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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.

Meet Our Board

Jean Vukovich

Jean Vukovich

Board President

Jean is a business analyst. She has been with the Risk Management organization at T-Mobile for the past 7 years. Before that she worked for The Bon Marche for 16 years in multiple aspects of the business. She has more than a decade of volunteer experience with Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet's gift shop and Pilchuck Glass School. She attended the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound. Her favorite pastimes include photography, travel, a good beach (even a bad beach), live music, theater and reading.
Sue Potter

Sue Potter

Board Vice President

Sue Potter has over 20 years of non-profit experience, with extensive experience in nonprofit management including board & community relations, fund raising, strategic planning, marketing, financial analysis, data management, systems productivity, and team leadership. Sue is currently the CEO of Nourish Pierce County.
David  McInturff

David McInturff

Board Treasurer

David holds graduate degrees from Columbia University in NYC (MSEE) and the University of Puget Sound (MAT). He is currently a post-secondary math instructor at Tacoma Community College. In addition to his joining the Etta Projects board, he also serves on the board of Seachar. This project is focused on clean burning, efficient biomass cookstoves, which are an ideal technology for addressing the issues of deforestation and respiratory health in the developing world. David is passionate issue of environmental sustainability and waste stream management. He currently coordinates a community garden in University Place. He was instrumental in coordinating the waste stream management of the local food bank with the operation of the garden and has spearheaded the processing of waste food into a high quality soil amendment.
Valerie Chontofalsky

Valerie Chontofalsky

Board Secretary

Valerie is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Washington, Tacoma. She has 16 years of experience working in child welfare, medical, and mental health care settings. Valerie runs a local private practice, Nurture Therapy Services LLC. She is also a mother and wife with an addiction to reading, followed closely by cooking and crafting. Her passion for holistic wellness for individuals and communities as well as social justice is what drew her to Etta Projects.
Barbara Willock, M.F.A.

Barbara Willock, M.F.A.

Board Member

Barb Willock serves on the board as secretary. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in 1986 and master of fine arts in 1989, both from the University of Washington. She retired in 2011 from a local daily newspaper where she had worked 20 years in the editorial department. Barb performed nearly every job in the newsroom except reporting and photographer, her last being page design (layout). She has been a volunteer with Etta Projects for many years and has traveled three times to Bolivia. In addition to her work for Etta Projects, she serves on the board of the League of Women Voters/Kitsap. She and her husband, George, live in Southworth with their mini-schnauzer, Mandy.
Dr. Yolanda Duralde , MD

Dr. Yolanda Duralde , MD

Board Member

Yoli has been the Medical Director of the Child Abuse Intervention Department at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, WA for the past 15 years. She graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, and did a Family Practice residency in Cincinnati, Ohio. Yoli came to the Northwest to work at a Migrant Health Clinic in Oregon. She has given numerous lectures and trainings in child abuse issues as well as drug endangered children. Yoli has volunteered in Bolivia with Etta Projects.
Alexandra Flores-Greer

Alexandra Flores-Greer

Board Member

Alex was born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She served a mission for the LDS church and graduated from BYU-Idaho. She now works at Microsoft as a Product Manager helping small and medium businesses grow and stay secure. She also runs her own business, Greer LLC, where she helps women and minorities with resume reviews and career coaching to land a job in tech. In her free time she likes to hit the trails in the PNW with her husband and 2 rescued dogs. She is passionate about helping the people of Bolivia in any way she can. All of her family resides in Bolivia and she travels to visit her family every other year. Etta Projects is the perfect fit for Alex to serve her beautiful country and make a difference.
Joe Macias

Joe Macias

Board Member

Joe Macias is a Leadership Development Consultant for Multicare Health System. As a member of the Leadership Development Team, Joe provides consulting and coaching to Auburn Medical Center and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. Joe also serves as the program manager for Leadership Engagements and the InsideOut Coaching program. Prior to joining Multicare Health System in 2010, Joe served in a variety of human resources, organization development, and leadership development roles with World Vision International. He designed and implemented leadership development and organization development programs in over 20 countries during his time with World Vision.
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Etta

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

Pennye Nixon, M.A. Kathryn Lewis Ashley Capangpangan Dana O'Connell Daniel Vildozo Dino Macarri Dr. Caterine Senzano Castro Elizabeth Coronado Saavedra Veronica Pellizzari Edizon Vallejos Ortuno Tatiana Vera Ramos Don Alfredo Villalba Luiz Guzman Marlene
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Pennye Nixon, M.A.

Founder, Executive Director

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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.

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Kathryn Lewis

Executive Consultant

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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.

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Ashley Capangpangan

Finance

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.

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Dana O'Connell

Marketing Specialist

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.

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Daniel Vildozo

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.

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Dino Macarri

Program Director

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

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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.

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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."

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Veronica Pellizzari

Program Coordinator

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.

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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.

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Tatiana Vera Ramos

Agricultural and Environmental Coordinator

Tatiana holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering and a master’s degree in agricultural science (from the former Soviet Union). She served as an agroforestry technician for the FAO with a gender focus, and the design and management of worm composting systems. She has worked as a consultant for many agriculture and environmental projects in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, including systems of financial support for organic farmers. She taught Agro-business at the University in Nicaragua and Bolivia.

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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.

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Luiz Guzman

Handyman, CTC

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.

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Marlene

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.