS from Tribhuvan University. She has extensive experience working in the NGO and private sector. Most notably she's worked as an auditor at BRS Neupane & amp Co. for two years where she audited many INGOs, commercial banks, insurance companies, and private companies. Her endeavor in the INGO sector extended when she worked as an internal auditor intern in Save the Children where she worked with quite a few local partners and government organizations for a year in various districts of Nepal. She is currently working towards her ACCA certification. Having worked extensively with diverse people in numerous places, she is also into paper arts like origami, quilling, and drawing mandalas to unwind herself.
Outdoor Education, Media & Indigenous Knowledge Program Officer
Ganga Limbu, a 25-year-old girl, was the first youth fellow of KTK-BELT working in the areas of participatory mapping, social research, and environmental education. Today, she serves as a full-time staff as an IT, GIS, and Landscape design officer. She graduated in Bachelors of Education in Mahendra Multiple Campus, Dharan. She was born in a large family in Mukten village of Bhedetar VDC. Since she was young, she has received scholarships from Phulmaya Foundation and most recently received a scholarship for her Bachelor's degree. She’s currently living in Satisale village, Yangshila. Along with doing research in conservation, she is fluent in ArcGIS, QGIS, AutoCAD, Sketchup, Adobe Suite, and other software.
Middle BELT Conservation Officer
He is wildlife enthusiast and researcher currently working on Lumbasumba project. Holding a master’s degree in Environmental Science from Central Department of Environmental Science, Tribhuvan University and previous experience in the wildlife studies at different elevational gradients of Nepal is fundamental source of competence to achieve a wildlife conservationist and researcher position in this organization. Assisting in two PhD studies particularly on dietary analysis of herbivores and carnivores species, worked and volunteered in organizations like NTNC and WWF has enhanced his capabilities and further motivated to acquire in-depth knowledge on faunal diversity.
Gopal Magar is a very dedicated and hardworking individual born in Baraha Chhetra VDC ward no 4 Sunsari. He has 34 years of driving experience. He went to Iraq and stayed there for two years and Kuwait for 6 years and worked as a driver. For the last 3 years he has been engaged with the Vertical University Project of KTK-BELT and has been serving as the driver to reach different project sites. He likes to work for environmental conservation and agriculture-related projects.
Dr. Kamal Bawa
Advisory Council Co-Chair
Kamal Bawa is Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Founder-President of ATREE. Professor Bawa has published more than 200 scientific papers and 11 authored or edited books and monographs. Among the many awards he has received include the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (2009), Charles Bullard (twice 1972, 2010) and Maria Moore Cabot Fellowships (1973) at Harvard University, Guggenheim Fellowship (1987), Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment (1992), the world’s first prize in sustainability--the Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science from the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), and the international MIDORI Prize in Biodiversity (2014) from the Aeon Foundation in Japan at the United Nations Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Dr. Bawa is an elected fellow of several science academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012), the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), and Royal Society of London (2015). He has headed or served on a number scientific panels, and he currently serves on the governing boards of several national and international organizations. His second coffee-table book, Himalaya: Mountains of Life, a sequel to Sahyadris: India’s Western Ghats was published in January 2013. www.kbawa.com
Mark van Doesburgh
Mark has been active in the impact investment space for the last 18 year both at Oxfam Novib as head of the financial services unit and as a co-founder of Triple Jump where he served as a managing director for more than 10 years. Triple Jump is providing loans, equity, and advisory services to financial institutions and funds in more than 60 developing countries. Currently, Mark is on the board of two financial institutions in these countries and is, in addition, advising on the structuring of impact funds in the renewable energy and smallholder farmer space.
Scott leads the bird conservation initiatives of the International Conservation Fund of Canada in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. For forty years, he has devoted his career to the conservation of migratory shorebirds and globally endangered birds. Scott has over forty years of experience protecting birds and their habitats, habitat restoration, bird-centric eco-tourism, and the engagement of local and indigenous communities in support of longterm conservation efforts. As part of this work he has lectured nationwide, published research papers and guidance manuals, led professional workshops, and appeared as an expert witness in legal hearings.
Adewale Ajadi is a facilitator, coach, and change agent with over twenty years of experience working with people, organizations, and communities. He is a qualified barrister and holds an MSc in international business economics. He recently led a program to reduce the incidence of mass violence in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. He delivers leadership training for the African Leadership Center in Nairobi. He developed the Framework for Excellence in Equality and Diversity (FEED), an international framework for organizations engaging the complex challenges of equality and diversity. He is currently the Country Director for Synergos in Nigeria, an institute dedicated to developing effective, sustainable, and indigenous solutions to global poverty.
William T. Dowell
William Thatcher Dowell is a renowned author, journalist, translator and editor/producer. Between 1989 to 2001, Bill served as a correspondent with Time Magazine, where he was the Southeast Asia Bureau Chief from 1995 to 1997, based in Hong Kong. He spent 14 years in the Paris Bureau as a contract stringer, and prior to that was a TV correspondent for ABC News and NBC News, where he reported on and Associate Producer of NPR's "All Things COnsidered." Bill is the co-authored of In the Shadow of the Dragon, with Winter Nie at IMD. Most recently he was the co-editor of The Essential Edge.
Jay R. Halfon, Esq
Jay R. Halfon is a practicing attorney and public policy strategist. He represents tax-exempt organizations, including public charities,private foundations, advocacy groups and political entities. He has a broad range of experience influencing public policy in both Congress and state legislatures. Mr. Halfon served as executive director and general counsel of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association from May 1998 to December 2001. Previously he was executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) for a decade ending in 1997. He serves on the Board of numerous foundations including 350.org.
NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati
NayanTara is a photographer, curator, and arts manager based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Her work seeks to embrace themes such as change, identity, gender, and history within the context of ‘the New Nepal’. She enjoys working across platforms to connect visuals, sound, research, education, activism; using storytelling as an underlying approach. In 2007, she co-founded photo.circle, a photography platform that has facilitated learning, networking, publishing, marketing and other opportunities for Nepali photographers. In 2010, she co-founded the Nepal Picture Library; a digital photo archive that strives to document a ground-up history of the Nepali people.
Vertical Biodiversity Fund
BHOJ KUMAR KAFLE
Bhoj Kumar Kafle is a 47 years old community member from Kurule-Tenupa. Since a young age, he has been actively involved in the betterment of his community through volunteering in Women’s Empowerment organization, Help Group West. He also has four years of teaching experience and was nominated as the Chairperson of the School Management Committee in Janakalyan Secondary School, Kurule. He is a Lifetime Member of the Nepal Red Cross Society. Past 4 years he has been engaged and volunteering in the KTK BELT Project. He is also the founding Director of Tamur Permaculture Learning Grounds, another partner organization of KTK-BELT. He has been a successful entrepreneur as well. He has been interested in doing social work and agriculture-related work and received training in organic agriculture and permaculture.
RAJ KUMAR SINGH
Chairperson, Koshi Tappu Learning Grounds
Born in Koshi Tappu, Rajkumar Singh is one of the senior-most nature guides of the Reserve. Rajkumar believes deeply in the potential of Koshi Tappu to become one of the preeminent bird reserves in the world and has advocated for its funding for over 18 years. As the chairperson of Kushaha-Lauki Citizen's Committee, he is responsible for ensuring the balance between people and nature across the 173 km2 buffer zone, which has a population of 80,000 people, many of whom live below the poverty line. Rajkumar Singh has participated in species population surveys for the Wild Water Buffalo, Swamp Francolin, Bengal Florican, and Water Birds. He is actively engaged in landscape restoration projects and youth awareness campaigns in the schools of Paschim Kushaha. During his tenure at KTK-BELT, he has played a critical role in the acquisition of a 40-acre property, organized high-level meetings at Koshi Tappu with state and local governing bodies, and led all aspects of a major Bengal Florican Survey in Koshi Tappu.
Bonod Puri is an employee at Everything Organic Nursery (EVON). He has been leading on the research of high value nuts and fruits plants and biointensive farming. He has been working on Agricultural field and promoting organic farming for 30 years. His motivation is to spread knowledge all over the country about organic farming, the side effect of pesticides on soil and the human body. So he wants to promote organic farming which will be helpful for the next generation. Past 2 years he has been working with KTK-BELT as a Vertical Farm Consultant and providing different training to the farmers of Yangshila and Kurule. Along with the team he has been leading demonstrations of bio-intensive farming across the Vertical Univesity Gradient.
TIKA RAM RANA
Mr. Tika Ram Rana is originally from Kerabari Gaonpalika- 2, Morang. He worked in Saudi Arabia for 2 years as a plumber in a private company before working in Qatar for 2 years in a supermarket where his role was to display good. After returning from overseas, he took a 5-days permaculture training in Yangshila after which he was hooked on farming. Now, he is working in Maharaje farm as an Agriculture Youth Fellow with KTK-BELT.
At age 21, Amrita is one of the youngest youth fellows currently engaged with KTK-BELT. She belongs to the local Sardar community living within the buffer zone area of Koshi Tappu. Amrita, despite being married and a mother, is very much career-oriented. She really believes that youth, in particular, young women need to be empowered to lead community projects. She has been learning about endangered birds of Koshi and also working towards its conservation.
Sabita Bhujel is originally from Kerabari Morang. As a youth fellow, Sabita has been working with KTK-BELT for over a year. Last year in collaboration with three other youth fellows she worked to scale a pangolin conservation campaign where they directly engaged over 1300 stakeholders across 16 community forests, 7 schools, and 1 rural municipality. In the duration of six months, this team also engaged local communities to collect stories and folktales of pangolins. She really believes that media can be used as a tool to contribute towards conservation.
Sushila Bishwakarma is a 21 years old individual and the youngest child in a large family. Her family has an agricultural background. She is currently pursuing her final year in her B.Ed at Sukuna Multiple Campus. She has been working in the non-profit sector on child rights issues and gender empowerment issues. She likes reading, volunteering for social work, visiting natural landscapes and also learning computer programs. She worked on a seven month long pangolin conservation campaign.
Nishan Bista is a 21 years old hardworking young person from Kerabari Gaunpalika. As the eldest son in his family, he has learned to be responsible at a young age. He’s currently pursuing a Bachelors in Mahendra Multiple Campus in Dharan. He is very dedicated to his work and duties. He is interested in learning computer programs and visiting new places. Previously he worked as a pangolin conservation youth fellow in Namuna Parmakalchar Learning Grounds and now he has been appointed again from Vertical Biodiversity Fund as a youth fellow.
Hiralal Sardar is a 51-year old dedicated forest guard who comes from Paschim Kushaha in Sunsari district. He is the sole guardian for protecting the 40-acre Paschim Kusha Biodiversity Sanctuary. Belonging to a humble background without any formal education Mr. Sardar has grown up working as a farm hand on others’ farms and transporting goods by ox cart. However, after being a part of the Koshi Tappu Conservation Project he is very excited to work as a guard and protect the habitat from any human interference. It is his first venture in the conservation field.
Learning Grounds Team
YANGSHILA LEARNING GROUNDS TEAM MEMBERS
A community member of Yangshila VDC, Kumar Bishwakarma is a dedicated fourth grade teacher, medicinal plants expert, and a passionate environmentalist. In 2013, under his leadership KTK-BELT’s local partner, YPLG was formed as a non-profit company. He has been voluntarily working for the cause for 2 years to mobilize the community, build the land assets for the project, and tirelessly work towards bridging the gap between conservation and education. He is a trained permaculture designer and an advocate for children and science education.
HOSPITALITY AND COOKING FELLOW
Dilamya Mahat is a mother of three children. They live in Satishale but on government land. Although socio-economically marginalized, she’s extremely hardworking and bright. She’s currently learning how to write in English so she can start using computers and developing budgets and write reports.
Dhopkya Learning Grounds
Mingma Dandu Lama
Chair, Dhokpya Learning Grounds
Mingma Dandu Lama, born in Simbuk, Mikhwakhola-5, Taplejung possesses over 20 years of leadership experience in the social service sector. Currently serving as the Personal Secretary to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Mingma Dandu has served as Founding Chairman of Topkegola Social Service Committee, Chair of Mikhwakhola Service Committee, and Treasurer of Taplejung Concern Center.
Originally from Mikwakhola – 5, Pasang Sherpa is a former president of NEFIN and former member of the constitution assembly from the Taplejung district. He holds more than two decades of experience in advocacy for Indigenous people’s rights and related social activities. He has traveled a dozen countries that include his participation twice in the UN Conference of Indigenous Rights in New York and Nagoya University’s conference entitled ‘Indigenous People and Biodiversity Conservation’. Mr. Pasang is now a central committee member of the NCP and vice-president of the NCP’s Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation. He is now a senior advisor of DLG/VBF and also leading the Dhokpya Ramsar and Roadless Tourism Initiative.
Dandu Dhokpa, originally from Papung, is the former Vice President of NEFIN. He is the founder of the Topkegola Welfare Society and holds more than 20 years of social and volunteer experience on behalf of the community. He currently serves as a council member of the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFDIN) Chaired by Prime Minister, President of the Environmental Coalition of Indigenous Nationalities (Network), Executive Member of the Segyued Buddhist Monastery Kathmandu, Advisor to the Sodhu Pokhori Conservation Committee Taplejung, and Executive Advisory Board Member of the Forest Carbon Trust Fund (Funded by Norad).
Dawa Sangbu Sherpa
Secretary, Dhokpya Learning Grounds
Dawa Sangbu worked in the animal husbandry and agriculture occupation in his native Simbuk, Taplejung from 1993 to 1998. He currently serves as the General Secretary of Topkegola Welfare Society. For many years, Dawa Sangbu has worked actively as a social worker on behalf of the Dhokpya community by conducting campaigns in support of local culture and tradition, and organizing projects for the reconstruction and preservation of cultural heritage sites in Taplejung. For a period of time, he was a self-employed entrepreneur running a mobile shop in Boudha, Kathmandu. He has been involved in the Gunsha Foundation as a Board Member working on health projects.
Mingma Kami Sherpa
Board Member, Dhokpya Learning Grounds
Born in Mikhwakhola-5, Sanba, Mingma Kami Sherpa has a long history serving as a trekking guide and tourism entrepreneur. Fluent in Dhokpya, Sherpa and Limbu languages, he has traveled around the world to Singapore, China, Germany, Japan and the United States. Mingma Kami serves as a member of the National Lake Conservation Development Committee under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, His social service on behalf of the Dhokpya community spans many decades, having served as the Chairperson of Topkegola Social Welfare Committee, Secretary of Taplejung Samaj Nepal, and a Life Member of Taplejung Concern Center.
Hisse Sherpa, born in Simbuk, is a vice-president of the Tokpegola Welfare Society. She has been involved in indigenous people’s rights and social service sector as a committee member of NEFIN, a member of Taplejung Sarokar Kendra, and a member of Mikwakhola Sahayog Samiti. Currently studying BBS, she has also participated in various workshops, seminars, discussion programs and led social programs in her native village Simbuk.
Admin, and Finance Officer, DLG
Roshani, who belongs to Sirijunga-6 Taplejung, has a bachelor's degree in economics and is currently pursuing a master's degree in social science. She worked for the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council as a social mobilizer from 2010 to 2013, then as a program supervisor from 2013 to 2016, and finally as a program coordinator from 2016 to 2018. She has also worked as a Finance Associate in REED Nepal in Taplejung for more than a year. She began working with DLG in 2021 as an administrative and financial officer.
Youth Fellow, DLG
Hindukpa Sherpa is from Mikwakhola Rural Municipality's Simbuk village. He has been involved in a variety of community projects at the village level and is passionate about protecting biocultural heritage and indigenous knowledge. He has also participated in many workshops, and discussion programs, and led social activities in Simbuk. He also has experience in assisting different administrative work in Mikhkwakhola Rural Municipality. He is now working as a youth fellow.
Chhung Phuti Sherpa
Youth Fellow, DLG
Chhung Phuti is from Mikhwakhola Rural Municipality's Simbuk village. She has completed higher secondary level education from Balden HSS, Taplejung. She now works as a DLG Youth Fellow and is passionate about social work, photography, videography, and travel. Her job involves assisting with sensitization and awareness campaigns, the video documenting indigenous knowledge, and coordinating works at the local level.
Phupu Chhiring Sherpa
Youth Fellow, DLG
Phupu Chhiring, a DLG Youth Fellow, is a highly motivated local youth from Miklanem, Taplejung. He has completed his secondary education at Balden HSS. He is passionate about biodiversity protection, indigenous knowledge documentation, and sustainable livelihoods. He has also worked as a forest guardian for five years in a Red Panda Network. Including other fellows, his responsibility is to assist in data collection, sensitization, coordination, and program implementation at the local level.
SANKHUWASABHA LEARNING GROUNDS
Karma Bhutia is an advisor to KTK-BELT and the founder of Sankhuwasabha Learning Grounds. He is currently a Program Director at The Mountain Institute. He holds a Bachelor degree in Social Science and has over 15 years experience in community development and natural resource management. For the last 5 years, Mr Bhutia has been working on the MAPs cultivation techniques and has empowered 2000 individual farmers to double their income through this technique in Illam district. He will be closely working with our agriculture team, in particular Wangchu Bhutia, to train local farmers in medicinal plants cultivation. He will be working directly on the BELT campaign by expanding the project to Sankhuwasabha VDC.
WANG CHEDDAR LAMA
Wang Chhedar Lama is currently working in Lumba Sumba conservation Project / Sankhuwasabha learning ground (SLG) as district coordinator From March 2018. He is originally from Sankhuwa Sabha district Bhotkhola -4 (Siprung) with a bachelor degree in Education and an ongoing Master degree on Rural Development faculty From Dhankuta multiple campuses. He has work experience of 17 years on Climate change, Forest management, write up OP/constitution of CFUG, Forest inventory, GIS/GPS, Good Governance, Biodiversity and environment conservation sector. During his project period, he has worked in the very remote area of the different district (Solukhombhu, Taplejung, and Sankhuwasabha).
SENIOR SOCIAL MOBILIZER
Kamala Rai, originally from Chasuwatar, Pawakhola is a Senior Social Mobilizer at SLG. She has experience over 8 years as a social mobilizer in FECOFUN and also worked in a field of women empowerment program for 18 months and natural resource conflict transformation program for 6 years. Mrs. Kamala is more interested in documentation of local culture, flora, and fauna.
Tsering is a 28-year-old energetic youth from Pawakhola. Currently, working as an office helper in a local school, he is an enthusiast of learning and exploring new things. He has been practicing pastoralist in higher elevations of Pawakhola since his childhood and well known about landscape, flora, and fauna. His role is to give technical assistance in camera trap setting and wildlife monitoring.
SOCIAL MOBILIZER LCP PROJECT
Khija Bhote, a 53-year-old social worker from Chyamtang village in Sankhuwasabha, is the Secretary of the Chomolungma Community Forest User Group. Mr. Bhote is well known for his contributions to society, culture, landscapes, and trail building in his native Chepuwa VDC. He has worked as a social mobilizer for the Upper Arun Valley Development and Conservation Society and as a social mobilizer in Lumbasumba Conservation Project.
KURULE-TENUPA LEARNING GROUNDS
Lokendra Bahadur Yakha, a highly skilled farmer and local leader, is the Chairman of Tamur Learning Grounds. In 2015, he became a spokesperson for Climate + Change, raising awareness globally about devastating localized impacts of climate change on spring systems in the middle hills of Nepal. Mr. Yakha is also an indigenous leader of the vanishing Yakha ethnic group of Nepal, and is trained in permaculture design.