Meet the team!
Utopia Volunteers is part of Utopia Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Traverse City, Michigan.
Executive Director, Utopia Volunteers
As a mother, grandmother, and wife with a passion for children and families, Deborah Asuncion (Debbi) has devoted her life and career to international volunteer programs and helping others. She believes that every volunteer is important, and she works with each one individually to help personalize their volunteer goals so that they can get the most out of their program. She attributes her success to prioritizing personal relationships with her volunteer clients.
Raised in a military family, Debbi has traveled the world since childhood and is passionate about understanding different cultures. Since 2007, she has worked in the volunteer travel sector as an International Program Manager. Debbi has organized volunteer programs in 20 countries and has facilitated sustainable and meaningful projects for individuals, and groups from Illinois State University, Western Oregon University, Qatar University, Aurora University, Yale University, and In Balance Ranch.
Debbi is married to Will and has four children and one grandchild.
Founder and Chairman of the Board, Utopia Foundation
Paul is passionate about building a more empowered, service-oriented world. He is a founding board member and chairman of the Utopia Foundation. He is President and Chief Investment Officer of Financial & Investment Management Group, Ltd. (FIM Group), where he has managed global, values-driven investment portfolios for over 30 years. Paul is also the owner of Spirituality & Health Media and Yen Yoga & Fitness. He also serves on the Board of GAIAM, a producer of services and products for the health, wellness, and yoga community.
Beyond his extensive investment experience, Paul is the author of several books on personal and business financial planning, personal development, and money management. Paul has presented speeches and seminars to business, educational and professional groups nationally and internationally. Paul is a member of The World Futurist Society, has presented at TEDx, was Organizer/Host of TEDx Traverse City, and also helped create the inaugural TEDx on Maui.
Paul resides in Traverse City and is the husband to Amy and the father of five children. In his career as a father, Paul estimates that he has changed over 3,000 diapers and read a few dozen children’s books out loud over 100 times (A mother for Choco is a favorite). Paul is author of two illustrated children’s books Mani and Pitui and Finding Utopia. Emanuel’s Prayer is his first attempt at adult Fiction.
Board Member, Utopia Foundation
Chair for Social Development and Microenterprises
An ongoing scholar at the School of Life, Gevas was bred and born in Africa and grew up in Zambia and Zimbabwe. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Zimbabwe in 1992 and taught at Prince Edward School in Zimbabwe from 1993 to 1994. Gevas moved to the United States in 2001 and earned his MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University in 2005 where he currently teaches business classes. He also works in business development at UPS.
Gevas believes that if we knew just a little bit more about each other’s culture, this world would be a much better place. Since delivering the commencement speech for Northwestern Michigan College in 2002, Gevas has been a sought-after speaker by various groups and organizations in Grand Traverse County. He’s also had a World Beat radio show on WNMC, the college’s community radio station, since 2001. He’s served on the Utopia Foundation board since 2010.
Gevas now lives in Traverse City, MI, and is married to Flo. The couple has three beautiful young angels.
In-Country Coordinator, Kenya
Jimmy Wambua has devoted his life to advocating for children living in poverty. Jimmy holds Master’s degrees in Mass Communication and Project Planning & Management, and a B.S. in Agriculture. With professional experience in international child advocacy programs, documentary filmmaking, and field communications, Jimmy is a prominent grassroots community organizer in Kenya.
Jimmy believes that a “good head and good heart” are a great combination and something that he’s happy to bring with him to the Utopia Volunteers team.
In-Country Coordinator, South Africa
Anthea Rossouw is founder and director of Dreamcatcher, a partner organization of Utopia Volunteers.
Anthea was named ‘The Dreamcatcher’ by Moses, a patriarch and community leader in South Africa’s Stilbaai region, in recognition of her commitment to spearhead a socio-economic transformation that changed the future of many individuals whose lives were ravaged by the effects of Apartheid in his community. Dreamcatcher was founded to strengthen the communities who were suffering extreme hardship due to the political system, the aftermath of which still resonates daily in communities across South Africa.
Anthea said, “I prefer to spend my life pursuing and giving content to the ideals of Nelson Mandela — to build bridges of hope, light, and universal understanding — not just by talking about it, but by living it and ensuring a lasting legacy.”
In-Country Coordinator, Costa Rica
In 2011, Chris Freely decided to make a major change and trade in his American city life for one with more value and peace. He sold all his belongings and booked a one-way flight to Costa Rica in search of something more fulfilling. And, he found it.
Chris has a varied background, having worked in both finance and aquatics before making the move to Central America. He now serves as Utopia Volunteers’ in-country coordinator for Costa Rica and loves being able to help and support his newly adopted community of San Miguel di Sarapiquí.