Founding Director
Janell Kapoor
‘s work in the field of natural building inspired the founding of Kleiwerks International, a nonprofit organization and global network of ecological design-build specialists. Over the past decade, Janell taught the initial trainings that launched the natural building movements in Southeast Asia, the southern cone of South America, the Southeastern United States, and most recently Turkey. Janell has trained people from 45 countries, with more alumni performing muddy miracles than she can shake a stick at. Thousands of teachers, education centers, communities, businesses, trainings, and homes have been created as a result. Janell is dedicated to the champion within each of us, and to the possibility that we may live in balance with ourselves, each other, and this most beautiful planet we are blessed to inhabit. Janell founded and lives at the Ashevillage Institute and Sanctuary, an eco-urban demonstration center that offers educational programs in Asheville, North Carolina.

Development Specialist
Desiree Adaway
 comes to WASI as the Development Specialist. She is a consultant and coach who designs programs and strategies that create revenue streams and advocates for organizations. The insights and expertise she brings to her clients comes from having served in senior-level nonprofit and grant management roles for renowned organizations such as Habitat for Humanity International, where she was the Senior Director of Volunteer Mobilization, and Rotary International, where she was the director of their largest Humanitarian Grants program. Desiree works with organizations to bring the talents, resources, skills and knowledge of a community together to raise funds, build brand equity and increase  their collective power – a transformation that can, and has provided a positive impact on the lives of many. At the heart of Desiree’s work is inclusion, ownership, relationship building and leadership development.

Operations Manager
Jessica Jenks
 is WASI’s Operations Manager.  A native of Vermont, Jessica grew up working on the family dairy farm, gardening and maple sugaring in the green mountains. She is widely travelled and has volunteered in South Africa, studied in Spain, and interned in Washington DC, where she currently resides. Jessica graduated from Cedarville University with a BA in International Studies and History, and in 2009 received an MA in Environment and Sustainable Development from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Through her background, studies, and living in China, Chile, Mexico, and The Netherlands, Jessica cultivated a passion for the sustainability of rural population livelihoods and small-scale agricultural production. Academically and professionally, Jessica’s work has focused on sustainable food systems, community conservation strategies, and the legal and human rights to land and water.

Operations Manager

Kristen Aldrich joins WASI as part of the operations management team. She holds a BS in Communications from Northeastern University, years of experience working in higher education administration, and an MA in Environmental Conservation Education from NYU. Through her graduate studies, Kristen found her interest peaked in sustainable agriculture. After completing her Masters, Kristen volunteered and interned with organic farms in Oregon, California, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, exposing her to sustainable practices and permaculture design. She feels that a sense of community and open information/idea sharing is important to personally connecting to our food and to the earth. She has relocated to Asheville looking to work in sustainable agriculture/sustainable living in such a way that engages, educates and empowers communities.
Photographic Bookmaker
Erica Mueller
 joins the team as a professional Photographer who will be developing a photographic book series based on the women, communities and projects of WASI. Erica has a passion for living a life of inquiry and adventure, capturing moments with her camera, and seeing the powerful stories that photos tell come to life on the printed page. As a freelance photographer, Erica’s work has been published in books and numerous magazines. It has taken her around the world and driven her to create photo projects that delve into the depth of our human experience. More recently, through living in the mountains of Western North Carolina and learning about natural building and living sustainably, Erica has discovered an even deeper connection with the earth and its people. She is excited to continue on this path by working with as many cultures and communities as possible, sharing traditional knowledge and wisdom, all the while documenting, through her lens, the beauty and magic of this life we all share. Erica’s work may be seen at


Delegates are women who are organizing from a particular community, country or region.

Argentina Delegate
Paulina Avila Rivera
 joins WASI as a Permaculturist, natural builder, and community organizer. She designs, teaches, develops, and is the Founder and Director of the Appropriate Technology Department of CIDEP (Centro de Investigación, Desarrollo y Enseñanza de Permacultura) – a Permaculture center in Patagonia, Argentina. Paulina is a specialist in bioconstruction with a passion for the finishing details. Since 2005, she has led bioconstruction courses in Argentina, Chile and Brasil, empowering thousands of enthusiastic new builders and other professionals. She initiated a number of cooperatives and innovative community projects that are setting new trends throughout Argentina. Paulina is also the project and event coordinator for Bioconstruyendo Patagonia – an annual international gathering that she co-founded in 2007.

Costa Rica
Ana Elena Obando has been a women’s human rights lawyer and activist for more than twenty-five years. She is from Costa Rica and holds a Master’s degree in justice and gender. Ms. Obando was formerly the coordinator of the Concertación Interamericana de Mujeres Activistas por los Derechos Humanos (CIMA) and has been affiliated with a number of NGOs. She has been an independent consultant for international organizations, an ex-professor of law, and a researcher and trainer. Ms. Obando has published numerous articles and essays on the subject of women’s human rights and have written for several print publications and electronic media such as WHRNET.

Haiti Delegate
Tanya Merceron joins WASI as a delegate from Haiti, where she is in her eighth year as Training Officer with The Program for Training Young Women and Children (PEJEFE) based in Port-au-Prince, an organization devoted to empowering women and youth, disaster and risk management, and violence prevention and intervention. Tanya was born in Haiti and raised in a large family whose arms extended an embrace beyond her blood relatives, an environment which she attributes with developing her keen awareness of her environment and a sensitivity to the human condition witnessed in her home country. Convinced that there is a deep meaning to life that we strive to connect to, Tanya lives vibrantly, open to discover new perspectives, and meet people who look toward a different horizon than her own. A former student of law and environmental management, Tanya seeks a deep understanding of humanity and Nature.

United States Delegate
Liz Johndrow joins the WASI Alliance as the founder of Earthen Endeavors. Her vision is to use natural building as a bridge to create beautiful and functional spaces while embodying a meaningful connection with the natural world, others and our built environment. Working with low impact and resource-efficient materials that are non-toxic and healthful, durable and recyclable, Liz integrates beauty and function into living spaces – through a process that inspires creativity, joy and greater human connection. Liz works with earthen plasters and floor systems, and timber-framing and enjoys the exploration of natural building as a localized, sustainable way of building using the resources we have at hand. Liz has several past lives including mother, owner of a small futon business, cook at a natural foods restaurant, student of midwifery and herbalism, massage therapist, gardener and wilderness school instructor.

>>> WASI’s Global Peer team is growing. Stay tuned for the incredible women who are joining!