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Meet the Mastercard CEO Force for Good winners for the first half of 2023

July 28, 2023 | By Susan Warner

Twice a year, Mastercard recognizes the individuals and teams who apply their time, expertise and sweat equity to causes both local and global with the CEO Force for Good Awards.

From helping NGOs protect themselves against cyberattacks to raising money and organizing food and clothing drives for earthquake disaster relief to teaching girls about the opportunities STEM education creates, here are the employees who made a difference in the first half of 2023.

Global award

Bonnie Leff, Isabel Kiesel, Katie Boudreau, Jenn deBerge, Melanie Gersten, David Housman and employee volunteers around the world

As more people, businesses and interactions are brought into the digital ecosystem, it’s critical to use cybersecurity expertise to keep them secure. In 2019, Mastercard helped form the CyberPeace Institute,  an independent nonprofit with a mission to protect NGOs from cyberattacks. In late 2022, those efforts multiplied with the Institute’s new CyberPeace Builders programs, in which volunteers donate cybersecurity skills to educate NGOs with security assessments, awareness training, Dark Web monitoring, phishing exercises and password management. Currently, 186 Mastercard employees make up more than half of the program’s volunteers.

Asia Pacific

Shubham Gupta, Gurugram, India

Some volunteers stand out for their individual hours and efforts; some by giving and rallying others to give. Gupta does both, according to his colleague Sharat Nambissan: “Shubham is instrumental in driving volunteerism for the Gurugram office. He brings the passion and encourages others to participate, providing a perfect immersion for those who haven’t volunteered before.” In the past year, Gurugram colleagues had multiple opportunities to follow his lead as Gupta helped plan and execute activities from providing financial and payments literacy to marginalized communities to donating food and clothing.

Rita Puspanathan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

To list the ways that Puspanathan contributes as a volunteer is to cover many essential issues and opportunities for people and the planet. She helped spearhead Mastercard’s  Turkey-Syria earthquake relief donation drive in Malaysia and actively collected funds for lifesaving aid. In the Kuala Lumpur office, she takes the lead in supporting  #RunForChildren World Vision, which provides education, health care and other vital services to children in need and is involved in tree-planting campaigns. “Rita creates value with everything she does,” says colleague Shonelle Price.

Priya Sancheti, Sarthak Goel, Himanshu Tyagi, Tanya Dhingra, Mahima Goel, Saurabh Chhabra, and Ritika Jain, Gurugram, India

This team extended our consulting and analytics services to CAPED India, a cancer awareness, prevention and early detection NGO supporting underprivileged women, streamlining and enhancing back-end operations and functionalities, saving the organization money, and developing an insights dashboard to help the NGO — and prospective sponsors — understand their impact. “Each team member contributed irrespective of other commitments, locations and time zones,” Goel says. “We had members working from Australia to complete the project on time.

Shacind Ananthan, Rupali Avhad, Swarnna Baranwal, Natalia Bong, Casper Hsieh, Sun Ian, Sanketkumar Katore, Andrea Lee, Joseph Liu, Lee Nana, Song Yang Poh, Swetank Sahai, Shivam Singhal, Mrina Vasudevan, Liu Willie and  Adrian Yuen, offices in Singapore; Taipei, Taiwan; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Pune, India

In Indonesia, 97% of the workforce is employed by small businesses and mentoring is particularly important. This team volunteered their knowledge and skills to identify insights for MicroMentor, a nonprofit mentoring program of Mercy Corps Indonesia. MicroMentor is the world’s largest community of entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors, so the team’s task was enormous. The volunteers participated in a datathon resulting in ways to improve UX of mentor profile pages, create online learning paths for mentees and enhance loyalty rewards to encourage participation.

Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa

Yunus Efe Yüksel, Eda Kaya, Alper Şahin, Burak Kaya, and Hüseyin Selvi, Istanbul, Turkey

Auctions by nature are exciting events where bidders compete for items of interest, and plenty of headlines are made when prices paid exceed expectations. Our Istanbul office took that basic concept and added a charitable purpose. The “Auction for Good” created by the Community Support Istanbul team was planned as an office get-together and fundraising event, with 29 volunteers offering unique individual experiences that colleagues could donate to purchase. Everyone got into the spirit, with much racing to bid and enthusiasm for giving more. Critical charities in Turkey received the proceeds, which totaled nearly $18,000.

Dana Harb, Ali Khalaf, Amir Al Lawati, Emre Oral, Omar El Sabaa, Sowmya Srinivasan, Gheeda Alnoubani, Mariam Egal, Deema Ahmed, Birce Arslan, Sedef Acar, Terrence Marshall, Qawwam Syed, Talat Qureishi, Mohammed Lootah and John Ninia, Dubai, U.A.E.

When the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria in February, our Dubai office joined forces to help. With food for victims an immediate need, the team organized colleagues to contribute to an initiative launched by the U.A.E. Food Bank. Hundreds of Mastercard colleagues stepped forward to assist in record time, with nearly two tons donated by the Dubai office. Additional volunteer activities by Dubai associates supported recovery efforts and provided necessities like clothing for people in Turkey and Syria who lost everything.

Aigerim Omarbekova, Aigerim Garifullina, Ruslan Tokushev, Vadil Galiulin, Radion Chen and Rafal Trepka, Almaty, Kazakhstan

AIESEC, the International Association of Students in Economics and Commercial Sciences, is a global nonprofit that promotes leadership and career development for students through practical experiences. AIESEC in Kazakhstan has a dedicated cooperating partner in our colleagues, who have made career drive events a focus of their volunteerism. The team developed Leadership Days and Top Talent Sessions for more than 100 participants, who learned presentation skills, analyzed and pitched use cases, and overall met the mutual AIESEC–Mastercard aim to be inspired. An additional benefit, the team reports: growing together in creating a great program for young talent.


Lisbeth Belhadi, Oslo, Norway

Some volunteers are trailblazers. They see what’s missing and take the lead to organize and initiate programs to broaden abilities or fill a need. Belhadi is that kind of volunteer. She brought Mastercard’s signature Girls4Tech program to Norway this year and, on the opposite end of the age spectrum, she is working to help older people manage day-to-day banking, including gaining confidence in using online services “Lisbeth walks the talk, leading by example to do for others,” says colleague Sol Gangås.

Eric Laqueche, Madrid, Spain           

Laqueche is volunteer director of professional development for Fundación Dádoris, a Spanish NGO that provides financial and emotional support to top students as they transition from university to workforce. In his role, he coordinates mock interviews and resume screenings for students. He arranges international exchanges to expand students’ language skills and works with leading companies to place students in corporate internships. Most of the nearly 80 sponsored students are the first in their families to attend university.

Carly Sanders, Rachel Zalta, Shelly Dushnitzky, Ira Fridman and Ran Charag, Tel Aviv, Israel

This team of five showcases what collaboration can achieve, coming together on initiatives for groups with different needs, always for the purpose of encouraging equality and inclusion. To start, the team organized a Girls4Tech program with two events in in Mastercard’s FinSec Innovation Lab in Beer-Sheva. “The G4T experience teaches girls at an early age that they’re welcome in the STEM world,” Dushnitzky says. The team also partnered with the nonprofit Rotem to help renovate two apartments to house young people at risk who have been separated from their families. And, taking their “best shot” in support of the Accessibility Conference in Tel Aviv, the team participated in a basketball match for individuals with disabilities.

Latin America & Caribbean

Franco Bartra, Miami

Popular ocean beaches that draw hordes of visitors present a challenge for people who care about the environment. The garbage generated, especially single-use plastic, endanger sea life from birds to turtles to dolphins. Bartra knows the solution is pitching in and cleaning up, even one plastic bottle at a time. The effort required is substantial. For example, one Miami nonprofit that organizes beach cleanups estimates that a single cleanup collects over 82,000 pounds of trash. And beaches and sea life are not Bartra’s only concerns. Other creatures, such as abandoned street dogs, are rescued by his impulse to assist.

Andres Gonzalez, Sandra Gonzalez, Marina Acosta, Isabella Orsini, Maria Vejarano, Rodolfo Duran, Henry Perez, Wilson Diaz, Andres Becerra, Tomas Ceballos, Maria Paula Lozano, Laura Dominguez and Nikki Bertran, Miami; Bogotá, Colombia; Mexico City; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Purchase, N.Y.; Santiago, Chile

In the desert landscape of La Guajira, Colombia, water has always been a precious resource. Since 2018, Mastercard volunteers have been active in the region helping the Indigenous Wayuu community. This team decided to tackle water needs by raising funds to install a water extraction and distribution system that would serve families and the largest school in the area. The goal was $40,000. To reach it, the team made a global effort using the company’s internal donation platform and a clever communication strategy: Participating in fun and competitive project activities required at least a $25 donation. Activities varied from walks, runs and rides to a bingo for water virtual event. With the funds secured and system in place, 450 families now have access to potable water.

Paulo Vila, Santiago Noriega, Cristian Parra, Nicolas Chang, Orlando Montalvo, Maria Paula Rojas, Nicolas Monasterio, Brigitte Bastaldo, Bruna Nakanishi, Juliana Castillo and Andrea Sanz, Bogotá, Colombia

This team organized an innovation workshop for small businesses in partnership with Club Campestre de Cali Foundation, whose mission is improving local opportunities. More than two dozen microentrepreneurs from Comuna 18 de Cali, a community with scarce resources, participated to learn how to grow their businesses. The entrepreneurs also received free digital tools for implementing new ideas, and the chance to network helped spark business synergies.  

North America 

Shannon Burke-Kranzberg, St. Louis, Mo.

One type of volunteer whose contributions can be overlooked is the behind-the-scenes planner. Burke-Kranzberg who leads employee and community engagement for the St. Louis Tech Hub, is among those unsung volunteers, says her colleague Amanda Kiser. “Shannon spends countless hours ensuring over 4,300 people are informed, empowered and give back to the local community. She seeks opportunities with our legacy partners and has found new emerging partners.” For the annual Junior Achievement “JA in a Day” event, she prepared 200 employees to deliver JA’s financial literacy curriculum across five regional schools, impacting 3,000 students.

Bella Lin, San Francisco, Calif.

Lin organizes fellow employees to package groceries from the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank for home delivery and has played a key role in bringing the Girls4Tech program back to the San Francisco office following the pandemic. Her G4T advocacy connects with her spearheading of community service for the San Francisco Women's Leadership Network. She’s also a regular at local Rotary Club projects such as tree planting.

Sarah Ogren, Arlington, Va.

Helping kids excel as readers is not only a role for teachers, but one volunteer adults can take on. Case in point is Ogren, who since 2018 has volunteered every Saturday during the school year with Reading All Stars. This mentor program at a Washington, D.C., elementary school pairs students with volunteer tutors for activities to improve reading skills and encourage love of reading. In her six years with the program, Ogren’s commitment has expanded from tutor to coordinator to her current role as volunteer leader, working with school officials, recruiting tutors, communicating with students’ families and leading weekly reading sessions.

Allison Wachen, Arlington, Va.

Imagine the delight of a disadvantaged child receiving the gift of a birthday cake. Since Wachen co-founded Birthday Cakes 4 Free with her brother in 2015, 9,000 children – and seniors too – have enjoyed this treat. Today she is board chair of the nonprofit with over 750 volunteers. She is also a Crisis Text Line counselor, fielding text messages from individuals in distress and creating safety plans and empowering them with resources. As a court-appointed special advocate for CASA for Children of D.C., she combines her concern for kids and crisis support as a mentor for children in foster care.

Beth Ann DiBella, Purchase, N.Y.

Sometimes pitching in involves donating creative talents. DiBella is an inspiring example. She volunteers as creative director for 4Horsemen Rehabilitation Services in Atlanta, which works with formerly incarcerated individuals to re-enter the community. DiBella has raised the nonprofit’s profile by creating a distinctive logo and brand identity that helps the organization present more professionally to stakeholders, donors and grantmakers. Closer to home, her personal volunteering includes helping at her son’s school with literacy events like a book fair. “Beth works with a sense of urgency and owns the outcome,” says colleague Carolyn Murray.

Siva Dola and Pravallika Nannapaneni, St. Louis, Mo.

It’s not always knowable how service impacts others. But Dola and Nannapeneni can literally count those whose lives are improved by their recent project to rebuild a water tank in Sirikonda, India — 393 village residents, and potentially more. The original tank was crumbling and endangering the health of the cows and buffalo that drink from it and, by extension, the source of milk, farm labor and transportation in Sirikonda and three other villages that use the tank. Working thousands of miles away, they managed the project funding along with the logistics of rebuilding. The project was so successful that building additional tanks in other villages is being considered.

Susan Warner, Vice President, Mastercard Center For Inclusive Growth, and Founder, Girls4Tech