Our People

Core Staff & Program Leaders


Melanie St.James, MPA

Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer

EW's passionate social architect awakened to the richness of humanity's diverse cultures along with the critical environmental challenges on a sophomore semester abroad in China.

After experiencing the duality between social and economic movements at the 2007 World Social Forum in Kenya, she saw an opportunity to forge critical partnerships through a hyper-inclusive civic engagement event. The Global Summit social, economic, & environmental forum became central to EW's impact eco-system. Combining fundaments of her Masters thesis, "A New Population Theory: Human Security as a determinant of fertility rates" calling for more cohesive, interdisciplinary policy making to support local self-determination.

In concert with EW, Melanie leads BioNova Health, a social enterprise dedicated to preserving indigenous cultural and natural heritage of source.   After studying abroad in China Melanie earned a BA in International Relations and Diplomacy from Schiller International University in Madrid, Spain. and Masters of Public Administration in International Management from the Middlebury (then Monterey) Institute of International Studies (MIIS) . Loves: Horses, Dogs, Tango dancing, Diving.  Fluent in French & Spanish, working Portuguese & Italian.  melanie@empowermentworks.org  

Jackie Hart ("Raven")
Program Director of the OASIS Initiative

Bringing the vital vision of OASIS to life, Jackie is a project management executive with 25 years working globally for both Fortune 500 companies and NonProfit sectors. Fueling her: A deep passion for Social Enterprises that create ecologically mindful solutions for communities and future generations. Focus: Outreach, fundraising and business development.  More to come!  OASIS@empowermentworks.org

Jay Markert ("Jay Ma")

Director of Sustainability Education & Event Production
Fiscal Sponsorship Program Co-Coordinator

Earning his first Permaculture Design Certificate in 2001, Jay started his degree program in performing Arts Production Management at Naropa University, received a B.S. through New College of California in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community with a concentration in Eco-Dwelling & Natural Building in 2005. He is a two-time graduate of Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness training through the Regenerative Design Institute.

Supporting EW's Pulse of the Movement Webcasts, The Global Summit, and 7SS Education Programs, Jay works with holistic educators, businesses, communities and institutions organizing, and promoting trainings, and initiatives for personal, ecological and social transformation in the Unites States and internationally.

Jay is the founder of Living Mandala, fire walk instructor (through Sundoor International), and a seasoned producer of educational programs, retreats, workshops, conferences and community development projects, with leading edge change organizations such as the Regenerative Design Institute, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Gaia University, Omega Institute, Harmony Festival, and many others. He is the lead producer of the Northern California Building Resilient Communities Convergence, the largest permaculture event in North America.   Jay@empowermentworks.org

Bandita Thapa, MA

Founder / Director, Empowerment WORKS Nepal 

Co-Director, 7SS Catalyst Action Training (CAT) / Opportunity Nepal

Nepali born and raised global social entrepreneur, Bandita Thapa, became involved with EW in 2010 when she came to the USA to participate in The Global Summit II.   At just 15 years of age, Bandita founded Women Foundation Nepal and went on to be the youngest program officer in PLAN International at 20, traveled the world advancing her skills in Asset Based Community Development and serving as an expert in Monitoring and Evaluations for major international agencies including United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In joining forces with EW, she continues to blaze trails representing the voices of grassroots women.  After The Global Summit 2010, EW's Executive Director joined Bandita in Nepal where they laid the foundation for "CAT: Catalyst Action Training" - a unique community development education initiative whereby community based organizers advance 7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS) in their own language, promoting investment in women's livelihoods and other local solutions.

Formal Education: Masters Degree in Sociology, TU Nepal, 2007, and Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership Development, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada, 2009 (completed as an Award Winner of CIDA).

Tawanda Mutukwa

Lead, 7SS Africa / Co-conspirator on ICT solutions for BOP markets

Tawanda is a Social Impact Techpreneur. He is  a 2016 Tony Elumulu Entrepreneurship Programme  Entrepreneur for 2016 and a 2016 AmpionFellow. He has been a social entrepreneur for the past 6 years. Tawanda has also served as an ideation consultant for the Center of Design Technology and Management in Munich. Tawanda has a passion for technology usage in Bottom Of the Pyramid Markets and is also a lover of great food, which led him to co found Agro-informatics tech startup Hurukuro Consultancy in 2014. He also holds qualifications from the University of Zimbabwe.