tta Projects works in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. In rural areas of Eastern Bolivia, our current service area, the majority of families live without adequate water, sanitation and access to health care. In 2012, only 24% of rural Bolivians had access to improved sanitation. Studies show that the provision of safe water coupled with proper sanitation facilities can reduce deaths from diarrhea and water-related illnesses by 65%, and improve overall childhood mortality by 55% (2014, Unicef in Bolivia, Unicef).
Through our work, over 71,150 people in Bolivia have benefited with improved health and nutrition, water, sanitation and education. 130 community leaders (90% women) have been trained in health promotion in 25 communities. Also, 19 communities and 435 families now have environmentally sound sanitation systems. 31 villages now have clean water systems and water committees to manage them. All this is done with a budget of under $500,000 annually.
tta Projects was created in 2003 to honor the life and legacy of Etta Turner, a teenager who believed in the power of the individual to effect meaningful change. Though Etta Turner's young life ended tragically in November 2002 while she was in Bolivia as a Rotary International Exchange student, her inspiration lives within us.
Her charisma and energy continue to guide our projects, encouraging us to engage in open dialogue, harness community participation, and validate the ideas and opinions of all people. Etta stirred us to transcend poverty by creating true friendships and to find joy as we make a positive difference in our world.
All photo credits on this website go to Lisa Bontje Photography. See more of her work here.
Meet our Staff
Kathryn is responsible for the strategy, oversight and growth of Etta Projects’ portfolio as we work to address systemic health and social issues in rural Eastern Bolivia. She brings 30 years of experience in strengthening funding and administrative programs to increase service delivery and project-based improvement that address real-world need. Kathryn holds a Master of Public Administration from The Evergreen State College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Washington-Tacoma. She has led successful projects in rural areas including community planning, development, and construction.
Pennye Nixon, M.A.
Founder, Director of Operations
Pennye trained and practiced as a Child, Family and Marriage Therapist before founding Etta Projects. Pennye holds a M.A. in Psychology from Pacific Lutheran University and a B.A .in Human Services from The University of Tennessee. In the summer of 2009, she was awarded the RESULTS Kitsap Peninsula Global Humanitarian Award for her work with global poverty issues. In March, 2008 she was awarded the International Woman of the Year Award by the city of Montero, Bolivia. In April, 2017 she was awarded the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. Her goal is to help build communities where everyone can be safe and healthy. Her role as Etta's mom has been one of her greatest honors.
Ashley is Etta Projects Accountant in the U.S. and is responsible for combining U.S. and Bolivia accounting and providing financial information to the Board and Grantors. She holds a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management from Keller University and a Bachelors in Accounting from Devry. She is also a licensed CPA in WA state and has worked with private accounting firms as well as been a Tax Accountant at a public CPA firm for 12 years. Ashley moved from WA state to Texas in 2018 with her husband James and two daughters, who keep her very busy with club volleyball. Any free time she can find she enjoys cooking, working out, exploring her new home state & reading.
Dana comes to Etta Projects with extensive experience in marketing, social media, graphic design and video production. She has worked in non-profit healthcare for 8 years and is responsible for the day-to-day promotion and communications of Etta Projects globally. Dana has an affinity for working with indigenous communities and sharing in their rich culture while brining safe and sanitary solutions throughout Eastern Bolivia.
In her Bolivia-based role, Dana worked previously as Communications Coordinator at the Community Transformation. This role focused on overall management of the Community Transformation Center, coordinator with volunteers, groups scheduled, including orientation, yoga and mindfulness activities.
Director of CTC
Daniel Vildozo, from Bolivia, serves as director of Etta Projects’ Community Transformation Center.. He holds two masters’ degrees (from Germany and the former Soviet Union) in Rural Development and Plant Physiology. His bachelor’s degree is in Agricultural engineering. His experience with NGOs includes Ayuda en Acción de España, Heifer International, GTZ Alemania, and the Association of Ecological Producers of Bolivia. He has over 25 years of experience in project management and impact evaluation, rural development and food security.
Dino Macarri joined Etta Projects in March of 2017. He is Italian but has lived in Bolivia since 2014, where he previously worked at the Comedor Etta Turner (the first initiative undertaken by Etta Projects. He has a master’s degree in economic development and international cooperation. As Program Director he oversees all project activities carried out by program staff. This includes community needs assessments, monitoring and evaluation of past and present Etta Projects Programs, and the development of new projects and relationships with local authorities and partner communities
Dr. Caterine Senzano Castro
Coordinator of Health programs
Dr. Caterine is a family physician, specializing in Community-Family Health and Public Health. She decided to study medicine after some family members were diagnosed with cancer and limited financial resources prevented them from accessing treatment. For 15 years she has worked as a facilitator of different programs in the Bolivian Ministry of Health, SEDES in Santa Cruz, and development of functions in the local hospital in Montero. Since 2011, she serves as Coordinator of Etta Projects' Health Program, teaching first aid, community health, health rights, and community organization for improved healthcare to local villagers.
Elizabeth Coronado Saavedra
Office Manager / Accounting
Elizabeth Coronado Saavedra is the accountant for the office in Montero, and has been with the team since 2015. She has experience working in finances for large businesses and private institutions in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Elizabeth describes her experience with EP by saying: "When I first started working with Etta Projects I didn't even know what the organization was about and like many people I thought the work for a non-profit would be easy. Today I realize how much effort each person here does to make sure each project is carried out well. We all depend on the good will of those who give, allowing us to serve families here and help them improve their quality of life. I'm very happy to work with Etta Projects, and hope that people continue to join us in helping those that most need it to achieve their dreams."
Veronica Pellizzari studied International Law in the city of Trento. In 2018, as an International Cooperation worker, she worked at the Amazonic Center of Anthropology and Practical Application in Iquito, Perú, where she supported and organized different kinds of activities involving local indigenous communities solving environmental issues and conflicts with other groups or entities. Her final dissertation at the University of Trento was about International Environmental Rights.
She first joined Etta Projects in 2019 through the Italian Peace Corps Program. The experience with EP made her decide to come back and work as the coordinator of HIV Program and Girls Sexual Health and Empowerment project in Buena Vista. In her spare time she loves trekking, all kinds of animals and she's been vegetarian since she was 10.
Edizon Vallejos Ortuno
Sanitation Project Coordinator
Edizon is from Cochabamba, born in the small town of Cliza, but has lived in Santa Cruz for 18 years. He graduated from high and went on to study Food Technology with a degree as a Food Technician. Edizon worked at USAID as a facilitator of basic health promoters, and now works full time with Etta Projects as a liaison for the construction of ecological dry composting latrines. "I am fascinated by field work because I was born and raised in the country-side, so I teach and share the knowledge of my experiences with the communities," says Edizon.
Don Alfredo Villalba
Maintenance and Groundskeeper, CTC
Don Alfredo is a familiar face of the Community Transformation Center, and knew these lands long before we were established on the property. Having trained in the military, Don Alfredo can speak Spanish, Quechua and Portuguese, but even more impressive is his knowledge of the local plants and species. For nearly 20 years, prior to coming to Tekoati, Don Alfredo was an Amboro National Park Guard, responsible for educating citizens on respecting the natural world for future generations and confronting poachers, commonly found throughout Bolivia.
As the eyes and ears of Tekaoti, there is not a stone unturned or shrub unidentified that Don Alfredo cannot identify. Originally from the Chuquisaca in Bolivia, Don Afredo now calls Buena Vista his home and can be seen around the property helping out in many areas of his expertise.
Don Luiz is native to the neighboring community of Saavedra and began working for Etta Projects when we organized a community water project in his hometown. He was able to train and learn the skills needed to become a qualified electrician and plumber. When it became difficult to find consistent work in his village, Don Luiz became enchanted with the Community Transformation Center, after attending a workshop and quickly asked about employment. The rest, as they say, is history. Don Luiz is a proud father of 3 beautiful children. He is always curious about trying new vegetarian food at the CTC and is practicing his English with our international volunteers.
Comedor Manager, CTC
Marlene is from the nearby village of Santa Barbara where she lives with her husband and children. Each day she commutes on foot where she prepares delicious lunches for the CTC staff and guests. She enjoys cooking while listening to music and is well known for her well-rounded meals and famous empanadas con queso. Marlene and her girls are part of the original CTC team.