Manna Project International (MPI) is a volunteer driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving international communities through holistic development. The MPI network is made up of three international sites, several university campus chapters, and a growing base of volunteer alumni.
Our international sites are run by 13-month volunteers called Program Directors.
Additionally, MPI’s university chapters serve communities near their campuses through local programs in addition to promoting our international sites by sending Spring Break trips and 4-8 week summer interns.
As one of Manna Project's founders, Lori has been a vital part of the MPI team since graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2004 with degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education. Lori's involvement began when she helped charter the organization in January of 2004. Soon after she went on to teach pre-school in Nicaragua. In the years that followed, she oversaw the organizational growth and development of the Nicaragua site for its first three years and since 2008 has been MPI's Executive Director.
Prior to joining Manna, Greg spent 17 years as a CPA, with the majority of that time being spent as an auditor. He has worked for several public accounting firms in Nashville, ranging from small, local firms, to top 10 largest firms in the country. During this time, he worked with numerous not-for-profit entities in the area, as a service provider and a volunteer. Greg completed both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Accounting from the Univeristy of Tennessee. Recently he felt a calling to use his talents to help others and joined Manna. Greg, his wife and two children live in Franklin, Tennessee.
Katie received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Mary Washington College and then moved to Boston, MA. where she worked for Cultural Survival, an indigenous rights organization. Afterward, she lead three international youth leadership and service programs for her YMCA in the Berkshires. After doing sales and marketing for an international educational travel organization, Education First, Katie joined Peace Corps and served as an Urban Youth Development Volunteer in Paraguay. Katie graduated in May 2011 with a Masters in International Development Policy from Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. While at Duke, Katie interned for Save the Children and Restless Development in Uganda. Katie became our Nicaragua Director in the summer of 2011.
A native of Acton, Maine, Heather brings a wealth of experience to her role as the Ecuador Country Director, having previously been a MPI Program Director in Ecuador. In college, she interned with the legal department of the Central American Resource Center in Washington D.C., and also with CEAR in Spain doing research on human rights violations and political violence. Her desire to travel, improve Spanish skills, and work with the Latino community initially led her to Manna’s Ecuador team. After Manna she hopes to attend Law School and work as an immigration/human rights attorney.
Jessica graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2006 where she received a BA in Latin American Studies and Creative Writing. She studied abroad in Valdivia, Chile for two semesters in 2004 at La Universidad Austral de Chile where she learned Spanish. After college she worked for the Costa Rica Rica Rainforest Outward Bound School from 2007-2008. After leaving Costa RIca she worked as the Admissions Counselor for The School for Field Studies (SFS) in the U.S. and as the Student Affairs Manager at their field station in Costa Rica. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management at The School for International Training. Jessica joined MPI inspired by a love for Latin America, and a passion for collaborating across communities to work toward social justice and social change
MBA candidate, Columbia Business School
New York, NY
Zak Schwarzman has served on MPI's board since 2008. Zak first became involved with MPI as a founding Program Director at MPI's Ecuador Site in 2007. He is currently pursuing his MBA at Columbia Business School and is an active member of New York's entrepreneurial community, working with several venture capital firms and startups in the technology and education spaces. Prior to Columbia, Zak spent six years launching and raising institutional funding for international and economic development ventures. Most recently, Zak worked as a senior associate with Seedco, designing and raising over $25 million for job training and small business lending programming, with an emphasis on the green economy. Previously, Zak worked as the Central and South America Regional Field Director for the Obama campaign, designing and executing a pilot initiative to organize American voters living abroad in Latin America. He earned a B.A. in Political Economy with a minor in Business from Tulane University in 2005.
MBA Candidate, Kellogg School of Management
Marcela graduated from Vanderbilt in 2007 and joined the MPI Nicaragua team that summer. As a Program Director, Marcela ran Manna’s Child Sponsorship Program in La Chureca, taught math and literacy classes, and led groups of weeklong volunteers. After leaving Nicaragua, Marcela spent three years working in the education sector first as a recruitment associate with Teach For America and then as growth strategy & development associate with Teach For All. Marcela stayed involved with Manna by participating in MPI’s first Chapter Leadership Conference and helping with PD recruitment efforts. In 2008 she joined Manna’s board as Treasurer of the board.
Corporate Finance Fellow, Yale New Haven Health System
New Haven, Connecticut
After completing his MBA, Chris is currently in a two-year financial management rotational fellowship at the Yale New Haven Health System. From 2006 to 2010, Chris was involved with MPI in several different capacities. He first served as a Program Director in Nicaragua and later became MPI’s first U.S. Director. While in business school, Chris maintained his involvement with MPI by serving in an advisory role to the brand new Guatemala site. On the Board of Directors, Chris works to engage the growing base of talented and impressive Program Director alumni.
Senior Account Executive, Marketing & Public Relations
Simon Bowers is a public relations and marketing professional with 6+ years of experience. He is currently a Senior Account Executive in Cone Communication’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) practice in Boston, where he does everything from strategic planning to social media outreach and media relations for a variety of clients.
Simon was first introduced to Manna Project International (MPI) two years ago in a microbus on the dusty roads of Guatemala, as the directors were scouting for the next international site. Shortly thereafter he was exploring the MPI Nicaragua site and, well, the rest is history. Though never an in-country MPI volunteer, Simon has been an advocate since day one and is excited to put his professional skills to work for the organization.