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Direction & Expertise

In Country Director

Alvaro Carias, El Salvador Director

Alvaro Carias

Education: In 1991 Alvaro graduated from the National University of El Salvador (UES) with a degree in English Language

Summary of Experience: Alvaro was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador. During the civil war, he worked with refugees in the outskirts of his city, helping them build their houses and developing literacy programs for children and adults.

After earning his degree in English, Alvaro joined the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS) in El Salvador where he taught Spanish to US, Canadian, and English students for twelve years using Popular Education techniques with a participatory method.

In addition to teaching Spanish, Alvaro has led groups from the US and Canada, facilitating cross-cultural experiences for those interested in developing an understanding of the social, cultural, political, and economic realities of El Salvador. His work has helped participants from the First World explore Third World culture and issues. He has accompanied and translated for doctors, dentists, nurses and volunteers from the US who come to provide free medical and dental consultation to small rural villages.

From 2005-2008 he worked as the In-country Director of a North American non-governmental organization (NGO), overseeing school building, and scholarship programs in rural communities of El Salvador. He is a passionate advocate for human rights, social justice and environmental protection.

Guillermo Fernando Sensente, El Salvador Projects Director

Guillermo Fernando Sensente

Education: Currently in his 6th year at the Universidad de Sonosonate - USO, Guillermo plans to receive his Bachelor degree in Law at the end of 2012.

Summary of Experience: Guillermo was born and raised in Sonsonate, El Salvador. At the age of 10 moved with his entire family to Santa Cruz California where he lived for 10 years. Graduated from Santa Cruz High School in 2003 and moved back to El Salvador in 2005 to continue on with his education. Guillermo has been working with NGOs as a translator as well as with medical brigades in small rural villages since 2010 and was added to the ESNA team in the fall of 2011.

US Based Directors

Bill Fischer, ESNA President

Bill Fischer

Education: Bill is a 1972 graduate of Northern Illinois University where he received a BS degree with a major in Business.

Summary of Experience: Bill Fischer retired from Xerox Corporation in 2006 after 35 years with the company. While at Xerox he held many sales and management positions within the organization. He managed sales, technical and administrative resources during his tenure and carried responsibility for operational revenue and budgets. He has been an active participant in the development of the relationship between Heartland Presbyterian Church and sister communities in El Salvador since inception in 1996. Upon his retirement from Xerox in 2006 Bill lived in El Salvador for eight months, coordinating projects, managing cross-cultural experiences, and developing relationships in-country with both government and non-governmental agencies.

Eddie Ellis, ESNA VP of Strategy

Eddie Ellis

Education: Eddie received his MA from the Harvard Executive Management Program in 2004.

Summary of Experience: With 12 years experience, Eddie is an accomplished operational leader, developer of strategy and execution frameworks, process improvement consultant, and program and project manager. Eddie has experience in insurance and financial services, manufacturing and distribution, government, non-profit, and marketing industries.

Previously, Eddie has led a program effort for a Fortune 100 company where he was responsible for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of a 1000 person, $1B+ business unit. This project delivered a program portfolio of 68 projects (78M budget), scorecards and metrics dashboards, communication plans, 3-5 year road maps for each operating units and new financial systems and processes, streamlined reporting, cost containment and improved decision making quality and velocity.

He was also responsible for a leading a large customer-focused shared services project for a fortune 100 financial services company. His primary responsibilities were creating strategies, developing plans, creating cross-functional alignment and communication plans, recruiting and managing teams, new product development, organizing departments and projects to meet objectives, building measures to demonstrate performance, building external vendor relationships, building and expanding customer relationships. Eddie has four years of experience leading an international non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of those in extreme poverty.

Nikki Busch, Director of Marketing and Communications

Nikki Busch

Education: Nikki graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1997 with a B. A. in Cultural Anthropology and a Certificate in Women's Studies. In 2003, she received an M. A. in Library and Information Studies, again from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Summary of Experience: Currently the Director of Brodhead Memorial Public Library, Nikki previously worked for years as the Grants Librarian at the University of Wisconsin. There she cultivated expertise in researching and identifying relevant funding opportunities for nonprofits and researchers alike, developing and teaching a wide range of grants-related instructional sessions. These varied in type from individual and small-group consultations to drop-in workshops, panel presentations, guest lectures, and tailor-made seminars for special interest groups on-campus and throughout the Midwest. She received the Association of College and Research Libraries’ PRIMO (Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online) Award in 2006 as a member of the UW’s Campus Library User Education (CLUE) 5.0 design team. Nikki has served as President of the Beta Beta Epsilon Chapter of Beta Phi Mu (the honor society for library and information studies), Chair of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Library and Information Science Alumni Board, as well as Chair of the Association of Wisconsin Special Librarians.

Over the years, Nikki has worked with nonprofit organizations in a variety of capacities. These range from building a school library in rural South Africa with the World Library Partnership-Inform the World program; traveling to the remote Humla region of Nepal to work with the Women's Welfare Service: a cross-cast network of women seeking to to improve their lives by finding ways to generate income and improve health; and by volunteering in Madison jails to provide educational and recreational reading materials to incarcerated individuals.

In Country Coordinator

Justine Cortez, Intern Program Coordinator

Justine Cortez

Education: Justine received a BA in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and a MA in Social Work from Columbia University in 2011.

Summary of Experience: Justine was born and raised in Washington DC but has also spent significant time in El Salvador connecting with her father’s side of the family. She has always been involved in community organizing and began her career in social work as a Family Support Worker for Early Head Start. Recently she worked for a nonprofit organization with families focusing on educational goals. Justine has participated in Amigos de las Americas spending a summer working on community projects in rural Honduras and study abroad in Chile and Argentina.

For the past four years Justine has been organizing delegations to El Salvador through ESNA as well as helping with projects in El Salvador such as the Annual Children’s Poetry Festival held in San Salvador. She has dedicated much of time and work to the people of El Salvador and sees that as an important part of her life.


Larry Hartsook, Chief Financial Officer

Larry Hartsook

Education: Larry is a 1967 graduate of Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa where he received a BS degree with majors in Accounting and Marketing.

Summary of Experience: Larry Hartsook retired from Meredith Corporation, a Des Moines, Iowa based publishing and broadcasting company, in 1998 after 29 years of service. While at Meredith he held various financial positions, serving as Corporate Controller from 1981 to 1991 and the Vice President of Finance-Chief Financial Officer from 1991 to 1998. Prior to Meredith, he was an accountant and auditor for Gulf Oil Corporation.

Scott Valentine, Director Cultural Relationships

Scott Valentine

Education: Scott served his country as a United States Marine and received his honorable discharge in 1992.

Summary of Experience: Scott Valentine is currently serving as a youth minister for Heartland Presbyterian Church in Clive, Iowa. He has completed a pastoral studies program and is a certified lay pastor. Scott is currently self-employed as a builder/contractor in the greater Des Moines area, and previously owned and operated a jewelry design, wholesale and repair business. Scott was a founding director for a not-for-profit in the greater Des Moines area with a focus on prison ministries. Scott has been actively involved in mission in El Salvador for 7 years. He has been the leader of delegations from Heartland to El Salvador for the last 5 years, working directly with the people of El Salvador and educating the people of the US. Scott also founded the International Mission Committee at Heartland Presbyterian Church that has built strong relationships with a number of cantons in El Salvador.

Dr. D. Mark Davis, Advisor - Community Development

Dr D. Mark Davis

Education: Pastor Davis has a B. A. from Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, GA; a Doctor of Ministry from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA; and a Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics, and Culture from the University of Iowa School of Religion. He has been an adjunct professor in religion and philosophy at Drake University, a visiting scholar at Union Theological Seminary, and is currently a fellow in the Pastor-Theologian Program of the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton.

Summary of Experience: Since 1996 Dr. D. Mark Davis has been the Pastor of Heartland Presbyterian Church in Clive, IA, a new church development in the Presbytery of Des Moines. While in service to Heartland Church, Pastor Davis has also served on the Board of The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, including serving as the Chair for two years. Pastor Davis has also served on several committees and task forces within the Synod of Lakes and Prairies of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbytery of Des Moines. Currently, Pastor Davis is the moderator of an Administrative Commission for the Presbytery of Des Moines.

Nancy Naigle, Board Member

Nancy Naigle

Education: Nancy holds an MBA from the University of Dallas and has a B. A. in English and Mathematics and an M. A. in English and computer science from University of Texas at Arlington.

Summary of Experience: Nancy is a proven executive with more than 30 years of leadership experience in Fortune 500 and small, publicly-held companies. Nancy has held many positions in the companies with which she’s been associated, including Vice President and General Manager of Xerox Corporation, Vice President and Corporate Officer of Ultralife Batteries, Chairman of Ultralife Batteries India Private Limited, and Manager at Computer Sciences Corporation.

Nancy serves on the Board of Directors and volunteers with the Assistance League of Greater Collin County. She also serves on the Board of Directors for McKinney Newcomers and volunteers with Meals on Wheels.

Roger D. Jacobsen, Board Member

Roger Jacobsen

Education: Roger is a 1971 graduate of the University of Nebraska with a degree in accounting.

Summary of Experience: Roger is a proven executive with over 20 years at KPMG Peat Marwick. He has been with Lauridsen Group Inc. since 1993. He has held various positions with Lauridsen Group Inc. from Chief Financial Officer to President and is currently Vice Chairman and CEO. Roger brings a wealth of experience in operations, financial and international business.