27 May Meet the Team!
It’s time to meet the team behind The Wandering Samaritan! We realize it’s always nice to have faces to put to the names, so please let us take a moment to introduce ourselves.
JASON MANDL, Founder & Executive Director [Brooklyn, NY]
Jason is originally from New York City. He got a degree in business administration from Emory University in Atlanta and spent nearly a decade in California before returning to NYC. Along the way he has been to 39 countries and hiked more than 500 miles in various mountain ranges, often solo. Working in multiple industries, from corporate business to independent film to multiple startups, he has always searched for a way to deepen his impact on the global community. Stemming from a plethora of local international experiences, a chance visit to a poorly supplied orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and his unique mix of operational and creative background, the idea for The Wandering Samaritan was born. Jason feels at home in tall mountains with a backpack.
VEENA RANGASWAMI, Program Manager [Cordova, TN]
Veena grew up in Arkansas and got her degree in History from Rhodes College in Memphis. After college she spent the better part of 5 years in Bangalore, working for an NGO and traveling as much as she could around India, before returning to US to get her Masters from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. After spending some months traveling and pretending to look for jobs, Veena was introduced to Jason via a mutual friend and has been helping to get The Wandering Samaritan off the ground. She is excited about connecting travelers to good deeds around the world and is looking forward to helping Samaritans get the most out of their travels. In her “spare time”, Veena enjoys reading all sorts of books, cheering on her sports teams, writing, and attempting to train for half marathons. She is waiting for the day she can return to India, to wander once again amongst the ruins and jungles.
KELLY SULLIVAN, Social Media & Community Manager [Long Beach, NY]
Kelly grew up playing soccer in sunny south Florida and went on to earn her degree in Public Relations from University of Florida. After graduation, Kelly moved to NY and spent a year traveling around the US and Europe. After spending the last 10 years working way too many ‘real jobs’ and realizing she’d rather spend her money on travel than fancy suits for work – Kelly has figured out that her true passion lies in experiencing the world and helping people wherever she can. Kelly is very involved with her local Long Beach community where she is a co-founder of a grassroots group called Project Pay It Forward, formed in the wake of SuperStorm Sandy to help the local businesses recover in their storm ravaged beachside town. When one of her previous coworkers, Jason, reached out to her about his vision for The Wandering Samaritan, she was stoked to have found someplace she could feed her passion (while still being stuck at work).
LORETTA CHEUNG, Social Media Consultant [Washington, DC]
Loretta had the travel bug implanted in her after her first travels with her sister at 16. While in college she spent a summer in San Pedro, Belize, hosting a science camp for children to learn about the wealth of benefits coral reefs provide to the community. This initiative was born from the desire of a professor who frequently traveled for research to give back, in small, big and unknown ways, to the communities we touch when we travel. This notion, recurring time and again throughout Loretta’s travels, stuck with her and led her to support the mission of The Wandering Samaritan.
Loretta graduated from Smith College (Bachelor’s) and Columbia University (Masters) and is currently working in DC at an environmental think tank on illegal logging issues. When not tweeting, Loretta enjoys hiking through national parks, stumbling upon cool coffee shops, and playing with her curious dog, Keiko (all while instagram-ing, of course).
ERIN WELLS, Board Member, Chair [New York, NY]
After splitting her childhood between Upper Montclair, NJ and New York, NY, Erin went to Oberlin College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history. Within several years, she also received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) with high distinction. She has worked in residential design with the firm Ageloff & Associates since 2002, teaches at NYSID, and serves as Co-President of the Alumni Council. Throughout her life, Erin’s passion has been travel. She has had the opportunity to study in and explore much of Europe and Southeast Asia. Her bags are always packed and her next trip is somewhere she has never been. She is thrilled to join The Wandering Samaritan to inspire other travelers with wanderlust to contribute to the world in unique and humanitarian ways as they navigate the globe. In her spare time, Erin loves kayaking, drinking smoky whiskies, great music and swing dancing.
VIVEK RANJAN, Board Member, Treasurer
Hailing from Patna, in the state of Bihar, India, Vivek studied in boarding schools located in the pristine foothills of the Himalayas. He moved to the United States to pursue a BS in Computer Science from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. He joined Deutsche Bank in New York whilst completing a Certificate in Financial Risk Management from New York University. He is currently at Credit Suisse working in the Equities division, delivering cutting edge products and services to the firm’s hedge fund and institutional clients. Vivek has been a regular volunteer for New York Cares, Food Bank of New York City, Child Relief and You, FIRST Lego League, etc.
The Wandering Samaritan is the confluence of his passion for traveling the world and giving back to society. Vivek’s hobbies include camping and trekking, active sports, and rooting for the New York Giants and the Indian cricket team.
TOM JENNINGS, Board Member [Los Angeles, CA]
Tom Jennings is a multi-award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist. He has written, produced, and directed more than 400 hours of programming for networks such as CBS, National Geographic Channel, PBS, The Travel Channel, the new 3D channel, 3NET, and more. Tom’s work ranges from politics and religion to history, crime, sports, mystery, and travel. He has produced documentary films all around the globe, from major world capitals to some of the most remote places on earth, always looking for new ways to tell stories that are informative and entertaining. Tom currently has two completed feature documentaries, Out of Left Field and 20,000 Miles on a Horse. The former recently won the award for Best Cultural Exchange Film at the Chinese American Film Festival and is currently in development to become a scripted, theatrical film.
Tom’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and acknowledgements over the years, including the prestigious Peabody Award for his film about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He began his career as a print journalist, writing for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Associated Press. In 1994, Tom was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for a series of articles about fraud in the California State Disability Insurance office. The series created massive change in how California does business and wound up saving tax payers tens of millions of dollars.
Tom is excited about sharing his experiences and his expertise as part of The Wandering Samaritan’s Board of Directors.
JANE WELLS, Advisory Group Member [Memphis, TN]
A native of Richmond, VA, Jane has been in Memphis and at Rhodes College for almost 15 years. As a student at Rhodes, Jane studied Psychology and Sociology but spent most of her time playing varsity field hockey and softball. Jane is in her 10th year as Head Coach of the field hockey team at Rhodes, a 10-month position that allows her time to explore the world in the summers. She likes to give back during her travels and has done summer volunteer stints at NGOs in Cambodia, India, Uganda/Kenya, and Guatemala, with plans to head to Brazil this summer. She also co-founded Team Rhodes, a group that raised over $80,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital last year. Jane hopes to utilize her fundraising experience as well as draw from her global adventures in her position on the Wandering Samaritan Advisory Group. Outside of work, volunteering, and travel, anything outdoors and active can hold Jane’s attention, including running, cycling, hiking, team sports, and golf.
We are excited about being a part of The Wandering Samaritan and sharing this crazy ride with all of you!
Happy travels from all of us at TWS!