Project Schoolhouse is blessed with a very hard-working volunteer board members.
Board of Directors
Founder, Director of Nica Ops & Board Member
Thomas “Tab” Barker graduated from Carleton College with a degree in Economics and furthered his education studying on a Fulbright Scholarship in Argentina. This was followed by travel throughout Latin America and Europe while playing music, teaching English, and meeting new people. In 2000, he offered to rebuild a basketball hoop for a small town in Costa Rica, but responded to their voiced need and pivoted to build more classrooms instead. When he took his work to central Nicaragua, a farming community he felt connected to because of his own childhood on a farm in Wyoming, he carried that experience with him: helping communities organize to develop things they asked and worked for: schools, water systems, latrines, kitchens, bridges, and scholarship opportunities.
Executive Director of PSH & Board Member
Selina brings a graceful yet firm, quiet accountability to Project Schoolhouse. She ensures fundraising meets or exceeds projections and project costs stay within budget. A long-time team member of Whole Foods Market, Selina knows the importance of balancing social good with successful business models. Selina has served as Financial Controller for Whole Foods UK expansion, Assistant Controller for US Southwest Region, and, most recently, Sr. Coordinator for Growth and Business Development. Selina first traveled to Nicaragua in 2013 and was so moved by extreme need she witnessed and the successful development model implemented by Project Schoolhouse that she returned to Austin, joined the Board of Directors and hasn’t looked back since. She has now stepped away from her role at Whole Foods Market to dedicate more time to Project Schoolhouse as Executive Director. Selina is a graduate of Rice University and was born and raised in South Texas.
President of Board of Directors
Gene’s international exposure began as an exchange student in Central Mexico where he got his first experience seeing how some of the most impoverished people in rural Latin America live. Years later, he lived and worked as Operations Manager & Liaison for Fara Coffee in rural, northern Nicaragua. As the only foreign staff member, he interacted daily with the field workers and heard how many never had the chance to get even the most basic education, such as literacy, and sadly, therefore, didn't have many options for employment other than manual labor. Through their eyes, Gene saw that when a child is born into poverty without the basic opportunities that many of us who live in the USA take for granted, their options for employment are very limited and many are destined for back-breaking manual labor work. Gene believes that every child has the right to be safe, healthy, educated and free to be the individual they wish to be, and functional school buildings and sanitary water are necessary for a child to enjoy these rights. Gene is proud to be a board member of Project Schoolhouse working to help give hundreds of families the opportunity to educate their children, be free of waterborne illness, and have the power to pursue the life they desire.
JP has diverse professional, academic, and personal background of experience including import and export of food and technology; sales and marketing; food production and agricultural engineering; business development in multicultural environments; finance and operations analysis and reporting; brand management; and team leadership. In Austin, he has worked with organizations such as Dell, Sustainable Food Center, Apple, Whole Foods Market, and Whole Planet Foundation. Over the last two decades, JP has also enjoyed being a graduate and undergraduate professor of international business, economics, and statistics. He served as the supply chain manager for Austin startup CocoJo LLC, a coconut water based beverage company from his home country of Costa Rica. JP currently serves as Regional Director of North and Latin America for Whole Planet Foundation. He is of Nicaraguan descent, spent much of his childhood in Nicaragua, and feels a personal connection to its people’s struggle. This makes him especially proud to serve on the board of Project Schoolhouse.
Amit brings a unique blend of technical expertise and nonprofit social service management: he was a startup team member and Chief Technology Officer of Community TechKnowledge, and later worked in direct service delivery for over 15 years, most recently as Director of Education and Social Services at El Buen Samaritano. Currently, as Chief Information Officer at United Way for Greater Austin, he's committed to the application of analytics as an avenue to fight poverty and mitigate health disparities.
Cheryl is a lifelong resident of Wyoming and operates a turf farm in Sheridan. She was one of the founding board members of Project Schoolhouse in 2004 and continues to serve. One of her main contributions has been to host the Sod Farm Festival on her farm in Wyoming raising considerable funds towards Project Schoolhouse endeavors in Nicaragua.
Jefferson first saw Project Schoolhouse while traveling in Nicaragua to learn about the people firsthand. Through a series of blog articles, he explored different philanthropic strategies and connected people in the States with the lives of individuals in Nicaragua, using money donated by readers to help a few people purchase things they needed. Over a few trips, this grew into an informal scholarship program and has led him to become more involved with Project Schoolhouse. Jefferson is co-founder of Austin Brothers Fence Company. He believes a good education is one of the best ways a child can gain power to choose their own path and respond to changing opportunities and challenges throughout life.
Dennis is on the faculty of the Department of Management, Red McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin where he is a Sam Walton Fellow in Free Enterprise and teaches courses in Organizational Behavior, Social Entrepreneurship, Negotiations, and Corporate Strategy. He also serves on the EnactusUSA Faculty Advisory Council. In addition to teaching at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, Dennis has a 35-year successful business career where he founded or co-founded five companies. He has also served on non-profit Boards for many years, including Any Baby Can, an organization providing a safety net for families with a special needs child.
Kris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning & Culture at St. Edward’s University. His passion for international development and education grew out of his work in the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 1980s. Shortly after earning his Masters of Education he moved to Cali, Colombia where he taught second grade. He returned to the U.S. in 1997 to attend graduate school at the University of Texas-Austin. He now teaches a range of courses on culture, curriculum, pedagogy and educational policy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Evan has a diverse background and experience in nonprofit financial management, international development, microfinance, and public accounting. His previous experience includes working as the CFO of Pro Mujer International and as the Regional Director for the Whole Planet Foundation managing the Latin America and Caribbean Region. He is a proud dad of two beautiful children, is an avid cyclist and lover of live music.
Vice President / Treasurer
Selina brings a graceful yet firm, quiet accountability to Project Schoolhouse. Her role as Secretary and Treasurer for the Board ensures that fundraising meets or exceeds projections and that our project costs fall in line with budgets.
A long-time team member of Whole Foods Market, Selina knows the importance of balancing social good with successful business models. Selina has served as Financial Controller for Whole Foods’s UK expansion, Assistant Controller for US Southwest Region and, most recently, Sr. Coordinator for Growth and Business Development. Selina is a graduate of Rice University.
JP is the supply chain manager for Austin startup CocoJo LLC, which will be launching an innovative line of coconut water based beverages from his home country of Costa Rica, during the latter half of 2018. JP has uniquely diverse professional, academic, and personal experiences including food and technology import and export; sales and marketing; food production and agricultural engineering; business development in multicultural environments; finance and operations analysis and reporting; brand management; and team leadership. In Austin, he has had the fortune to work with organizations such as Dell, Sustainable Food Center, Apple, Whole Foods Market, and Whole Planet Foundation. Over the last couple of decades JP has also enjoyed being a graduate and undergraduate professor of international business, economics and statistics.
JP is of Nicaraguan descent and spent much of his childhood in that country. This personal connection makes him especially proud to serve on the board of Project Schoolhouse.