About Spring ACT

Read our Story and Meet the Team

The Origins

In 2017, while working for the United Nations in West Africa, five refugees turned up at Rhiana’s office looking for help. They had been knocking on doors of different organisations for over five years trying to get help with many pressing issues, including enrolling a child – Emmanuella – into school. But little to nothing had been done to help their situation. After trying – to no avail – to mobilise various agencies for them, Rhiana decided to turn to her network to get these determined and resilient refugees the help they needed and deserved. By finding the right person, three different solutions were discovered within one weekend and Emmanuella was enrolled in school. All it took was one person who knew which specific organisation could help. The refugees knew what assistance would be most useful, and the local organisations knew the right avenues to take. What remained was matching the need with the resource. So Rhiana set off in developing a technology to meet these needs.

The Spark
Inspired by this turn of events, Rhiana started to develop a tool which would help people in vulnerable situations find the help they require through a technology that can automatically direct them to the right place. In so doing, this tool would, on one hand, help individuals navigate the overwhelming amount of information out there. On the other hand, it would assist often understaffed and underfunded institutions with their staggering workload, thus allowing employees to spend more quality time with the people in need.

The Pandemic
Upon the emergence of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, and the corresponding drastic rise of violence against women, her priorities shifted. Together with a handful of friends, they adapted the technology to domestic violence and “Sophia” – the world’s first chatbot assisting survivors of domestic violence gather potential evidence and seek help – was born. With  the help of dozens of committed volunteers from all over the world, they quickly moved to get “Sophia” up and running.

The Turning Point: from Kona Connect to Spring ACT
In 2022, to reflect the growing vision and highlight our value-based approach, the team decided to close the initial structure “Kona Connect” and move forward as the new organisation Spring ACT – Action. Compassion. Technology. Matching resources to needs, and drawing upon both local knowledge and science-based research, the ACT team combines new technologies with legal expertise and people-centred knowledge to find practical and equitable solutions. All within a lean and efficient structure.

Our Core Values

We believe in a value-driven and communal approach to building and running Spring ACT. We ensure that our values are weaved throughout each project, interactions with one other, and our day-to-day experiences at ACT. We strive to:

  1. Empower others
  2. Remain curious
  3. Ensure inclusiveness
  4. Practice integrity, impact, and compassion in our interactions
  5. Make time for fun while fighting to make our world a better place

Our Team

The Board of Advisors

Flynn Coleman
ACT Advisor – Author, Harvard University Fellow, Professor, and International Human Rights Lawyer

Flynn Coleman

Flynn is an author, a Harvard University fellow on human rights and technology, an award-winning international human rights lawyer, a professor, a public speaker, a social innovator and entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Malena.

Flynn Coleman is a writer, a Harvard University fellow and Yale University Visiting Fellow on human rights and technology, an award-winning international human rights lawyer, a professor, a public speaker, and the founder and CEO of Malena.

Flynn is the author of the book, A Human Algorithm, a groundbreaking narrative on the urgency of ethically designed AI and a guidebook to reimagining life in the era of intelligent technology.

She is the founding teacher at King’s College London Dickson Poon School of Law on redefining success in the law and the inaugural fellow at NYU School of Law’s Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. Flynn has also taught at The New School and Parsons School of Design and has worked with the United Nations, the United States Federal Government, and with international corporations, universities, and human rights organisations around the world.

She has spoken, written, and taught on issues of war crimes, genocide, emerging technologies, behavioral economics and behavioral science, political reconciliation, the future of autonomous weaponry and war, post-conflict justice, artificial intelligence, ethical design and leadership, international trade, gender equality, improving access to justice and education through innovation, social entrepreneurship, global citizenship, storytelling, redefining success, and the future of work, purpose, technology, democracy, and humanity.

She holds a BSFS from Georgetown University, a JD from UC Berkeley School of Law, and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She has also studied at La Sorbonne, the University of Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, La Universidad de Chile, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Senegal, and Université de Genève.

To find out more, please visit flynncoleman.community

Hilda Liswani
ACT Advisor – Founder and CEO of WeBloom Africa and EPFL Tech4DEv Sustainability Manager

Hilda Liswani

Hilda is the Forbes 30 under 30, award-winning Founder and CEO of WeBloom Africa, an organisation building a pipeline of investments into women-led African enterprises. As the Tech4Dev Sustainability Engagement Manager at EPFL Tech4Impact, she is assisting in bridging the gap between technology, innovation and social impact.

Hilda is the Forbes 30 under 30, award-winning Founder and CEO of Webloom Africa–  an organisation building a pipeline of investments into women-led African enterprises, mainstreaming sustainable and gender-lens investing in Africa. She achieves this by collaborating with African innovation hubs to co-design female targeted entrepreneurial programs and build a pipeline of investable women-led African enterprises.

Hilda is currently the Tech4Dev Sustainability Engagement Manager at EPFL Tech4Impact, where she is assisting in bridging the gap between technology, innovation and social impact. She holds an M.Sc. in Migration, Mobility and Development from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Sciences and has worked with organisations such as The European Commission, the MasterCard Foundation and Siemens in the negotiation and implementation of inclusive innovation strategies.

As a World Economic Forum (WEF) global shaper, she is part of a global community of changemakers. Hilda also received an award from Queen Elizabeth II for her work.

Read more about Hilda on her website: hildaliswani.com

Rita Izsák-Ndiaye
ACT Advisor – Former Rapporteur of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Rita Izsák-Ndiaye

ACT Advisor – Rita is an Assistant Secretary-General level human rights expert at the United Nations. She served as a Rapporteur and Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and is the former UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.

Rita Izsák-Ndiaye is an Assistant Secretary-General level human rights expert at the United Nations. She is the former UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and currently serves as the Rapporteur and a Member of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Inspired by her own experiences of prejudice and discrimination based on her partly Roma origin, Rita works closely with victim groups, NGOs, governments, and international organisations around the world to better protect the rights of disadvantaged, discriminated and impoverished communities. Rita has been actively working in the areas of criminal justice systems, freedom of speech and hate speech, conflict and mass atrocity prevention, the responsibility to protect, and humanitarian affairs and reported regularly to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. She has also been successfully leading the UN Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva for 6 years. Her work has taken her to 50 countries, including official missions to Iraq, Somalia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Sri Lanka, and Brazil. Rita’s landmark reports and speeches have played an important role in understanding the particular challenges of minorities all around the world and resulted in crucial international recommendations on better cohesion and unity of societies.

Prior to joining the UN, Rita served as a Chief of Staff for the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Public Administration. During this role, she was responsible for several key priorities under Hungary’s EU Presidency, including the establishment of the European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. Rita also served as the President and Director of the Tom Lantos Institute and worked for a diverse range of non-governmental and international organisations focused on the elimination of racial discrimination and protection of minorities, with a special focus on women and children. She has also been a strategic advisor and board member of several international organisations.

Rita holds a Masters in Law degree from the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Budapest.

Dr. Gabriela Tejada
ACT Advisor – Vice-President of UNESCO's Swiss Commission. Academic Deputy, ETH-Lausanne College of Humanities.

Dr. Gabriela Tejada

Gabriela has extensive expertise in international cooperation in science, education, and innovation, incl. advising universities, multilateral organisations, and governments. She was a visiting researcher at Harvard University and ETH, and worked for the UN in the field.

As the Deputy Director of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)’s College of Humanities and the current Vice-President of the Swiss Commission for UNESCO, Dr. Gabriela Tejada promotes science-society linkages and advocates for an inclusive development and dialogue through education, science, and culture.

Gabriela has extensive expertise in international cooperation in science, education, and innovation, incl. strategically advising universities, governments, and multilateral organisations. She has been a visiting researcher at Harvard University and ETH Zürich and has worked at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and the University of Zürich. Gabriela served as an International Expert for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Moldova, as well as, as the Advisor to the UNDP Director for Sustainable Human Development at their Headquarters in Geneva. Prior to relocating to Europe, Gabriela was the Head of Department for Bilateral Trade Agreements of the Mexican Secretariat for Economy.

In 2007, Gabriela joined EPFL as a scientist at the Cooperation and Development Center, which held the UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development. Her research focused on scientific diasporas and skilled migration with diverse international collaborations under her leadership. She led the EPFL Leading House Program of the Swiss government for 3 years, which upheld Swiss bilateral research cooperation with Brazil, India, Vietnam and Latin America. Gabriela also serves the Scholars at Risk program at EPFL in an advisory capacity and is a member of the Steering Committee for the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE)in Vietnam.

Gabriela holds a PhD in Political Sciences, and an MA in Political Analysis and Communication Science from the UAB in Barcelona. She also holds a BA in International Relations from the UIA (Ibero) in Mexico and obtained a CAS IPA – International Policy and Advocacy from ETH Zürich.

ACT Advisor – YCombinator Graduate, Co-founder and former CEO of Oolu – One of the fastest growing off-grid solar companies in West Africa

Nilmi Senaratna

As the former CEO and later Chief Business Development Officer of Oolu, Nilmi led the company’s growth from start-up to market leader in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso. She built the team from 0 to >230 full-time employees, with a management team consisting of 50% women.

Nilmi Senaratna is the co-founder of Oolu – one of the fastest growing off-grid solar companies in West Africa. As the former CEO and later Chief Business Development Officer, Nilmi led the  company’s growth from start-up to market leader in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger with operations in Nigeria. She built the team from 0 to >230 full-time employees, including a management team consisting of 50% women. Today, the company has closed 8.5M in series B
funding and is expanding rapidly across the African continent. In 2020, Nilmi was named one of the Top Women Founders in Africa.

Before building Oolu, Nilmi worked for the United Nations in Washington D.C., the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa, and various non-profit organisations in East and West Africa where she advised women-led businesses. Nilmi is a graduate of Silicon Valley’s YCombinator – alongside other graduates such as Reddit, Dropbox, and AirBnB – and holds an MES in Environment and Sustainability from Western University Canada.

Drew Dudley
ACT Advisor – Founder CEO of Day One Leadership and bestselling author of This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters

Drew Dudley

Drew is a world renowned leadership expert and has been called one of the most dynamic speakers in the world. His TED talk “Everyday Leadership (The Lollipop Moment)” was voted “one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time.” He has helped top organisations around the world increase their leadership capacity, and now advises ACT.

Called one of the most dynamic speakers in the world, Drew is on a mission to help people unlearn some dangerous lessons about leadership. As the founder and chief catalyst of Day One Leadership, he has helped top organisations around the world increase their leadership capacity.

Prior to this, while Drew was still a student at university, he was heavily involved in Cystic Fibrosis Canada, eventually serving as the National Chair of the organisation. Later, he took on an even bigger challenge: creating and building what would become the largest and most dynamic leadership program in Canada, the Leadership Development Program at the University of Toronto.

But Drew has had challenges to overcome.  Undiagnosed bipolar disorder and the struggles and emotional challenges of a career on the road 250 days a year led to serious health problems.  Drew credits the Day One Process with saving his life as he began applying the process to working on his mental and physical health. Seeing that many people were also struggling silently, he began including his experiences in his talks, to remind people that their struggles and scars do not stand in the way of their leadership.

In 2018, Drew shared his Day One process along with his story in his bestselling book, This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters. It debuted at #6 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. As a speaker, Drew has delivered keynotes to more than 250,000 people across five continents. His TED talk “Everyday Leadership (The Lollipop Moment)” was voted “one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time,” with almost five and a half million views.

With his wealth of expertise, Drew will be helping Kona build a value-based organisation that will be able to tackle the world’s biggest problems and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for our collaboration!

“There is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.” – Drew Dudley

The Executive Team

Executive Director and Founder

Rhiana Spring

Rhiana is an award-winning international human rights expert and entrepreneur. With the UN, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and diverse legal teams, Rhiana has defended the most vulnerable individuals and spearheaded multinational human rights projects across Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe.

Rhiana is an award-winning international human rights expert and entrepreneur. With the United Nations, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and diverse legal teams, Rhiana has defended the most vulnerable individuals and spearheaded multinational human rights projects across Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe. She speaks five languages and holds three law degrees from the London School of Economics and Oxford Brookes University. Aged 17, Rhiana set up and ran her first IT business, having learnt various programming languages.
Ndeye Diodio Calloga
Deputy Director

Ndeye Diodio Calloga

Diodio is a passionate human rights activist and lawyer. She is the former Secretary General of Maison de La Gare advocating for the over 50,000 thousand enslaved children in West Africa.

Diodio is a passionate human rights activist and lawyer. She is the former Secretary General of Maison de La Gare advocating for the over 50,000 thousand enslaved children in West Africa. Diodio has piloted and managed multilateral projects supported by the United Nations, the European Union, the Global Fund for Children, the United States Department of State. She holds law degrees from Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis, incl. her final year of her PhD in International Law and is the winner of the 2012 International African Moot Court Competition.
Chief Creative

Clinton Albuquerque

Clinton is a global brand creative with over 25 years experience leading teams across four continents. Clinton is also the founder of Quevis.co, a renowned and award-winning digital and creative agency.

Clinton is a global brand creative with over 25 years experience leading teams across four continents for the Karma Group, an International boutique luxury travel brand. Clinton has worked all over the world creating a remarkable international branding. By designing the brand of Spring ACT, Clinton has brought our non-profit organisation to a whole new level. Clinton is also the founder of Quevis.co, a renowned and award-winning digital and creative agency.

The Core Team

Georgia Kokkinou

Privacy & Security Engineer

Kona Volunteer Clarina

Clarina Bianchi

Programme Manager: Sophia

Gilda Fernandez-Concha

Programme Manager: Dots

Eva Kirichu

Communications Manager

Nephi Awugelenu

Operations Associate

Simon Sundaraj Kuehn

Business Development Manager

The Passionate Volunteers

The Tech Team

Kona Volunteer Ezi

Ezi

The Energetic Machine Learning Professional

Papi

The Multilingual Software Engineer

Kona Volunteer Samira

Samira

The Passionate Aid Engineer

Emilie

The Supportive Frontend Developer

Kona Volunteer Rashmi

Rashmi

The Kind-Hearted Software Engineer

Shannon

The Acrobatic Web Developer

Alex

The Multilingual Frontend Developer

Natayra

The Colourful Frontend Developer

Steve

The Altruistic Privacy Hacker

Zahir

The Sporty Developer

Viktoria

The Efficient Tech Project Manager

Kona Volunteer Garrett

Garrett

The Versatile Developer

The Legal &
Data Rights Team

Kona Volunteer Zelal

Zelal

The First Responder Lawyer & Team Deputy

Kona Volunteer Manon

Manon

The Multilingual Researcher

Camille

The Philosophical Solicitor-To-Be

Laura

The Relentless Go-Getter & Advocacy Lead

Kona Volunteer Romina

Romina

The Innovative Strategist

Kona Volunteer Stella

Stella

The Historic Legal Researcher

Kona Volunteer Leonarda

Leonarda

The Passionate Go-Getter

Annina

The Determined Legal Scholar

The Team of Health &
Social Workers

Mia

The Gold-Hearted Psychologist & Team Lead

Kona Volunteer Melody

Melody

The Sharp Out-of-the-Box-Thinker

Limou

The Dancing Mental Health Researcher

Kona Volunteer Lorraine

Lorraine

The Wellness Activist

Kona Volunteer Julia

Julia

The Thorough and Thoughtful Social Worker

Kona Volunteer Sophie

Sophie

The Attentive Doctor

The UX Designers

Anne

The Adventurous UX Lead

Asma

The Curious UX Designer

Carolina

The Spacial UX Engineer

Django

The Archery Design Lead

Ilay

The Sociological UX Designer

Sol

The Empathetic UX Designer

Sofia

The Lively Industrial UX Engineer

The Communication Experts & Creatives

Kona Volunteer Mari Caroline

Mari-Caroline

The Sharp PR Expert

O'Shea

The Dynamic Artist

Mary

The Ingenious Editor

Kona Volunteer Olivia

Olivia

The Outgoing Altruist

Ildiko

The Adventurous Team Lead

Finlay

The Tech-Savvy Content Creator

The Fundraisers

Amy

The Goal-Oriented Corporate Fundraiser

Nataliya

The Energetic Aerospace Engineer

Tamia

The Kind Financial Expert

Gretta

The Proactive Product Manager

Yelena

The Resilient Financial Analyst

Arianne

The Designing Entrepreneur

Arthur

The Surfing Videographer

Alessandro

The Enthusiastic Connector

The Management Volunteers

Hirvanshi

The Versatile Coordinator

Czachi

The Sporty Organiser

The Researchers

Kona Volunteer Meltem

Meltem

The Master Connector

Kona Volunteer Ariea

Ariea

The Insightful Political Scientist

Kona Volunteer Kevin

Kevin

The Outspoken Feminist

Beatrice

The Versatile Researcher

Kona Volunteer Evelyn

Evelyn

The Tech-savvy Sherlock

Paula

The Adventurous Entrepreneur

Patricia

The Sharp Connector

Kona Volunteer Miraf

Miraf

The Resourceful Connector

Adrian

The Passionate Entrepreneur

Kona Volunteer Sara

Sara

The Running Human Rights Specialist

The Survivors

Survivor

Survivor

Survivor

Join Us

We are always grateful for complementary partners and advisors from the fields of our charitable projects. Please contact us if you are willing to give us advice or want to partner on specific projects. Are you interested in joining our team of volunteers? Sign up below to be notified of volunteering opportunities.