Christina’s involvement with non-profits began as she pursued her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. While a student, she volunteered with a domestic violence organization and went on to spend 8 years working with women and children homeless due to domestic violence. In 2009, Christina received a Masters in Public Management from SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy. During graduate school, she interned at the World Health Organization, which later led her to volunteer at a health center in rural Nicaragua. She spent 2 years working with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Prior to assuming the Nicaragua Country Director role, Christina worked as a Research and Evaluation Associate for Safe Horizon, a victim’s services non-profit in New York.
Louisiana State University '13, Kinesiology
Juliene is from Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated Louisiana State University with a degree in Kinesiology. While at LSU she volunteered at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in the fitness department. After visiting Nicaragua in 2012 on a volunteer medical trip, she developed a passion for the culture and people in Nicaragua. This experience left her with a desire to return to the country and work in community development for an extended period of time. After hearing about Manna and the health and fitness programs they offer, she decided it would be a perfect fit. She is very eager to have an impact on the community as well as develop relationships with the people she will be working with.
New York University '13, Chemistry and Spanish
Erica Crosley is from Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from New York University in 2013 with a double major in Chemistry and Spanish. Over the past few years, she has volunteered in the pediatric department of Bellevue Hospital and worked as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant. After studying abroad in Argentina, her passion for Spanish and Latin American cultures grew, and she knew she wanted a post-college experience that included helping developing communities in Latin America. Erica appreciates MPI's approach to sustainable development and is especially excited to work in the healthcare focused projects manna has to offer. Erica plans on going to medical school after her time in Nicaragua.
Emory '14, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Elena is from West Lafayette, Indiana. She graduated from Emory University with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. While at Emory, Elena developed a passion for public health while serving as a mentor in the Emory Health Sciences Pipeline Program. Elena became interested in Manna after learning about their child sponsorship program and focus on women’s health. Last summer she completed an internship with Manna and quickly realized that she wanted to return as a program director after college. Elena is excited to improve her Spanish and to learn more about the socioeconomic factors that impact health and wellness in Nicaragua.
Auburn University '14, Nutrition and Dietetics
Julie Sawyer is from Enterprise, Alabama and recently graduated form Auburn University with a major in Nutrition and Dietetics and minor in Business. While at Auburn, Julie volunteered with Alternative Student Breaks as a participant and member of the executive board. Through her experiences volunteering with ASB, Julie developed a deep passion for serving communities abroad. Julie hopes to use her college education and love for international travel to help develop and assist the communities she will be serving through Manna. She is very eager to cultivate meaningful relationships with community members and further develop the goals of Manna and community members through holistic development in education, health, and artistic program pursuits.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania '14, Spanish and History
Gretchen Heine is originally from Frederick, Maryland and recently graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) with degrees in Spanish and History. During her time at IUP, Gretchen cultivated her passion for Latin American culture and spent a semester abroad in Puebla, Mexico. Throughout her undergraduate career, Gretchen participated in various volunteer experiences, including Alternative Spring Break trips to Texas, North Carolina, and Vermont. Based on her commitment to service and affinity for international travel, Gretchen was drawn to Manna’s mission. This next year, Gretchen is looking forward to consistent civic engagement and the opportunity to build cross-cultural relationships with community members.
University of Pennsylvania '13, Nursing and Multicultural/Global Health Studies
Natalie is from Chicago, Illinois and just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a minor in Multicultural/Global Health Studies. As a registered nurse, Natalie is very passionate about global health and is excited to partner with the community clinic to better improve health conditions. She also looks forward to teaching women’s health and staying active through her interest in soccer. Furthermore, Natalie developed a passion for social entrepreneurship while interning in Mexico City and looks forward to participating in microfinance projects with women, especially through the jewelry cooperative. Natalie is very enthusiastic about Manna’s holistic approach as it combines many of her passions and creates an opportunity to work alongside community members to help them realize long-term health and education goals.
University of Texas '14, Political Communication Studies
Katy is from Dallas, Texas and recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Political Communication Studies. During high school, Katy went on spring break service trips to Latin America, but she always felt that she could make more of a long-lasting impact by spending an extended amount of time actually living in the communities there. Katy split her college life between The University of Virginia and Texas, and during her first year at Virginia she traveled to Managua on an alternative spring break trip where she fell in love with the beauty of the country and the people in it. Drawn to Manna by their comprehensive approach and desire to focus on meeting "the needs of each day," Katy is grateful to work with an organization that has a mission she so strongly believes in. Specifically, Katy looks forward to working in educational and fitness-related projects that Manna has to offer. More generally, Katy is excited to develop meaningful relationships with community members, to experience a different way of life, to improve her Spanish, and to gain more of an international perspective. After her time in Nicaragua, Katy plans to attend law school.
Saint Joseph's University '14, Chemical Biology and Health Care Ethics
Sam is from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He swam at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine for two years before finishing a degree in Chemical Biology at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While at Saint Joe's, Sam was actively involved with various health care related initiatives on campus including a Health Promoter Model, Slow-Sand Water Filter, and Lenses-To-Go program. Sam is interested in global health and was drawn to work with Manna Project International for the opportunity to have direct contact with community members in Nicaragua. Sam is an avid surfer and looks forward to making water filters for the communities on the coast of Nicaragua. Following his experience with Manna, Sam plans to pursue a career in medicine.
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina '10, History
Rob is a native Texan, but also grew up in Norway and Wisconsin before attending The Citadel in Charleston, SC. Earning a B.A. in History in 2010, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Based at Camp Lejeune, NC, Rob led a unit of Marines with amphibious armored vehicles in training stateside and also deployed to Afghanistan for a year managing programs that countered Improvised Explosive Devices. After more than four years in the Marines and promotion to Captain, Rob decided to make a career change towards the non-profit sector. Rob is excited to serve with MPI Nicaragua and gain experience through its holistic approach to sustainable development, especially in the education and business fields.
Virginia Tech '14, Communication
Blair grew up in Ripplemead, Virginia. In May 2014 she graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Communication with a focus in Public Relations, and minors in Leadership & Social Change and Marketing. Growing up in a rural area, Blair witnessed firsthand how poverty plagued many around her. This realization fueled her love of service, and in March 2012 she traveled to Nicaragua for the first time as a volunteer with the Virginia Tech Nicaraguan Orphan Fund. The country, its people, and the culture captivated her, and she has been returning every year since. Blair learned about Manna through her other trips to the country and was drawn to its holistic development approach and the opportunity to live and work with other volunteers who share her passion for loving and serving others. She is excited to work to improve the communities of Cedro Galán and Villa Guadalupe, to cultivate intentional relationships with community members, and to expand her communication skills further through her work on MPI digital media and the English program. Blair plans to pursue a career in marketing, perhaps in the non-profit sector, after her seven months with MPI.
The University of Texas at Austin '14, Biochemistry
Alexa is from Scotch Plains, New Jersey and just graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Biochemistry. After her first two visits to Nicaragua on medical mission trips with Global Medical Training, she fell in love with the culture and communities of Nicaragua. She was drawn to Manna for the ability to return to Nicaragua and for its unique holsitic approach, especially in relation to health and education. While serving as a Summer Intern for MPI in 2014, she quickly decided that she wanted to return once again to be a Program Director. She is looking forward to immersing herself in the community and furthering Manna’s goals. Following her time in Nicaragua, Alexa plans to pursue a career in medicine.
Ecuador Country Director
Nancy served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and Volunteer Coordinator in Ecuador from 1999-2001 after graduating from Washington State University with a BS in Animal Sciences.Upon her return to Washington State, she worked as a Domestic Violence Victim’s Advocate at a local shelter and then later for over ten years in the prosecutor’s office. In her free time she became involved in her local community as a fitness instructor, holding certifications as a Group Fitness Instructor, Zumba, and CrossFit.Nancy, her husband, their two kids, her mother, and their dog returned to Ecuador to stay in December 2014. Nancy loves the country of Ecuador and all it has to offer!
Virginia Green, Interim Country Director, Senior Program Director
College of Charleston '13, International Studies
Born and raised in the fabulous city of Charleston, South Carolina, Virginia spent her entire life in the Deep South. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the College of Charleston in International Studies with a concentration on Latin America and the Caribbean, Virginia decided it was time to travel even further south. With a passion for all things Latin American and a desire to spend an extended period of time immersed in the culture and language, Virginia applied for the position with MPIE and the rest is history. Her hobbies include yoga, writing poetry, baking pies, salsa dancing and cast net shrimping. Virginia loves living and working in Latin America.
College of Charleston '14, International Studies and Spanish
Jessa is a Michigan native who earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies with a concentration in Latin America and the Caribbean from the College of Charleston. After studying abroad in Havana, Cuba, Jessa knew she wanted to work in the non-profit sector in the area of the world she was passionate about: Latin America. Jessa loves experiencing new culture and traveling the world; she is excited at the opportunity to improve her Spanish while in Ecuador.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill '14, Environmental Health Sciences
Originally from Wilmington, North Carolina, Amelia graduated from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill where she studied Public Health with a concentration in Environmental Health Sciences and minors in Spanish and Biology. At UNC, Amelia served on the executive board of A Drink For Tomorrow, a non-profit dedicated to the global water crisis where she gained knowledge of international development and realized that she wanted to live and work abroad. MPI Ecuador was the perfect fit for Amelia to both improve her Spanish and to work for a non-profit while being fully immersed in the Ecuadorian culture and serving the community in the Chillos Valley. While in Ecuador, Amelia is excited to experience all the diversity that this beautiful country has to offer and hopes to travel throughout South America, learn salsa dancing and traditional Ecuadorian cooking. After MPI, Amelia hopes to pursue a career in public health and continue working in the nonprofit sector.
James Madison University '13, English and Political Science
Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Sydney graduated from James Madison University where she studied English and Political Science with a concentration in international affairs. Through her studies, she found a passion for working with international nonprofits and has been fortunate enough to work with organizations specializing in education initiatives, refugee resettlement and more. In 2011, Sydney worked as a summer intern with Manna’s Ecuador site and fell in love with both the country and the organization. After working with Amnesty International in 2013, Sydney decided to follow her lifelong dream of working on an international site and returning to Ecuador. She could not be more excited to immerse herself in a new culture and be reunited with Ecuador’s mountains.
Northwestern University '14, Biological Anthropology and Spanish
A Madison, Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate, Catherine studied Biological Anthropology and Spanish throughout her undergraduate career. A regular volunteer at a non-profit organization on the North side of Chicago, she tutored children in the Latino immigrant community and served as a mentor for those enrolled in the neighborhood’s after school program. She developed her love for all things international after studying abroad in Spain and teaching English to local children. The following summer she received a grant to travel around the world to ten countries on six continents to complete independent research for her senior thesis. Catherine is thrilled to be joining the MPI team, as it is a perfect fit for her passion for international development and non-profit work. She looks forward to building lasting relationships with local community members, advancing the goals of MPI, and immersing herself in Ecuadorian culture.
St. Olaf College '14, Political Science & Management Studies
A Northfield, Minnesota native, Evan is thrilled to be a part of the Manna Project International team. He has been fortunate to travel around the world and experience many different cultures. The opportunity to serve in the Valle de los Chillos will help him fulfill his dream to fully immerse in a new culture and develop connections that he believes will enhance his passion for international development. In addition to developing relationships with the people of Ecuador through MPI’s English and small business programs, Evan plans to share his love for music and sports. At St. Olaf College, Evan sang in the St. Olaf Choir and Limestones A cappella group. He also played on the football team for one year. Evan hopes to bring these passions to strengthen the communities MPI serves. Following his year of service with MPI, Evan plans to pursue a career in global strategic communications.
Wake Forest University '14, Religion
Ann-Lowry graduated from Wake Forest University in May 2014 with a major in Religion and a minor in History. She first came to Ecuador in July 2012 on a short study abroad trip and after spending a semester in Argentina, she knew she wanted to return to Latin America after graduation. Ann-Lowry spent 2 months volunteering in Baños, Ecuador before joining the Manna team in January. Ann-Lowry is excited to connect with the community through her personal passions, sports and the arts. She also has been enjoying learning new things from both MPI and their partner organizations in the Valle.
Northeastern University '18, Human Services and International Affairs
Native to the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Allegra is currently a second year student studying Human Services and International Affairs at Northeastern University. At Northeastern, she developed an interest in international development, community organizing, social entrepreneurship and non-profit management. She also studied Arabic and Middle East Studies in Amman, Jordan, and participated in the leadership of various student organizations and university programs. In 2013, she worked for Dream Volunteers, an international education organization. This year, Allegra decided to revisit her passion for Latin American culture by taking a semester off to work with MPI Ecuador as part of Northeastern’s unique co-op program. She is very excited to gain experience living and working abroad, and to become a part of Manna’s holistic approach to community development.
Northeastern University '17, International Affairs
Born and raised in Westchester, New York, Michael is in his third year at Northeastern University where he studies International Affairs with minors in Spanish, Economics and Emerging Markets. He is taking a semester off from his studies to work for MPI as part of Northeastern’s co-op program. Through his studies and time spent volunteering in Boston, Massachusetts, Michael developed a passion for community development and other cultures. After spending the summer of 2014 living in Argentina, Michael’s enthusiasm for traveling and for Latin America grew significantly and he couldn’t wait to return. After finding out about MPI, Michael jumped at the chance to make a significant impact in an area in need and experience the incredible people and the beauty of Ecuador. He is looking forward to contributing to MPI’s efforts in the Chillos Valley and to experiencing all that Ecuador has to offer.