Our Board

Michelle Chackerian, Treasurer

Michelle Chackerian is CREA’s Board Treasurer and a member of the organization’s founding Board of Directors. Michelle first came to Limón eleven years ago with her family and immediately fell in love with the town’s people, community, and passion for life. Michelle has worked with numerous grassroots organizations in rural Nicaragua, including the Foundation for Sustainable Development, where she funded an international internship program to bring cultural exchange and grants to the community. When visiting the homes and schools in the community, she noticed a deficit in access to and excitement for reading. An avid reader herself, she fell in love with the idea of helping to create a destination where children and adults can come immerse themselves in reading and learning. She also noticed a need for youth development with a focus on leadership, education, and college access and helped expand a small youth group into a strong CREA program. As the founder of a medical services company, BMC Diagnostics, Michelle provides critical operations and fund development support for the organization.

Favorite Book: Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind”

Lila Cunningham, Board Member  

Lila Cunningham grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium in New York City. Many years later, she and her husband, Vern, love to spend part of each year at their house in Nicaragua. Nicaragua has captured their hearts, and they are proud to support the Roberto Clemente Health Clinic and are deeply devoted to CREA.

Throughout their lives, Lila and Vern have been actively involved in education. When her own children were in school, Lila served as president of the city school board and helped create one of the first Community Action Programs funded in the USA. Her work for educational agencies encompassed local, state and national levels. For many years, through their consulting firm, Leadership Development Associates, Lila and Vern worked with school systems, museums and other organizations on policymaking and leadership skills.

Loving books and helping children enjoy them goes back to Lila’s youth, reading to children at storytelling times. There are now great-grandchildren to supply with books.

Lila’s favorite book as a child was “Heidi” and she still smiles at the vividness of the Swiss mountaineer hermit and the ruddy faced little girl who came to live with him high in the Alps.

Scott Hagg, Secretary

Scott and his wife, Tessa Gunther, first visited Nicaragua in 2007 and they immediately fell in love with the country and the people. Since 2010 they have been spending about half of each year at their Nicaraguan home and half back in Minnesota. They choose the winter months for Nicaragua.

Scott is a retired building contractor. He has five children and 8 grandchildren. He has worked with Global Volunteers in Ecuador and Costa Rica and has worked with Habitat for Humanity in both the US and Guatemala. In 1994, Scott developed the first reciprocal program for Habitat for Humanity, bringing 11 Guatemalans to the US to build poverty housing and raise awareness.He understands that philanthropy is more about what you receive than what you give.

Scott became involved in CREA in 2011 as way to thank the local Nicaraguan people for sharing their beautiful country and as a way to involve himself in the local area. He is proud to be part of an organization that is promoting education, primarily literature, as the best way for locals to maximize their potential.

Favorite Book: Joyce Cary, “The Horse’s Mouth” and Beryl Markham, “West with the Night”

Ann James, Board Member  

Ann Myatt James serves as a board member and volunteer grant writer. She has a PhD in Geography from Penn State University. She maintains eight years of experience working with secondary, post-secondary, and adult learners in a variety of educational settings. Presently, she works in a nonprofit organization to provide research, analysis, and technical assistance on topics of affordable housing, health, and related areas. She is taking continuing education coursework to improve her Spanish language fluency. She lives with her significant other, dog, and a herd of 180 pasture-raised beef cows on farm near Washington, DC.

Favorite Book: Ivan Illich, “Toward a History of Needs”

Steve Merritt, Board Chair

Realizing a long-time dream to work in development, Steve first came to Limón in 2010 as an intern for the Foundation for Sustainable Development, later becoming its local program coordinator. He worked to strengthen a local bakery and women’s sewing workshop. His key goal, however, was to create more interaction between the local and foreign communities, which resulted in the literacy effort which today is CREA.

Steve has started several small businesses and been self-employed for most of his life. For over 20 years, he consulted with small businesses and non-profits.

He studied linguistics and has a master’s degree in business administration. He is passionate about languages and considers reading and continual learning true joys. He currently works as a Spanish interpreter and translator in Detroit, Michigan, and cares for his elderly mother.

His favorite book is a toss-up between two very wise children’s books, “Owl at Home” and “Miss Rumphius.”

Kitty Rudman, Board Member

Kitty became a long time volunteer and donor in Women’s Rights after spending 7 months in Africa in 1978. She also spent 17 years fundraising for the public schools her sons attended. Now that Kitty’s sons are grown, she found CREA to be the NGO where her efforts could go to actually working directly with the people she was supporting.

Favorite Book: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “Infidel: My Life”

John Edwards, Board Member

John and his wife, Evelyn, live in southern Alberta in Canada. John “started” growing up in the southern United States. As a young child, he lived in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico. At a young age his family emigrated to Canada, and then onto Australia. John has traveled extensively. He has attended numerous schools in his youth and adult life, and he appreciates the challenges facing delivery of a meaningful education in developing countries. He has been a proud supporter of the Roberto Clemente Clinic in Nicaragua, and is proud to serve on the CREA board of directors. John and Evelyn have 7 children and 7 grandchildren. John currently consults dairy livestock nutrition and does property development. John and Evelyn love Nicaragua and spend time at their home there whenever they are able. John is still growing up.

Favorite Book: Ernest Hemingway, “Farewell to Arms” and Peter Mayle, “A Year in Provence”

“CREA is also supported and guided by tireless Friends who hold CREA near and dear to their heart. Our work would not be possible without our Board of Directors and Friends.”

CREA Friends:

  • Katie Brame
  • Ara Chackerian
  • Luvern (Vern) Cunningham
  • Kelly Cushner
  • Tessa Gunther

 

  • David Michael
  • Amie Riley
  • Alan Vilchez, Honorary Board Member

Michelle Chackerian, Treasurer

Michelle Chackerian is CREA’s Board Treasurer and a member of the organization’s founding Board of Directors. Michelle first came to Limón eleven years ago with her family and immediately fell in love with the town’s people, community, and passion for life. Michelle has worked with numerous grassroots organizations in rural Nicaragua, including the Foundation for Sustainable Development, where she funded an international internship program to bring cultural exchange and grants to the community. When visiting the homes and schools in the community, she noticed a deficit in access to and excitement for reading. An avid reader herself, she fell in love with the idea of helping to create a destination where children and adults can come immerse themselves in reading and learning. She also noticed a need for youth development with a focus on leadership, education, and college access and helped expand a small youth group into a strong CREA program. As the founder of a medical services company, BMC Diagnostics, Michelle provides critical operations and fund development support for the organization. Favorite Book: Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind”

Lila Cunningham, Board Member  

Lila Cunningham grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium in New York City. Many years later, she and her husband, Vern, love to spend part of each year at their house in Nicaragua. Nicaragua has captured their hearts, and they are proud to support the Roberto Clemente Health Clinic and are deeply devoted to CREA.
Throughout their lives, Lila and Vern have been actively involved in education. When her own children were in school, Lila served as president of the city school board and helped create one of the first Community Action Programs funded in the USA. Her work for educational agencies encompassed local, state and national levels. For many years, through their consulting firm, Leadership Development Associates, Lila and Vern worked with school systems, museums and other organizations on policymaking and leadership skills.
Loving books and helping children enjoy them goes back to Lila’s youth, reading to children at storytelling times. There are now great-grandchildren to supply with books. Lila’s favorite book as a child was “Heidi” and she still smiles at the vividness of the Swiss mountaineer hermit and the ruddy faced little girl who came to live with him high in the Alps.

Scott Hagg, Secretary

Scott and his wife, Tessa Gunther, first visited Nicaragua in 2007 and they immediately fell in love with the country and the people. Since 2010 they have been spending about half of each year at their Nicaraguan home and half back in Minnesota. They choose the winter months for Nicaragua.
Scott is a retired building contractor. He has five children and 8 grandchildren.
He has worked with Global Volunteers in Ecuador and Costa Rica and has worked with Habitat for Humanity in both the US and Guatemala. In 1994, Scott developed the first reciprocal program for Habitat for Humanity, bringing 11 Guatemalans to the US to build poverty housing and raise awareness.He understands that philanthropy is more about what you receive than what you give.
Scott became involved in CREA in 2011 as way to thank the local Nicaraguan people for sharing their beautiful country and as a way to involve himself in the local area. He is proud to be part of an organization that is promoting education, primarily literature, as the best way for locals to maximize their potential.
Favorite Book: Joyce Cary, “The Horse’s Mouth” and Beryl Markham, “West with the Night”

Ann James, Board Member  

Ann Myatt James serves as a board member and volunteer grant writer. She has a PhD in Geography from Penn State University. She maintains eight years of experience working with secondary, post-secondary, and adult learners in a variety of educational settings. Presently, she works in a nonprofit organization to provide research, analysis, and technical assistance on topics of affordable housing, health, and related areas. She is taking continuing education coursework to improve her Spanish language fluency. She lives with her significant other, dog, and a herd of 180 pasture-raised beef cows on farm near Washington, DC.
Favorite Book: Ivan Illich, “Toward a History of Needs”

Steve Merritt, Board Chair

Realizing a long-time dream to work in development, Steve first came to Limón in 2010 as an intern for the Foundation for Sustainable Development, later becoming its local program coordinator.  He worked to strengthen a local bakery and women’s sewing workshop. His key goal, however, was to create more interaction between the local and foreign communities, which resulted in the literacy effort which today is CREA.
Steve has started several small businesses and been self-employed for most of his life. For over 20 years, he consulted with small businesses and non-profits.
He studied linguistics and has a master’s degree in business administration. He is passionate about languages and considers reading and continual learning true joys. He currently works as a Spanish interpreter and translator in Detroit, Michigan, and cares for his elderly mother.
His favorite book is a toss-up between two very wise children’s books, “Owl at Home” and “Miss Rumphius.”

Kitty Rudman, Board Member

Kitty became a long time volunteer and donor in Women’s Rights after spending 7 months in Africa in 1978. She also spent 17 years fundraising for the public schools her sons attended. Now that Kitty’s sons are grown, she found CREA to be the NGO where her efforts could go to actually working directly with the people she was supporting. Favorite Book: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “Infidel: My Life”

John Edwards, Board Member

John and his wife, Evelyn, live in southern Alberta in Canada. John “started” growing up in the southern United States. As a young child, he lived in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico. At a young age his family emigrated to Canada, and then onto Australia. John has traveled extensively. He has attended numerous schools in his youth and adult life, and he appreciates the challenges facing delivery of a meaningful education in developing countries. He has been a proud supporter of the Roberto Clemente Clinic in Nicaragua, and is proud to serve on the CREA board of directors. John and Evelyn have 7 children and 7 grandchildren. John currently consults dairy livestock nutrition and does property development. John and Evelyn love Nicaragua and spend time at their home there whenever they are able. John is still growing up. Favorite Book: Ernest Hemingway, “Farewell to Arms” and Peter Mayle, “A Year in Provence”

“CREA is also supported and guided by tireless Friends who hold CREA near and dear to their heart. Our work would not be possible without our Board of Directors and Friends.”

CREA Friends:

  • Katie Brame
  • Ara Chackerian
  • Luvern (Vern) Cunningham
  • Kelly Cushner
  • Tessa Gunther
  • David Michael
  • Amie Riley
  • Alan Vilchez, Honorary Board Member

5824 CLOVER DRIVE, OAKLAND, CA 94618

The Nicaraguan Education Resource Center is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  

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