Jean Reynald BlancChildren'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 JamesOffice 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 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 Bank, USAID 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 CoulouteHaiti 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 MyrilChildren’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 AppelUS 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 BadgerDirector 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 XavierProgram 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.
Enel AngervilProgram Coordinator
Enel is director of Fondasyon Kominote Kretyen an Aksyon (Community of Christians in Action), the Haitian non-profit we partner with to implement our Holistic Churches Program in Haiti. He also serves as the Board vice-chair of COPRABEP, the poultry farm that will support Bel Platon primary school. Enel has worked as a pastor, educator, and community leader on the island of La Gonâve for nearly 20 years. He has a Bachelor’s of Divinity from Fishers of Men Seminary of Port-au-Prince.
Kent is a co-founder of Haiti Partners and the author of After Shock and Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle. After working for several years with refugees in Western Europe and the Balkans, he and his wife Shelly lived in Haiti from 2002-2005. Now based in Florida at our U.S. office, he travels regularly to Haiti. He holds a B.A. in business from Palm Beach Atlantic University and an M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary. Kent and his wife Shelly have two children. More about Kent’s writing at www.kentannan.com.
Lisa ReyesLong-term Volunteer: 2015 to present
Lisa Reyes is a retired teacher from Illinois. She taught for 30 years (Bilingual, ESL and Spanish), but decided to follow the Lord’s surprising call when He whispered “Haiti” in her ear. She’s been with Haiti Partners since 2015, off and on, teaching English to the little ones at the Children’s Academy and to the young adults in the afternoons, as well as working with the teachers on curriculum, assessment and methodology. She loves the staff’s eagerness to try new things! When she has some free time, she likes to help with organization in the clinic and the pharmacy that share space on the campus.
Merline EngleCo-Founder, Wozo Choir & Children’s Academy
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.
Lisa VictorLong-term volunteer: 2011 to present
Lisa is a senior associate at Ken Linsteadt Architects in San Francisco. She has spent the last 20 years designing custom residences, but after the 2010 earthquake 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.
(Click here to view our full list of volunteers and interns.)
U.S. Board of Directors
Margaret BellBoard Member
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.
Houston KraftBoard 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.
Ben BlairBoard Member
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.
Yanique EdmondBoard Member
Yanique is a mother of two adult daughters. She has over 20 years of experience as a manager, trainer, author, and researcher in the areas of early childhood education, child welfare, adolescent development, parenting and Haitian culture. Yanique has developed national training for directors, teachers, and management staff of Head Start, a comprehensive early childhood program. She is a Certified Child Trauma Specialist and received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Yanique was born in Port-au-Prince and raised in New York City, she lives in Montgomery County, Maryland with husband Ellis.
Jesse EngleBoard Member
Jesse is an Internet entrepreneur, startup advisor and angel investor. He co-founded CoTweet, the first customer relationship management application for Twitter, and served as CEO through its acquisition by Salesforce.com 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.
Jim KitchenBoard Member
Jim is a retired physician whose interest in health care in Haiti led to his involvement with a rural clinic on the central plateau and with Hopital St. Croix and the F.S.I.L. School of Nursing in Leogane. He has served on the boards of Beyond Borders (Haiti Partners’ sister organizaton) and the Medical Benevolence Foundation. Jim and his wife Pattie, a retired Presbyterian minister, recently moved from Denver, Colorado, to the Pennsylvania Poconos.
Tamara SimmondsBoard Member
Tamara is a former teacher, presently completing a Masters of Theological Studies in Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College. Tamara also serves on the board of reSource Leadership International, which fosters excellence in theological education in the developing world through the advancement of locally sustainable theological institutions. She is a wife, mother of 4 sons, a gardener and cellist. Tamara is a Spirit-filled member of the body of Christ with a passion for the missional objective of the church.
John SimontonBoard President
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 PierrotBoard 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 VavalBoard 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 BlancBoard 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 CouteBoard 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.