Robert has over 17 years of nonprofit experience including serving in leadership roles with Volunteers of America, the American Heart Association, and JDRF. He joined Manna Project International to continue his focus on community health, education and economic empowerment. Robert has also raised funds in support of seniors, the fight against heart disease, cancer and type 1 diabetes. He launched Teens Run Westchester, a mentoring organization that uses running to inspire young people to be healthy, goal oriented leaders in their community. Robert is also a guitarist, occasional singer, runner, cyclist and soon to be triathlete. He lives in Southwest Florida and enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and two dogs.
Jackie first visited Nicaragua in 2009 to volunteer with an orphan foundation. A few visits later, she was certain she wanted to get more deeply involved in international development. After studying International Communications in Queensland, Australia and graduating from Virginia Tech in 2011, Jackie traveled back to Nicaragua as a summer intern for Manna Project. She quickly fell in love with the culture and community, and stayed involved by becoming a child sponsor and creating an advocacy blog. With a B.A. in Communications-PR & Marketing, she then spent the next 6 years in professional roles focused on marketing, publishing, business development and sales. During these years, Jackie spent most of her free time organizing events for Maryland nonprofits centered around children facing a life-limiting illness. Today, Jackie lives in Baltimore, MD with her boyfriend and dog, and enjoys hiking, gymnastics, snowboarding, waterskiing and international travel.
Finance and Administration
As one of Manna Project's founders, Lori has been a vital part of the MPI team since graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2004 with degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education. Lori's involvement began when she helped charter the organization in January of 2004. In September 2004, Lori and 9 others journeyed to Nicaragua where they founded MPI's first international site. Lori taught preschool and designed and implemented the first art and literacy programs. Lori acted as the Nicaragua Country Director for before creating and stepping into the role of Executive Director. Lori served as the Executive Director until 2016 when she stepped down to focus on her family. She continues to be involved with Manna Project as the Financial Manager and as a board member. She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and son.
Ecuador Country Director
Born in Haiti, Deborah has over 16 years’ experience in international development and nonprofits in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Haitian Creole and has recently began learning Italian. Throughout her career, Deborah has learned that the best way to help people and communities is to first understand their hopes and dreams; hence intercultural communications is her most developed skill set. Deborah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Economic Development from Sonoma State University and a Master’s of Science in Administration from the University of West Florida.
Community Advisor & Host Family
Laura has more than 10 years of experience in Social Development Projects and has collaborated with Manna Project since 2008 in various aspects such as summer camps for kids, spanish classes, accommodation for volunteers in the Valley of Chillos, volunteer program in her garden organic besides to support with advising in programs and projects of the foundation. She is a certified Spanish teacher and holds a Masters in Business Administration and a postgraduate degree in Business Creation, She work as a freelancer in training and assistance to small businesses. Manages a social base business that encourages national and agro-ecological production called De la Mata a la Olla.
Community Advisor & Host Family
The main interest of Alexandra is to contribute with good initiatives and improvement to the community. She strongly believes that is important to help to develop skills, customs, knowledge, values and good manners in society. She had implemented different initiatives, such as embroidery class and helping with some recipes in cooking class, even, she is used to helping with the day of inscription to the English course. She and her two children participate in these English classes, the same one that she recommends. Alexandra was a host mother of one volunteer of MPI. Also, she really likes to spend time with volunteers and learn about them and their culture of USA. She likes to share Ecuadorian culture and customs, like food, history, and museums. She has organized different trips with them to the center of the Quito city. She has collaborated in other foundations, always maintaining her spirit of humanity and respect for the values and customs of the people, which fills her with happiness and desire to continue helping.
Sonia has been an English teacher at the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas-ESPE for 15 years. Through her hard work and determination, MPI and ESPE will now be collaborating on a project that will provide academic support and reinforcement in Math, Language and literature, and English to middle schoolers in Centro Manna, as well as neighboring schools. The program will bring together local teachers, university students from Espe and Manna volunteers to address and enhance the academic needs of its young participants. Let´s always keep in mind that Education is the core of success and freedom.
Villanova University '17, Psychology
Jennifer grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. She graduated from Villanova University in 2017 with a degree in Psychology. She had taken Spanish in school so during her spring semester junior year she decided to study abroad in Spain. It was a great experience and she learned she had a love for learning about other cultures and wanted to continue improving her Spanish. After graduating Jennifer didn’t know what she wanted to do so decided to take a gap year. She choose Manna Project because in addition to being able to improve her Spanish she loved the idea that with the holistic approach she will be working in different fields and exposed to far more.
Montana State University ‘17, Biological Sciences and Latin American Studies
Brenna grew up in Billings, Montana and graduated from Montana State University with a double major in Biological Sciences and Latin American Studies in December of 2017. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Brenna enjoyed teaching Spanish in local elementary schools and English to migrant workers in her community. Through the relationships she made with the families she taught, Brenna knew she wanted to work with an international nonprofit after graduation. Brenna is passionate about MPI Ecuador's focus on education for both children and adults and its close ties to the local community. She is also excited about the opportunity to improve her Spanish skills! In her spare time, Brenna enjoys exploring anything outdoors and spending quality time with friends and family.
North Carolina State University ‘17, Biomedical Engineering
Gaby grew up in Memphis, TN. She graduated in May 2017 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from North Carolina State University. After traveling to Ecuador last year to volunteer with a nonprofit, she knew she wanted to return and work in the nonprofit field for a longer duration. She felt drawn to MPI because of its efforts to establish authentic relationships with the community and work toward sustainable change. In Gaby’s spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and relaxing with friends and family. She hopes to attend medical school in the future.
Northeastern University ‘19, Political Science and Spanish
Tori grew up in Hingham, MA, a suburb outside of Boston. In May 2019, she will graduate from Northeastern University with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Tori is passionate about serving her communities, having volunteered with organizations that support health education, academic achievement, and elder engagement in the Boston area. This love for community development inspired her to join Manna. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and forging friendships with people from a variety of different backgrounds. She has travelled to many different countries, including Spain, Japan, and China, but this is her first time in South America!
University of California ‘15, Political Science and Psychology
Kelly grew up in Oakland, California. She graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2015 with a double major in Political Science and Psychology. Kelly has always loved the Spanish language and is passionate about equality in education and serving communities. However, it wasn't until teaching in Japan that Kelly discovered an interest for international education and development. Kelly is excited to join Manna's team in Ecuador to support, engage with, and learn from the local community. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys hiking, watching sports, and discussing public policy.
Nicaragua Country Director
Christina's involvement with nonprofits began when she volunteered for a domestic violence organization while pursuing her BA in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She went on to spend eight years working with domestic violence victims, incarcerated females, and at-risk youth. Christina received a Master in Public Management from SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy and worked for the World Health Organization while living in Italy. In 2009, Christina was first introduced to Nicaragua and went on to spend two years working with the Nicaraguan Ministries of Health and Education in the department of Masaya. Christina is currently pursuing a Master in Public Health at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and was selected to receive the Emerging Global Public Health Scholars Award and the Gillings Merit Scholars Award. Prior to joining Manna Project in 2013, Christina worked as a Research and Evaluation Associate for Safe Horizon, the largest victims' services agency in the US.
Nicaragua Assistant Country Director
Dana’s interest in nonprofit work was sparked while pursuing her B.A. in International Development at Clark University, where she had the opportunity to intern at various nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Lutheran Social Services of New England. She first joined MPI Nicaragua in 2014 as a Program Director after receiving her M.A. in Community Development & Planning. During her first year in Nicaragua, she fell in love with the communities that MPI serves and was impressed by the organization’s holistic and sustainable approach to development. After a year of working in MPI's educational and business development programs, Dana decided to extend her contract to work with MPI as a Senior Program Director for two more years, providing on-site and organizational support before transitioning to her current role. She is thrilled to be a part of the Manna Project team and for the opportunity to continue working with the communities she has grown to love.
Villa Guadalupe Clinic Administrator
Yami has been working with Manna Project International for over ten years and has become an invaluable part of the work the organization does in the Villa Guadalupe community. She first began working with MPI while the organization was still operating in La Chureca, which was the largest open-air landfill in Central America. She has over fifteen years of experience working in the health field. Yami handles the administration of the Villa Guadalupe clinic, helping with everything from making sure patients receive a kind reception to keeping all of the clinic's files organized and up to date.
Nurse, Cedro Galan Clinic and Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Selma has been part of the MPI team for three years, working as a nurse at both of the organization's health clinics in Nicaragua. She has thirty-three years of nursing experience under her belt. She was first drawn to nursing through her love of helping others and she feels that working with MPI has given her a chance to reach those most in need.
Doctor, Villa Guadaupe Clinic
Lilliam has been working as a general practitioner at MPI’s clinic in Villa Guadalupe since it opened two years ago. She has over ten years of medical experience and her warm personality never fails to put patients at ease. Lilliam knew from a very young age that she wanted to become a doctor so she could help people improve their health and prevent illnesses.
Gynecologist, Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Karla has eight years of experience working as a Gynecologist at Carlos Roberto Huembes, which makes her an incredible resource for the women of Villa Guadalupe. Karla's favorite part of her job is working with new mothers and getting to witness the joy they experience after giving birth. She also believes that improving women’s health in Nicaragua is critical for the country’s development and feels passionate about improving access to care in underserved communities like Villa Guadalupe.
Doctor, Cedro Galán Clinic
Wendy decided to become a doctor because she loved the idea of helping others to improve their health. For the past three years, she has been doing just that by providing care for patients at MPI’s clinic in Cedro Galán. With 17 years of experience as a general practitioner, Wendy is a tremendous asset to our staff. She is passionate about providing access to quality healthcare to people with limited resources and feels that the presence of a clinic in Cedro Galán has made a huge difference for the community.
Social Worker & Health Promoter, Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Julio has been with MPI for over ten years. In addition to helping with the administration of the Villa Guadalupe clinic, he also serves as a community health promoter and oversees Manna Project's childhood nutrition program. His favorite part of working at the clinic is going door to door in the community and finding people that MPI can help through the services the organization offers.
Radiologist, Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Dr. Mitre became the newest addition to the Villa Guadalupe Clinic team after signing on as our first ever radiologist in November 2018. She works at the clinic one day a week to provide regular and specialty ultrasounds to the community. Dr. Mitre was drawn to radiology because it allows her to work across all different medical specialties and with all kinds of people. With three years of residency in a local public hospital and two years of work experience already under her belt, we know that she will be an extremely valuable resource to the community!
Angela has been working with MPI since the organization first began to operate in Villa Guadalupe over three years ago. Angela has become an invaluable part of th clinic team. Thanks to her, members of the Villa Guadalupe community always have a clean and organized space to receive care. Angela says that she loves being able to do her part at the clinic and believes that the community really appreciates the services offered.
Program Manager, LinkedIn
Masters Candidate, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, San Francisco State University
Jocelyn was a Program Director at MPI's Ecuador site from 2008-2009, leading the Adult English and Spring Break Volunteer programs while supporting other initiatives such as women's health & nutrition and the after school program. Currently living in San Francisco, Jocelyn is a Program Manager for LinkedIn and holds a Master of Industrial/Organizational Psychology degree. Her interests lie in organizational development and international work teams. She is thrilled to continue supporting MPI as Board Chair.
Co-Founder, Manna Project International
As one of Manna Project's founders, Lori has been a vital part of the MPI team since graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2004 with degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education. Lori's involvement began when she helped charter the organization in January of 2004. In September 2004, Lori and 9 others journeyed to Nicaragua where they founded MPI's first international site. Lori taught preschool and designed and implemented the first art and literacy programs. Lori acted as the Nicaragua Country Director before stepping into the role of Executive Director. She now serves on the Board and lives in Orlando, Florida with her family.
Global Strategy, Paypal
Annie first got involved with MPI as a sophomore at Vanderbilt University and served as the VP of Global Programs for MPI's Vanderbilt campus chapter her senior year. Annie recently moved to San Francisco to join PayPal’s Global Strategy Team. Previously, she worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, focusing primarily on financial inclusion by offering formal financial services to low-income families. She lived in Bogotá, Colombia for a year doing research on the same. Annie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Spanish from Vanderbilt University.
Flight Controller, NASA Johnson Space Center
Fiona was first introduced to MPI as a summer volunteer in Ecuador in 2009, shortly after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a mechanical engineering degree. Two years later, she returned as a year-long Program Director in Nicaragua in 2011-2012, and was involved in the English, math, literacy, and child sponsorship programs. Currently, Fiona lives in Houston, where she works as a flight controller in NASA's Mission Control Center for the International Space Station.
Extractive Industries Senior Program Coordinator, Oxfam America
Kate Stanley is a passionate social justice advocate which drew her to Manna Project International and role with Oxfam America. After completing a Public Policy and Public Health dual Master’s degree program at the University of Virginia, she has been working for Oxfam America, working alongside communities to demand their rights to information and decision making power. Kate has a special interest in the intersections of gender and development and has been working to design stronger programming, monitoring and evaluation methods, and advocacy materials. She has also designed M&E system training for Spark Microgrants in Rwanda, conducted her own survey research in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda, studied women's protective strategies in townships of South Africa, supported relationship development for rural rotations for Emory & Morehouse School of Medicine students in Haiti and advocated for better and more effective use of aid money on the Hill with CARE USA. Kate also holds a Bachelor's degree from Emory University.
Social Business Founder, AlmayEspiritu.com
A few years ago Criss identified a need in the Latino population, and decided to leave corporate America at the top of her career in the quest to find new ways to help everyday Latinos healthily cope with work/life balance, stress, and the pressures to live the “American dream” in the United States. Therefore, in 2015, Criss founded AlmayEspiritu.com, a socially responsible business which mission is to promote mindfulness practices, reading and meditation in Latinx communities and workplaces.
Criss currently teaches meditation and mindfulness online and in-person via workshops and virtual webinars. She also serves in the Executive Board for Manna International Project. Additionally, Criss assists as the Registrations and webinar lead for Lideramos.org, this nonprofit’s mission is to enhance and develop Latino Leadership Programs to strengthen a nation of diverse leaders who are culturally aware, civically engaged and community-serving, providing effective leadership for a multicultural society.
In her free time, you can find Criss meditating, reading, philosophizing or just being with nature. She also loves to walk without a purpose, and play a good tennis match!
Financial Services Digital Manager, PwC
Upon moving to Westchester County New York, Matt wanted to connect with his new community by engaging in socially focused initiatives. He joined the board of Teens Run Westchester, a nonprofit organization that sought to develop goal oriented teens through the training and completion of marathons. Having witnessed the positive impact of the program, Matt caught the nonprofit “bug.” He has since become a pro-bono consultant at Lazarus Rising, a nonprofit that seeks to find meaningful employment for individuals experiencing homelessness. Matt works at PwC as a technical consultant helping financial services firms better manage and scale their operations through technology solutions. At Manna Project International, Matt is focused on fundraising and recruitment.