Meet Our Team
Robert Swan has earned his place alongside the great explorers and adventurers that have tested their physical and mental strength to the limit in the planet’s most hostile environments.
Swan is the first man in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. The successful completion of his North and South Pole expeditions marked the beginning of a new phase in his life. On both expeditions, he experienced, firsthand, the effects of environmental damage on the Polar icecaps. This shaped Swan’s lifetime goal – to work for the preservation of the Antarctic as the last great wilderness on earth. He then founded 2041, an organization dedicated to this goal. With his presence and integrity, accomplishments and reflections, Robert Swan has an extraordinary ability to move people and motivate audiences.
It is through his expeditions and lectures that Swan works to inform, engage and inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, be sustainable, and know that now is the time for action in policy development, sustainable business generation and future technologies.
Mark has 14 years of video and film production experience including numerous credits in network commercials, feature films, music productions, reality TV programming, and corporate videos for Fortune 500 companies. Mark has served the most discerning and demanding clientele both in the US and throughout the world with his production skills and his talented eye behind the lens. Back in 2003, Mark was a pioneer in HD and has helped evolve key solutions and strategies to aid his clients in communicating their message through the ever-evolving worlds of electronic media. Mark has freelanced with all the major networks both as an independent cinematographer and as a producer for television series and documentary films.
Mark is also passionate about the environment. Over the years, he’s worked with numerous environmental groups to help spread their message and preserve our planet. He traveled to Africa on behalf of Trees for the Future to showcase their work in Ethiopia, he’s worked with Bethesda Green for the past five years to help them transform Bethesda into an environmental hub, and he was one of the founders of the Reel Water Film Festival, which highlights water issues locally and abroad and whose proceeds go to resolve those issues.
While Mark still loves filming for feature and commercial projects, he continues to embrace all digital formats and stays current with all the latest in state of the art tools for his trade.
Mark has been mentoring and certifying film students in the MD/DC area for the past 3 years and has been written up in many publications and awarded for his continued commitment to serve his community and to give back through service.
Mark has been running a production company for the past 5 years in Bethesda, MD right outside Washington DC. Mark Leisher Productions (MLP) handles all aspects of pre production, production, post production and delivery.
Adila Wahdat is from Kabul, Afghanistan. She has seven years of experience in the field of design, including jewelry, fashion, graphic, and digital design. She is a co-founder and designer with Aayenda Jewelry Cooperative. Her jewelry designs are being sold in boutiques in the US and London.
Adila also has worked in Afghanistan with the Turquoise Mountain Foundation and Aid to Artisans as a design assistant. She has completed an 18-month design program with Aid to Artisans and an 8-month graphic design course in Afghanistan. She is currently a sophomore at Eastern Mennonite University, pursuing her undergraduate degree in digital media with a minor in digital photography.
Her vision is to establish herself as one of the most recognized Afghan designers of both jewelry and digital media. Within five years of graduating from college she intends to create a private institution in Kabul for female students who are passionate about digital media. She sees herself as a role model for girls who want to pursue the same path that she has followed.
Eighteen-year-old Avani Awasthee is a student at Flame University in India. She has been involved with The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) for the past four years, and as part of a TERI competition she created a campaign that focused on recycling and saving Antarctica. She also started the Recycle Army, a group of schoolchildren that advocates the importance of recycling in India. She also spent a year studying abroad in Denmark.
Avani told The Golden Sparrow: “Once I am back from the expedition, I will most definitely continue to spread awareness and work in the field as much as possible. My main target audience will be schools, as it is only the younger generation that should take responsibility and will be the source of change.”
Payton Marie Sierra
Payton Marie Sierra
Payton Marie Sierra is a 17-year-old student at the Red Cloud Indian School. A member of the Oglala Lakota tribe from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, she is a founding member of Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s youth advisory board. She works with her peers to organize community service events throughout the year.
Inside the classroom, Payton is a talented and ambitious scholar, passionate about environmental sciences and climate change. Outside of the classroom she is a leader amongst her peers. Payton is an outspoken advocate and activist for issues facing her community, a peer mentor, and talented spoken word artist, poet and traditional Lakota singer. For the past three years, Payton has been one of the winners of the Lakota Children’s Enrichment annual poetry contest for her work about environmental justice, inspirational women, and Lakota culture.
Payton is completely thrilled to be able to seize this opportunity and share her stories with her community, native youth across the country, and the world.
Born in 1981 in Iran, Gelareh Kiazand studied fine arts in London, England before pursuing a degree in media arts at the Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Oakville, Canada. By the time she graduated in 2003, she had made two short films that were featured in international film festivals in Toronto, Montreal, and New York.
In 2004, she returned to Iran, working in the film industry for six years. She received three separate nominations in film photography at the Fajr Film festival, was chosen to be a part of a group exhibition at Iran’s Museum of Modern Art, was awarded best cinematography at the Basij festival and another award for her first feature documentary at the Tehran film festival in 2008.
Following her work in Iran, she began work in Kabul, Afghanistan between the years of 2010 and 2013. One of her roles was as a creative director for a young Afghan team within Afghanistan’s top Media company. She also shot, and directed documentaries that focused on women’s issues, and healthcare. This lead her into working with Vice where she developed, and did correspondent work on stories in Kabul, and Kandahar in Afghanistan, one in India, and two stories on Iran’s fashion scene, and culinary culture.
Currently she freelances as a videographer and director for both fiction, and non-fiction projects.