Board

Jessica Covell, Chairperson of the Board

Jessica recently completed her PhD at the University of Miami with a focus on Haitian non-profits.  Her academic background focused on international politics and her professional experience is with small, growing organizations in need of operational support. She is working on the practical side of non-profit management through her work with Project Medishare and SOIL. In addition, she works directly with other non-profits as part of the larger academic community at the entrepreneurial center on the UM campus. She speaks Spanish and is in the process of learning Haitian Creole.

Dr. Sasha Kramer, Executive Director

Dr. Sasha Kramer is an ecologist and human rights advocate who has been living and working in Haiti since 2004. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology from Stanford University in 2006 and co-founded SOIL that same year while also completing a postdoctoral research position with the Collaboratory for Research on Global Projects at Stanford. Sasha now spends the majority of time living in Haiti and managing SOIL, but she is also a global advocate for the recycling of nutrients in human waste and she has traveled around the world helping others implement sustainable sanitation projects and inspiring people to participate in a global sanitation revolution. Sasha also serves as an Adjunct Professor of International Studies and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami and she is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and an Architect of the Future with the Waldzell Institute.

Nick Preneta

Nick Preneta is an independent consultant with a masters degree in public health. He lived and worked in Haiti for six years, spending three years in Cap-Haitien working with street kids before joining SOIL after the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Nick helped develop the Port-au-Prince office, eventually becoming Operations Director and Deputy Director for SOIL before leaving Haiti in February of 2013 to live in Ashland, Oregon with his family. He continues to remain involved in SOIL’s work while also working as a consultant for other organizations in Haiti and Sierra Leone.

Moira Duvernay

Moira Duvernay is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amitai Schwartz in Emeryville, California.  Her practice focuses on civil rights litigation and criminal appellate work, including death penalty appeals.  Previously, Moira served as a staff attorney for the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) in San Francisco, California. She litigated high-impact international human rights cases brought in federal court on behalf of survivors of torture or other severe human rights abuses.  She conducted international investigations requiring travel to Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa; she acted as media spokesperson for the organization; and served as counsel in legal victories against death squad leaders and former military officers from around the world.  In March 2007, Moira was named an Attorney of the Year by California Magazine for her role in the securing a $19 million judgment against a Haitian death squad leader who was living and working openly in New York.  Moira has a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law, where she helped found the Hastings-to-Haiti Partnership. Before becoming a lawyer, Moira worked as a teacher in Haiti, and as the Haitian Program Coordinator for the San Francisco-based human rights group, Global Exchange.  She speaks Haitian Creole, Spanish and French.

cathy ellenbogen
Catherine Ellenbogen

Catherine Ellenbogen is a retired partner and Senior Vice President of CMD Realty Investment Company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and she has extensive professional experience in corporate real estate development, public relations, advertising, and marketing. In addition to serving on the SOIL board, Cathy has served on the Alumni Board of Dominican University, the Board of Hephzibah Children’s Association, and the Capital Campaign Advisory Committee of Parenthesis. She is also Co-Founder and Co-Director, along with her husband Steve Ellenbogen, of the Ellenbogen Charitable Trust. Since 2011, Cathy has become increasingly involved in supporting Haiti’s economic development, both with Youth C.A.R.E.S. (which provides educational programs for youth in the Cabaret area of Port-au-Prince) and with SOIL.

Melinda Miles
Melinda Miles

Melinda Miles is an expert on Haiti and social and economic rights who has spent the last fifteen years working with Haitian grassroots groups, civil society and international organizations on a wide sphere of issues including environment conservation and food security; human rights and gender-based violence; capacity building; economic justice; accountability and labor rights; and much more. Melinda has a history of bringing together diverse stakeholders around shared challenges and coalition building including the Let Haiti Live coalition in 2000-2004 and the Haiti Response Coalition only days after the January 2010 earthquake. As Program Director at TransAfrica in Washington, DC, Melinda maintains relationships with Members of Congress and policymakers and represents TransAfrica at events around the country and the world, including the African National Congress’s International Solidarity Conference in South Africa in 2012.

Jessica Lozier

Jessica Lozier received her BA from Johns Hopkins University and then began non-profit work in Haiti.  Jessica became acquainted with SOIL’s programs while working with street children during her first two years in Haiti with Project Pierre Toussaint and the Crudem Foundation. Her work focused on education, health, and social opportunities for the children of Cap-Haitien. She returned to Haiti after the Port-au-Prince earthquake in 2010 as the Country Director for Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group.  Jessica worked with AIDG to promote the implementation of sustainable technologies in Haitian communities, primarily in the building and energy sector. Jessica is currently in Australia pursuing a medical degree. She is fluent in Creole and French.

Sister Mary Finnick

Sister Mary Finnick holds multiple degrees in nursing as well as a doctorate in education. In 2010, Sister Mary celebrated her 60th anniversary as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart.  She has worked as a primary school educator, a staff nurse, Director of Nursing and a nurse educator at several institutions of higher education including Temple University. Sister Mary spent many years working in Peru and Nicaragua leading social assistance programs and has been director of the Matthew 25 Guest House in Port-au-Prince since 2005. Sister Mary has this to say about her life, “Despite the facts above, my life has been far from boring, and graced with families, personal and religious; friends and opportunities to meet and interact with wonderful people”.

Kefryn Reese

Kefryn Reese currently directs the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Office at the University of Miami.  Prior to this position she worked for four years in the UM Office of International Education and Exchange Programs, coordinating service-learning trips to Haiti and other educational exchanges throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Raised in Miami, Kefryn is a graduate of Boston College and holds a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from Florida International University.   She has also worked as a news translator at the Latin America Desk for EFE, the leading Spanish language news agency.  She has studied in Argentina and Venezuela and was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to research Cuban-exile literature in Madrid, Spain.

Lavarice Gaudin

Lavarice was born in Port-de-Paix, Haiti and moved to Port-au-Prince in 1979. Three years later, he moved to the United States where he completed a BA in Criminal Justice and a Masters of Business Administration at Florida Metropolitan University. Lavarice met Sasha immediately prior to her first visit to Haiti and they’ve been friends ever since. Lavarice has been involved with the What If? Foundation as staff or advisor since its inception in 2000. The What If? Foundation began as a simple feeding program providing one meal a week in the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince; today the program provides meals 5 days a week to thousands of children, in addition to operating an after school program and a summer camp. Lavarice is the Program Coordinator for What If? in Haiti and currently resides in Port-au-Prince.

David Reese

David is language arts department chair at Miami Beach Senior High. Seeking meaningful curriculum, David engages student participation in service learning projects, community action initiatives, and essential questions of human rights through the study of literature and expository argument. He believes that advocating for SOIL has opened a window for democratic minded young people to act locally to affect change globally.

Bob McLaughlin

Bio Coming Soon