Lucas Olson is a Fulbright Canada Fellow and a graduate of University of Washington, where he received a double degree in International Studies and Economics. While there, he ran the second largest voter registration drive in the schools history. Studying abroad on three separate occasions led Lucas to an early career as an international program coordinator for his Alma Mater and a stint teaching English in China after graduation. His passion for adventure travel and videography have taken Lucas to twenty-eight different countries, including a ten country, one month travel challenge on a skeleton budget of $1,500 (including airfare). His love for cycling and all things outdoors culminated in a trip down the Pan-American Highway, and it was on these trips that the broader vision for Developing America was born. He returned to Washington, D.C. where, after a short stint working at the World Bank, he began a Masters program in International Development at American University-where he was awarded a full scholarship-to further develop his dream to travel to every country in the world. His heart for global community and education have inspired his desire to form a global advocacy organization focused on progressive social issues and networking with like-minded individuals and organizations in developing countries all over the world. His first book, Modern Pilgrim, releases soon through Green Bridge Press and will be available at a local independent bookstore near you!
Timothy Kurek is tackling some of the front burner issues of our day. His unrestrained style of immersion lends a uniquely empathetic perspective, engaging his audiences with empathy, humor, and refreshing candor. His first book, The Cross in the Closet, released October 2012 and became a critical success, not just nationally, but internationally as well (it is currently available in Hungarian and Chinese, with plans for more translations in the works). Arch Bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu places his seal of endorsement on the book, saying, “The Cross in the Closet is a gift to us all.” Timothy is also an internationally sought-after speaker, lecturing at colleges, conferences and churches in Australia, Italy, Canada, and all over the Continental United States. He has been featured on ABC’s The View, Fox News Alan Colmes, CNN, The BBC, Canal+, MSNBC, CTV, HLN, The New York Post, The Guardian, The China Times, Sirius/XM and hundreds of other national and international radio, television and print media outlets. In Spring 2014 Timothy founded Green Bridge Press, a publishing imprint dedicated to opening the eyes of the broader public to issues of social justice and equality through the medium of story. Timothy is based in Portland, Oregon and dreams of opening a retreat center for aspiring world-changers in the Wilderness of Southern Oregon. He plans on moving to Washington D.C. Fall 2015.
Melissa Dederick is a problem solver, known for relentlessly and resourcefully managing personnel in high stress work environments. She was a key member of a Psychological Operations Army Unit (Combat Marketing and Advertising), and was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Melissa attained the rank of Psychological Operations Staff Sergeant, becoming the TPD 1290 Detachment Operations NCO. She also oversaw the supplying and training of subordinate personnel and teams, ensuring the accurate and timely flow of information, briefing senior officers on clearance level situations. Melissa received her BA from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, and in addition to traveling for the Army, has studied abroad, traveling extensively whenever possible. She is currently a diamond consultant, living in the Seattle area. Melissa accepted the role of Operations Manager for Developing America in December 2014 and is now based in Washington, D.C..