Category: Our Team

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies around the world to reevaluate their structure and ramp up their virtual skillsets and knowhow. As a result, Solimar International has used these newfound techniques to build out its Virtual Sustainable Tourism Internship Program and create a fully remote program where aspiring sustainable tourism practitioners from all over the world can work closely with our staff and contribute to our many projects. For the Spring 2021 semester, we are proud to introduce a diverse and creative cohort that comes to us from four different countries. These bright young-minds will play a pivotal role in Solimar’s projects based in Southern Tanzania, The Republic of Georgia, Timor-LesteTobago, and here in the United States along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Anastasia Vepkhvadze

Anastasia is finishing up her final semester at American University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a Spanish Translation certification. Anastasia was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. In addition to her first language of Georgian, Anastasia speaks English, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic. Anastasia loves to travel and explore new cultures, and she spent an incredible semester studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco. She is interested in exploring careers in international development and peace and global conflict resolution. She is excited to learn more about sustainable tourism and gain real world experience in the field.


Mason Meadows

Mason is a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in Public Relations. Prior to joining the Solimar International team, Mason lived in Australia where he spent his winters working alongside the indigenous Jawoyn People at Nitmiluk National Park, and his summers living in the city of Melbourne and backpacking Southeast Asia. Previously, Mason served as Sponsorship Coordinator for the international nonprofit Children of Uganda, and as an AmeriCorps NCCC Team Leader based in Denver, Colorado. Mason is a passionate thrifter, avid adventurer, and strong believer in the power of using sustainable practices to minimize negative environmental, economic and cultural impacts. Mason plans to use his experience with Solimar International as a stepping stone towards a career in Ecotourism.


Nino Chkhaberidze

Nino is passionate about travel and believes that sharing culture and creating new connections makes life better. Therefore, she is determined to further spread the idea of sustainable tourism and see how tourism changes in this digital world. Last year, Nino started a project Sight Georgia to share the information through a website about travel and culture in Georgia in hopes of inspiring people to travel in Georgia and discover amazing spots, heartwarming hospitality and experience unforgettable moments. Previously, she has been working as an event manager and a project coordinator for several years in the tourism industry with experience in marketing. She was also a travel consultant for Swiss travel agency for 5 years. Nino holds a BSc in Social Science and Governance and is currently an Orange Knowledge Program fellow doing master studies in Tourism, Society and Environment at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Marco Ramazzotti

Marco is at his last semester of the Master’s in Tourism within the Global Tourism Development track at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Denmark. Originally from a small town in central Italy, he moved to Denmark right after high school to pursue his dream studies. Marco has always been interested in venturing out his comfort zone and in learning new cultures thus, he spent every bit of free time travelling around Europe and ended up deciding to spend a semester in Barcelona, Spain where he deepened his knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. Sustainability in tourism development has become a great interest of his and he hopes to build a career supporting destinations worldwide in their effort to become more sustainable.


Cailey Heffley

Cailey is a graduate of the University of Limerick with a masters degree in International Tourism. She also holds an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York College at Geneseo in International Relations and Geography. Her love of travel and adventure led her to work on small expedition ships after college, sailing everywhere from Alaska to Antarctica. Following graduate school she pursued this passion for outdoor travel and began working in field operations for an active travel company. This work allowed her to experience life in some of the world’s leading tourist destinations including Jackson Hole, Hawaii, and the South of France. While she relishes her nomadic lifestyle she always finds her way back home to Upstate New York where she spends most of her time eating and working at her family’s restaurant. She is looking to blend her experiences in hospitality, operations, development, and outdoor recreation to help destinations make tourism work for both the environment and the local community.

Hannah Garland

Hannah is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. While studying at Pitt, Hannah earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication along with a minor in History and a certificate in Spanish. Hannah enjoys traveling and being outdoors. She has been to many National and State Parks within the US, as well as in Ireland, Italy, and Canada. While in Ireland, Hannah experienced her first taste of Geotourism and is looking forward to furthering her knowledge of the intricacies of Geotourism.



Shelby Amato

Shelby is a senior at George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs. Shelby is originally from Lexington, Kentucky where she discovered her passion for environmental sustainability and social justice. Prior to joining the Solimar International team, Shelby has worked with nonprofits, including Sister Cities International and Feeding Kentucky, and as a research assistant on projects pertaining to gender and climate resilience.
Shelby plans to pursue environmental law and use her experience with Solimar International as an important step toward a career in equitable international development.


Daniela Mastronardi

Daniela is a junior at The George Washington University pursuing a degree in International Affairs, with minors in Geography and Italian Language and Literature. She is excited to gain valuable experience in tourism development, as this internship ties together two of her greatest passions: travel and sustainable development. Daniela is eager to learn more about how tourism can promote a better livelihood for local communities and hopes, in the future, to pursue a career in development consulting.



Amina Abrafi Ahmed

Abrafi is currently a graduate student studying Tourism Administration with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism at the George Washington University.  Her enthusiasm to develop tourism began in her final year when she was working on my thesis in her first degree.  It revealed that tourism is important and needs to be built into a developing nation’s industry. Prior to her masters, Abrafi ran a consultancy with a team who shared in the vision of improving tourist’s experience and sparking innovation to sustain and promote tourism in Africa. She looks forward to being a sustainable tourism expert and running a tourism institution in Africa that will train young people to master the intricacies of tourism development and train them to be entrepreneurs in the tourism industry. She believes that her experience with Solimar International is going to be a perfect fit in her career journey of being an expert in the tourism industry.

Maddy Hraber

Maddy is currently a sophomore at George Washington University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Health as well as a minor in sustainability. I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and love my city, so I’m very interested in learning more about how to attract people to great places like Pittsburgh! In the past I have been involved in laboratory research and various volunteer experiences, so I am excited to develop some consulting skills and learn more about business strategies. I hope to study abroad in my upcoming undergraduate years and fully pursue my love for traveling, and I’m anxious to learn all about what sustainable tourism has to offer!


Mehak Chadha

Mehak is a senior at American University pursuing degrees in International Relations and International Business with concentrations in international political economy, global health and environmental sustainability. At American University, Mehak explores her passion for advocating for others through her role as Director of the university’s Center for Advocacy and Student Equity, where she leads a team of 35 students to provide confidential consultations to students facing potential code violations and understanding university policies and procedures, alongside engaging in several advocacy initiatives to strengthen the student voice. Mehak also has a strong background in public relations and digital media through her previous internship at the Optical Society of America and the CORE Group. In addition to her experience in communications, Mehak  has also served as the Assistant Head Delegate for American University’s Model United Nations Team, where she was responsible for coaching delegates to compete in simulations and tackle current international issues. She also assisted delegates in conducting research and developing policy ideas, gathering knowledge of how to craft solutions in multiple realms of international affairs along the way.

Stephanie Romero

Stephanie RomeroStephanie is currently a senior at the University of Missouri, Columbia pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Parks, Recreation, Sport and Tourism with an emphasis in Tourism Development. Originally from Los Angeles, California, Stephanie actually started out with a career in teaching kindergarten. After realizing she could contribute to public service in a different way, Stephanie uprooted her life to pursue a degree in tourism, as travel has been a lifelong love of hers. Through road trips across state lines and country borders, Stephanie has gotten to know some of the oddest and charming destinations that most have never even imagined. With sustainable tourism, Stephanie hopes to bring what experience she’s gained as an educator to inform others about the merits of traveling outside their comfort zone, while shining a light on more deserving obscure destinations.

Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] if you are interested in joining our Summer 2021 Internship Cohort.

Solimar International is excited to introduce our Summer 2020 tourism intern cohort and future leaders of sustainable tourism development. Representing a mix of university students and recent graduates all pursuing a career in sustainable tourism, this group brings a plethora of global travel experience and will play an important role in supporting Solimar’s projects, research and communications efforts.

Matt Clausen

Matt is a current graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in International Sustainable Tourism at the University of North Texas. Matt grew up in central Missouri and completed his undergraduate studies in business administration at the University of Missouri – Columbia. In previous positions, Matt served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, taught English in the Republic of Georgia, and worked for the National Park Service. He enjoys all things adventure and the outdoors, from summiting mountains to mastering local public transportation abroad. Matt was drawn to Solimar for its emphasis and expertise on sustainable tourism and international development. Current and past projects with Solimar all pique his interest and he is excited to gain practical experience through working directly on projects. Matt places high importance on sustainable travel and conservation so that all may have the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the world for generations to come.


Rebecca Pierobon

Rebecca started her post baccalaureate career this year in London, as a business development analyst, and will intern with Solimar as she transitions to a Masters program in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Sustainable Tourism. Born and raised in Northern Italy’s bucolic Monferrato wine zone, she has been immersed in local tourism since childhood, helping her bicultural family with their accommodation  properties and guiding foreign guests through vineyards and villages. She volunteers with local organizations that orient incomers and work to develop responsible tourism in the land of Slow Food and Open Castles. Traveling in search of the world’s organic beauties is Rebecca’s passion, with regular trips to the Bahama Out Islands, around the USA and Europe. She plans to use her business skills and her Solimar experience to combine this passion with her future career path. “Who knows where it will lead me?”


Micaela Pacheco

Mica is from Potomac, Maryland. She is a rising senior at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Political Science and International Relations with a minor in European Studies. She has served as a Compliance Analyst for the G7 Research Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs for the Biarritz and Charlevoix Summit cycles. Through her work with the G7 Research Group, she researched and published four reports on the United State’s and France’s compliance on counter-terrorism and the European Union’s and Italy’s efforts in preventing and protecting the victims of sexual assault and harassment.

Through her international background and her studies, she became interested in the effects that tourism can have on developing economies. She is interested in the ways countries can combine industries in the efforts of increasing tourist prospects while also diversifying their economies. Her goal in life is to change a life, no matter how big or small that effect is. Thus, through the development of sustainable tourism plans, she truly feels that the long term impacts of such works will significantly affect people’s lives for the better.


Kari Barber

Kari grew up in Buckley, Washington, and moved to Missoula, Montana, in 2016. She is currently a student at the University of Montana, working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Geography with a Minor in Film. Since she was young, Kari has has been in love with lacrosse. Throughout high school, she worked for a local business in Buckley, Washington, called Total Sports, specializing in private lessons for men’s and women’s lacrosse. When she moved to Missoula and played for the University of Montana’s woman’s lacrosse team, she wanted to explore new avenues to continue to grow the game. During the last two seasons, Kari has coached youth lacrosse for the Missoula Mustangs and Sentinel High School.

As Kari writes, “When I came across Solimar International and their Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail program, I couldn’t believe the opportunity. I have studied hazard and mitigation planning, recreation, and visitor management and feel that Solimar International has given me a chance to combine my previous coursework and apply it to what they all have in prevalent, sustainable tourism. The idea of keeping the geographic character of a place alive while also promoting the extent of travel that anyone can experience is precisely why I am passionate about sustainable tourism.”


Sophie Levy

Sophie discovered her passion for sustainable tourism and development while hiking the Jordan Trail, a 400-mile trek spanning across 52 villages in Jordan. While on this solo thru-hike, she gained insight into the intersectionality of sustainable tourism, environment conservation, local engagement, and economic stability. A passionate writer, she journaled throughout her experience in hopes of articulating the stories and encouraging more women to embrace the challenges and benefits of traveling solo. She understood the value of human connection in the industry and the importance of grassroots tourism for both the traveler and local economy and community. She especially admires Solimar’s goal of implementing projects that would result in self-sufficiency, environmental protectionism, cultural preservation, and economic viability for local communities in tourism across the globe.

Born and raised in Germantown, Tennessee, Sophie grew up as an active member of her community. Invested in the Middle East, she spent two summers working abroad. In Israel, she was the Diversity and Social Justice Intern for Beit Ha’Gefen Arab-Jewish Culture Center and developed an intercultural curriculum for Israeli, Arab, and American youth. The following summer, she spearheaded a grant for Greening The Camps, a nonprofit that builds sustainable greenhouse gardens on the rooftops of Palestinian refugee camps. Additionally, she served as an English Instructor for Galaxy, a Jordanian nonprofit empowering marginalized communities through digital education. She is a recent graduate of American University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies focused on Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution and minored in Economics and Arabic.


Mary Hass

Mary is a History and English major at Northern Kentucky University. She has lived in Bellevue, KY for her entire life and this internship is my first real work experience. Though this is her first job, she has been involved in multiple creative projects, especially since joining Norse Film Society (her college’s film club).

 Mary wanted to get involved with Solimar and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail project because of her love of history and wanting to help make historical experiences more accessible. In her own words: “Following the path that Lewis and Clark took and stopping at historical sites and charming towns sounds like a dream vacation to me, so I was very excited the moment I heard about the internship. On a more philosophical level, I think that interactive history is very important because it instills a love for history in people, especially children, who might not have been interested otherwise. Perhaps if we can get future generations to be more interested in history, we can stop them from repeating historical mistakes. I also strongly believe in sustainable tourism because I think that tourism should help local communities and that people can learn a lot from experiencing cultures and ways of life other than their own.”


Caecilia Shenshen He

Caecilia is a cultural and heritage tourism lover that fell deeply in love with travelling at a very young age. As a backpacker, she visited South Korea, China, Myanmar, Hongkong, Tibet, India, Morocco, USA, Canada, Spain and other less popular destinations. She was born in China and grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She started her career in tourism more than 10 years ago as a tour guide while studying at McGill University. She has 10 years of experience in tourism operation and tourism consulting between China and Canada. Caecilia has her BA in Accounting from McGill University and is a current student at Master in Tourism Administration program at The George Washington University with a major in sustainable destination management.

In her own words: “In order to protect destination communities and sustain cultural heritage destinations for future generations, my true passion is to help cultural heritage destinations around the world to be developed in a sustainable way. Since Solimar is a leading sustainable tourism consulting firm, I could learn about good practice experiences that can help destinations in improving sustainably. In addition, the most important reason to attract me to intern at Solimar is the Solimar Team, who are the group of expertise working in the sustainable tourism industry with the pursuit of authenticity, historic values, and development of cultural traditions at all destinations.”


Beau Baiocchi

Beau is a recent graduate of The George Washington University earning a BA in International Affairs with a concentration in international environmental studies and minors in geography and spanish language. Interested in cultural preservation and sustainable tourism, Beau previously worked at the Embassy of Argentina as a Cultural Affairs and Public Diplomacy intern after returning from his junior year abroad, where he studied at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile. He is excited to continue learning about the geotourism industry while furthering sustainable, community based initiatives.


Frank Baird

Frank’s passion for travel and sustainability run deep. Most of his best memories of life involve travel. Whether it be from exploring the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, or traversing through the longest trail in Zion National; he lives for travel. The best way to keep these tourism hubs alive is to develop them sustainably. Our responsibility is to protect our natural and cultural sites so that future generations may continue to enjoy them.

That is what inspired Frank to get involved in politics at a young age. At sixteen, he joined the Kenton County Democratic Party as an intern. After gaining experience and knowledge, he was voted onto the executive board, a position that he still holds. At 18, he is amongst the youngest in the state to hold such a position. Currently, Frank is continuing his studies at Northern Kentucky University, just outside of Cincinnati and is majoring in Economics and History.


If you pursuing a career in sustainable tourism and interested in gaining experience with a development consulting firm, click here to learn more about becoming a part of our internship program for the Fall 2020 semester.

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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