How we started and where we are today. Continually learning, evolving and adapting.
Co-founders Zoe Pappis and Xander Schultz first interface with the refugee crisis on Lesvos, volunteering for a month during the height of the island’s refugee crisis. The couple did a little bit of everything during their first visit - driving people from the shores to camps, making food, acting as security guards, and distributing warm clothing during the winter months.
Looking for a way to generate awareness about the crisis and raise funds to continue supporting displaced people on Lesvos, Zoë looked at the thousands of life vests strewn across the beaches and saw an opportunity to do both. WWBT was selling life-vest bracelets, driving funds back to the island and helping people share the story of the refugee crisis.
WWBT supported Team Humanity’s Hope and Peace Center - a safe space for women and children. WWBT also led their first group trip to the island. The value the Hope and Peace Center delivered to the refugee community
WWBT hired the esteemed Stavros Mirogiannis to run their operations on the island, and rented their first property in March. WWBT plans to continue to rent properties in Lesvos and transform them into desperately needed community centers.
Our vision is brought to life with the support of people who share our passion for the cause and work to make a difference.
Cheif Operations Officer
Stavros is WWBT’s boots on the ground, managing and coordinating all activities and partnerships. Stavros previously served as manager of the 1,200 person Kara Tepe refugee camp on Lesvos from 2015 - 2019, where he was heralded for his emphasis on maintaining dignity and ensuring quality conditions. When his tenure as site manager ended in August 2019 amid a change in local government, the refugees staged a demonstration in protest, chanting “We need Stavros!”.
Zoë's consistent, details-oriented leadership is what fuels WWBT. Her degree in community health has made WWBT an organization that always has inclusivity top of mind - ensuring the refugee community has a say in the programs they need and an opportunity to lead whenever possible. As a yoga teacher for 8+ years, she has a deep understanding of the need to provide resources that serve the mind, body, and spirit.
Xander is often driving the big vision for WWBT. He and his wife Zoë co-founded WWBT after spending time volunteering on Lesvos in 2015. Xander's career as a social entrepreneur, impact investor, and activist, has him always trying find points of leverage where WWBT can maximize its impact per dollar.
Ramya Kuchimanchi is a designer who grew up being exposed to contrasting cultures, this instilled a deep appreciation for diversity and allowed her to have a different approach to understanding people and problems. She believes that design can bring people together to uplift and empower each other.
Director of Major Gifts
Puneh Ala’i is WWBT’s Director of Major Gifts who leads the development and execution of strategy for our organization. She builds collaborative relationships with donors and funders to accomplish the critical work at our community centers. She is known for having snuck into Syria multiple times in 2013 to provide immediate aid relief to the internally displaced persons and thereafter having helped start Birds of Hope, a Syrian refugee school in Tripoli, Lebanon.