U.S. Board of Directors

  • Merline Engle
    Merline Engle Board Member (ex officio)

    Merline Engle is a Haitian-American who is passionate about education, hospitality and entrepreneurship. She’s committed to continuing her family’s legacy of giving back to her mother land. Merline remembered well how her grand father would make his students repeat, “Education is the only key to a better life.” Having grown up in a diverse and international household helped Merline learn to serve as a bridge between Haitian and other internationals. Merline founded Wozo in 2006, Haiti Partners’ community choir, Bellevue guest house, and is the designer behind the handmade Haitian greeting cards being crafted at the Children’s Academy. Merline is a Co-founder of the Children’s Academy and continues to play an active role. She’s the creator of Merline’s Hot Sauce, is a foodie, loves nature, is a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a lifelong learner and a mentor.

  • Margaret Bell
    Margaret Bell Board Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair

    Margaret is the Colorado Casting for Recovery Program Coordinator and Retreat leader. She also volunteers as an in-home English tutor and cultural ambassador for a Congolese refugee family and as a mentor with a high school student who will be the first in her family to attend college. Formerly she served as the Director of Faith Relations at Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver and on the Habitat for Humanity International Interfaith Committee. Margaret is married to John, a Presbyterian Minister, and they delight in spending time with their two adult daughters and son-in-law, travel, entertaining, and living in Colorado.

  • Houston Kraft
    Houston Kraft Board Vice-Chair

    Based in Venice, CA, Houston is a speaker, curriculum developer, leadership trainer, and kindness advocate. He has worked in 500 schools across North America and is the co-founder of CharacterStrong – trainings and tools to help educators teach compassion and character more effectively. His trip to Haiti in 2012 continues to inspire his work in helping build a better world through education.

  • Miranda Ash

    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.

  • Patrick Collins
    Patrick Collins Board member

    Patrick is the COO of Healthcare Trust, a senior housing REIT with 62 communities across the US. With over 28 years in senior housing, Patrick’s operational background and focus is all about the customer’s experience. Patrick has held leadership positions with West Living, Benchmark Assisted Living, Marriott Senior Living and other seniors focused entities. Employee engagement, customer satisfaction and servant leadership are cornerstones of his personal mission to produce the best outcome for all stakeholders. His role with Haiti Partners is one to take his talents and passion in serving seniors to young minds and families in a way that brings long lasting support and a true desire for the greater good.

  • Deanna Slamans
    Deanna Slamans Board Secretary

    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.

  • Andrea Rupp
    Andrea Rupp Board member

    Andrea Rupp is the Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Hudson Pacific Properties, a Los Angeles based REIT with a portfolio of office and studio properties. Andrea has 24 years of human resources experience and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). 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 and is a trainer for their youth leadership institute in Kantunilkín, Mexico. Andrea volunteers with foster youth and is a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children in Los Angeles.

  • Lisa Victor
    Lisa Victor Board Member, Nominating Committee Chair

    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.

  • Medjy Pierre-Louis
    Medjy Pierre-Louis Board Member

    Medjy Pierre-Louis is a recent graduate of Harvard University and specializes in international educational assessments. She has conducted educational research in the Caribbean and is passionate about providing quality education to children in Haiti. Medjy has worked with a variety of international organizations including the World Bank, USAID, and the IEA and is planning to pursue her PhD. In her free time, she loves to dance and read.

  • Ben Blair
    Ben Blair Board Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair

    Ben is a Co-Founder of Teachur.co, a competency-based edtech platform. Prior to this, he produced – with his family – the award-winning video series, Olive Us, and helped develop the language hangouts program for Haiti Partners in 2014. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Ben and his wife, Gabrielle, live in Oakland with their 6 children.

  • Linda Crouse
    Linda Crouse Board member

    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 Board member

    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 two (soon to be three!) children and a very active dog named Raina.

  • Jesse Engle

    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.

Haiti Board of Directors

  • Manita Pierrot
    Manita Pierrot Board Member

    Manita was born and raised in Hinche, Haiti. She has 23 years experience as social worker and manager in the public sector and for a child-focused NGO. She holds a B.A. in Administration from Florida International University and a certificate in Social Work from the School of Human Sciences in Haiti. She currently serves World Vision as Head of the Christian Commitment Unit. Manita is active in her church and community, serving on a number of boards and committees. Manita is married and has 2 children.

  • Marie Ginette Vaval
    Marie Ginette Vaval Board Member

    Mrs. Marie Ginette Vaval serves on the Oversight Committee for the Children’s Academy and Learning Center. She has been an administrator in Haiti’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation since 1986. Mme. Vaval has been trained in administration and hospitality, has a long history of volunteering as a teacher, and loves helping girls learn to sew. She is married to Jean Michel Vaval, and together they have 3 grown children.

  • Natacha Blanc
    Natacha Blanc Board Member

    Natacha is a Haitian-American with significant professional experience in US and in Haiti. She is currently the Local Solutions Specialist for the USAID Mission in Haiti, working to build local organizations’ capacity with the intention that they can later on receive larger funding as direct partners of USAID. She previously served as Director of Remittances & Transfer Services at Fonkoze Haiti, as well as as Project Director for a new program that Fonkoze launched to help youth learn financial and entrepreneurial skills. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development at University of South Florida. Natacha resides in Haiti with her husband and two children.

  • Raphael Jean Coute
    Raphael Jean Coute Board Member

    Raphael is an attorney with offices on Delmas 40 in Port au Prince. He received his license to practice law in 2004 and graduated from law school at Haiti’s State University in 1998. Raphael worked from 1999 through 2004 as a law technician in OFATMA, Haiti’s national insurance organization. His clients have ranged from a construction company to OFATMA to several NGO’s. He led the process of gaining legal status for the three cooperatives that Haiti Partners has created to serve as social businesses. He and his wife are members of the Baptist Church of Flagneauville and have a young daughter.

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