Leadership

Mark Steele – Founder and Chief Executive

Before recently relocating back to the United States, Mark resided in the Asia-Pacific region for 16 years where he worked to establish the operational footprint and regional business for two global companies – most recently as Chief Operating Officer, Tele Atlas Asia-Pacific – the digital mapping subsidiary of leading navigation systems provider TomTom, and prior to that as President, ITT China – a global leader in water and wastewater products and services. During his time in Asia, Mark also led ITT’s emergency response efforts in Sri Lanka in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami and served as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and as Chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. Mark holds a degree in International Studies (Business) and Japanese from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (USA) during which time he also studied at Shizuoka University in Japan.

Nick Hill – Chairman

Nick is a native of the UK and has resided in the United States for the last 10 years where he most recently was President of ITT Corporation’s Motion and Flow Group and Senior Vice President of ITT Corp. Prior to this, Nick headed up a number of businesses within ITT where he first became aware of the crisis around water quality and its affect on underdeveloped countries. Nick was the initiator for ITT’s successful philanthropy program Watermark which has pledged millions of dollars to support NPO’s in their struggle to bring clean water to those most in need. Nick also headed ITT’s Emergency Relief Program designed to respond quickly to natural disasters where ITT’s equipment and expertise can rapidly bring much needed help to the affected areas. Nick is a graduate of the Farnborough Institute of Technology.

Kristen Steele – Vice President, Education & Development

Education has been a big part of Kristen’s life for the past 16 years. With a degree in Education from Creighton University, her career path has led to teaching elementary school, developing corporate training programs, and then operating her own company while residing in Scottsdale, Arizona. Taking a dive into Planet Water as our Director of Education was a natural move. Her passion for education has enabled her to develop and implement our Water-Health & Hygiene Education Program into elementary schools in rural villages across nine countries in the developing world.

Mark Cain – Chief Marketing Officer

Mark began working with Planet Water in 2014 as an advisor and now serves as the Chief Marketing Officer. Mark has served a variety of leading brands including: Audi of North America, Infiniti of America, Abercrombie & Kent, American Express, Citibank, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation. In addition, Mark has been a speaker and moderator on marketing and brand topics, and has been featured or quoted in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, The Robb Report, The London Observer, Golfing Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine, among others. Mark is a University of Kansas alumnus of the William Allen White School of Journalism.

Elizabeth Lawson – Chief Financial Officer

Elizabeth joined Planet Water in October, 2015. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Florida Atlantic University. After graduation, Elizabeth joined Ernst & Young, CPAs where she gained experience in auditing a broad base of clients in industries including health care, leisure time industries, not-for-profit organizations, and others. Since leaving public accounting she has served as a Controller and trusted business advisor to a variety of business ventures including a hospital, interior design firm, a successful start-up high-tech venture and an international software company.

Lauren Erker – Manager, Operations

Lauren joined Planet Water in September of 2018 with more than 10 years experience in account management and business management. Having previously sat on the board of a non-profit, and volunteering with the American Liver Foundation for almost a decade, Lauren was thrilled for the opportunity to get back involved with an NGO. Living in the Sonoran Desert the preservation and sustainability of one of our most precious resources has been very important to her personally. The opportunity to help take that awareness global and help change the lives of those in great need made it easy for Lauren to join our team.

Penghorn Chheang – Program Manager, Mekong Region

Penghorn, a Cambodia native, joined Planet Water in May of 2010 and currently manages our regional operations in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Penghorn’s love for water work has driven his engagement in the water development sector for more than five years prior to joining Planet Water. Penghorn has effectively managed projects for international development organizations and local NGO’s – all in effort to improve the health of women and children in need by providing access to clean, safe, water and improved sanitation facilities. Penghorn holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Ishak Kasum – Program Manager, Indonesia

Currently residing in Lombok, Indonesia, Ishak has been working with Planet Water since July of 2009, where he led the deployment of a number of clean water projects in Lombok, Indonesia. Ishak has a long career in working with disadvantaged children in impoverished communities. In July, 2008, Ishak founded Yayasan Kasih Sayang – a Lombok-based, non-profit organization focused on providing housing and care for handicapped children. He has also initiated a number of programs to provide assistance to blind children. Ishak was instrumental in Planet Water’s emergency response efforts in the wake of the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi, where clean water systems were deployed to restore clean water access to the survivors.

Prashant R. Deshpande – Program Manager, India

Prashant always had zeal to work in the social development sector which made him pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work - 2008. Thereafter, he was involved for seven years working with different social organizations to bring about sustainable development in various strata of society. During this period, Prashant was also recognized with a Pearl Award for “Innovative Work in Tuberculosis” by Population Services International. In 2014, Prashant continued his journey in social work by associating with Planet Water Foundation as Program Manager.

Dario Operario – Program Manager, Philippines

Dario joined Planet Water in November, 2012. As an Engineer, Dario has over 14 years of experience in construction and construction management with extensive experience in the development and supervision of government and non-government building projects in the Philippines. In support of his career achievement, Dario has received several awards for outstanding performance in these areas. In addition to being an advocate for helping those in need as a Lay Minister, Dario also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Samar State University in the Philippines.

Sergio Frias – Program Manager, Mexico

Sergio Frias, Mexican native, joined Planet Water Foundation June of 2019 and currently manages our regional operations in México. Sergio's experience managing and coordinating multidisciplinary and multicultural teams finding process improvements has driven his passion into water development to reflect the teamwork efforts into providing clean, safe, drinking water for society's common good. Sergio has effectively managed projects for international companies overseas and now for an NGO focused on improving the health of society's by facilitating them access to water intake and sanitation facilities. Sergio holds a Degree in Industrial Engineering with a Black Belt and TPM Instructor Certifications.

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