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.
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.
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.
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:
- Empower others
- Remain curious
- Ensure inclusiveness
- Practice integrity, impact, and compassion in our interactions
- Make time for fun while fighting to make our world a better place
The Board of Advisors
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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
The Core Team
Simon Sundaraj Kuehn
The Passionate Volunteers
The Tech Team
The Legal &
Data Rights Team
The Team of Health &
The UX Designers
The Communication Experts & Creatives
The Management Volunteers
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.