Project Minnesota/León Leadership

Staff in León

Elizabeth Moreira, Director

Elizabeth has a special history with PML. She was a founder and the first in-country coordinator back in 1984. Since then she’s received a masters in leadership, worked in nonprofit administration, and managed an architectural business with her husband. After raising three children, they bought a retirement home in Nicaragua, and Elizabeth taught English, preschool, and paper arts. When the opportunity arose in 2014 to return to PML to share her extensive experience and skills, she jumped in, saying: “We've seen changes in technology, politics, agriculture, economics, and program organization, but the spirit of people-to-people connections and community building has been a constant hallmark of PML.”

 

Rosa Lira Ulloa, Project Facilitator

PML is carrying out a human development model where trust and understanding is built within small group meetings. Rosa, the facilitator of this model, began working in January 2015 with groups of women—heads of households who share a desire for the common good—in San Carlos, a municipality seven kilometers from León. Rosa’s approach is to facilitate a process of change that arises from the residents’ own perspectives and to accompany them as they search for the best solution to the problems they identify. Nearly 70 women arrived for the first encounter, and Rosa has been accompanying them as they address priority issues of health and water. Additionally, Rosa is supporting the teens in San Carlos as they identify their own unique concerns.

 

Staff in Minnesota

Emily Wallace-Jackson, Development

and Outreach Director

Emily is passionate about the mission of PML. In partnership with PML, Emily has been the leader of the Youth Cultural Exchange program to Nicaragua at her church for four years. Emily and all three of her children have participated in separate PML travel groups over the past seven years. Emily is a pro bono attorney for the Immigrant Law Center and the Advocates for Human Rights. She is actively involved in Hopkins city government and is a member of the Hopkins Education Foundation Board, where she serves as the chairperson of the grants committee.

 

Board Members


A volunteer board consisting of members from both León and Minnesota steers the organization. The board meets the first Monday of each month via Skype, with the Nicaragua boad members gathered in the PML office and Minnesota board members in a board member's home.

 

Click on each board member's name or photo to read about his or her reasons for serving on the board and hopes for PML, what our board members think they contribute to the board's work, and other thoughts about PML and its work. 

 

From León

 

Agustín Orlando Aragón Téllez

Orlando joined PML in February 2014. He's in his fourth year of studying accounting and finance at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in León. He tells us, "Currently and secularly I'm not working, but I'm a pastor of a church called Christ Comes. I'm in charge of the youth of the church, and possibly I’ll be transferred to another church in the rural area of Monte Redondo."

 

María Luisa Avendaño Peralta

PML welcomed María Luisa to the PML board in March 2014. She has a degree in social work and business administration with a technical certificate as a legal facilitator. She has facilitated projects in gender violence and women´s empowerment; trained leaders in 14 communities; worked with adolescents; been involved with women's cooperative groups in bakery, wine, and textiles; and done process facilitation with teachers in 11 schools in rural northeast León. 

 

Lenín José Pérez

Lenín was a founder and is a board member of Taller Artístico Xuchialt (Xuchialt Art School), a project enthusiastically supported by PML. Lenín graduated in fine arts, becoming one of the art teachers of Xuchialt as well as a volunteer teacher at youth centers. Later he received a bachelor´s degree in tourism and hospitality management. Lending his talents over the years, he became a board member in February 2014. 

 

Carlos Alberto Pérez López

Carlos teaches computer technology at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in his neighborhood of Laborío. “I first learned about PML by way of projects carried out in my dear city,” he says. “What impressed me was that these projects take into consideration the specific needs as identified by the community in order to seek an authentic response.” Carlos hopes to improve the quality of life in León through his participation, and his first task is organizing volunteer service hours in Sutiaba for youth who will be participating in a summer exchange program.

 

María del Rosario Cáceres

A León native, María studied in Cuba after the 1979 Revolution and received a degree in elementary education. She was a teacher in Chinandega and rural areas before dedicating her time to homemaking. María joined the PML board in March 2014. As a resident of La Villa 23 de Julio, she has hosted a number of delegates from Minnesota and therefore she has a keen interest in supporting delegations. With her background in education, she also wants to connect with the preschool Gotitas de Esperanza. 

 

Karen Elizabeth Zapata Vanegas

Karen is a lawyer and notary public. After graduating from law school, she spent a few years working in Managua, helping out in her sister's store. She is now back in León, offering her services as an independent lawyer from her private office. She says, “I would like to contribute my knowledge and time as my 'grain of sand' toward supporting PML's development strategy. I’m excited to participate in this organization that has people-to-people solidarity as one of its founding pillars.”

 

From Minnesota

 

 

Deborah Allen, Board President

Deborah has been a PML board member since 2013 and is currently board president. Her connection to PML began with the Youth Cultural Exchange delegations that PML hosts for First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. She served as chaperone for the exchanges that her two middle-school children participated in. These incredibly transformative experiences for the youth of her church compelled her to help make this experience available for others. She is a retired University of Minnesota soil science professor and is restoring prairie at her family's land in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota.

 

Ralph Baumgartner

Fluent in Spanish and an experienced community organizer, Ralph is a great match for PML's work. He has also served as pastor of Lutheran congregations in Latino/a communities in St. Paul and along the Texas/Mexico border. Ralph has traveled extensively and made an especially important trip in the fall of 2016, when he walked for six weeks on El Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage route in northern Spain.

 

Carolyn Liebler

Carolyn is a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota. Her research is about how the United States thinks about and measures race (for example, through census questions). Her specialty area is American Indian racial identity, which she chose because her (white) parents adopted a Native boy (her brother) when they were children. She has two sons and spends a lot of time watching baseball, soccer, downhill skiing, and baseball. One of her sons was a member of a PML exchange program in 2014, and because Carolyn was so impressed by the impact PML had on him, she readily said yes when she was asked to serve on the board. 

 

Jean Lubke

Jean is an active member of University Baptist Church, which has had a sister congregation in León—Segundo Bautista Iglesia de Monte Sion de Leon (SIBEL)—since the 1990s. Jean is in her fortieth year in education—some leading corporate training organizations, some teaching in higher education, but most in K-12 public and parochial education. She's made several trips to León, often to conduct training for teachers at SIBEL's school. In her professional life, she has worked closely with school board and policies for the past fourteen years. She is currently on the executive committee of the board of Minnesota Equity Education Partnership (MnEEP).