Who We Are


Sarina Mohan serves as the executive director of the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy council. Sarina comes to NOCDC with nearly two decades of non-profit and cultural management experience including eleven years in program management, education, and fund development at the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Sarina has worked in the fields of architecture and heritage preservation, cultural tourism, and museum and art education across the country in Miami, New York City, and Portland, OR and earned her bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and her Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Rutgers University. An avid traveler and proud child of an Indian immigrant and Irish New Yorker, Sarina has a lifelong passion for cultural exchange and relishes every opportunity to explore, make new friends, and taste and cook local delicacies. 


Kelley Ponder serves as the Strategic Partnerships and International Exchange Manager for the New Orleans Citizen Diploma Council.   Originally from Fairhope, Alabama, she has lived in New Orleans since 1996.  She earned her Ph.D. in International Development from Tulane University Law School and holds a Masters of Public Health from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.  She has worked as a consultant to the United Nations, an Adjunct Lecturer in the International Development Studies Program at Tulane University, as well as a Senior Program Manager for HIV/AIDS projects throughout West and Central Africa.  She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa (1993-1996). 


Svetlana Pizzati serves as the IVLP Program Manager for the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council. Previously Svetlana worked on the IVLP projects as Program Officer, a position which she has held since 2016 and assisted the NOCDC as Projects Assistant through a busy period of 2015, and served as an intern in 2013 during which time she completed 120 hours for the Council. 


A native of Russia, Svetlana has proudly called New Orleans her home since 2006. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of New Orleans in 2014 with a degree in International Studies with a concentration in Diplomacy and International Organizations and a minor in Spanish. She is multilingual in Russian, English and Spanish. Svetlana also studied in Russia and has completed four years of courses in Translation and Translation Studies in English and German. In 2019 Svetlana volunteered with the English Opens Doors Program of the Ministry of Education of Chile and the United Nations Development Programme-Chile where she was assigned to Escuela Adelaida La Fetra, a public primary school in Huechuraba, a socially vulnerable inner-city sector of the Metropolitan Region of Chile. During her time collaborating with the English Opens Doors Program, Svetlana worked to develop the listening and speaking abilities (in the English language) of approximately 275 underserved public-school students, who generally have little to no contact with the spoken English language outside of their time with volunteers. Additionally, she was responsible for aiding her Chilean head teacher in pedagogical planning, organizing extra-curricular English related activities in her community, and participating in multiple initiatives and activities of the English Opens Doors Program, all of which seek to enrich and enhance the English language learning process at the local level. Outside of the NOCDC, Svetlana is a traveler and a dreamer – her ultimate dream is to travel to every country on the world map.


With 10 years of cumulative communications experience, and 8 years working in sales and marketing, Chelsea oversees the marketing development and communications reach of the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council. She continues to raise the profile of the IVLP in the New Orleans community, and strengthens the NOCDC platform for virtual events. Formerly the owner of Minou Marketing, a small marketing and events business, Chelsea managed clients in a variety of capacities - including working with small business owners and grassroots organizations, as well as entities such as the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. She received a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a minor in New Orleans Studies from Loyola University of New Orleans. Outside of NOCDC, Chelsea also works with the First Unitarian Universalist Church & Community Center, where she acts as event coordinator and facility manager, managing effective community networks and partnerships such as with CrescentCare’s Food For Friends Program, the CG Jung Society of New Orleans, and more.