DIF on AIR UnSchool's Creative Change Makers - Session 3/3

  • Speakers:
  • Bernelle Verster, Suma Balaram, Laura François, Maya Karkour, Thessa Bos

Topics relevant to the session

  • Details About the session
  • Speakers Info about who's talking

Join the UnSchool for three engaging and compelling sessions featuring alumni and collaborators from around the world.

Across three sessions, UnSchool's incredible alumni and collaborators will share their stories of creative sustainability from Peru to Tunisia, India to Cape Town and from Lebanon to Bolivia and more.

Hear inspiring stories of rebellious change making from a diverse group of emerging leaders. The UnSchool community of alumni comes from over 40 countries around the world and these 11 different people offer international and interconnected perspectives of the possibilities for positive change.

Watch our weekly sessions throughout the DIF to hear how they have activated change in their own communities and the world at large through creative, positively disruptive interventions.


Bernelle Verster

Bernelle Verster

Waterless Sanitation Warrior

A self-proclaimed shit-stirrer, Bernelle Verster is passionate about sanitation and is dedicated to developing waterless sanitation for everyone. Bernelle studied Biochemistry and Chemistry and obtained her Masters in Functional Genomics. Having completed her PhD, the rebellious Bioprocessing Engineer is pushing boundaries in developing wastewater treatment solutions feeding into an economically-competitive integrated water and nutrients strategy.

Suma Balaram

Suma Balaram

Founder and Creative Director, Say S Studio

Suma Balaram is Visual Designer and Strategist. She recently graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City with a Masters in Strategic Design and Management. She is very passionate about marine conservation and uses design as a tool to communicate the importance of this cause. Suma is an Ambassador for The 5 Gyres Institute and has volunteered for several other marine conservation projects. Poly-Sea: Phasing Out Plastic Pollution, her final year research project at Parsons, was on creating a shift in both corporate decisions on plastic packaging and on consumer behaviour. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Say S Studio- a strategic design studio founded on the principle of communicating the value of conservation, education, responsible innovation and sustainability through design.

Laura François

Laura François

Founder, Clothing The Loop

A community engager, storyteller and social impact strategist, Laura focuses on collaboratively designing inclusive ways of making sustainable change. With expertise in human systems intervention, human centred design and the creative arts, Laura challenges people to think holistically about social change.

Based in Southeast Asia, Laura founded circular design project Clothing The Loop upon discovering an abandoned garment factory in Cambodia. She is also the co-founder of impact studio, ANEWKIND, Chief Sustainability Officer of blockchain project GreenLink and country coordinator of international organisation, Fashion Revolution Singapore.

Laura is a leading voice in Asia by empowering communities and organisations to connect the dots between doing business and doing good and has been featured on BBC World News, Singapore Design Week, TedX, and Huffington Post.

Maya Karkour

Maya Karkour

Managing Director, EcoConsulting

Maya is President and a Board Member of the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association (LMTA), and has been in charge for the past four years of developing and helping implementing environmental education activities along the trail, working with the Ministry of Education and public schools.

In her profession, Maya is the Managing Director of EcoConsulting which she co-founded in 2003 in the UK. EcoConsulting offers inter-related sustainability services to the construction sector, including LEED and BREEAM certifications, energy-efficiency advice, dynamic thermal modeling, and eco-building guidance.

Maya moved back to Beirut, Lebanon in 2008 to establish EcoConsulting’s Lebanon office. Maya holds an MSc (hons) in Environment from the London School of Economics and Political Science and is a LEED Accredited Professional, a BREEAM Licensed Assessor, and Low Carbon Energy Assessor. Additionally, she is one of the main local trainers and mentors of the EU SwitchMed Green Entrepreneurship program focusing on Circular Economy and eco-design, and a fellow of the Middle East Leadership Initiative (MELI), Class IV, of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Thessa Bos

Thessa Bos

Social Impact Program Manager, Facilitator, Educator & Coach

Driven by an innate sense of social justice and passion for the planet, I am a creative diplomat who thrives on connecting people and building relationships. I am an independent blue sky thinker with strong analytical skills and the capacity to translate vision into action and make things happen.

My background is in journalism, entrepreneurship and diplomacy – a strong combination of solid communication, business development and program management skills. I have a solid track record activating projects that positively impact people and the planet.


Rose Ely

Rose Ely

Communications Executive

Rose is the Foundation's communications executive and is responsible for the development and delivery of communications across business, government, insight and learning, with a focus on content creation, social media, web strategy and media relations. Prior to this role, Rose was the communications manager for the DIF, and still supports on the DIF's broader communications strategy.

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