Agros Blog

Agros Hires Development Coordinator

Agros International is pleased to announce the hiring of Claire Tirtoprodjo as Development Coordinator. This position is responsible for initiating, developing and sustaining relationships with our middle level donors and launching Agros’ giving group program. Claire will be also be actively engaged in Agros’ annual fundraising event, Tierras de Vida.

“The Development Coordinator position is new to Agros,” explained Anne Baunach, Director of Resource Development. “We added this position to help look for more meaningful ways to engage our donor base. Claire’s background and experience will really help us to think creatively about how we build this program. We are thrilled that Claire has joined us.”

Claire received her BA in Education from Western Washington University. She began her career as a middle school math teacher in Texas. She returned to the Pacific Northwest and has been actively engaged in Seattle’s non-profit community for the last eight years. She worked in numerous roles with Treehouse (an organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids living in foster care) from 2006-2010 and most recently served as the Major Gifts Coordinator for YouthCare (an organization dedicated to providing pathways off the streets for homeless young adults).

Claire began her role at Agros on January 21, 2014.

Agros Hires Engagement Manager

Agros International is pleased to announce the hiring of Guillermo Mario Jiménez as Engagement Manager. This position coordinates programs designed to engage individuals, businesses, churches, and community organizations in the organization’s mission. His primary responsibilities will be to develop meaningful travel experiences that educate donors and prospects about rural poverty and issues specific to Central America and Agros as well as to help develop a global community.This role is part of Agros’ Resource Development and Marketing team.

Guillermo received his BA in Philosophy and Business Administration from Houghton College and MA in International Development from Eastern University. He served as the International Experience Manager for River Church Community in San Jose, CA before returning to his home country of Honduras where he served as the Development Facilitator and Advocacy Coordinator for World Vision Honduras. He also spent two years with Servant Partners in Honduras where he pioneered their community organizing efforts in an urban slum of Tegucigalpa. For the past nine months, Guillermo has served as the Interim Partner Travel Program Manager for Agros. He is also the owner of Metanoia Organic Farm in La Paz, Honduras.

“The Engagement Manager position is new to Agros,” explained Anne Baunach, Director of Resource Development. “We have added this position to help us look more holistically at our travel and education programs as resources to help us in engaging individuals, businesses, and churches in a global community. We interviewed many candidates and selected Guillermo because of his multi-faceted background and experience working both in and on behalf of the poor in Central America. We are thrilled to have him managing this program for Agros.”

Guillermo will start in this new role for Agros on December 31, 2013.

Merry Christmas from Agros

I have been reflecting on the familiar words of Luke 2:7, “… and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for him in the inn.”

This Advent season, this story is somehow different for me. In October, I was blessed with spending time in Bella Vista, Honduras, where I once again was able to spend time with Carlos and Marina, the Agros beneficiaries who spoke at Tierras de Vida in 2012. As I approached their humble home, Marina held their baby son, Carlitos, in her arms. He was wrapped in a simple cloth diaper and a white t-shirt. Marina handed him to me. This was a happy baby, loved and cared for by two adoring parents who have hope that life will be different. A couple who just four years ago lived in the slums of San Pedro Sula and feared for the lives of their children. A couple who had lost hope when a scam took every dollar they had saved to build a house.

The message of Christmas is one of hope. Hope that the world can be different. Hope that comes in a tiny baby born into the humblest of conditions—a stable surrounded by animals.

May this message of hope fill your Christmas celebration. Please join with us at Agros as this Christmas, we dare to hope for…
• Central America free of poverty
• Children with food to eat and quality education
• Parents with a sustainable means of earning a living above the poverty line
• The promises that come in the birth of the Messiah

Thank you for your ongoing support of the dreams of Agros and all those who partner with us in our work.

Merry Christmas!

Message from Brisas del Volcán

On Sunday, December 15, Agros staff member Emily Bergstrom traveled to Chico, California to meet with supporters from Bidwell Presbyterian Church. Knowing that Emily would be with this group of faithful supporters of Brisas del Volcán, Honduras, the women of Brisas sent this note to Bidwell Presbyterian Church:

Dear Brothers and Sisters from Bidwell Presbyterian Church,
Greetings from Brisas del Volcán in the name of our father. This note is to let you know that we are working very hard to accomplish our dreams. We have been making payments on our land loans, so that one day we can become land owners. We give thanks to God for given you such a generous heart that is filled with love for us.

We, the women of Brisas del Volcán, have been praying for God’s blessing for you and your families. At the same time, we are praying that God’s wisdom and strength will fill our hearts so that we can honor your friendship and great love for us.

We always remember you fondly.

Your friends from Brisas del Volcán.

All of us at Agros International celebrate the special relationships that have been bridged between our supporters and the communities that we serve. We are so grateful to Bidwell Presbyterian Church for their faithful support of Brisas.

Agros is Hiring a Senior Accountant

Agros International is seeking to fill our Senior Accountant position. This position has primary responsibility for revenue accounting and reporting, as well as responsibilities for key portions of month-end closing processes and financial statement preparation. The position reports to the Director of Finance and Administration and works alongside the Program Accountant. Additionally, this position supervises student assistants and volunteers who are involved in gift processing, bank reconcilliations

This position requires a person who has intermediate Spanish reading and writing skills. A BA in accounting, finance or related field is required; CPA/CMA preferred.

A complete position description is available on our website at: http://www.agros.org/ag/inside-agros/careers/. Applications are being accepted until the position is filled.

Janet Stafford Joins Agros Leadership Team

Agros International is excited to announce the hiring of Janet Stafford as the Director of Finance and Administration effective December 2, 2013. Janet will be responsible for overseeing finance, accounting, operations, and human resources.

Prior to joining the leadership team of Agros, Janet was serving as a part-time CFO for two local organizations: Fortin Group and Nitze-Stagen & Co., Inc. Previously, she served as CFO for Magic Wheels, Inc., and CFO/VP for Matthew G. Norton Co. Janet began her career at Arthur Andersen where she was an audit manager th.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Janet’s background and experience join the Agros leadership team,” shared CEO Don Manning. “We look forward to being able to utilize her expertise gained in the for-profit setting to help guide our finances, accounting, and human resources work at Agros.”

Janet is also active in her community. She serves as Treasurer and Elder at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church and is in the bell choir. She also served as board member and treasurer of the Mercer Island Girls Lacrosse Club (with 185 members) and Island Choral Experience (a 200-member youth choir organization). Additionally, she has held various volunteer positions at Islander Middle School, Island Park Elementary School, and Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

Janet was previously a CPA. She received a BS/BA in accounting with high distinction from the University of Arizona. She was recognized by the University of Arizona as the Outstanding Accounting Graduate.

Agros is Hiring Engagement Manager

Agros International is seeking to fill a new organizational position: Engagement Manager. This position, which is part of the resource development and marketing team, works with individuals, businesses, churches, and community organizations to develop meaningful travel experiences. The travel program is designed to educate donors and prospective donors about rural poverty, issues specific to Central America and Agros and help create a global community. Ultimately, the goal of this position is to transform hearts so that those engaged are committed to long-term financial support of Agros.

This position requires a person who is bilingual in English and Spanish. Superior organizational skills and the ability to be timeline driven are necessary. This position will require a great deal of collaboration with both internal and external partners and so the ability to work well within is team is critical. This position may require as much as 40% domestic and international travel.

A complete position description is available on our website at: http://www.agros.org/ag/inside-agros/careers/. Applications are being accepted until the position is filled.

Vision Trip to Honduras

A week ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras with a group of Agros partners: two people from Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, three partners from First Fruits marketing, and my father. We arrived in the heat and humidity of San Pedro Sula unsure of what to expect. For three of the group members, it was their first trip to Honduras; for four, their first opportunity to see Agros’ work. As we discussed our expectations for the week, words like “excited,” nervous,” “unsure,” and “eager” peppered our conversation.

After an orientation with country manager Nohemy Tinoco, we boarded our van to Bella Vista, located in the hills outside of Santa Barbara. Here, we were able to see the new school program for sixth-to-ninth-grade students. Nine students and an energetic teacher welcomed us in English. With excitement, they told how they can now go to school without traveling several miles to Santa Barbara. Remarkably, the teacher takes a bus and then walks 3.5 miles to the village four days a week to make sure students are able to be educated beyond the sixth grade. Dedicated people like this make it possible to bring critical services to hard-to-reach areas, and change the lives of many.

Our day in Bella Vista was very busy. After visiting the school, we met with the community leaders in the midst of muddy coffee plantations. (We were visiting during the final weeks of the six-month rainy season.) After learning about their bumper crop, we divided into three groups to help pick coffee. We were provided a small half-gallon basket to put around our waist and began to pick the red “cherry” beans from amongst the green ones. After nearly an hour of picking the beans off the bushes, I had barely filled half a basket. I learned from Carlos (the farmer we were “helping”) that he and one other family member had picked 145 gallons of beans the day before. At the speed at which I was moving in the heat and humidity, I can’t imagine how long it would have taken me to pick that much coffee.

Picking Coffee

After a delicious lunch prepared by Gladys, a dear friend from the community, we attended a meeting to learn about last year’s achievements. I was excited to learn about the dozens of children in school; the coffee beans, plantains, and frijoles being harvested; and that electricity was due to come to the community in the next couple of months. I enjoyed seeing some new faces, especially Carlos and Marina’s baby, Carlitos, who had not yet been born when his parents spoke at Tierras de Vida in 2012. We ended by taking a group photo and having the children of the village accompany us to the bus. There were many damp eyes as we waved goodbye and headed back down the mountain to our hotel.

The following day started much the same as we boarded our bus to visit the Agros village of La Piedra de Horeb. We were greeted by the community leaders who quickly suggested to us that we leave our backpacks on the bus and travel light as we were going on a hike. Nearly 90 minutes later, through much sweat and assistance from the community leaders, we had traversed the 2.5 km trail and had gained 2,000 feet in elevation to reach the coffee nursery and fields. Thank goodness for the arms of support as we slipped along the narrow, rocky path. Community members make this trek daily to tend to their crops. Many of us consider it to be one of the most difficult hikes of our lives.

In the afternoon, we were able to see one of the tilapia farms where over 1,000 fish were being raised for consumption and sale. We tossed food to the fish and watched them eat. After this exercise, we participated in a farm school where Agros agronomist Florentino taught us how to take the stalks of the yucca plant and cut it down (with a machete) to make small pieces suitable for replanting. We learned how to group the cuttings and space them out in the rows that has been hand-prepared before our arrival. We huffed, puffed, and sweated as we planted just a few of these cuttings in the hot, Honduran sun.

Cutting Yucca for replanting

After a short hike back to the community center, we were able to observe the new multi-generational literacy classes being taught through a partnership with the ministry of education. A teacher makes the four-mile walk twice a month to work with a couple of community members who teach these classes on a regular basis. Children, teens, and adults sat in the plastic chairs eager to learn how to read and write. Lessons on a CD and workbooks helped them to learn these important skills.

Our hearts were full once again as the children accompanied us to the bus and waved goodbye as we pulled away.

With Agros’ growth project on the horizon, we began the next day with a presentation from regional director Joel Martinez who talked about Agros’ vision of regional development. The goal is to serve more than 5,000 additional people in the Santa Barbara region. Our next two days were spent visiting two communities under consideration: San Jose de Colinas and San Luis, both in the department of Santa Barbara.

Our first day was in Colinas, first with the mayor and many of the community members. They described their needs and how much an Agros project would benefit their community. They shared their dreams for a community where their citizens would not live in extreme poverty, where land ownership by more than a few was possible, and where their children would be healthy and educated.

Meeting the mayor of San Luis

We traveled up into the hills to a small village within Colinas called Monte Vista where we met with nearly 150 citizens eager to learn more about Agros. The charismatic principal rallied the crowd to first join together to say “Welcome Agros visitors” in English and then to share their enthusiasm for the possibility of a partnership where they could own land. Children sat nestled among their parents. The dream of how an Agros project could benefit the coming generation became real as we looked into the eyes of these beautiful people.

The next day took us to the village of San Luis where we met with the mayor and community members. Again we heard the impassioned pleas of the community members who talked of their needs and how Agros could help them achieve hope and dignity for their citizens. The most impassioned plea came from a 28 year old woman named Rebecca who had grown up in San Pedro Sula and had traveled to Cuba for her medical training. Rebecca was doing her social work year in the municipality of San Luis. She expected to see 8,500 patients in the course of that year including helping to deliver 230 babies. She is the only medical doctor in the community of more than 15,000 people. She shared that she had fallen in love with the people and didn’t know if another doctor would replace her when she had to leave for her second social work year. The look of hope in the mayor’s eyes as he shook my hand and asked me to return soon almost broke my heart.

As I reflect on another amazing week observing Agros work and dreaming for the future, I am hopeful. I saw the work that Agros is doing in Bella Vista and Piedra and am convinced that the Agros model works to sustainably bring people out of poverty. I saw the abundance of coffee in Bella Vista and the growing tilapia of Piedra. People have the skills, land, and determination necessary to work their way out of generational poverty. I also know that the four communities that we have served only scratched the surface of the millions of people living in poverty in Honduras. And so, after talking to the mayors of Colinas and San Luis and hearing their pleas to help their communities, I am confident that Agros’ regional approach is the right one. We will begin to move the needle on poverty in the department of Santa Barbara as we serve 5,000+ people. I come back enthusiastic to ask others to join with Agros in this work.

Tierras de Vida is coming soon

Would you like to learn more about the work that Agros is doing in Central America and Mexico? Would you like to hear more about Tierra Nueva, Nicaragua through the words of two of our community members, Israel and Alexia Reyes?

Join us on Saturday, October 19 for Tierras de Vida [Lands of Life]. This annual event celebrates the work that Agros International and shares a vision for the organization’s future. This year’s theme is ‘Together Now’ and will focus on the transformation that is happening in Central America through the work of Agros and its partners.

Event details:
Date: Saturday, October 19, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Fremont Studios
155 North 35th Street, Seattle, WA 98103

Additional details and registration information are available at www.agros.org. You may also email dedekatagrosdotorg or call the Agros office at 206.528.1066.

Agros International Seeks Director of Finance & Administration

Agros International is seeking a Director of Finance and Administration to join our team. This is a great opportunity for someone wanting to help Agros achieve its mission by providing leadership, oversight and evaluation of the organization through planning, organizing and directing the various financial functions. This person is an integral part of the Agros senior leadership team, reporting directly to the CEO and having regular interface with the Board of Directors as well. This position has the simultaneous role of regular “hands on” duties as well as big picture strategic thinking. Thus, the successful candidate will possess the dual skill set of being a broad and big picture thinker along with one who can execute and successfully navigate details.

A copy of the position profile is located on our website at www.agros.org. Select “Inside Agros” and then “Careers”.

Recruitment for the position is being handled by LuAnn Carlson of Corporate Strategies and Development, LLC. For more information about the position or to apply, please contact LuAnn at 206.972.6967 or lcarlsonatcsdseattledotcom.

Agros International Receives International Service Award

Agros International received the 2013 Distinction in International Service Award (DISA) from the students and staff of The Martin Institute at the University of Idaho on April 30, 2013. CEO Don Manning was on hand to receive the award.

“We were honored to receive this award,” shared Manning. “The students researched organizations that had a holistic approach to the root causes of poverty and chose to honor Agros for the work that we are doing in Central America. This is a great honor coming from students who are preparing to launch into the world and tackle these important issues.”

The DISA award was established in 2011 after the faculty, staff, and students of the Martin Institute began to look at the non-profit organizations in the Pacific Northwest focused on international work. They recognized that some quite remarkable – and largely unrecognized – international work was happening through organizations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington and thus established this award. A five-person selection committee met over two months to review candidate organizations. Five finalists were chosen from nearly 100 organizations, with Agros International being selected as the 2013 DISA recipient. Past recipients include the International Rescue Committee in 2011, and A Child’s Right in 2012.

The Martin Institute is a teaching and research entity founded in 1979 to study the causes of war and the conditions necessary for peace, and is affiliated with the International Studies degree program at the University of Idaho. Nearly 240 students participate in the program, with focus areas including international relations, global resources or development, and international business or economics.

Regional Manager of Economic Development Hired

Agros International is proud to announce that Boris Corpeño has been hired as our new Honduras-based Regional Director of Economic Development. He will report to Joel Martinez, Agros Regional Director, and will help direct the agricultural work happening in the field.

Boris holds a B.A. in agronomy from Zamorano University and a B.S. from the Evangelical University of El Salvador (San Salvador). He has worked with several prominent organizations including the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development where he was an agronomist for 12 years managing a demonstration plot for pineapple, sweet corn and tomatoes. He was also a manager for FINTRAC working in El Salvador and Honduras as well as a manager of irrigation systems at International AgroChemistry.

Boris is passionate about Agros’ work in Central America. “I am excited to start working with Agros,” he says. This position is a gift from God. I have been praying for this kind of work. Because of my religious principles, in this stage in my life, I want to invest in other people. I want to have an impact. The best challenges are those that have great meaning in life. I believe this work will bring great satisfaction. When I see people move forward and achieve something different, I can see it in their face, their children, and the way that they carry themselves. This is my goal.”

Boris believes that success at Agros should be measured by the sustainable increase in the economic status of those we serve. He believes that if they are successful with their agribusinesses, that they then will have the resources for education, better nutrition, improved healthcare, and a higher standard of living.

Boris and his wife, Jasmina, have three children: Laura (21), Andrea (17), and Boris (14). In his free time he enjoys playing the guitar, singing, and playing football, basketball, and volleyball.

We are excited to that Boris is joining our Central America team, and grateful that his expertise will be used to empower Agros communities. Please join us in welcoming Boris to the Agros family!

Save the Date – Tierras de Vida 2013

Save the date for our 10th Anniversary Tierras de Vida fundraising event. The dinner will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at Fremont Studios. This promises to be another wonderful event. We hope to see you there.

Sponsorship information is available by request by calling Anne Baunach at 206.528.1066. Tickets and table host information will be available later this spring.

Mark you calendar to join us. We hope to see you there!!

Ken Churchill to join the Resource Development team at Agros

I am excited to share that Ken Churchill will be joining the Agros International team on April 22, 2013, as the Senior Major Gifts Officer in the Resource Development department.

Ken comes to Agros with an amazing resume, a passion for Latin America, and a calling to ministry focused on serving the poor. Ken grew up in Argentina where his father was a missionary. He did his undergraduate work in Spanish and Education at Biola University and his graduate work at both Talbot Seminary and California Graduate School of Theology. He began his career as the pastor of Bible Brethren Church in Glenora, CA.

When Ken left the parish ministry, he went to work for United Parcel Service (UPS), where in four years he rose through the ranks and quickly became the Manager of Public Affairs for the Pacific region. Subsequently, he became the Vice President of Public Affairs for UPS and spent time in Washington, D.C., leading their government relations work in Latin America and Canada. Since 2003, Ken has held the role of Talent Management Specialist at World Vision, where his work focused on helping existing work groups evolve into synergistic teams. Ken is fluent in Spanish (with an Argentinean accent).

Ken has been described as a “proven servant leader with a style that stresses ‘come alongside, equipping and releasing,’” as “powerfully effective at coaching individuals and diverse groups of people for purposes of collaboration, alignment and synergy,” and as having “exceptionally strong teaching/public speaking gifts that motivate, guide and transform.”

Ken will be working alongside many of our donors, helping them to explore opportunities to support Agros’ work. We are very excited that he will be joining our team. Please join us in welcoming Ken to Agros!

Job Opening at Agros International

As many of you have heard, David Carlson is leaving Agros at the end of December. He has felt God’s calling to a new adventure, a position as the Chief Development Officer for the International School of Entrepreneurial Leadership.

As we look back on the 18 years that David spent with Agros, we are so grateful for all he has done. As the first paid staff member, he has helped to build this amazing organization. We are grateful for all his contributions. We are also excited for David and for the International School of Entrepreneurial Leadership as he helps build this organization.

It is now time to begin looking for someone who will fund raise to support Agros’ work in Central America and Mexico. We have opened the position of Senior Major Gifts Officer and have retained LuAnn Carlson to help us in finding this new member of the Agros team. A copy of the job description is currently posted on Agros website at: http://www.agros.org/ag/inside-agros/careers/.

If you know of anyone who might be qualified for this position, please encourage them to apply. For questions, please contact either Anne Baunach, Director of Resource Development at (206) 528.1066 or LuAnn Carlson, Senior Partner, Corporate Strategies & Development, LLC at (206) 972.6967.

Tierras de Vida is Coming Soon

Would you like to learn more about the work that Agros is doing in Central America and Mexico? Would you like to meet two of our villagers, Marina Martinez and Carlos Sarmiento, from Bella Vista, Honduras to learn about how Agros has helped them?

Join us on Saturday, October 13 for Tierras de Vida [Lands of Life]. This annual event celebrates the work that Agros International and shares a vision for the organization’s future. This year’s theme is ‘Hope in the Hard Places’ and will focus on the life-transforming changes that are happening with families living in Agros’ villages.

Event details:
Date: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Seattle Sheraton
1400 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA

Additional details and registration information are available at www.agros.org/tdv. You may also email dedekatagrosdotorg or call the Agros office at 206.528.1066.

Marina Martinez (back left) and Carlos Sarmiento (back right) will share their story of becoming Agros villagers in Bella Vista, Honduras at Tierras de Vida on October 13.

Marina Martinez (back left) and Carlos Sarmiento (back right) will share their story of becoming an Agros villager in Bella Vista, Honduras at Tierras de Vida on October 13.

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