Janet Lotawa, Co-Founder & Executive Director found her entry point to community development work as a teenager, awe-struck by the warmth of island communal culture. She knew at a young age, this is where her future lay. Given her passion for working to enable what she believes in, Janet worked as a development and fundraising professional for more than ten years at non-profit organizations focused on education and equity in the United States including NW Immigrant Rights Project, Giddens School and TAF (Technology Access Foundation). She considers Co-founding Rise Beyond the Reef one of her major life goals and is deeply committed to changing the reality of life for women and children in the South Pacific through creative and effective community development strategies. She is married to Semi, they have two sons together and has spent time in Fiji supporting the needs of women and children on an informal basis for 14 years.
Semi Lotawa, Co-Founder is an indigenous Fijian from Nalotawa Village, Yakete, Ba. He grew up in the traditional setting of his village, attended a remote boarding school and is one of about five percent of students from his district that graduated from high school. Semi worked in forestry with a focus on sustainable community development. Realizing that his effectiveness was tied to the whims of international grants, he moved to the United States to pursue a degree in Business. His goal was to secure sizeable investment from the private sector markets within the United States in order to continue his passionate pursuit of sustainable development for indigenous communities in the Pacific. He worked as an Investment Analyst for five years, co-founded Serevi Rugby and is the CEO-Fiji of Callison Pacific Pine Chemicals.
Liti Nautumauro, Community Coordinator
Nautumauro (front center) is no stranger to community organizing. Nautumauro is a highly respected leader within Yakete District and representative to the Provincial Council for Ba. A member of Tukuraki village and the District Development Committee, she is our on-the-ground eyes and ears, helping to mobilize projects and ensure that communities themselves take ownership of the opportunities we link them to.