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Announcing Our New Emerge Sri Lanka Team

Four incredible women will pack their bags and head to Sri Lanka in September 2008: Ellen Sojka, Lauren O’Toole, April Wachtel, and Karen Noiva.

Ellen Sojka- Emerge Sri Lanka Director- Ellen has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and minors in Management and Chemistry from MIT. From her involvement in her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, as well as MIT’s Panhellenic Society, Ellen has developed a passion for empowering women and promoting women’s issues. Ellen began working with Emerge in October, 2007, as the Emerge Finance Director. She has deferred Teach For America to move to Sri Lanka as Emerge’s Sri Lanka Director, where she will oversee all of Emerge’s activities in Sri Lanka, including expansion of the Bead Program and the development of the Emerge Village Project. In her spare time, Ellen loves going to musicals, yoga, and reading fiction.

Lauren O’Toole- Emerge Community Director-Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University. In her senior thesis, she studied gender stereotypes and the impact of youth groups on the development of confidence and self-efficacy. She is excited about the mission of Emerge and is passionate about using entrepreneurship to empower women and fight poverty. While in Sri Lanka, she will be the advocate for all with whom Emerge works. She will study the impact that Emerge has on the women involved, research other successful community programs, seek out new beneficiaries, and build needed partnerships. Lauren enjoys traveling, foreign cultures and cuisines, recreational skiing, running, soccer, Salsa dancing, psychology, and reading non-fiction.

April Wachtel- Emerge Creative Director- April has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University, where she also focused on communications, writing, languages, and logic. April spent 2004 to 2006 working in fine dining restaurants and finding her intellectual path through a wide range of internships. In 2006, she discovered the Hundred Dollar Laptop project at MIT, and became enamored by the thought that simple design+ strategy+ amazing people can solve world problems. Inspired by the project, she entered the Massachusetts College of Art’s (MassArt) Industrial Design Certificate program. April is thrilled to be working with Emerge, eager to combine her creative and business interests to serve others. As the Emerge Creative Director, April will carry Emerge’s mission forward, expanding the Emerge Bead Program and working on Emerge’s general programming.

Karen Noiva- Sustainability Coordinator – Karen has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT with a concentration in Sustainable Design. She approaches engineering as a way to balance human needs with environmental concerns as well as the growing disparity between those with access to technology and those who don’t. She first became interested in Emerge in 2006 when living with Alia and was touched by the stories of the girls and how such a seemingly small thing as stringing brightly-colored beads on a necklace could be such a positive force of change in their lives. She became involved in December 2007 through her work on the architecture of the Emerge Village Project. This fall, Karen will coordinate the next steps of Emerge Village Project’s physical design, investigating local materials, collecting information about the building site and surrounding community, and identifying opportunities for environmentally conscious technologies like solar power and rainwater harvesting.

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