Meet the 2021 JCI Board of Directors Candidates

  • News

Many talented and dedicated people have been nominated to serve as international officers for JCI in 2021. Our unique One Year to Lead system ensures that our organization benefits from new perspectives and new ways of thinking. These promising candidates will help JCI adapt and develop outstanding leaders for a changing world.

During the 2020 JCI World Congress hosted by the Yokohama Conference Organizing Committee, Chief Delegates and National Presidents from JCI Organizations will elect the leaders of the international organization for the coming year. These chosen representatives include: 2021 JCI Vice Presidents, 2021 JCI Executive Vice Presidents and the 2021 JCI President.

Read more about each candidate in their bios here, and discover their plans for the future of JCI during the 2020 JCI World Congress. Registration for this exciting hybrid event will be opening soon!

The candidates appear in the order that their approved nomination was received by the JCI World Headquarters.

For the Office of JCI President:

1. Ryubun Kojima (JCI Japan)

Born on January 2, 1981 in Minoh-city, Osaka, Japan, Ryubun Kojima is an Administrator of Katsuo-ji-temple, and resides in Minoh-city Osaka, Japan. Ryubun joined JCI Osaka in 2012. In 2019, at the local level, he served as President of JCI Osaka. In 2017, at the national level, he served as Chairperson of the Promoting Sincerity to the General Affairs Commission and in 2018, at the international level, he served as Vice President of JCI. This year, he is serving as the Executive Vice President of JCI for Asia and the Pacific. He has attended eight JCI Area Conferences and eight JCI World Congresses. He speaks English and Japanese.

For the Office of JCI Executive Vice President:

1. Heather Vardell (JCI USA)

Heather Vardell was born on November 13, 1981 in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a focus in Public Administration and works as a workers’ compensation manager for a national staffing company, Defender Services. She joined JCI Cayce-West Columbia in 2009. She served as Individual Development Vice President in 2010, Local Chapter President in 2011 and 2012, JCI South Carolina State President in 2013, Civic Leadership Certification PM for JCI USA in 2014, National Vice President in 2015, National Membership Director and 2016 and National President in 2017. At the international level, Heather served on the Training Task Force in 2014, as Executive Assistant for the JCI President in 2018 and Digital Transformation Committee member in 2019. She has attended three JCI World Congresses and three JCI Area Conferences. She has been honored as JCI Senator No. 74132. Currently, Heather serves as JCI Vice President assigned to JCI Colombia, JCI Dutch Caribbean, JCI Jamaica, JCI Suriname and JCI West Indies 

2. Harira Cisse (JCI Mali)

Born on October 30, 1982 in Ansongo, Mali, Harira Cisse is a pharmacist and works as a consultant for the Promotion of the Quality of Medicines Program in Mali. She resides in Bamako, Mali. Harira joined JCI in 2007. She became Local President of JCI Bamako Espoir in 2013, served as 2014 JCI Mali National Vice President and 2015 National Executive Vice President. In 2016, Harira served as Deputy National President and the following year as 2017 JCI Mali National President. At the international level, Harira was a member of the 2018 JCI Strategic Planning Committee. She has attended seven JCI Area Conferences and three JCI World Congresses. She has been honored as JCI Senator No. 75785. She speaks French and some English. In 2019, she served as JCI Vice President and was assigned to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Djibouti, Senegal, Togo and Benin.

3. Teresa Poon (JCI Hong Kong)

Born on June 21, 1981, Teresa Poon is the director of three companies and resides in Hong Kong. She joined JCI City Lady in 2008 and served as the Local President in 2011. She became Secretary General for the 2012 JCI Asia-Pacific Conference in Hong Kong. In 2013, she demonstrated herself as an impact maker by serving as National Vice President and a calm decision maker as National General Legal Counsel in 2014. Her appointment as a JCI 100th Anniversary Committee Member and Growth and Development Chairperson in the following years made her a global networker. In 2017, she became JCI Hong Kong National President and inspired 2,300 members locally. Teresa is an entrepreneur who has attended 14 JCI Area Conferences and eight JCI World Congresses, in 2019 she held the office of JCI Vice President assigned to Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

4. Céline Bleher (JCI France)

Born on July 22, 1981 in Saint-Mandé, France, Céline Bleher holds a master’s degree in Human Resources and Economics. She works as Human Resources Development Director for LACROIX Group and lives in Angers, France. Céline joined JCI Angloulême-Cognac in 2008 and JCI du Saumurois in 2013. She became a Local President in 2010 (awarded Best Local President), then served as Appointee in charge of “International affairs” for JCI France in 2011, National Vice President in 2014 (Secretary General) and National President in 2015. At the international level, Céline has attended six JCI European Conferences, one JCI Conference of America and eight JCI World Congresses since 2008. She attended the German Academy in 2011 and the JCI Academy in 2014. She speaks French, English and German.

For the Office of JCI Vice President:

1. Tetiwe Nzimah (JCI Zambia)

Born November 29, 1984 in Mufulira, Zambia, Tetiwe Nzimah holds an Executive MBA in Leadership and Wealth Creation and works as a CEO and Fashion Illustrator of her clothing brand – House of Nkosi. Tetiwe also serves on the C2-Alliance board as a board member. She resides in Lusaka, Zambia. Tetiwe joined JCI Lusaka in 2013 and is the second JCI member in her family after her father. She became the JCI Lusaka Public Relations Director in 2014, JCI Lusaka Local President in 2015, National President in 2016, Africa and Middle East Development Counselor in 2019 and is currently serving as a Partnerships Committee Member. Tetiwe has attended three JCI Area Conferences and two JCI World Congresses. She speaks English proficiently and French with limited working proficiency.

2. Takahiro Sasaki (JCI Japan)

Born on October 7, 1986 in Saitama, Japan, Takahiro Sasaki is President and Representative Director of Ashima Co., Ltd. and resides in Saitama, Japan. Takahiro joined JCI Saitama-chuo in 2012. In 2018, at the national level, he served as Chairperson of JCI Japan’s UN Affairs Committee and as Chairperson of JCI Japan’s General Affairs Commission in 2019. In 2018, at the local level, he served as Executive Vice President of JCI Saitama-chuo. This year, Takahiro is the Local President of JCI Saitama-chuo. He has attended ten JCI Area Conferences and six JCI World Congresses. He speaks Japanese and English.

3. Drazen Stankovic (JCI Serbia)

Born July 8, 1983 in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Drazen Stankovic holds a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and works as lead developer of a software manufacturing company. He resides in Belgrade, Serbia. Drazen joined JCI Belgrade in 2015. He became Local President in 2018 and National President in 2019. At the international level, Drazen serves as 2020 JCI Europe Development Council Counselor. He has attended three JCI Area Conferences and one JCI World Congress. He has been honored as JCI Senator No. 78780. He speaks English and Serbian.

4. Kaveen Kumar Kumaravel (JCI India)

Born on January 25, 1986 in Erode, TN, India, Kaveen Kumar Kumaravel holds a master’s degree in International Business and works as managing partner of a retail chain. He is an inspirational and visionary businessman predominantly involved in the bag manufacturing industry. He resides in Erode, Tamil Nadu, India, with his wife Madhumitha, their daughter Krieya and son Diyan. He joined JCI Erode in 2010 with the intention to serve the community and develop his leadership qualities. In 2017, he served as a Local Organization President of JCI Erode. He was elected as the Zone President in 2019 and recognized as the most outstanding Zone President of JCI India. He is currently the 2020 Executive Vice President of JCI India. Kaveen has attended one JCI World Congress and eight JCI National Conferences. He has achieved the Phil Pugsley Patron status for his donations to the JCI Foundation. He speaks Tamil and English.

 5. Hanane Benyahia (JCI Morocco)

Born on October 30, 1981 in Casablanca, Morocco, Hanane Benyahia holds a master’s degree in Quality Management and currently works as a social project manager for a national NGO. She resides in Casablanca, Morocco with her family. Hanane joined JCI in January 2010. She became Local President of JCI CasaImpact in 2015 and National President of JCI Morocco in 2019. At the international level, Hanane serves as a 2020 JCI Partnerships Committee Member, and she has attended five JCI Area Conferences and one JCI World Congress. She has been honored as JCI Senator No.77020. She speaks Arabic, French and some English.

6. Olena Prykhodko (JCI Monaco)

Born on June 3, 1993 in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Olena Prykhodko holds a master’s degree in Law and is currently writing a PhD in Constitutional Economics. She is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Modelex Education Monaco, a Center for Academic Excellence in the Principality of Monaco. Olena joined JCI Monte Carlo in 2015. She became National Vice President in 2017 and was elected as National President in 2018. At the international level, she served as European Development Councillor in 2019 and is currently a member of the JCI Europe Partnerships Team. She has attended three JCI European Conferences, two JCI Asia-Pacific Conferences and three JCI World Congresses. Olena has also been awarded the State Medal of Ukraine for her outstanding contribution towards Youth Development, served as the Advisor to the Mayor of Kharkiv and discussed the challenges facing education today as a guest speaker at the Davos World Economic Forum in 2018. She speaks fluent English, Russian, French and Ukrainian. 

 7. Michaela Palmberg (JCI Finland)

Born April 26, 1985 in Kristinestad, Finland, Michaela Palmberg holds a master’s degree in French and Financial Studies and works as an entrepreneur in a translation agency. She is an experienced professional in the field of linguistics. She resides in Tampere, Finland with her spouse Jani. Michaela joined JCI Vaasa in 2014. She became Local President in 2015, Regional Officer in 2016 and National President in 2020. Michaela has attended eleven JCI Area Conferences and five JCI World Congresses. She has been honored as JCI Senator #77781 and has been awarded for her leadership skills nationally. Michaela speaks Swedish, Finnish and English fluently, has a working proficiency in French and an elementary proficiency in German, Spanish and Dutch. She is a dedicated young leader who also serves as a City Council Member and Vice President for the Education and Welfare Committee in the city of Valkeakoski.

8. Manuela Weber (JCI Germany)

Manuela Weber was born in Bavaria, Germany. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and works in the IT field. She joined JCI Munich in 2013, became Local President in 2015, was a member of the Bavarian State Board in 2016 and 2017, got elected as JCI Germany National President in 2019 and currently serves as JCI European Development Councillor. Manuela has attended six JCI European Conferences, three JCI Asia-Pacific Conferences and six JCI World Congresses. She has been honored as JCI Senator No. 77762. She speaks German, English and French.

9. Pheng Kouch (JCI Cambodia) 

Born January 10, 1983 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Pheng Kouch (William) holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and works as President of Advanced Glory Logistics (Cambodia) Co., Ltd. He resides in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with his wife Lypheng Taing, their son Kelvin Kouch and daughters Alice Kouch and Jessica Kouch. Pheng joined JCI Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2010. He became Local President in 2013, National President in 2015 and JCI Asia-Pacific Conference Director in 2020. At the International Level, Pheng has attended seven JCI Area Conferences and five JCI World Congress. He has been honored as JCI Senator No. 74163. He speaks Khmer, English and Mandarin Chinese.

10. Paul Jess “PJ” Estrellado (JCI Philippines)

Paul Jess “PJ” Estrellado is the eldest son of Leopoldo and Benita Estrellado and a brother to Kristina, Rodhora and Rovin. Having been raised in a very family-oriented home, he regards his family as the most important part of his life. He is happily married to Jessa and a loving father to Zofia Paula and Paul James. His experiences have molded him to remain humble but determined and respectful to everyone. He became deeply involved in his family’s businesses during his college years, building his proficiency in various business acumen. He attended Rogationist Academy in Silang, Cavite for his Secondary Education and pursued his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Export Management at De La Salle – College of St. Benilde. He currently serves as the Vice President of El Coco Group of Companies, L.A. Estrellado Food Corporation and The Coco Palace Hotel. He also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of PJPE Tiger Food Corporation. He was invited to join JCI San Pablo 7 Lakes in 2010, sparking a very vibrant JCI career. He served his chapter in various capacities before eventually accepting the challenge to become its 2015 Chapter President. He continued to climb the JCI Philippines leadership ladder by serving various elected positions thereafter. His journey to become a catalyst of change ultimately led him to become the 2019 JCI Philippines National President.

11. Yassine Jaouadi (JCI Tunisia)

Born on July 17, 1984 in Ariana, Tunisia, Yassine Jaouadi is a mechanical engineer and holds a master’s degree in Entrepreneurial Engineering. He works as the director of his own company, which specializes in ecological packaging solutions. He resides in Tunis, Tunisia with his wife Salma and their three children. Yassine joined JCI Soukra in 2008. He became the Founder and the Local President of JCI Innovation in 2011, served as 2013 JCI Tunisia National Director in charge of growth and development and 2014 National Vice President. He was recognized as the best leader in JCI Tunisia in 2013 and the Most Outstanding National Vice President in 2014. He served as 2018 National Executive Vice President, 2019 National Executive Director and 2020 National President. At the international level, Yassine has attended two JCI Area Conferences and two JCI World Congresses. He has been honored as JCI Senator No. 77901. He speaks Arabic, French and English.

 12. Thaynan Mariano (JCI Brazil)

Born on March 31, 1989 in Tubarão, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Thaynan Mariano holds a technology degree in Mechatronics and works as a consultant in strategic marketing and gamification at his own company. He resides in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Thaynan co-founded JCI Florianópolis in 2011. He became Local President in 2011 and National President in 2020. He has attended two JCI Area Conferences and four JCI World Congresses. He speaks English and Portuguese.

 13. Yohemmy Martinez (JCI Dominican Republic)

Born March 20, 1987 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Yohemmy Martínez holds a master’s degree in Logistic and Operation Management and works in the Purchase and Public Procurement area of an Electricity distribution company of the Dominican Republic, public sector. She resides in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, with her maternal grandparents and her twin sister Ilonka. Yohemmy joined JCI´80, Inc. in 2008. She became Local President in 2012, National Director in 2013 and 2015, National Vice President in 2016, Executive Vice President in 2017, Secretary General in 2018, and JCI Dominican Republic National President in 2019. At the international level, Yohemmy serves as the 2020 Commissioner of the American Development Council (ADC). She has attended five JCI Area Conferences and one JCI World Congress. She participated and graduated from the 2012 American Leadership Academy in Curitiba, Brazil and also became a Global Networker through the 2018 JCI Academy in Himeji, Japan. She speaks Spanish and English.

 14. Keirin McCormack (JCI Australia)

Born March 14, 1981 in Canberra Australia, Keirin holds a bachelor’s degree in Advocacy and Policy with a Law major. She is currently completing her master’s in Law and Diploma in Counselling. Keirin is a strategic management and communications consultant working with NGOs, charities and for purpose organizations. She is committed to leading teams and organizations that are aiming to create, grow and share something with meaning and impact. Keirin seeks to support and empower young leaders, particularly working with youth experiencing mental health, educational or legal disadvantage. Driving material change in the awareness and attitudes of community members in order to create an inclusive and empowered world is both her passion and her purpose. Keirin joined JCI Illawarra in 2016 as the Director of Communications and Engagement. She joined the JCI Australia National Board in 2018 and was National Vice President in 2019 and is currently serving as 2020 National President. In 2017, Keirin was awarded the Most Outstanding Member by JCI Australia.

 15. Geir Arne Aune Hovd (JCI Norway)

Born on May 18, 1981 in Trondheim, Norway. Geir Arne Aune Hovd studied Technology management and psychology at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. He is self-employed and resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. Geir joined JCI Evolution (Trondheim) in March 2010. He became a local board member in 2011, Deputy National President in 2014 and National President in 2015. He has attended five JCI Area Conferences and six JCI World Congresses. He graduated from the 27th JCI Academy in Handa, Japan and has been honored as JCI Senator No. 74559. He speaks English, Norwegian and some German and Spanish.

16. Andrea Cruz (JCI Venezuela)

Born May 2, 1987 in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Andrea Cruz holds a master’s degree in Business Management and works as a Financial Advisor in International Insurance in her own company ACruz Group Academy. She resides in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Andrea joined JCI Zulia in 2009. She became Local President in 2015, and National President in 2017. At the international level, Andrea served on the Strategic Alliances Committee in 2019 and on the Strategic Plan Implementation  Committee in 2020. She has attended five JCI Area Conferences and one JCI World Congress. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese and intermediate English.

17. Zandile Makhoba (JCI South Africa)

Born April 19, 1986 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Zandile Makhoba holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Science Studies, Bachelor of Social Science Studies in Psychology, Diploma in Culinary Arts Programme and works as a Managing Director for Zandi The Chef International. She resides in Durban, South Africa with her family. Zandile joined JCI South Africa in 2013. She became a Local President in 2016 and she is currently serving as National President of JCI South Africa. She has attended one JCI Area Conference and one JCI World Congress. She is a graduate of the 2018 JCI Academy.

18.    Otto Gamboa Rojas (JCI Panama)

Born November 17, 1981 in Panama City, Panama, Otto Gamboa holds a master’s degree in Business Administration with emphasis in Human Resources and works as branch manager and partner of Clínica Los Portales, a national corporation of four private medical clinics and logistics manager of GAMROJA S.A., a local leader company in distribution of medical supplies. He resides in Panama City, Panama, with his wife Amarelys, and their son Maximiliano and daughter Abigail. Otto joined JCI De La Ciudad de Panama in 2009. He became Local President in 2012, National Executive Vice President 2016 and National President in 2017. At the international level, Gamboa served as Partnership Committee member for the Americas in 2018, and Conference Director for the Conference of America 2020. He has attended six JCI Area Conferences (one virtual) and three JCI World Congresses. He speaks English and Spanish.

19. Neil Fitzgerald (JCI USA)

Born September 2, 1982, in Essex, UK, Neil Fitzgerald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and is currently studying at Harvard Business School. Neil works as a Product and Pricing Strategy Director for a travel company. He resides in Los Angeles, California, USA, with his cat Katie. Fitzgerald joined JCI Santa Clarita Valley in 2012 after moving from the United Kingdom for his job; in the UK he had served as a City Councillor. He became Local President in 2013 and 2014, State President in 2016 and National Vice President in 2017 before serving as JCI USA first ever Director of Chapter Development in 2018, helping to create over 20 new local organizations. At the international level, Neil served as a JCI Advocacy Committee member for 2020 and previously as commissioner on the America Development Council. He has attended two JCI Area Conferences and one JCI World Congress. He has also been honored as JCI Senator No. 76896.