Tessa Eckholm – President

In March 2011, Tessa began serving with Peace Corps in Cholula, Mexico. Her service focused in two main areas: technology transfer and community outreach. Tessa worked extensively in the rural community of Texmalaquilla, organizing science and culture fairs for the local school, teaching English and facilitating a clothing drive. She was the lead organizer of the first Camp Mariposas.

Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Tessa worked for seven years in the field of litigation consulting. As a consultant, she managed projects from their inception to their completion in the creative graphics and multimedia consulting environment. She received a B.A. from the University of Albany in Biology with a minor in Political Science and a J.D. from Albany Law School.

Her hobbies include reading, cooking, traveling, and of course, spending time with close friends and family.

Elena Neibaur – Vice President

Elena Neibaur served in the Peace Corps as part of her graduate school program from August 2012 to October 2014. She was a natural resource volunteer in Puebla, Mexico.

Elena’s primary project focused on implementing rainwater harvesting systems and filter distribution to increase water security in a small rural community, San Jose Xacxamayo. Additionally, she co-organized Camp Mariposas in 2014. She served as an advisor and mentor to Club Mariposas in San Jose Xacxmayo. She helped to establish their mission and how to achieve their goals which focuses on environmental initiates such as monthly cleanups and increasing environmental awareness in their community. Elena fostered empowerment of club participants through enhancing their leadership skills and knowledge of environmental issues by having the girls participate as facilitators in local environmental fairs.

Elena received a B.A. in Environmental Science and Policy at California State University Long Beach in 2009. She began her graduate studies in 2011 where she also taught undergraduate students for a year in courses pertaining to environmental sustainability and climate change. She graduated in June 2015 with her M.S. in Environmental Studies from Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

Rachel Sheridan – Secretary

Rachel served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mexico for a whopping four years. During this time she worked with the Mexican Forest Service to develop a wildfire management plan for a rural community that had lost over a third of its forest to fires. It was in this community, Santa María Las Cuevas, where she met a group of young women interested in education, service, and adventure.

Rachel helped coordinate the 2014 Camp Mariposas, in which five girls from Las Cuevas participated. After the camp, she helped the girls organize several service projects, including a massive school reforestation event. Before leaving the community, Rachel put the girls in touch with a local non-profit that focuses on rescuing traditional artesian practices. Now, in addition to their environmental service events, the young women of Las Cuevas are becoming expert basket weavers and businesswomen.

Rachel has a B.A. in International Relations from Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus and a M.S. in Forestry from Northern Arizona University. In her free time she loves to run, hike, and practice yoga (she even gave classes to the Las Cuevas women!).

Karen Magid - Treasurer

Karen Magid served as a Peace Corps Volunteer with Tessa in the Technology Transfer Program from 2011-2013. She became involved in Mariposas during her service. Having helped run the first Camp Mariposas, she is committed to the organization and the mission to empower young women, and cherishes being able to serve as role model representing the wide variety of options available to women on any career path they wish to follow.

Karen’s background is in science, with her PhD in Materials Science from UC-Berkeley, her M.S. in Nuclear Engineering and her B.S. in Electrical Engineering, both from North Carolina State University. She currently works as the Sustainability Coordinator for Huston-Tillotson University and as the Dumpster Project Manager in Austin, Texas.

David Schenck – Advisor

David Schenck holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the State University of New York, as well as, both a bachelor’s degree in Civil Laws and a J.D. from Louisiana State University.  David has operated businesses in both the areas of information technology and the legal field.  A former Peace Corps volunteer, David currently lives in Mexico.

Janina Nava - Advisor

Coming from a background in environmental studies and engineering, Janina Nava has worked at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics for the past 16 years.  Specifically, she has dedicated herself to a variety of different projects related to the environment, contact with the people who live in the communities the outskirts of the volcano Sierra Negra close to the scientific projects Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano and HAWC, activities in scientific outreach, and political-environmental management related to all of the projects.

Janina has a close connection with Peace Corps Mexico and has participated in Campamento Mariposas since the beginning as a representative from INAOE and continues to support the cooperative effort of the Campamento Mariposas in Mexico. Some of her roles have included coordinating the activities within the campus, the communication with speakers, and the procurement of various donors. In conjunction with several different volunteers, Janina has lead a number of shared projects related to the use and conservation of natural resources.  Such efforts include projects in reforestation, soil conservation, environmental education, flora and fauna inventories, ecotecnias, and many more.

Janina’s favorite hobbies are: listening to music, going to the mountain, traveling, reading, enjoying time with her two sons, and participating in activities that involve support from society as a whole.

Nicole Gilbert- Volunteer

Nicole Gilbert served as a Peace Corps Volunteer with in Puebla, Mexico from 2012-2014. As Tessa was finishing her last 6 months, Nicole was beginning hers and was able to help Tessa with the first Camp Mariposas in 2013. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, she worked on a bunchgrass revegetation project in the Pico de Orizaba National Park, ran an EcoClub at the local elementary school in Texmalaquilla, held workshops for adults and kids on bird conservation around the state or Puebla, served as an advisor and mentor to Club Mariposas Atzitzintla and organized the 2014 Camp Mariposas.

Nicole received her B.S. in Natural Resources Management in May 2007 and her M.S. in Forest Resources from Clemson University in December 2008. Her background is in outreach and natural resource management. She currently works as an assistant manager at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX.

Laura Darman - Volunteer

Laura Darman provides legal counsel and governmental relations assistance to a range of clients at the law firm of Malkin & Ross. Laura focuses on the areas of health care, social services and state budget advocacy. Most recently, Laura served as General Counsel to Family Planning Advocates of New York State where she led the organization’s Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs Department. Previously, Laura was with Malkin & Ross representing clients in the healthcare and social services sector.

Laura received her B.A in Psychology, magna cum laude from Russell Sage College in May 2001, and her J.D., cum laude from Albany Law School in May 2003. Laura is committed to working to advance policies and ideas that will empower all people with a particular emphasis on ensuring that young women have access to opportunities that will help them enrich their lives.

Laura lives in Kinderhook, New York with her husband Jeremy. Laura enjoys gardening, cooking and traveling.

Ana Laura Flores Vázquez - Volunteer

Ana Laura Flores Vázquez is from San Pedro Cholula, México. She has her undergraduate degree in Economy, specializing in Public Policy and Gender.

Ana Laura founded the non-profit, ACTUAR, whose goal is to empower women through diverse civic and community-based developed projects. Since 2016, she has coordinated work in Xaxcamayo, Puebla, helping young women organize community workshops.

In her free time she enjoys listening to music, watching television, meeting new people and exploring new places.

Susana Serrano Espinosa - Volunteer

Susana has her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla. She was a scholarship recipient of the Taboada-Volkswagen Foundation Award.

Susana has worked as a consultant for non-profits and political organizations. Her primary role was developing projects that helped some of the most vulnerable populations in Puebla.

Now, she is one of the founding members and acting president of the non-profit, Actuare, which empowers women throughout the state of Puebla. She is also a member of the first generation from the “Escuela de Incidencia Política para Mujeres Líderes en el Estado de Puebla” (a political school focused on developing female leaders in the state of Puebla). Here, she is working on campaigns aimed at combatting violence against women. She is also part a cultural preservation organization called the, “Vigías del Patrimonio Cultural- Cholula (CONACULTA)”,  whose objective is to rescue and preserve traditional cultures and customs from the San Andrés and San Pedro Cholula municipalities.  

In 2016, Susana joined Mariposas in San José Xaxacmayo, where she supports the camp, eco fairs and other Mariposa activities.

In her free time she likes to be with her family and pets, to read, listen to music, watch soccer and swim.