Who We Are
Creating Systems to Save Lives and Improve Communities
ERSLA is managed by a team volunteers and professionals from various backgrounds.Part of the staff and board reside in Nicaragua while others are in various regions of the United States. Each member focuses on their specific talents based on their personal backgrounds and experiences. These dedicated employees, volunteers, and advisors contribute many hours of service to help us save lives and improve communities.Find out more about each member of our staff and board of directors below.
“When I was a child, I knew the volunteer firefighters in our community by name. I remember sleeping better at night just knowing they were a few miles away in case we had an emergency. I want to help others obtain that same feeling of security in the world.”
Rodney McDonald started traveling and working as a photographer on assignments in Central America in 1992. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in La Esperanza, Nicaragua 2002-2004. During his time in the Peace Corps, he was able to view first-hand, the problems in Central America and the world environment because of the lack of emergency response infrastructure and awareness. Rodney continued to work in the area with various organizations providing assistance in logistics coordination and consulting.
Rodney returned full-time to Nicaragua in 2008 and currently lives in Estelí.
“I’m deeply driven by my focused team and I don’t think it is cheesy to say I really am in love with my job, it’s made easy by being in the beautiful country of Nicaragua and the interesting and vibrant people I come into contact with every day through ERSLA’s projects”
A Londoner born and bred Henrietta started getting involved with non-profits whilst making a short documentary on soup runs for homeless people in her hometown. Inspired by the people she met and the hardworking volunteers she herself became a volunteer with one of the charities, She quickly developed a passion for charitable work, this stuck with her whilst completing her Anthropology & Media BA Honors degree at Goldsmiths University. After completing her degree she wanted to return to the Americas after living and studying in Brazil as a teenager and learn Spanish. It was upon her second visit that she met Rodney McDonald and now works as our Public Relations coordinator, thrilled to be sitting at her desk connecting ERSLA with its sponsors and donors worldwide along with a delight in capturing our different programs out in the field.
“I enjoy working with ERSLA because they are so committed to helping others and open to new ways of being able to accomplish that help,” saysTeresa.“I love being able to be a bridge between U.S. and Nicaraguan culture, customs, and beliefs. Nicaragua is a beautiful country which has endless areas to explore. Anyone who visits here will leave with a little of the country in their heart.”
Teresa was born and raised in Estelí, Nicaragua, but lived in Ithaca, New York as a child while her father studied at Cornell University. Teresa has become the cultural bridge between Nicaragua and the United States. Her outgoing personality and love for sharing Nicaraguan life with others makes her the perfect project coordinator and liaison for ERSLA and visiting guests. Teresa began working with ERSLA in 2011 first as a volunteer and now as ERSLA’s full-time coordinator.
Board of Directors
I began volunteering in my community as a firefighter at the age of 17. I enjoy helping others and have always been interested in Latin American culture. ERSLA is the intersection at which those two aspects of my life converge.
Aaron works as a paramedic in North Carolina and has spent the last 13 years working in fire and EMS in various places; including Washington, DC and McMurdo Station, Antarctica. He has an AAS in Fire Science and another in Emergency Medical Science. He enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, biking, climbing, and spending time with friends and family.
“I have been a volunteer with ERSLA for three years and a board member this past year. I am inspired to continue my relationship with ERSLA due to their commitment to developing sustainable platforms. It is very satisfying to know that when I spend my time collecting retired fire and rescue equipment, pack and build shipping crates, and put the shipment on the plane that when it hits the ground in Nicaragua it will save lives.”
Dave Curry was born and raised in the state of Illinois before moving and making his life in Georgia. He started out as an educator before working as a director with a non-profit serving adults with disabilities, he has since supervised export packaging which makes him the perfect person on our board of directors to oversea our shipments from the U.S. to Nicaragua. As a reputation of being a good problem solver he can always get a job done. He now spends his time, when not working with ERSLA as a home re modeler and very involved with his local community and church in special projects.
Ralph was at a party with some church friends when he was invited on a 10-day mission trip to Nicaragua. The goal of the trip was uncomplicated: construct simple houses. Ralph was a confirmed do-it-yourselfer and had some experience with building projects. His wife knew the trip leader; she encouraged him to consider it. The leader is a Nicaraguan who immigrated to the U. S. as a teenager. The annual trips were his way of supporting his native land. Ralph was very impressed with his life commitment to serving others. That was in 2000, and 11 trips ago. Since then the focus of the mission has expanded. It was through this expansion that he became acquainted with ERSLA and was impressed with their mission.
Ralph is a transplanted Texan who settled in Colorado many years ago. After a 35-year career in the corporate structure of the oil and gas exploration business, retirement brought the freedom and opportunity to share some of the blessings that have been afforded. Retired since 2002, he has enjoyed travel and hands-on projects. Ralph grew up in central Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, and has an MBA from the University of Alaska.
“When I first came to Nicaragua in 2001, I immediately felt comfortable here. I loved the country, the people, the lifestyle and being able to be outside all day long. I didn’t find ERSLA until after I moved, but it was frosting on the cake to find an organization involved in so many great projects.”
Jan raised four children while working part-time as a paralegal and later as a bookkeeper. Although she grew up in California, most of her adult life was spent in Colorado, where she loved hiking and gardening. She began visiting Nicaragua with Habitat for Humanity, and after several trips as a tourist she decided to move permanently in April, 2010. Her administrative and accounting skills have allowed ERSLA to focus more on fundraising and project organization. Jan also owns a farm in the nearby Natural Reserve of MIraflor, and many volunteers have enjoyed spending time at her finca. She is a member of Estelí Rotary Club and has worked on very projects such as, improved stoves, water filters, water systems and suspension bridge construction, through organizations working in Nicaragua.
Reverend Jim McIlrath is an Ordained Elder in the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. For 32 years Jim has served Churches across Georgia. He has also been at Trustee at Epworth-by-the-Sea, the South Georgia Conference Center on St. Simon’s Island. He has also been Treasurer and President of the home affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, New Horizon’s, located in Americus Georgia. He was also President of Sumter Disaster Recovery, Inc. after the tornado of ’07 destroyed 1500 homes and businesses in Americus. He has also served at President of the Crisp Area Ministerial Association, in Cordele Georgia, and coordinated disaster recovery efforts in Middle Georgia after the flood of l994. Jim is currently on the Board of the Brunswick Rotary Club, in Brunswick, Georgia, and has been a Rotarian for 20 years. He is also on the Advisory Council of the Fuller Center for Housing, in Americus, Ga.
Commitment to Sustainability
How We Work
Who We Are