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Alexis Coleman

FOUNDER

I founded Traveling Mercy after seeing the profound impact travel had on my life. Travel led me to the island of Curaçao at a young age, which gave me the courage to attend college in Washington, DC as a Texas native. Opportunities to travel throughout my life have increasingly made me aware of global issues, cultural connections, and history. Studying abroad in Spain gave me the opportunity to travel Europe, learn Spanish, and acquire an appreciation for myself and others. Travel has led me to a career in international relations and peace, something I never thought possible. When I reflected on my travels, I noticed a lack of global exposure, particularly in historically marginalized communities. It occurred to me, that this was another area where inequity and marginalization was taking place. I believe that travel opens doors and creates better societies, and so I started Traveling Mercy.

 
 
 
 
 

Cayla Machleit

Board Member

My passion for travel comes from a deep desire to learn about dynamic cultures around the world. I love meeting new people and learning how their culture, religion, and experiences shape the way they think about and react to things. I know from personal experience living in a small, closed off community how easy it is to be scared of the things you don’t know and understand, which is why I am passionate about Traveling Mercy’s mission. Exposure is key to building bridges and not walls. Meeting people from around the world  has helped me see that the world is made vibrant and better because of our differences, not in spite of them.

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Bee Nyong

Blessing Ikpa

Board Member

I travel because the experience allows me to get outside of my everyday life and connect with the world around me. Traveling is so important because, as global citizens, we need to constantly be understanding the world around us. We have to be engaged if we want to live in a world we’ve always imagined.

 
 
 
 
 

Tara Severyn

Board Member

I’m so psyched to be a part of Traveling Mercy and help facilitate eye-opening and horizon-broadening experiences with communities that may not have accessibility to international travel. I grew up in a single parent home and didn’t have the financial resources to travel abroad until my freshman year at college. During my first international trip I remember feeling uncomfortable and out of place the entire time, which actually gave me the space to expand what I thought to be true about myself and the world. Travel is transformative to the mind and spirit, and it’s so important that we all have the opportunity to engage in that transformation. After my first trip, I was inspired to make a goal to visit a new country every year until I turned 25. This month I’ll celebrate my 25th birthday and I am so grateful to be able to say I’ve reached my goal! I’ve made sacrifices to make these various trips happen, and I am forever appreciative for the lessons learned, the experiences I stumbled into, and the self-growth I achieved.

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Maya Day

Board Member

My most memorable traveling experience was studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. In embracing a different culture I better understood my own. Traveling abroad taught me to live fearlessly, to walk in faith, love wholeheartedly, and strive for something bigger than myself. Serving on the board for Traveling Mercy is a privilege as it reminds me of these experiences and motivates me to ensure others get this same passport to understanding.

 
 
 
 
 

Maurissa Walls

Board Member

Getting to travel abroad for the first time as a high school student was a deeply spiritual experience that changed my life. It taught me how to engage with the world around me and showed me the power of listening and learning from others experiences. One of my greatest lessons traveling alone as a young adult was learning how to trust myself. I learned that my resilience and spirituality can carry me through any situation. I'm reminded of this with every travel experience and have carried over the self-confidence that I gained into my life at home. Working with TM I hope to help facilitate similar experiences for more people with limited access to the privilege of travel. I hope that they too can see a world beyond theirs and learn new life skills that they can take home to transform their lives. 

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Danielle Noel

Board Member

I am proud to be involved with an organization like Traveling Mercy because I strongly believe in the power of travel and exposure to diverse cultures. As someone of Caribbean descent growing up in Brooklyn, I experienced two worlds. My home was filled with the sound of reggae and calypso, as well as the scents of curry chicken, oxtail, and more. At school, I chatted with my friends of all races and background about Notorious B.I.G. and witnessed a whole of cross-section of the world when I stopped by the local corner store or bodega. These experiences helped to nurture my curiosity and openness to learning more about how other people live. Through the years, my parents have supported me and funded various trips outside the U.S. For many people, especially the marginalized and disenfranchised, this is not an option or a possibility. I am passionate about helping people of color, youth, the working class, the elderly, and anyone else who is looking to expand their worldview but have been denied the opportunity. Based on the Explore page on Instagram, it appears as through traveling is only for people with private planes and yachts. I am on a mission to ensure that this is the exception and not the rule.

 
 
 
 
 

Abrar Rageh

Board Member

Hi! I’m so honored to be on the board of Traveling Mercy. Born and bred in Pittsburgh, PA, I grew up in a community that saw people from all around the world. I learned about other countries from talking to people, and tried to live experience through listening to their stories. As a first generation American who only traveled after getting into college, I quickly learned that travel expands horizons, community, and develops ones self in a different dimension. I aim to continue growing, and helping underprivileged communities grow through travel. When Alexis first told me about her mission, I knew this was going to be revolutionary. Together we all make the world better.

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Kathya Saavedra

Board Member

As a person who was born in a war and violence torn country, El Salvador, I never thought I would have the opportunity to travel around the world. I had a mother who had the privilege of being born upper-class and instilled the passion for travel in me. I had some financial help from family in the beginning, but the majority of the trips I took were personally funded. I worked 3-4 Jobs at once in college in order to pay my way through and have extra to travel. I know I struggled, but the experiences I had abroad were priceless. They showed me an expanded view of what life was like for others, but also the possibilities of what I could do for myself. I am committed to ensuring that all marginalized students have different options for international travel, and I hope to be a force for Traveling Mercy’s vision.