About Us

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who wanted to travel long distances to communities in need to volunteer their valuable social work services could, without worrying about the cost?  

Many nonprofit organizations and global NGOs welcome trained and experienced individuals and provide the structure for international volunteering, but very few provide stipends to enable them the ability to go. Travel expenses are considerable when you think about air flights, in-country expenses, costs of visas, and other travel related costs. International Social Work Solutions, Inc. levels the playing field for all social workers with a strong desire to “heal the world,” no matter their ability to fund their volunteer trip.


Thea T Bader, MSW, LICSW

Thea T. Bader, MSW, LICSW, graduated from Simmons College School of Social Work in 1983 and has dedicated over 33 years in the social work field making a difference in the lives of people in the U.S. and in countries throughout the world.   Working in the U.S. as a private practitioner as well as in the nonprofit sector, she has experience with a variety of issues such as homelessness, child sexual abuse, the elderly and difficulties related to parenting. Ms. Bader’s passion for volunteering internationally led her to Tanzania, Peru, Cambodia and South Africa for collaboration with in-country NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to help with people affected by community violence, profound poverty, violence against women, and child trafficking to name a few. Ms. Bader’s main objective was to leave the country with sustainable programming to benefit the people of those countries for years to come.

In 2012, Ms. Bader pursued a Master Certificate in Global Mental Health from Harvard University, Department of Psychiatry specializing in Refugee Trauma.   From this platform, she along with a team of professionals developed and implemented “Training the Trainer” programs for professional and para-professional social workers in their home countries. Training modules were developed for all levels of an organization from the “on the front lines” social worker to the highest level of management. In addition, as a clinical supervisor for the Joint Government of Cambodia/UNICEF Orphan Reunification Project, she consulted with the on-site project manager in Battambang, Cambodia helping to reunite children residing in orphanages with their families.

Ms. Bader’s vision for International Social Work Solutions, Inc. is to give social workers everywhere the opportunity to continue the crucial work of looking for ways of improving the lives of people in need.

Mary Connolly, MBA, MA

Mary has over 20 years of marketing and business development experience in professional services firms and she is currently the Director of Business Development for Isaacson, Miller, a premier executive search firm that recruits senior leaders for some of the country’s top foundations, colleges and universities, as well as other mission-driven organizations. Her area of expertise includes the planning and execution of integrated marketing and communication plans and branding. Mary has an MBA from the University of Maryland, an MA in political science from the University of Rhode Island, and a BA in international relations from Webster University in The Netherlands. She has volunteered for numerous organizations including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, United South End Settlements, the Pine Street Inn, and Washington Animal Rescue League.


Nancy Karp, MSW

A veteran volunteer since the fourth grade, Nancy Karp has worked directly with a variety of populations as well as for a number of issue-driven organizations. She has served on several Boards including The Dana Hall School and the American Jewish Congress, New England Region. Currently, she serves on advisory boards at the Boston University School of Social Work, Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly and Community Servings.

After receiving her MSW from BU, Nancy worked for the Department of Social Services of MA, working with families and supervising social work interns. Later, until her retirement, she worked at Jewish Vocational Service providing services to Refugees and low-income adult learners. Currently retired, Nancy enjoys traveling around the world and painting and crafting.

Donnacha Kennedy, MBA

Donnacha has over 20 years of international corporate finance experience at global Financial Services firms, including State Street Corporation and Brown Brothers & Harriman. His areas of expertise include strategy and planning, financial management, transformation and operations. He holds a MBA from the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College, Massachusetts and a Bsc in Management from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.  Donnacha has previously volunteered with the United Way and the Institute for Non-Profit Practice and currently lives in Quincy, Massachusetts.

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Melissa B. Ryan, MSW LICSW

Melissa received her Master of Social Work degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and received her Internship training at the New England Home for Little Wanderers. For 10 years, Ms. Ryan served in increasingly responsible capacities in the Massachusetts Mentor program in the child welfare system with foster care children and community stabilization. She served as Child Therapist, Coordinator, and Supervisor for the Intensive Foster Care-Boston Children’s Program; as a Clinical Supervisor in the Therapeutic Mentoring Program; as well as Program Director of the In-Home Therapy Program using Family Centered Treatment evidence-based model. Currently, Ms. Ryan is a child, adolescent and adult therapist at Psychological Care Associates providing individual and family therapy. Ms. Ryan has volunteered her services through international organizations in Cambodia and South Africa. Working with the Boston Social Work Global Alliance Ms. Ryan assisted in developing a partnership with NGO Ikamva Labantu in Cape Town and an ongoing mentoring program.


Hannah Taverna, MSW, LCSW

Hannah Taverna, MSW, LCSW, is a former ISWS recipient who traveled to Guatemala City to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment. Ms. Taverna is currently studying for her Ph.D. at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at UMass Boston. Ms. Taverna received both her Bachelor’s and Masters of Social Work from Bridgewater State University, during which time she volunteered as an Americorps member at an adult homeless shelter, led a group of students on a service trip to work with undocumented migrant farm-workers, traveled to Cambodia to install water filtration systems in rural villages, and studied social work in Belize. With her passion for service, Ms. Taverna was awarded the Spirit of Service award, Most Impactful Service award, S. Elizabeth Pope award, was the 2014 Commencement Speaker at Bridgewater State University, Graduate School of Social Work Scholarship awardee, and was twice awarded the 300 Hours of Service award from Americorps. Ms. Taverna is currently a social worker at the Department of Children and Families, working in partnership with families and communities to keep children safe from abuse and neglect. Prior to this position, she ran the High School Plus program at School on Wheels of Massachusetts, where she developed and launched a college mentor program for high school and college students impacted by homelessness.