Meet the Team

Steven

Steven Levy

International Program Development
Steven, an energetic, slightly over-caffeinated American who moved to Cape Town in 2002 with his South African wife and Russian cat, launched Connect-123 in South Africa after ten years of starting and running various businesses in Moscow, London and San Francisco. While working in finance and venture capital in Cape Town, Steven realized that thousands of local organizations could use the help of skilled, international students and that thousands of students and professionals could benefit from real, hands-on, international work experience. Together with Lea, he developed Connect-123's experiential learning programs to help students build their international work experience while simultaneously earning university credit. Steven, who now lives in Barcelona, holds a BA in Political Science from Cornell University and an MBA from London Business School.
Lea

Lea Levy

Program Director, China, Ireland and Spain
Lea, who studied Fine Arts at the University of Stellenbosch, started her career as a game lodge manager in the Sabi Sands. After being offered an internship in Moscow with a top PR and communications consulting firm, she packed her winter coat and ended up working in Russia for three years with top international FMCG brands. During this time of newfound capitalism and opportunity, she also discovered her skills as a networker! However, her love for South Africa led her home, where she worked in marketing, advertising, and trend forecasting, prior to co-founding Connect-123. Lea, who has a natural ability to understand and match organizations’ needs with applicants’ skills, is based in Barcelona.
Katie

Katie Arango

Program Director, Argentina
Katie, a US native, had traveled to Buenos Aires on several extended trips before the city’s lure became too strong and she decided to call it home. Long fascinated by the global scene, Katie earned a degree in International Studies from Miami University and spent time studying and living in Madrid, Spain. She then worked in marketing for an international board game company followed by a brief foray as an online community editor for several websites before joining the Connect-123 team.  Still a tourist at heart herself, Katie loves watching newcomers discover the charm of Buenos Aires and takes great pleasure in helping them make the most out of their work and volunteer opportunities while experiencing everything this dynamic city has to offer.
Jess

Jess Wills

Program Manager, South Africa
Jess completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Cape Town. During her vacation she spent a few months in the USA working on the ski slopes. After studying, she then decided it was time to explore her horizons even further and lived in London for a few years, whilst travelling extensively through Europe. Jess has a passion for travel, language and culture. However, her love for South Africa, its people and wildlife, brought her back to Cape Town which is where home is currently.
Claudette

Claudette Pretorius

Program Coordinator, South Africa
Claudette, who is completing her Master's degree in Counselling Psychology, previously worked in the children's rights sector in Cape Town. She has also previously lived in the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic, and during that time, travelled to Spain, France, Germany and Austria. In her free time, Claudette likes to run, spend time in the outdoors, bake and have fun with friends and family. Claudette is passionate about working with students and young adults and hopes to help them achieve similarly memorable experiences as she had when she travelled abroad.
Jimmy

Jimmy Wu

Program Coordinator, China
Jimmy Wu, a native of the Hubei province in central China, majored in nursing and English in college. He has always been interested in various cultures and in exploring China’s natural beauty and has travelled extensively throughout the country. After graduation, Jimmy worked at an international hospital in Shanghai and spends his free time volunteering at local charities. At Connect-123, he enjoys the chance to make friends from all over the world, to introduce them to the real China and to help them adapt to one of the world’s fastest changing cities!
Leigh

Leigh Penzhorn

Program Coordinator, South Africa
After completing school, Leigh spent a year in the UK working and squeezed in a few trips to Paris, Prague, Scotland, Guernsey and Sarke. She came back home to complete her Diploma in Public Relations and Communications management and has enjoyed an exciting seven year career in PR, online marketing and brand management. Leigh spends some of her spare time running, cycling, rehabilitating and rescuing abandoned animals in need and exploring everything that magical Cape Town has to offer.
Liat

Liat Feldman

Program Coordinator, Ireland
Liat Feldman, a Dublin native, grew up in Toronto and graduated from Glendon College, York University with a BA in French and History. Shortly after, she moved to Israel on a scholarship and earned a Masters in Education. Having lived there for 3 years, she decided to return to Canada but got side-tracked and moved to Italy and taught and managed English courses for four years. After too much pizza and wine, Liat decided to head to cooler climes and lived in Oxford for 1 year and then returned to Ireland. After a few years heading up English courses, Liat got involved with an organization promoting the value of studying and working abroad. Connect-123 allows her to continue and extend the experience to international students who want to work in her favourite city. Liat is an avid rower, educator, cyclist, foodie and citizen of the world.
Paula

Paula Carrettoni

Program Coordinator, Argentina
Paula who holds a degree in journalism, has always had a passion for travel, especially exploring cultures and learning languages.  She spent several years working in media, especially radio, when she decided she needed a change – which took the form of a two year long trip throughout Europe and Asia!  While working in the US, Andorra, Spain, and Italy, she discovered her passion for working with international people and taking part in cultural exchanges.  A Buenos Aires native, Pau enjoys interacting with interns and volunteers from all around the world...and showing them all that her city has to offer!
Rachel

Rachel Erasmus

Program Coordinator, South Africa
Rachel completed her studies in International Hotel Management, then caught a flight to London and spent 2 years working in the front office of 4 and 5 star hotels. When it was time to move on, she packed a lot of summer clothes, and headed for the Middle East where she spent 2 years in Bahrain working at the Banyan Tree Resort. Here, Rachel had the opportunity to move from the front of house to the HR department as HR and Training Coordinator. After 2 years, she decided to exchange the desert for the high seas, and spent 5 years as HR and Training Manager working on 5 star cruise lines. During this time, she explored 6 continents and had the opportunity to complete 3 world cruises. She's now put down roots in Cape Town and is looking forward to welcoming program participants to this beautiful city!