Meet the Yuwa Team

Our team of directors, teachers, coaches and staff is diverse, dedicated and united.

Staff

Franz Gastler

Executive director & co-founder

Franz grew up in Edina, Minnesota, and has been living in India since 2007 and is based in a tribal village in Jharkhand. He has a BA and MA in International Political Economy from the University Professors Program at Boston University and holds certificates in negotiation and mediation from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Before co-founding Yuwa, his various jobs included ski & snowboard instructing, interning at the Ministry of Finance in Colombia, and working as a consultant at the Confederation of Indian Industry and with a local NGO in Jharkhand.  See Wikipedia’s page on Franz here and TEDx speech here.

Rose Thomson Gastler

Education Director & Yuwa School Co-founder

Originally from Missouri (USA), Rose joined Yuwa in 2012 while studying the use of sports to empower disadvantaged girls, with support from a Walker Fellowship from Hendrix College. After spending months with Yuwa’s young female coaches in Dharavi slum in Mumbai, she moved to Yuwa’s base in rural Jharkhand. Rose coordinated Yuwa’s education program for two years before founding Yuwa School in 2015. Today she acts as school Principal and part-time Ultimate Frisbee coach.

Niharika Baxla

Child development officer

Niharika (‘Neha’) hails from Jharkhand and completed a masters degree in computer applications from Birla Institute of Technology before deciding to work with kids instead of computers (mostly). She builds and maintains positive, meaningful relationships with players, coaches, parents, and community leaders. She conducts weekly life-skills workshops with girls’ teams, coaches and youth leaders. She’s always switched on with a big smile and keen interest in any issues the girls can throw at her.

Kalawati Kumari

Football Program Coordinator

One the the first girls to join a Yuwa football team in 2009, Kalawati’s leadership, wit, and dedication have inspired dozens of girls in her villages to take control of their own lives. Kalawati is currently studying commerce at a local college in Ranchi; in the future, she would like to work for a bank. At Yuwa, Kalawati manages the inventory and accounting for football equipment, coaches practices for youth teams, and leads life-skills workshops for girls. In 2016, Kalawati completed a UNOSDP Leadership Training in Tampa, Florida.

Amit Sharma Kumar’

Football Program Coordinator

Amit Sharma has come up through Yuwa’s football program, and started leading practices in 2012 at age sixteen. He is our first young coach to take the All-India Football Federation ‘D’ license coaching course, which he passed at the top of his class. He consistently scores ‘outstanding’, Yuwa’s top level, in his practice coaching assessments. Currently, he coordinates Yuwa’s low-cost health insurance program in addition to coaching, assessing other coaches, and leading weekly coaches’ meetings.

Paras Kumar

Football Program Coordinator

Paras Kumar has come up through Yuwa’s football program, and started leading practices in 2012 at age sixteen. An outstanding athlete and a compassionate leader, Paras acts as a role model for the other young boys in Yuwa. He consistently scores ‘outstanding’, Yuwa’s top level, in his practice coaching assessments. Currently, Paras designs fun and age-appropriate session plans for the coaches to lead each week, assesses and mentors other coaches, and leads weekly coaches’ meetings

Shyam Prasad

Math Teacher

Shyam teaches math to standards 8, 9, and 10, and also helps tutor all students in practically all subjects. In addition to teaching, Shyam lives on Yuwa’s campus and takes on administrative tasks such as data collection and management, updating hardware and troubleshooting in the computer lab, and care of campus canines. Shyam learned about Yuwa while on a solo trip backpacking across parts of India (nowhere near Jharkhand). Before coming to Yuwa, he worked in the corporate sector in the learning and development area. Shyam speaks 6 languages, is an avid reader, and brings his Kindle everywhere….everywhere.

Po Fong Chiu

English Teacher

After working at HBSC in Kolkata for seven years, Po was inspired to find more purpose in her life. She began volunteering and exploring more about NGOs in the social sector. Po joined Teach for India and taught for two years in a government school in Pune with 99 students in her class. Po continues to meaning in her life by teaching English and Science for Standards 5, 6, and 7 at the Yuwa School. She also leads a creative writing poetry class and acts as a mentor to the Student Council.

Sharmistha Das

Social Science Teacher

Sharmistha teaches geography, civics, and history to standards 5 – 9. She graduated with a BTech (Electronic and Communication Engineering) from JIS College of Engineering, Kalyani, before deciding to change course and try her hand at education. Sharmistha is also the resident art and craft teacher at Yuwa School, and has unofficially taken on the role of lead choreographer for teacher dances performed at the bi-annual Talent Shows.

Maggie McGovern

High School Teacher

Maggie is a teacher for Standards 8-10. She is from Stowe, Vermont where she enjoys spending time with her 6 siblings and parents. She received her Bachelor’s in History and Literature from Harvard University. She enjoys cross country skiing and misses the cold weather! Previously, she was a high school teacher at Manu’a High School in Tau, American Samoa. Maggie is currently training for a running marathon (42.195 kilometres or 26.219 miles!) in February 2018. She also taught herself to speak Tolkien’s Elvish language (but don’t tell anyone).

Paroma Ray

Primary Teacher

Paroma’s passion for Political Science has guided her academic studies pursuits and interest in working with Yuwa. Paroma was interested in putting a face to the stories she had heard about the football girls of Jharkhand, but was pleasantly surprised to meet Yuwa girls with their brimming confidence. Growing up in Kolkata, Paroma built a love for the water and water sports. She feels she might be part fish, part human. Paroma is the patient and enthusiastic teacher for Standards 3 and 4 and a teacher mentor for the Student Council.

Adelyn Smith

Science Teacher

Adelyn (Addy) is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the Science Teacher for Standards 8-10. Addy went to Boston College and received her Bachelors in Biochemistry and Environmental studies before earning her teaching degree from Santa Fe Community College. Addy has been to India multiple times, first working on a permaculture farm in Himachal Pradesh. Addy enjoys rugby, snowboarding, and football (soccer).

Seema Toppo

Assistant Primary Teacher

Seema is an assistant teacher in the youngest class at Yuwa School. She was one of the first girls to join Yuwa football in 2009. Since then, Seema has participated in a US State Department Exchange program in Washington DC, graduated from 12th standard, and is attending a college in Ranchi. She enjoys working at Yuwa School because it’s given her the chance to improve her own English, learn from the other teachers, and work with cute kids.

Pinki Rawat

Early Primary Teacher

Pinki is a Ranchi native and teaches Standards 1-2 in all content areas. After studying commerce, Pinky pursued her childhood dream to become a teacher. She received her teacher training from Adhyayan Academy (Mumbai) and spent 8 years as a teacher and as a principal. Pinky enjoys writing poetry which has been published in various newspapers. Pinky is inspired by women’s issues and hopes that through teaching, her students will have opportunities for personal and academic growth that many women, like herself, in this area did not have.

Amay Yadav

Coaching Coordinator

Before coming to Yuwa, Amay studied Political Science and Law at University of Delhi. Amay also played football and handball since childhood. This combination of experiences aligned well with the Yuwa program’s focus on social change through football and education. Amay was inspired to be a part of it. Amay enjoys learning about the world through reading and constantly offers homework and study help for Yuwa School students. He primarily works with Yuwa’s young coaches to improve the quality of the football program.

‘Pappu’ Hassan

Head Driver

From the nearby village of Irba, Pappu has been working with Yuwa since 2013. Originally an auto-rickshaw driver, Pappu has mastered the art of driving a school bus on the unpredictable roads of Jharkhand. Unfailingly punctual, you could set your watch by the time Pappu leaves for morning football practices… even when they start at 4 am! Pappu’s constant vigilance over the students’ and players’ well-being keeps Yuwa’s daily activities safe for even the youngest children. Pappu is the proud father of two young daughters.

Sandeep Chhetry

Board secretary & mentor

Sandeep (‘Sonu’) helps raise awareness for Yuwa and acts as a trainer and mentor for Yuwa players, coaches and youth leaders. He is a graduate of St. Xaviers University (Ranchi), and is an award- winning musician and vocalist in the rock band Sparsh, founder of the Ranchi Rock Music Association, and an avid footballer and coach. His song ‘Johar Jharkhand’ has been chosen as the official state song of Jharkhand, and he has performed during both the Commonwealth Games and 34th National Games. He has completed coaches’ training at Baichung Bhutia Football Schools (Delhi).

Board of Directors (India)

Sandeep Chhetry

Board secretary & mentor

Sandeep (‘Sonu’) helps raise awareness for Yuwa and acts as a trainer and mentor for Yuwa players, coaches and youth leaders. He is a graduate of St. Xaviers University (Ranchi), and is an award- winning musician and vocalist in the rock band Sparsh, founder of the Ranchi Rock Music Association, and an avid footballer and coach. His song ‘Johar Jharkhand’ has been chosen as the official state song of Jharkhand, and he has performed during both the Commonwealth Games and 34th National Games. He has completed coaches’ training at Baichung Bhutia Football Schools (Delhi).

Col. Surajit Rath

Board President

Surajit Rath serves as the President of Yuwa-India’s governing body. Col Rath retired from the Indian Army and has extensive knowledge of both grassroots development and non-profit administration. Before joining Yuwa as President, he was President of Citizens Foundation and Secretary of KGVK (both NGOs) and served as executive in charge of corporate social responsibility for Usha Martin, a steel company in India

Board of Directors (USA)

Franz Gastler

Executive director & co-founder

Franz grew up in Edina, Minnesota, and has been living in India since 2007 and is based in a tribal village in Jharkhand. He has a BA and MA in International Political Economy from the University Professors Program at Boston University and holds certificates in negotiation and mediation from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Before co-founding Yuwa, his various jobs included ski & snowboard instructing, interning at the Ministry of Finance in Colombia, and working as a consultant at the Confederation of Indian Industry and with a local NGO in Jharkhand.  See Wikipedia’s page on Franz here and TEDx speech here.

Stephen Peterson, CFA

Board member

Stephen is a board member and serves as the organization’s Secretary and Treasurer. Outside of Yuwa, Stephen works for Foresite Capital, a healthcare growth equity fund in San Francisco. Stephen graduated with a BSBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Denver and is a CFA Charterholder.

Greg Deming

Board member

Greg facilitates Yuwa’s day to day U.S. operations and fundraising initiatives. Outside of Yuwa, he is a trader for Simplex Investments in Chicago, a proprietary electronic trading company specializing in equities and derivatives. Greg graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Economics and Finance.

Erik Odland

Board member

Erik manages Yuwa’s web presence. Outside of Yuwa, he is a Web Marketing Manager with Cargill, Incorporated. Erik holds a BBA from Texas Christian University and an MBA from the University of Denver.

About Yuwa

Yuwa, which means "youth" in Hindi, works specifically with girls from impoverished families in rural Jharkhand, India—a place where girls are at risk of child marriage and human trafficking. It is a program that uses team sports and education to build character, confidence, and courage. It is a place where girls who don't yet know their worth can meet to compete, achieve goals, and create brighter futures. Yuwa prepares girls to break the cycle of poverty—permanently.

Keep Reading

Yuwa was founded in 2009 when American Franz Gastler moved to Jharkhand from Delhi, where he had been working as a business consultant, and witnessed the striking disparity between the lives of girls and boys. He began to help girls challenge this inequality through team sport and education.

What started with one team quickly grew to several hundred girls. Today, more than 300 girls play each day on Yuwa's teams, making it one of the largest girls’ soccer programs in India, with 90 percent of teams coached by young women. Teams play on unused agricultural fields and any flattened piece of ground they can find.

In 2015 Rose Thomson (now Rose Gastler) founded Yuwa School, a premier school to give girls the tools they need to become empowered citizens, discover their own identity, and prepare for admission to universities in India and abroad. Girls age 6 to 18 in Yuwa School are taught in English, learn from world-class educators from India and abroad, and are supported by a long list of dedicated volunteers.

What sets Yuwa apart? Girls in Yuwa gain the tools and support they need to truly take control of their own lives in the face of extreme adversity. We teach life and leadership skills, and then provide the opportunities to earn scholarships, respect, and income as coaches and mentors. Today, more than 30 girls in Yuwa have spoken at universities, TEDx events, and other conferences across India and around the world. Yuwa girls are inspiring girls in their communities, throughout India, and across the globe to know their own worth.

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