Board of Directors

  • Linda Crouse
    Linda Crouse Board Chair; Mill Valley, CA

    A principal and the director of marketing for BAR Architects, Linda has been involved in strategic planning, client development and PR for design firms for 30+ years. Raised on the east coast, she received a BA in Sociology with an emphasis in City Planning which originated from a passion for architecture, art and people. Shortly after graduation, she moved to San Francisco where she entered the world of marketing for architectural services and also began volunteering her services for various events and non-profits. Following the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, Linda assisted in facilitating BAR’s pro-bono services in planning and designing the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy which involved nearly three-quarters of BAR staff volunteering in some capacity and led to a lasting partnership with Haiti Partners.

  • Christa Brelsford
    Christa Brelsford Treasurer; Oak Ridge, TN

    Christa is a research scientist at a national research laboratory.  She studies interactions between social and physical infrastructure systems, particularly in cities. Christa hopes this research will contribute to building the intellectual understanding we need to build a more just, equitable and sustainable world. She holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University, and won the Paraclimbing World Championships only a few months after completing her Ph.D. Christa and her husband, Ethan, live in Tennessee with their three children and a very active dog named Raina.

  • Nancy Magloire
    Nancy Magloire Swan Point, MD

    Nancy Magloire has worked in K-12 Education for over 23 years and has worked in Higher Education for 6 years. She is currently an adjunct professor at McDaniel College in Graduate & Professional Studies and is traveling to Uganda to assist with the launching of St. Ignatius University’s Education Department. Nancy has held several positions within education such as instructional supervisor, instructional specialist, school-based administrator, department chair, curriculum developer and teacher. She received her BA from York College in Political Science & Psychology and attended Old Dominion University for her MA in International Political & Economic Development. After moving to Maryland she received her MA in Teaching, next a post-graduate certificate in School Administration and Supervision from Johns Hopkins University, and then a doctorate in Education Leadership & Policy Studies from Howard University. She was born and raised in New York to Haitian parents. Now that she is an empty nester she has returned to her roots and giving back to the Haitian community.

  • Donald Steele
    Donald Steele West Chester, PA

    Don is a retired Presbyterian Pastor, currently living with his wife, Donna, near West Chester, PA. They are the parents of two adult sons. Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, Don received his Bachelor degree from The George Washington University in 1980, followed by his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1984. In 2004, Don received his Master in Adult Education from Penn State University with an emphasis on transformational education and faith development. He has served for forty years as a Pastor in five different Presbyterian congregations. Between 1991 and 2012, Don visited Haiti multiple times, leading groups from congregations he served, seeing lives of congregants transformed by those visits as his own had been, and encouraging those congregations to ongoing support of important work in Haiti, including the work of Haiti Partners, believing that education can bring change, not just to individuals, but to larger systems as well.

  • Robin Merwin
    Robin Merwin San Francisco, CA

    Robin is Vice President of Business Development at Da Vinci Marble in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been an active member of Haiti Partner’s San Francisco event committee for the last several  years. In her profession and as a board member Robin is a talented “people connector” and event organizer.

  • Laurie Poll
    Laurie Poll Zeeland, MI

    With over 30 years of experience in public education, Laurie now works as a School Renewal Facilitator through Western Michigan University, supporting staff and students at two local schools. She began her career teaching 3rd to 5th grades. She later transitioned into administrative roles, ultimately serving as an elementary principal in Zeeland Public Schools, where her children also attended. Laurie and her husband, Steve, have been active in local and international service. Together with their two sons, they contributed to efforts in Haiti for many years. From 2009 to 2018, Laurie co-led the Haiti Teacher Summit with Haiti Partners and other local schools, fostering lifelong relationships and supporting Haitian educators. The Summit’s guiding principle is “Education Gives Us HOPE.” More recently, Laurie and her team have been working in Cambodia due to unrest in Haiti. Laurie enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends. She and Steve have two adult sons: Nate, who is married to Britney and has a daughter, Adelyn, and Noah, who is engaged to Brooke and has a wedding planned for 2025. Laurie is passionate about bringing hope to educators and values her involvement with Haiti Partners.

  • Andrea Rupp
    Andrea Rupp Brooklyn, NY

    Andrea Rupp is an Executive Human Resources Consultant with over 28 years of strategic HR experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas. Beginning in 2014, she has traveled regularly to Haiti with Healing Haiti and Haiti Partners. Andrea was inspired by Haiti Partners’ focus on education and serving the community. She also serves on the board of directors for Hands Offering Hope Foundation. Andrea volunteers with foster youth and is a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children.

  • Deanna Slamans
    Deanna Slamans Secretary; Hershey, PA

    Deanna is an author, educator and conference workshop leader for children and adults. Formerly she wrote Leadership and Character Education curriculum at Milton Hershey School where she and her husband, Andy, were full-time houseparents for 14 years. Deanna is the author of a memoir titled Faith’s Pursuit: Understanding God’s Faithfulness in Suffering and The House That Chocolate Built: Parenting At the Sweetest School On Eartha story about her family’s career while houseparenting at Milton Hershey. Deanna holds a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Temple University. She lives with her husband, Andy, and their two children, Korri and AJ, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

  • Christina Baxter Vernace
    Christina Baxter Vernace Stuart, FL

    Christina Baxter Vernace is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health. She has experience both locally and abroad in medically underserved areas as an educator and medical provider. She became involved with Haiti Partners during medical school, when she realized this was a life-long relationship for her as a pediatrician. She and her colleagues initiated the Wellness Program at the Children’s Academy, where each enrolled student receives regular wellness check ups and has the opportunity for acute visits staffed by trained parents and medical professionals. Her lifelong vision includes further establishing ongoing medical care for this group of incredible students and their families and creating sustainable clinics throughout the Haitian school system. She lives in Stuart, FL with her husband and little boy.

  • Frank Alerte
    Frank Alerte Vero Beach, FL

    Frank is an Assistant General Counsel at Brown & Brown, Inc., a financial services provider, and has practiced corporate law for over thirty two years. He came to the United States from Haiti when he was young, growing up in New York and New Jersey. Frank thereafter attended Harvard, focusing on economic development in the Third World, including the Caribbean, and later decided to pursue a law degree at New York University School of Law. Now that he is an empty-nester, he is prepared and eager to give back to the Haitian community. Frank resides in Vero Beach, Florida, with his wife Karen and they have four adult children.

  • Tawana Guillaume
    Tawana Guillaume Vice-Chair; Oakland, CA

    Tawana is an engineer and educator. She was born and raised in Queens, NY to Haitian parents and has strong ties to her Haitian roots. She is a graduate of Columbia University, with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, and California State University with an M.S. in Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. She is currently working on a Doctorate of Education in STEM Education Practice and Innovation. She was one of the founding coaches for Google Code Next (Bay Area) and a Project Engineer in heavy civil construction. Tawana’s current work focuses on education that supports students of color and young women in STEM. She continues to work on new curricula and make modifications to existing curricula that are often unresponsive to students that are traditionally left behind in STEM. Tawana lives in Oakland, California with her husband, Rean, and their son, Riley. The family loves to work hard, and play harder.

Ex-Officio Board Members

(Ex-Officio Board members are typically former Board members who
continue to play an important role, though they no longer vote.)

  • Thomas Crowley
    Thomas Crowley San Francisco, CA

    Thomas is a sustainability-focused Project Manager with 17+ years of design, development, and systems thinking experience. Originally from New York, he practiced Architecture in Philadelphia before relocating to San Francisco to deepen his knowledge of all things sustainability. One of the original BAR Architects’ teammates who lived and worked in Haiti during 2011 designing the Children’s Academy, Thomas was profoundly struck by Haiti Partners’ commitment to the impactful opportunities of a community-focused design process. In 2018, he achieved a Master of Public Administration in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School, an institution training practitioners in triple bottom line (TBL) theory: people, planet, and profit. He is excited to bring his unique equity-focused lens to the Haiti Partners’ community.

  • Miranda Ash
    Miranda Ash London, UK

    Miranda is Chief of Community and a Transformation Coach at WorldBlu. She advises companies, executive leaders and CEOs all over the world on how to design world-class freedom-centered workplaces. Miranda has over 25 years experience in a variety of roles including leadership, organizational transformation, coaching, marketing and fundraising. In 2011 Miranda visited Haiti to work with Haiti Partners and their friends first hand. It was a life changing trip and ever since she has been promoting the organization within the WorldBlu community. In 2001 Miranda founded Street Level Arts in the UK and spent a decade spearheading community arts work for adults coping with mental health, homelessness and substance abuse issues. In 2012 she was honored to be presented to Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of services to the community. Miranda and her husband Matthew live in the UK.

  • Lisa Victor
    Lisa Victor San Francisco, CA

    Lisa is a senior associate at Ken Linsteadt Architects in San Francisco. After earning her masters in architecture at Harvard and spending several years in Paris, she moved home to California where she has spent the last 20 years designing custom residences. After the 2010 earthquake she wanted to bring her design skills to help Haiti. She mobilized her firm (BAR Architects) to collaborate with Architecture for Humanity. Over the course of several months her team designed the Children’s Academy in collaboration with HP and the local community. Lisa became smitten with the beauty and complexity of Haiti, and with Haiti Partners’ work. She organizes an annual scholarship benefit for the Children’s Academy inaugural class, the Class of 2028, and is committed to seeing the Children’s Academy to completion.

  • Jesse Engle
    Jesse Engle San Francisco, CA

    Jesse is an Internet entrepreneur, startup advisor and angel investor. He is co-founder and CEO of Tap Bio, a tool for people using Instagram and other social networks to promote their businesses. Previously, he co-founded CoTweet, the first customer relationship management suite for Twitter, and served as CEO through its acquisition by ExactTarget (now Salesforce) in 2010. Jesse, his wife, Leigh Ann, and their 3 sons live in the San Francisco Bay area. They are longtime supporters of Haiti Partners and make regular trips to Haiti. He is currently spending the majority of his time in Venice, CA working on a new initiative to build awareness and support for Haiti Partners called Good Work House. Jesse holds a bachelor degree in marketing and entrepreneurial management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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