Updated as of January 30, 2020
Composed of leaders from within the Partners’ network as well as the wider international development community, our Board of Directors exercises overall responsibility for the policies, programs, and direction of Partners of the Americas. The board is designed to reflect the geographic diversity of our network and the broad range of community development issues that we address through solution-driven projects, with all members having a strong and demonstrated commitment to Partners’ mission and values.
Dr. João Francisco Meira, Director (Minas Gerais Chapter)
Dr. João Francisco Meira is a political scientist who has been working with public opinion, market, and electoral research, and directing projects in Brazil, and Latin American, African, and European countries during the last three decades. He also has a wealth of experience in graduate and post-graduate teaching in both public and private universities in his native state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Dr. Meira is a co-founder and board member of Vox Populi, one of the leading Brazilian private market and opinion research houses. In this capacity, he is a former vice-president and board member of ABEP (Brazilian Association of Market Media and Opinion Research) and a member of the Brazilian Political Science Association. Dr. Meira's other professional interest field is Oenology, particularly on the development of viticulture in his hometown, Diamantina, Minas Gerais, where he runs a vineyard on his property, and collaborates with the local university in agronomical projects, historical research, and vine growing experiments.
Dr. Carol P. Fimmen, Director (Texas Chapter)
Dr. Carol P. Fimmen was most recently the Vice-Chair for the International Board of Directors. Throughout her career, Dr. Fimmen has worked on a number of projects dealing with social capital, capacity building, and leadership in higher education. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards in her field, including the Khaladjan International Award for Innovation in Higher Education from the American Association of University Administrators, the Award for Excellence for Creative Academic Programs from National University Continuing Education Association, and the White House Award for Initiative on Educational Excellence for Youth Leadership. Recently, Carol moved to Las Vegas, Nevada after a number of years as District Director within the Office of International Programs at the Alamo Colleges District.
Dr. Paula Laschober, Director (Washington Chapter)
Dr. Paula Laschober served as the Treasurer for both the International Board of Directors and the Foundation Board of Directors. Dr. Laschober has been a member of the Washington chapter of Partners of the Americas since 1989. She currently serves as the Chair of the Education and Social Development Committee and is an Executive Director. She has served in a variety of roles within the chapter since 1989 including the Chair of the Economic Development Committee, Vice President and President. She has also served on the Partners’ Interamerican Board of Directors and has attended more than ten annual international conventions since 1993. Previously, Dr. Laschober received the Kellogg International Fellowship in Community Development and has held the position of Chair of the Education and Social Development Committee.
Mr. José Márcio Soares de Barros, Director (Espirito Santo, Brazil Chapter)
Mr. José Márcio Soares de Barros joined Partners of the Americas in 2003 and was the secretary of the International Board of Directors and the president of the Espiritu Santo Chapter in Brazil. Mr. Soares de Barros previously served the chapter as a project coordinator in joint efforts with the State of West Virginia in the areas of disaster prevention, high technology, youth programs, student exchanges, educational projects, and fundraising. He graduated with a degree in Economics from the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo and completed post-graduate work in Finance at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Mr. Elias Alcocer, Director (Yucatán, Mexico Chapter)
Mr. Elias Alcocer is a social anthropologist from the Autonomous University of Yucatán and professor at the Universidad de Oriente and the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán. Since 1991, Mr. Alcocer has been a member of the Yucatán Chapter involved in youth, environment, and culture committees, as well as the vice president. He is currently the president of the Yucatán Chapter.
Dr. Denise M. Decker, Director (District of Columbia and Virginia Chapters)
Dr. Denise M. Decker serves as a Director on the International Board of Directors. Dr. Decker began her work with Partners of the Americas in the 1980s, when she was a Disaster Assistance Officer for USAID. In that role, she helped Partners and similar organizations in providing disaster training. Dr. Decker then held an International Fellowship with Partners in which she wrote and implemented workshops to teach independent living skills to people with disabilities living in Brasilia, Brazil. Partners went on to use her workshop in eight other Latin American countries and awarded Dr. Decker the Program Development Award for her hard work and stunning contributions. Along with her continuing involvement with Partners, Dr. Decker is a senior program analyst for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and was appointed to the DC Commission on People with Disabilities.
Mr. Tiberio Monteiro, Director (Pernambuco, Brazil Chapter)
Mr. Tiberio Monteiro is a member of the Pernambuco-Georgia Chapter since 2003. An attorney as well as a professor of law at Focca - Faculdade de Olinda, he has devoted his work to issues related to nonprofit institutions (Third Sector) in Brazil, including a probono initiative to support local NGOs. Tiberio has held various positions, most recently as the president of the Pernambuco Chapter and is currently the executive director.
Dr. Gary L. Heusel, Director (Nebraska Chapter)
Dr. Gary Heusel is currently the Program Leader and CEO of Global Andragogical, an organization that offers opportunities for young adults from the U.S. and Brazil to study abroad. In his role he provides consultation and leadership to develop and deliver educational programs in communities, states and nations with on-site assistance after the community declares a priority needs to be addressed. Successes within his program include development and implementation of a youth development program in Armenia, a volunteer center in Brasilia, Brazil, and a multi-state character education program in Brazil. Prior to his involvement with Global Andragogical, Dr. Heusel worked for a variety of similar organizations including the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education, a program under the United States Department of Agriculture, 4-H and Cook County Chicago. Dr. Heusel obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in Animal Science. He obtained his graduate degree from the University of Illinois in Guidance and Counselling. And, he obtained his doctoral degree also from the University of Illinois in Human Resource Development. Dr. Heusel served as President of the Nebraska Chapter of Partners of the Americas from mid-2000 to mid-2002. He is currently a member of the Brookings Art Council, the Brookings Human Relations Commission, the Southern Poverty Law Center and serves on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Family Center.
Ms. Heather Martinez Lezcano, Director (Panama)
Ms. Heather Martinez Lezcano works at VC, Inc. supporting their risk management and customer service functions. She has previously consulted with Partners for the Panama Teacher Program reviewing counterpart reports. Ms. Martinez Lezcano helped young adults with disabilities improve their lives through workshops and gatherings organized by FLJADIS Panama in 2012. Ms. Martinez Lezcano has been the president of Partners Campus Panama since 2015. She advises on the Board's policy, finance, programs and personnel. She also enhances relationships with other community groups and agencies. Ms. Martinez Lezcano graduated from the National University of Panama with a degree in Business Administration.
Ms. Beth Outterson, Director (Portland, Oregon)
Beth Outterson has been a part of Partners of the Americas since 1993, when she received the organization's International Fellowship in Community Development. during the fellowship period, she conducted a health theater project on HIV and drug abuse with teens in Washington D.C.'s partner city of Brasilia, Brazil. After the fellowship, Ms. Outterson became involved with the Washington, D.C. Chapter, serving as secretary for two years and later as president for six years. Earlier in her career, after receiving her master's degree in public health and Latin American Studies, Ms. Outterson served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). Upon her return, she worked as a health educator in the U.S. migrant and seasonal farmworkers across the eastern shore states, and later moved to Washington, D.C. to work with a national farmworker employment and training program. She then served in training and advisory roles at the U.S. Peace Corps and several nonprofit organizations, including Family Health International, Save the Children, and Medical Teams International. Ms. Outterson is currently an independent public health consultant in Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Francis Wardle, Director (Colorado Chapter)
Dr. Francis Wardle is a Professor of Education at the University of Phoenix in Colorado and online. In his role, Dr. Wardle has taught graduate-level courses in Counselor Education, Educational Administration and Educational Leadership. Dr. Wardle graduated with a B.S. in Art Education from the Pennsylvania State University. He graduated with a M.S. in Cultural and Philosophical Foundation of Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialty in Early Childhood Education from the University of Kansas. Dr. Wardle is also trained and has participated in workshops on ADA, sexual harassment policies, grant writing, research ethics, diversity, coaching and training, children with special needs, working with parents, administering volunteer organizations, federal regulations, international education, not-for-profit organizations and management. Dr. Wardle published the journal article, "Adding to Our View of Early Childhood Multicultural Education" in Childhood Education in August 2018. He further wrote the book, Oh Boy! Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood, in December 2018 about the struggles young boys have in early childhood programs and elementary schools. Francis recently completed his term as president of the Colorado Chapter.
Dr. Ashish Abraham, Board Chair (San Diego, California)
Dr. Ashish Abraham is currently the President of Abraham Strategic Health Consulting, providing clients with consulting services in the areas of organizational strategy, revenue optimization, health program design, operations, quality measurement and improvement. Dr. Abraham is an entrepreneur and a seasoned healthcare management executive with more than 20 years of diversified experience in direct clinical care, healthcare operations, health technology, data analytics and strategic consulting for government and commercial clients. Prior to his work at UnitedHealth Group, Dr. Abraham was a Principal and Physician-Leader at Mercer Consulting. In 2007, Dr. Abraham co-founded Altruista Health, a care management technology and solutions’ company and served as the founding CEO in the formative years of the company’s existence. He then went on to serve as President and Chairman of the board and is still actively involved on the board of Altruista Health under its new ownership. Dr. Abraham completed his medical training from Christian Medical College in India and has also earned masters degrees in business administration and health administration from Arizona State University.
Mr. John McPhail, President and CEO
With over two decades of experience in organizational leadership, John is a seasoned expert in partnership building, strategic planning, and stakeholder engagement. He is passionate about community development in Latin America and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador. After his service, he remained in the country for a total of over fifteen years, marrying a Salvadoran doctor and raising their three daughters.
John brings significant experience as a country and regional director for international nonprofits including Save the Children, World Vision, and Project Concern International. He has held leadership positions on the Boards of numerous local nonprofits and associations in El Salvador, providing operational and strategic direction. He coordinated or co-coordinated multiple national and regional networks in Central America in health, water & sanitation and agriculture/food security. John received a BSc in Civil Engineering from MIT and a Master's in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign. He is fluent in Spanish and has a working knowledge of French.
John enjoys listening to music, reading, playing volleyball and frisbee, and spending time with his family.
Mr. Alan J. Berkeley, Esq, Legal Counsel
The International Board meets quarterly with each member serving on a minimum of two committees. Traditionally, one-third of the International Board's members are elected each year for a three-year term of office. Please login or join PartnersConnect to learn more about this process.