Meet the Cape Town Fellows!


The UnSchool's 9th Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program is happening on May 26th!



Meet the incredible #UNSCHOOLCAPETOWN cohort of creative rebels and change agents who will join us in CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA!



Neha is passionate about sustainability, textiles and design. After graduating, she worked in the fashion industry for a while. This firsthand experience in this second largest polluting industry changed her perspective completely. Neha started practicing and studying more about it to bring concrete change.


At the core, she believes in a multidisciplinary approach towards problem solving. Her current project ‘soot’ is an innovative colorant developed from industrial waste. The idea behind it was to explore and get inspired by the color sources around us instead of using regular chemicals. Neha loves organizing, traveling to unique and untouched places, experiencing new cultures & is fair believer in collaboration.


Sizwe’s interest and passion lies in informal settlement development in unison with community participation. Working for Development Action Group and Community Organization Resources Centre as a project coordinator in different kinds of small and big scale projects in informal settlement upgrading around the City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch Municipality has taught him a lot about working with community and project coordination.


He has learnt much more than just planning, project managing and drawing maps for these projects. His participatory working process was able to stitch the community back together and built capacity. His work experiences in City of Cape of Town Land Use Management department in the Khayelitsha area, to re-blocking project of Mshini wam and supporting building up of an Informal Settlements Network in the Stellenbosch area, to building grey water drainage channels in the Langrug Community in Franchhoek, makes Sizwe believe that joint responsibility and collaborative approaches of local communities, non-profit and corporate accountability, will contribute greatly towards sustainable development.


Zoë is a people person. She feels at home interacting with others and believes in putting this social skill to work. An environmental scientist by training, her role at the Cape Town branch of the engineering and infrastructure advisory firm, Aurecon, includes leading its Design to Innovate approach.


Her role is to foster collaboration between diverse thinkers toward adopting more user-centric approaches in infrastructure design. The significance of such co-created infrastructure? Less waste, more sustainability, and happier people. In her spare time, Zoë works as a trustee for the non-profit organization Great Girls, which mentors teenaged women from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping them develop the skills required for either tertiary education or full time employment.


Tim digs the ocean; riding waves, swimming under waves, studying waves, as well as, modelling waves and coastal processes. Having graduated as a Coastal Engineer, being the Editor of the world's largest bodyboarding magazine and, recently, designing a floating coastal protection structure for his Masters thesis - Tim's interest in the sea is a common thread. He's a pragmatic problem solver and feels that sea level rise due to climate change is a preeminent challenge that needs action.


Tim enjoys learning about the challenges in delivering design solutions for cultures other than his own (fueled by time spent studying in France, New Zealand & Taiwan, and living in China & South Africa), and collaborating in multidisciplinary teams. He believes that not only do designers need to be able to solve problems, but they must be able to clearly communicate their findings and the path forward.

Tim feels there is a lot to be learnt, not to mention fun to be had, in getting your hands dirty, whether that is through site visits, prototyping or exploration in a fab/bio lab.


Johan (pronounced with a hard J) believes that under the right conditions, none are left out. He was born on the Caribbean island nation known as St. Vincent & the Grenadines, where he spent the first 15 years of his life. Currently, he lives in the US in upstate New York and works to promote sustainable community development.


Johan’s goal for joining the Unschool learning community is to sharpen his strategic design toolkit. Ultimately, he'd like to design strategies for social change. During this fellowship, Johan hopes to laugh with and learn from as many interesting people as possible.


Saleemah is a Program Director for Madina Institute South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Physiology, followed by honors in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Cape Town. She also completed an advanced diploma in Business Project Management.


Saleemah is a bit of introvert, loves baking and reading, and has a keen interest in Islamic Spirituality. She is creative and organized, and enjoys playing Uno and drinking tea. She believes youth are not the future - they are the present, and that promoting, and living, messages of love, peace and tolerance is essential in our survival as human beings.

laya lakkaraju

Laya has lived her life through negation, so she doesn't have one thing that she cares about intensely. Rather, she deeply cares about many different things - human rights, health, science and innovation, the environment. Leya has a scientific approach to living, and loves questioning everything.


She received her degree in pharmaceutical sciences but very early on figured that she was not cut out to work in a corporate environment. She switched fields very quickly to public health, and currently she works on community-based chronic disease prevention programs. Laya is really interested in learning about systems thinking and disruption in the change making world and is ready to be part of a growing network of creative rebels. She wants to start her own non-profit and believes this fellowship experience will help her connect the dots.


Alyssa Burtt is an artist, a brand strategist, and May 2019 candidate for an MBA in Design Strategy at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. With a BFA in Visual Arts and a diploma in Graphic and Web Design, she started her first design consultancy in 2007, and has been an entrepreneur ever since.

Her current business, Brave Narrative, takes more of an archetypal branding and leadership focus, and she's excited to integrate all that she's learning in grad school to pivot and take her business to the next level. Also enrolled in a 4-year leadership program based on the principles of radical relating and personal responsibility, she is excited to bring together the intersections of her passions, from art, design and branding, to experience design, visionary leadership and social impact into her next entrepreneurial or career iteration.


Antonio is a strategic leader with a results-driven reputation. He’s an Operations Manager focusing on HR and people development at Year Up in Seattle, Washington. He leads with authenticity, purpose and integrity, combined with experience working directly with young professionals for over 10 years.


Antonio is a social justice warrior and wants to live in a world where we value each other for the thoughts we have, and that creates a more just society and not only the money in our pockets. Through his work in Washington, DC and the non-profit, City Year, he has realized the importance of authentic leadership. Knowing who he is and his place in the world has catapulted him to become an innovative people developer. Antonio is currently working on a personal project that documents the lives of black men in America, giving him and others the right to tell their own story their way.


Wafika was born in the Western Cape, in a township called Langa. At 21 years old, he is a web developer and a student who is currently studying at Quirky30. Wafika has also studied mechanics in the metal side.


Zimkhitha is a marketing graduate from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Currently a student at Quirky30 doing programming, she has gained inspiration from her CEO, Sihle Tshabalala, a self-taught coder, and her mentor, Nwabisa Masiko. Upon joining Quirky 30 she knew nothing about computers and their language. But now she can speak fairly fluently to a computer!



Tiahnah recently completed her studies at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch, South Africa where she immersed herself in the alternative learning methodologies. Her time there broadened her understanding of sustainable development.  While studying, she worked for Living Lands as a Landscape Mobiliser where she facilitates dialogue on the landscapes by using Theory U principles as a way of connecting perspectives. Projects include working with informal residential areas on water and sanitation monitoring systems; being part of the team to assist provincial government in reviewing the Sustainable Water Management Plan; establishing awareness of indigenous leaders and threatened wetlands and; bridging landscape initiatives.


Her interest in understanding human behaviour in relation to sustainability has lead her on many personal journeys in looking for better alternatives to the status quo. She seeks to learn more about how spaces and environment have an influence over those who move through it – and so, aspires towards working with a team of people that want to design and build new living and working spaces that will help people’s everyday decisions be more truthful and direct.

Tiahnah recognises her role as a steward of the planet and also finds necessity in acknowledging the connections between environmental degradation and gender inequality. She is therefore, a proud TreeSister. To work towards further connecting people and planet, Tiahnah continues looking for ways and approaches that ignite a more authentic relationship between both.


Perris is an innovation strategist with a passion for using design to drive positive shifts in behavior and massive social change. She cut her teeth in big ad agencies and market research consultancies on Fortune 500 clients. Since then, she’s taken the principles she learned from the corporate world to make her dent in the universe: rebranding Greenpeace to radically grow its member base, developing a business model to make fertility treatments more accessible, and designing a social media site to connect female change agents around the world.

Today at fuseproject, she is a design consultant for Spring – an accelerator program supporting social enterprises in East Africa and South Asia that impact the lives of adolescent girls. Perris comes from a family of artists and views strategy as a creative act. She believes in the power of constraints, intuition, inclusive design, and diverse teams. When combined and applied in the right ways, anything is possible.


Faith Pienaar is a young South African passionate about building just and equitable communities. She is an alumnus of Stellenbosch University where she completed a degree in Viticulture and Oenology and post graduate studies in Marketing. She currently works as a Non-profit Management Fellow at the Accountability Lab and the Democracy Works Foundation, where she is the coordinator of the Integrity Idol South Africa campaign, Her experiences outside of the classroom have seen her committed to asking critical questions on the politics and integrity of transformation at South African universities.

Faith was involved in the first wave of the Fees Must Fall protest in 2015; a time that she describes as a difficult but necessary reimagining of South African society. Her activism is motivated by a deep sense of empathy and a commitment to the deepening of a democracy. Outside of her 9 to 5, Faith coordinates leadership development workshops for students in the post school environment across the country. She is a previous International Fellow for the Volunteering for International Professionals Program with the Ministry of Finance in Malaysia, a South African Washington International Program alumni and an Abe Bailey Fellow.

Jill Thorne

Jill is a management consultant at Via-Ability with a focus on organization sustainability through the development of individual abilities and organizational capability. Via-Ability works with diverse perspectives in support of innovative decision making, strategy and systems development at all levels within organizations. Jill is values-driven, people-orientated and highly competent in systems thinking and leadership, strategic decision making and organizational development. She has high levels of personal integrity and is innovative, creative, and analytical with strengths in strategic and normative management. She is dedicated to service leadership, likes to works with small teams and makes interesting, productive things happen.


Jill has a demonstrated history of working in the oil, non-profit and academic research industries. She is skilled in using systems thinking to support organizational viability through building personal abilities and organizational capabilities. Jill supports development and learning though one-on-one mentoring and coaching, facilitation of group workshops and lean-in circles of learning. As a servant leader and is committed to empathy, trust, listening, collaboration and integrity, she is focused on communication and building communities with high levels of productive engagement by all stakeholders in the development of innovative, strategic responses to challenges and long-term sustainability.


Kausar works as renewable energy consultant primarily involved with solar and wind energy projects. She enjoys working in the energy field and is looking to broaden and develop her skills further.  It has become increasingly important for her to use her career as a tool to address the challenges we face in our current environment. Kausar has a keen interest in the circular economy and city resilience, and is passionate about inspiring the next generation through mentorship and education.