Heidi Rickels
Co-Founder and Executive Director


Heidi Rickels is a passionate and creative leader with more than 20 years professional experience in the field of international development and marketing. Along with Amy Hart, Rickels Co-Founded Freshwater Project International as a way to further support the work of Freshwater Malawi and her friend, Charles Banda. Formerly, Rickels served as Director of Communications for Project C.U.R.E., an international humanitarian relief organization, and has held several positions in corporate and non-profit marketing throughout her career. Rickels received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Kansas as well as a M.A. in Global Studies from the Josef Korbel Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver.Rickels has travelled extensively doing international humanitarian and missions work in Ukraine, India, Guatemala, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Belize. Much of her time is focused on international and community service, including serving on the Vestry and Outreach Committee at her church as well as communications consulting for several non-profits and community causes. She lives in the foothills of Denver, Colorado, with her family.

Zoe Keone Pacciani
Director of International Operations


Zoe's intrepid adventures around the globe started out as innocent curiosity, and an appetite for learning and travel led her first to photography and then to international development, taking her to places unknown and incredible. Zoe has lived in over a dozen developing countries and mentored dozens more development leaders internationally. Zoe is an adept program director, managing with a solutions-based, panoptic approach to international development initiatives. Zoe brings a diverse, yet valuable skill-set including strategic planning, program design and development, professional mentorship, community-based project implementation and training and professional development programs. oe's family has enthusiastically accompanied her on her intercontinental path, with her Italian husband "found" in Ethiopia and her children born in Peru and Honduras. Holding multiple passports and speaking multiple languages, Zoe is truly a global citizen.

Manuel Nangazi
WASH Program Manager

Manuel is an our newest hire to Freshwater, and brings with him expertise in the planning and implementation of comprehensive WASH Projects. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Water Resources Management and Development from Mzuzu University, with two years working experience in planning and implementing project, providing program technical guidance, coordination, budgeting and procurement, facilitating capacity building in Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and mobilization. He served as a WASH Officer for Luwani Refugee Emergency Wash Project under Norwegian Church Aid (ACT Alliance), and also worked as a Wash Technician for Water and Sanitation (WatSan) (CIDA) Project under Emmanuel International Malawi. He previously worked with UNESCO/ H.E.L.P Malawi. And has a strong knowledge and experience in the installation and maintenance of Afridev hand pumps, School Led Total Sanitation (SLTS) and Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) concepts of WASH as championed in Malawi. He currently lives in Zomba, and will be heading up our WASH in Healthcare program initiative in partnership with Engineers Without Borders.