THE MAD TEAM
Founder and Trustee
John spent his gap year teaching in Ghana, living in a remote village in the Volta Region where he worked to build and improve education in the community. Due to his extensive work in developing this community, the village made John a Chief of Development, and renamed him Chief Torgbui Mottey I, which means Pioneering Pathfinder of the Forest. On returning from his gap year in 1998, John set up the MAD Foundation.
John has a BEng in Environmental and Ecological Engineering from Newcastle University and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Fundraising & Homes for Ukraine
Toby’s development work has focused on Bosnia & Herzegovina where he founded and runs a think tank focused on political, economic, social and cultural policies for BiH.
His background is in policy and government relations having been Executive Director of a financial services think tank in London and Singapore and previously running a trade consultancy focused on emerging and frontier markets.
Logistics and Supply Chain Support
Vanessa’s international development work spans across the globe including Ukraine, Turkmenistan, London and Zambia. Her focus is predominantly on operational and logistics and specializes in rapid program development and implantation. Her experiences abroad in challenging and ambiguous conditions have built empathy, resourcefulness, and resilience that are reflected in a strong work ethic.
Kari has a degree in Russian Language and Literature from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began her development service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Turkmenistan from 2006-2008 and spent the following two years working for the language immersion program for Middlebury College. She studied Peace and Conflict Studies in Malmo, Sweden, before becoming an attorney.
Advisor: Human Trafficking
Eliza has been a leader in the anti-trafficking and child protection fields for over 15 years, providing expert testimony, shaping policy, building partnerships and providing direct services to survivors. She has served as Strategic Advisor on Child Sex Trafficking to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Director of Programs for Shared Hope International and as Executive Director of the HKA Family Foundation. Most recently, Eliza was responsible for launching NCMEC’s first Child Sex Trafficking Survivor Expert Working Group and has been supporting the launch of Atlanta’s Missing Youth Recovery Unit.
JOHN LAWLER FRGS
John spent his gap year teaching in Ghana, living in a remote village in the Volta Region where he worked to build and improve education in the community. Due to his extensive work in developing this community, the village made John a Chief of Development, and renamed him Chief Torgbui Mottey I, which means Pioneering Pathfinder of the Forest. On returning from his gap year in 1998, John set up Madventure and the MAD Foundation.
John has a BEng in Environmental and Ecological Engineering from Newcastle University and has served as Chair of the WYSE Work and Volunteer Abroad Association whilst also on the Executive Board of the World Youth and Student Educational Travel Confederation. John is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
CHRISTA WELLE DONKER
Christa is Chief Operations Offcier and leads on Projects globally. She is a firm favourite with all corporate, school and university groups and lives in Cape Town.
Born in the Netherlands and having worked as a Special Needs Teacher she is a real asset to Madventure and its development.
When she is not planning or implementing MAD Projects she can be found trekking the world's mountains and travelling to remote places with her partner Stephen who is a professional travel writer.
Liam hails from Durham in the North East of England and was a Youth Patron of MAD for 8 years. More recently Liam has joined the Board of Trustees to help further the work of the MAD Foundation. Liam has helped on MAD Projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.
Liam trekked to the top of Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the MAD Foundation along with his other 'housemates' from the TV show Big Brother (BB8 in UK).
Liam continues to help raise cash for projects and is hoping to build a tree house hotel the likes of which have never been seen before at one of our Project Sites. He is a professional tree surgeon, writer and presenter.
Rupert has worked for MAD globally and was one of our first ever 'Madventurers'. In a previous life he managed the Forth Hotel in Newcastle, was trained at Sandhurst as an Army Officer, has been Director of MAD Ghana, and has served as a Managing Director of one Ghana's largest corporate travel companies.
Rupert competes in catamaran sailing and always puts out the red carpet for MAD visitors. He has been a MAD Trustee for many years and continues to support and advise on all African MAD Projects. He lives in Livingston, Zambia.
A born and bred South African, Carla is passionate about tourism, travel and sharing her love for her country. After studying tourism and spending a year travelling America, she returned to South Africa in 2004 to open Saltycrax – the first ever 5-star backpackers in the Table View area of Cape Town.
Carla chaired Backpacking South Africa for 5 years and played an active role in the transition from Backpacking South Africa (BSA) to the now South Africa Youth Travel Confederation (SAYTC). She has also served on the boards of the South Africa Tourism Services Association, International Police Association, South African Police sports club, and TLC, a large non-profit organisation.
Sarah was an early Madventurer Volunteer, joining the first project in Ghana back in 2000. She loved it so much she returned the following year to lead another group of MAD volunteers.
She completed a Masters course in economics for development at Oxford University in 2004 and then lived in Rwanda where she worked for the UK Department for International Development as their country adviser on climate change and environmental issues, and is now based in a similar role in Beirut, Lebanon. In her spare time she likes exploring the countryside and searching for rare species and MAD Project opportunities!
Nick began his first great Madventure back in 2000, a day after graduating from University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Nick lived and worked with the local communities to build amenities and infrastructure, taught in the local schools and helped the local people establish their first library and computer facility.
As a Trustee Nick hopes to inspire more people, young and old, to strive for success and to smash the barriers of socio-economic limitation. For those who have enjoyed a privileged upbringing, to realise the hugely positive impact they can have on the world, especially for those less fortunate, both on their doorstep, and across this amazing world we share. His wife Vic Wells has trekked up Kilimanjaro to also support MAD Foundation Projects. Nick is a successful entrepreneur and is the Managing Director at Webber Chase.
Trustee and Founder of BoxingYoga.com, Kajza has volunteered in Fiji and helped teach Yoga in Primary, Junior and Secondary Schools throughout the Islands.
Kajza is the creative brain on the MAD Board and has a great passion for travel and making a difference through hands-on volunteering.
Chris is Director of the Jan & Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learing at California State University, Fresno, and co-led the first Fresno State MAD Project in Fiji in 2014. His son Devin followed in his footsteps and also served on a Project in Fiji in 2018.
Chris lives, eats and breaths Service and has supported many thousands of US Students to engage in both local and international volunteering opportunities, and is a member of the MAD Board in the USA.
DON R. SIMMONS
Distinguished Lecturer at California State University, Fresno, Don led the first Fresno State Service Learning Project back in January 2014 and has been an Ambassador of MAD ever since. Don teaches on Engaging Persons with Disabilities as Volunteers, Administration of Volunteer Programs, Entrepreneurial Approaches to Sustainable Community Benefit Organizations, Governance, Leadership and Civic Leadership and Community Engagement.
Reinier is the Finance Director of Siemens Energy Inc, and volunteers his time for the Board of MAD USA. He has a proven track record in managing teams delivering high quality results in complex multi-cultural international environments. He is a seasoned professional with strong focus on people development, audit/accounting/compliance/forensic related engagements, driving organizational change, leadership, collaboration, and improving client relationships.
Reinier has key experience in Project Management and Team Leadership, External and Internal Audit, Organizational Development and Leadership, Accounting & Reporting (US GAAP/IFRS), Forensic accounting investigations, Talent Development (people), Internal Control Frameworks, and Financial Integration / change management. His specialties include Investigations, Accounting, Anti-Corruption, Internal Audit, Compliance Review and Remediation.
MAD (Make A Difference) Foundation is a UK Registered Charity
MAD HQ UK
Newcastle upon Tyne