Staff & Board

Yuwa 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

Education director

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 to learn more about the program these young women had come from.  Rose then worked with the Mighty Girls program at SALT Academy in Cambodia before returning to Yuwa, where she now manages our education programs.


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 Kumari'

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.


Susamma Abraham - 'Mrs. Cherian'

Math Teacher

Mrs. Cherian teaches math to standards 5 – 9. With over 35 years of experience teaching math, the prospect of teaching the Yuwa girls lured Mrs. Cherian out of retirement and back into the classroom. Originally from Kerala, Mrs. Cherian received her B.Sc from Marthoma College and her B.Ed from Utkal University. She taught boys at the prestigious St. Xavier’s High School in Ranchi for more than thirty years. Her passion for mathematics is contagious. She inspires girls to stop being afraid of math—and just jump into it!


Shyama Sinha

English Teacher

Shyama teaches English to standards 5 – 9. After studying engineering at Visveswariya Technological University in Bangalore, Shyama spent several years working in IT at Tata Consultancy Services in India and the US. Shyama made a dramatic career change by joining Yuwa School, and has quickly become a well-loved and inspirational English teacher for Yuwa students. She also teaches singing as an extracurricular class.


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.


Purnata Mojumdar

Hindi Teacher

Mrs. Mojumdar brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Yuwa School as the Hindi teacher for standards 5 – 9. She has over 28 years of experience teaching Hindi at the Sacred Heart School in Ranchi and has lived in astonishing number of places: the US, Canada, Tanzania, Egypt, England, Bangladesh, and all throughout India. Mrs. Mojumdar has endless positive energy. The Yuwa girls refer to her as their “other grandmother.”


Gayatri Kumari

Science Teacher

Gayatri teaches Science to students in standards 5 – 9. With her experience of growing up as a girl in a Jharkhand village, Gayatri personally knows the challenges that her students face. With a B.Sc in Environmental Studies from Asian University for Women (Bangadesh), Gayatri aims to create lessons that incorporate hands-on activities and visuals that spark students’ curiosity. Gayatri also teaches dancing and yoga as extracurricular activities.


G. Sharanya Rao

Primary Teacher

Sharanya teaches standards 3 and 4 at Yuwa School, and also acts as Teacher Liason for the Student Council. Originally from Mumbai, Sharanya earned a BA in Psychology-Sociology from St. Xaviers College and a Masters in Education from Azim Premji University. Sharanya is known for her incredible patience, appreciation of life in the village, affinity for banana chips, and creative project ideas.


Anima Kumari Swansi

Primary Teacher

Anima teaches the youngest group at Yuwa School: standards 1 and 2. She received her B.Sc from Ranchi Women’s College and worked as a primary school teacher for five years before joining Yuwa. Anima uses many songs and poems to teach her lessons. She impresses the students by driving a scooter to school everyday from Ranchi. Anima always has smile on her face.


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.


Shubhadeep Mukherjee


Although Shubho is pursuing his PhD from IIM Ranchi, he still finds time to volunteer three times a week at Yuwa as a math tutor for standards 5 – 9. Working closely with Mrs. Cherian, Shubho ensures that all the students stay on track and getting extra tutoring if necessary. Shubho is famous around the Yuwa campus for encouraging students to reject negative thinking and say, “I LOVE MATH!”


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)

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

Sandeep Chhetry

Board secretary & mentor

See Sonu’s bio above

Rumy Narayan

Board member

Rumy is a journalist by training, principally an analyst, strategist and writer working in the area of Sustainable Development and Leadership Strategies. She has been Manager of Sustainability for Wal-Mart India and consultant at Confederation of Indian Industry’s ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development.  Rumy holds and MA in sustainable development from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola (Sweden).

Board of Directors (USA)

Franz Gastler

Board member

See Franz’s bio above

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.

Volunteers past & present

Ana Aguirre Uriz

Data application development & fundraising

After meeting Yuwa’s executive director Franz in a Mumbai slum, Ana and her teammates at the Bilbao-based innovation consultancy TZBZ decided to take a team from Yuwa to Spain.  Their campaign ultimately resulted in the first team ever from India to compete in Spain, and 18 girls from Yuwa’s ‘Supergoats’ team becoming international youth icons.

Ana holds a BA in Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation and a Masters in Team Coaching from Mondragon University.  She spent 6 months as a Fellow with Yuwa after receiving a fellowship from the Basque Government in Spain.  At Yuwa, Ana designed a data management app to synthesize and manage data on girls in the program in a more precise and comprehensive way.

Mashreeb Aryal

Coaches' mentoring & training

Mashreeb is mentoring Yuwa’s young community sports leaders, developing monitoring & evaluation systems and organizing a series of empowerment workshops with Yuwa’s female mentor Neha.  Originally from Kathmandu, Mashreeb is completing his Masters of Social Work thesis from Madras Christian College.

Prabudh Goel

Education & IT

Prabudh has assisted and advised Yuwa’s summer school programs, teaching four math classes a day and managing Yuwa’s digital ‘flipped’ classroom.  He holds a BE from Delhi College of Engineering and is a Senior Engineer with Alstom India.  He is currently pursuing his MBA at Yale University.

Friends of Yuwa

Sarah Van Vooren


Paul Vassar

Coaching curriculum

Anya Gupta

Finance & fundraising

Anya holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, and has previously worked as the Associate Dean at the Young India Fellowship (University of Pennsylvania). She is the author of The Captainship: First-Gen Entrepreneurs (Bloomsbury, 2013) and has also worked as an investment professional at Helion Ventures and Avigo Capital.

Michelle Green


Jeremy Johnson

Public relations & education

Quinn Davis


Sophie Piper


Tim Deming


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