Meet Chad

Oct 14, 2021 | Sonder Update

Written by: Sonder Volunteer Sarah Frederickson

Our leadership team is committed to improving lives and positively impacting the communities we work with, and we’d like for you to get to know each of them a bit better.

Meet Chad!

Our Chief Executive Officer, Chad Zibelman, has dedicated much of his career to international development work. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Education from Temple University in Philadelphia, he began volunteering as a teacher with the Peace Corps in a remote community in Namibia in 2006 and 2007. Following his service, he had the privilege to travel throughout Southern and Eastern Africa and ultimately fell in love with the African culture and spirit.

Upon his return to the US, Chad found a job at buildOn, where he worked for 8 years and became the global Trek Director, responsible for more than 1,000 volunteers a year traveling overseas to build schools in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Through his work at buildOn, Chad was introduced to The Sonder Project. Years later, when The Sonder Project sought new leadership, Chad was the ideal fit based on his familiarity with our work and his experience abroad.

Chad (back row, far left) with his 7th-grade homeroom as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia.

“Looking at all we’ve done so far with The Sonder Project,” he said. “I’m most proud of the impact we’ve had in our partner communities and the organizational culture and focus we’ve developed.”

 His upcoming plans for The Sonder Project include:

  • Adding more students to the new Student Sponsorship Program,
  • Realizing the potential of the Community Farm in Burkina Faso,
  • Expanding food security efforts in new communities, and
  • Spreading awareness of The Sonder Project across the US.

He travels to the 30A area regularly to meet with The Sonder Project board and connect with supporters. When he’s not traveling on behalf of work, he calls Sonoma County, California, home, where he lives with his wife and two girls, ages 8 and 5. Chad said he loves to hike, ride bikes, garden, listen to music, and be present in nature with his family.

 Reading Tip: Chad recommends The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer, which was influential in founding The Sonder Project.


Chad meets with a group of farmers in a community in Malawi.

Chad introduces himself at a community meeting in Burkina Faso.
Martin Nansia, The Sonder Project’s Burkina Faso Project Manager, sits left.


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