Board of Directors
Chair – Philippa Nigg
Philippa was raised in Southern Africa before moving to England to raise her children. She received her Masters degree in the USA and after working in a variety of careers became a teacher.
She has now retired and has visited over thirty countries in her extensive travels; she loves her visits to Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia. Now calling America home, Philippa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to JWOC. Since joining the board Philippa has spent countless hours working to get the JWOC word out. A philanthropist through-and-through Philippa has played a huge role in helping JWOC meet its potential.
Vice Chair – Jed Petty
Jed is a married father of three who learned about JWOC when he moved his family to Singapore in 2007 for a three year expatriate assignment. Jed has worked in the investment management industry for 25 years and is currently a Managing Director with Wellington Management Company LLP in Boston where he works with institutional investors throughout the United States.
Jed has a passion for education, having been a teacher early in his career. He is a former elected member of the Newburyport (MA) School Committee and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Newburyport Education Foundation. Jed and his family miss their time in Southeast Asia and he is thrilled to be able to be involved with JWOC and looks forward to being in the region again sometime soon. Jed lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts with his wife Lauren and is a graduate of Bucknell University and the London School of Economics.
Board Member – Erin Esparza
Erin currently works as a managing director with TD Ameritrade and lives in New York City. Alongside her corporate background in strategy, new product development/delivery and venture capital, she’s pursued a lifelong engagement with community service to “feed her soul.” Her particular interest has always been in education as the foundation and ongoing fuel both for individual development and for the social, economic and civil development of the larger community.
She’s worked for many years with The Salvation Army, currently serving as chair of the advisory board for Greater New York, as well as with organizations in NY that identify high-performing, low-income kids and work with them to provide the skills, tools, funding and “map” to get into top high schools and colleges – empowering them to pursue their aspirations there and beyond. Erin was first drawn to JWOC through her relationships and respect for the people involved – and based on JWOC’s approach of working in and with the communities they are a part of, she’s ever since continued to look for more ways to be involved herself.
Treasurer – Alex Nebesar
Alex was first introduced to JWOC as a volunteer while he traveled to Southeast Asia in 2007. He currently works as a manager with Strategic Value Group, a boutique consulting firm in Los Angeles, and has 15 years of experience in finance with national and international investment asset management and valuation firms. Alex has a strong passion for being active in his community and has significant volunteer and international travel experience, including teaching English in a Tibetan camp and coordinating annual hikes for the homeless in downtown Los Angeles.
Board Member & Cambodia Country Advisor – Phay Narla
Narla was born in Banteay Mean Chey Province, Cambodia, near the Thailand border. As the first son in a farming family Narla had a lot of responsibility to do his parents proud. In his own words, he was a bad farmer, but great at school and his parents realized that they wanted to support him in this. With amazing bravery his parents borrowed money at 100% interest in order to send him to university in Siem Reap.
Narla chose to study Tourism and Hospitality Management, but after two years his parents were asked to repay the loan and Narla had no money to finish his degree. While working at the tourist police office Narla ran into Brandon Ross and learned of the JWOC scholarship program. He immediately applied and was selected. At the same time Narla applied and was hired at Journeys Within Tour Company where he still works.
Narla was the first JWOC scholarship student to graduate and in 2008 had the opportunity to visit America to receive the Conde Nast World Savers Award on behalf of Journeys Within and JWOC. Narla has and continues to work with all of the JWOC projects during his time with the organization and now serves on the board in an advisory role regarding all of JWOC’s projects in Cambodia.
Founder and Officer – Andrea Ross
Andrea moved to Cambodia in 2002 and started Journeys Within Tour Company and Boutique Hotel. After seeing the challenges facing Cambodia and the local community she and Brandon founded Journeys Within Our Community. JWOC bridged the gap between guests eager to help and communities needing support. Andrea developed the idea of Active Philanthropy and is the liaison between Journeys Within and JWOC. She lives in Truckee CA with her two kids but is often found exploring South-East Asia.
Board Member – Chantal Debreu
Chantal was born in France but immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 4 years old. She attended Harvard University where she studied Political Science. Later she earned a Master’s Degree in Education and another in Psychology. After her marriage to Paul Teller she had two children, Eric and Alex, who now like to use their nicknames Astro and Zander.
While living in the U.S. Chantal worked in many different professions from fashion designer, to retail store buyer, to teacher, to hypnotherapist, childbirth educator, doula (assistant midwife), and psychotherapist. She returned to settle in France in 2009; now that she is retired she writes fiction. In addition, she spends her time travelling and working with non-profit organizations. She has visited Siem Reap twice, for 4 months each time. At JWOC she is a sponsor of two scholarship students and she hopes to work with the JWOC team, the Scholarship Students, and the Cambodian people for many years to come.
Board Member – Luisa Gentile Maio
Luisa comes with a deep background on Corporate Social Responsibility and is passionate about helping leadership, strategic thinking and philanthropic advice to the non-profit sector and social impact space. Prior to JWOC she has leaded the CSR Department for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and for Vodafone in Qatar, thanks to which she was nominated in the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior in Europe and the Middle East. She is also an experienced People and Transformation professional, having supported organizations in the UK, Italy, and Egypt through transformational changes by bringing their mission to life in a purposeful and sustainable way.
As a trainer and facilitator, Luisa has passionately advocated sustainability leadership in several conferences, workshops and university lectures in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe. Born in Italy, Luisa obtained her Degree in Education from Universita’ degli Studi, in Rome and earned a Post Grad Certificate in People and Organization Development from University of Sussex. In her spare time, she loves travelling off-the-beaten-tracks with her husband Massimo , swimming and is an avid reader of crime fiction.
Founder and Board Advisor – Brandon Ross
Brandon, working with Andrea to get their B&B and tour company established in Siem Reap, was soon aware of the desperate poverty in some of the communities surrounding them. Getting involved soon after his arrival in Cambodia with those in need and listening to the guests of Journeys Within B&B who wished to help he put the two together and founded Journeys Within Our Community as a California registered not-for-profit.
Since its start Brandon has continued to be very involved and the inspiration for many of the programs that we now have running so successfully. He is always ready to have JWOC step in and help when no-one else is there when needed by the poorest of an already poor country. Learning the language and getting to understand the country and its people so well means that when Brandon goes out into the community to assess a need, he is able to talk and listen to the people and hence to come back with a viable solution that JWOC can implement.