Meet Our Staff
CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Janet Lotawa 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 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.
Nautumauro is no stranger to community organizing. Liti 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.
NAKOROTUBU DISTRICT COORDINATOR, RA
Temalesi originates from the Lau Island group and moved to the Ra coastline after marriage. Since 2017, she helped to train other women in her community on basket weaving. A natural leader and well-respected teacher, she was promoted in 2018 to District Coordinator, managing production with six villages and one settlement in her surrounding community.
Ana joined the RBTR team in 2018. Known for her crafting skill and speed, she helps prepare village products for the shelf. She has ironing, varnishing, and tagging covered!
Anju joined the RBTR team full time in January 2018, helping to increase RBTR's production capacity. Anju has over ten years factory experience working as a machinist and supervising production. Anju helps make product development ideas come to life!
Mereani joined our team in 2017. Mereani is from Nalotawa Village and knows the important business of moving products in our outlets, and ensuring steady movement of orders with our partner communities.
Sereima has been a member of RBTR's original staff since 2015, working side by side on administrative duties with District Coordinators and RBTR's Director. Sereima is known for skillfully managing the challenging logistics of getting supplies out to communities, getting products from communities, and managing order deadlines.
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Vika grew up close to town and married into the remote village of Yaloku, Ba. As the inaugural Village Coordinator in her community in 2015, she provided exceptional leadership to help develop a culture of production for handmade dolls within her village. Vika worked alongside fellow doll producers to develop innovative savings clubs. Vika now provides ongoing leadership support to other Village Coordinators throughout her district and helps to teach various techniques.
Muneeta joined the RBTR team in 2018 and has more than eight years of experience as a machinist. Her lively sense of humor keeps our office laughing throughout the day!
Vinaisi, aka "Melissa" joined RBTR in 2018, helping to support our growing number of vendor "artisan" transactions, making our backend tracking systems align with our program goals. Originally from Abaca Village, one of our partner communities, Melissa brings a passion for community development and is one of the first "girl guides" in her village's ecotourism program.
Vilikesa hails from Verevere Village, Ra, and is a talented artist and one-man production staff. He established RBTR's operations within his district in 2016, following Cyclone Winston. For more than a year he split his time between community and office operations. He now works full time in product production at RBTR's headquarters in Sabeto, while also teaching hand printing in partner communities. Vilikesa is our most outgoing sales representative. You are likely to meet him at our pop-up sales events, and at our Na store, Sabeto.