Maria Castillo VallecilloNicaragua (Org: Casa Alianza Nicaragua)
Maria A. Castillo is a young professional with eight years of experience in the field of education, public policy, and social services. She has been involved in the creation and execution of health education and social intervention projects at various non-profits, which have been valued at more than 1.5 million dollars for the prevention of drug abuse and violence among Nicaraguan adolescents. Interventions that she has led have directly impacted over 14,000 youth, influenced over 50,000 families, and empowered over 500 teachers. Currently, Maria leads the fundraising and partnerships efforts of Casa Alianza Nicaragua, one of the few centers in the country that offers holistic and innovative treatments for youth experiencing drug addiction and/or abuse. Maria received her Masters in Education, Health Promotion and International Development at University College London’s Institute of Education where she was a Chevening Scholar, a prestigious scholarship scheme for global leaders by the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office. During her time in London, she represented Nicaragua at the 2017 World Education Form. As an undergraduate, she obtained a BA in psychology and a Minor in Biology at Manhattanville College, New York.
Brayan Torres has six years of experience in the non-profit sector and has earned a Bachelor of Social Work from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. Throughout the years, Brayan has inspired more than 600 volunteers from diverse backgrounds to become global leaders and change-makers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Brayan worked with a service-learning and youth leadership development program in the Dominican Republic, supporting community-based projects in order to improve the sanitation and public health of local rural communities. Previously, as a School Counselor, Brayan worked with Costa Rican youth in Monteverde by providing training and workshops about soft skills, leadership, and career advice. In addition, he was awarded a scholarship funded by the Senate of Hamburg, Germany to represent his hometown Leon, where he learned about youth mobility, cultural exchange, and conflict management. Currently, Brayan is based in Managua, Nicaragua, building technical skills in the outsourcing industry.
Monica has four years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She earned a Bachelor’s degree (with honors) in International Business from Universidad Americana in Nicaragua. As a Business Development Manager at Thriive Nicaragua, Monica provides training to help micro businesses grow while having a positive impact in their communities by creating new jobs. Monica has also fostered the implementation of socially responsible practices in each of these businesses, which has resulted in more than 2,000 people being benefited through donations or capacity building. She has served as a business consultant and mentor for micro and small businesses in partnership with organizations like Teach a Man to Fish and MicroMentor, as well as universities like Cornell and Ohio University. Motivated by driving social change, Monica founded Net Impact Nicaragua, an organization of young business professionals who are committed to putting their careers to work for social impact. As part of the leadership team, she plans and leads development projects in the fields of education, women empowerment, business development, and environmental impact. Her experience has caused her to develop strong competencies in social entrepreneurship, project management, and monitoring and evaluation. Monica has a keen interest in youth development, economic empowerment, and education.
Vanessa Alexandra Prado BaltodanoNicaragua (Host: The Nature Conservancy)
Vanessa is passionate about the arts, culture, and environment. She has six years of experience in the nonprofit, public and private sectors in Nicaragua. Vanessa earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Central America University (UCA) in Nicaragua. In several of her previous roles, she contributed building and reinforcing leadership abilities of students from different high schools and universities from the United States. Vanessa worked with university students to help them design work plans and write grants focused on health awareness, women’s rights, environmental care, education and economic development for the community of Masaya. Previously, Vanessa worked with GSE, where she leads educational exchange trips that focused on sustainable small-scale agriculture and promoted the social leadership of students from the USA and local community members from the State of Boaco, Nicaragua. She guided in the process of finding sustainable solutions to address the common challenges as species. Through these experiences Vanessa has developed capacity-building abilities and project management, creating spaces in which art is included as a channel for recognition of the self and transmission of ideas. In November of 2017 she founded the social program: “Potencial de Nicaragua” and in April of 2018 participated as a finalist in the international competence, (TIC Américas), celebrated in Lima, Perú in the framework of the VIII Summit of the Americas. Her main goals are to strengthen human potential and promote respect for the environment.
Host Org: The Nature Conservancy
Fellow role at The Nature Conservancy: Vanessa will serve as an Ecosystem Disaster Risk Reduction Fellow and will contribute to the design and development of outreach tools, guidance and other resources pertaining to coastal risk and resilience. She will assume the lead role for one or more projects pertaining to strategic priorities and support website content development/maintenance and social media outreach.
Lucia SolorzanoNicaragua (Host: LAYC) - Atlas Corps America Solidaria Fellow
Lucia has ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science in epidemiology from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in León. Currently serving as a research coordinator, Solorzano works in translating research protocols and logistics planning with a team of researchers in Nicaragua. Before this, Solorzano worked as a research assistant in the mental health unit of CIDS UNAN León coordinating and conducting research, and providing methodological tutorials, logistics, and capacity building programs. Solorzano also worked as a program coordinator for Global Glimpse in Nicaragua, where she had the opportunity to create and implement an international education program for secondary students, which led her to establish a new Global Glimpse site in the Dominican Republic. Through her experience as a program manager in Global Glimpse Dominican Republic, Solorzano gained valuable knowledge in nonprofit management, and the creation and execution of international educational programs for youth and leadership development. Solorzano’s current interests are in research, nonprofit management, and youth leadership. In addition, Solorzano is excited by the prospect of creating a leadership program for youth in a new country while maintaining and respecting the dynamics and characteristics of her Nicaraguan heritage.
Host: Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)
Yoctan Vilchez BaezNicaragua (Host: Atlas DIY)
Yoctan has more than four years of experience in the nonprofit sector and holds a Master’s Degree in International Politics (Globalization, Poverty and Development) from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom where he was a Chevening scholar. Previously, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from Universidad Americana in Managua, Nicaragua. In recent times, Yoctan has been a project coordinator at several Nicaraguan nonprofit organizations, most recently at Grupo Fundemos where he worked more than two years designing, planning and executing development projects directed at young citizens and focused on developing educational programs on the subject of democratic governance and youth civic empowerment. Through these experiences he has developed skills in project design and coordination, research, public speaking, and event logistics management.
Host Organization: Atlas DIY
Role at Host Organization: Yoctan will support the building and supporting of cooperative, front desk management, program facilitation, research, and operations support. In this role, Yoctan will work to enhance the services and programs Atlas DIY is able to offer our growing community of 500 members. This role will be crucial to living out the Atlas DIY vision and uplifting our commitment to the immigrant communities we serve.
Maria Lourdes Zapata MirandaNicaragua (Host: Heartland Human Care Services)
Lourdes has over three years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and she recently graduated with honors from Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Nicaragua where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, during which she was an exchange student at Murray State University in the U.S. for one year as part of the Global UGRAD Exchange Program. While working as an Operations Coordinator at the Organization of American States (OAS), she helped coordinating logistics and administrative operations for the Inter-American Program of Judicial Facilitators (IPJF). Previously, she worked with the community-based organization Foundation for the Development of Cuapa (FUNDED CUAPA), where she assessed the impact of several poverty reduction projects. Recognized as a young leader by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and Junior Chamber International (JCI), Lourdes has also volunteered extensively in international organizations, first in the world’s largest youth-led nonprofit AIESEC, and then as a Community Development Consultant in Brazil where she successfully developed strategies to address community needs and issues. As a fellow of the USAID funded Talent Cloud Fellowship Program, Lourdes has also conducted a research on volunteer experiences for the development of soft skills and their impact on youth employability in Nicaragua. Through these experiences she has developed skills in project management, impact assessment, research, and leadership. Furthermore, Lourdes has a strong passion for youth employment, social justice and women’s empowerment.
Host Organization: Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS)
Role at Host Organization: Lourdes will join a management team of three leaders with many years of experience to handle several major projects, including helping the Operations team at HHCS to grow toward a more strategic, coordinated approach by streamlining the infrastructure and customer service.