Team


  • Jean Reynald Blanc
    Jean Reynald Blanc Children's Academy Parent Coordinator

    Jean Reynald is from Kaglo, just a 15 minute walk from the Children’s Academy. He has been involved with HP since 2011, originally as a part of the team that received construction training and then built the first building. At the Children’s academy he manages parent service hours, coordinates community development trainings, and supports entrepreneurial activities like the paper-making social business and village savings and loan groups. He also plays a key role in organizing community meetings.

  • Suzanne James
    Suzanne James Office Manager

    Suzi comes to us with over 15 years experience with nonprofit organizations in the areas of office administration, special event coordination, volunteer management, and public relations. In the past seven years, she has worked as a consultant with local nonprofit agencies assisting with event planning, volunteer training and coordination, and media relations. She is also a substitute teacher and former job coach. Suzi is originally from Signal Mountain, TN and has lived on the Treasure Coast for over 30 years. She is married and has a son and two bonus kids.

  • John Engle
    John Engle Director

    John is a co-founder of Haiti Partners and has spent most of 26 years based in Haiti. He co-founded Beyond Borders in 1993 and has consulted for the World BankUSAID and others on collaborative leadership. In May 2013 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from WorldBlu for his work in Haiti promoting democratic practice and freedom centered leadership. He and his wife Merline – who is Haitian – have two children.

  • Junia St-Surin Couloute
    Junia St-Surin Couloute Haiti Finance Coordinator

    Junia is the finance coordinator for our Haiti-based operations. She has a degree from Ecole de Formation des Cadres Technique et Commerciaux with a concentration in computer-based accounting. Her most recent position was as an administrative assistant at Les Tainos, a private school in Petion-Ville. Junia grew up in Thomassin, Haiti and lives in Laboule. She is married and has a one year old son.

  • Alex Myril
    Alex Myril Children’s Academy Coordinator

    Alex has been serving as Co-Coordinator of Children’s Academy and Learning Center since 2011 and as Director of Haiti Partners youth choir, WOZO, since 2007. He’s also played a major role in leading construction at the Children’s Academy campus. In addition to leading WOZO on two trips abroad to perform in Michigan and also at a choral festival in Ponce, Puerto Rico, WOZO has also performed for Ben Stiller, Dawn Richard and thousands of other Americans visiting Haiti.

  • Deb Appel
    Deb Appel US Finance Coordinator

    Deb leads our team through all aspects of our financial management and tax compliance. She also works as a bookkeeper for several other non-profits and small businesses in the Vero Beach area. Deb has her certification in accounting from Indian River Community College. She has been self-employed for over 20 years as a bookkeeper. She is a “Certified Bookkeeper” and a “Certified Tax Preparer.” She is married to Rick and has one son, David.

  • Erik Badger
    Erik Badger Director of Operations

    Erik lived in Haiti from 1999 to 2001. While there he played a key role in developing the Reflection Circle method, a key component of our Schools programming. He joined Haiti Partners in 2009 and currently helps lead our US operations while playing a supporting role in developing the quality schools program. Erik is based in Chicago, Illinois, went to undergrad at Shimer College and has a master’s degree in education from DePaul University.

  • Abelard Xavier
    Abelard Xavier Program Coordinator

    Abelard is Co-director of Fondasyon Eksperyansla, a Haitian non-profit committed to leadership and education that leads to autonomy. He has over 14 years of teaching experience at the high school and college levels. He’s played a major role in our collaborative leadership work, and is also our liaison to Henri Christophe and Cabois Community Schools as well as the Chair of the Board for HAJICA, the social business cooperative poultry farm associated with our four Leogane partner schools.

U.S. Board of Directors


  • Ben Blair
    Ben Blair Board Treasurer

    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.

  • 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.

  • Deanna Slamans
    Deanna Slamans Board Member

    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.

  • Merline Engle
    Merline Engle Board Member (ex officio)

    Merline was born in Haiti and raised by her grandfather, a public figure, and responsible for hospitality at her home which was frequented by international visitors. This experience combined with her years in the US make her a perfect bridge between Americans and Haitians. In addition to playing key role in Children’s Academy, she also founded WOZO – Haiti Partners’ youth choir – and has mentored many of the youth in it for more than a decade. The hospitality and delicious cuisine provided by Merline and her staff at Bellevue keep guests coming back.

  • Houston Kraft
    Houston Kraft Board Member

    Houston Kraft lives in Venice, CA with his wife Harley. He 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.

  • Margaret Bell
    Margaret Bell Board Vice-Chair

    Margaret is formerly the Director of Faith Relations at Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver and served on the Habitat for Humanity International Interfaith Committee. Presently she is an in-home English tutor and cultural ambassador for a Congolese refugee family and a mentor with a high school student who will be the first in her family to attend college. 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.

  • Lisa Victor
    Lisa Victor Board Secretary

    Lisa is a senior associate at Ken Linsteadt Architects in San Francisco. She has an architecture degree from Harvard University. Since then she has spent the last 20 years designing custom residences. After the 2010 earthquake, however, she wanted to bring her design skills to help Haiti. She mobilized her firm at the time (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.

  • Jesse Engle
    Jesse Engle Board Member

    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. Jesse holds a bachelor degree in marketing and entrepreneurial management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

  • John Simonton
    John Simonton Board Chair

    John serves as Vice President, Professional Services for PEAK Resources, Inc. With over 18 years of experience, he is responsible for the management, oversight and delivery of technical services for the company. He attended Washington and Lee University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. John lives in Greenwood Village, Colorado with his wife, Kirklyn, and their three children. He is a member and elder of Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver.

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.

Volunteers & Interns


To view our full list of volunteers and interns, click here.

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