meet the team

At the intersection of heart and mind are Esperanza employees. Our leadership team combines private sector experience with compassion for the poor. We bring marketplace best practices to the management of nonprofit operations and strive to glorify God through tangible care for his people.

Dominican Republic

Alex Nuñez

Chief Executive Officer

Prior to working at Esperanza, Alex worked in a major government defense company for 11 years. She began serving in Esperanza in March 2012 as the Vice President of Public Affairs and Caribbean Investment prior to taking on her new role in February 2014. Alex received her MBA from Belhaven College, a B.S. from Eastern Mennonite University, and graduated from the Lifework Leadership Program in 2012. Alex was asked to join the Board of Directors in December 2014.

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Pedro Castillo

Finance & Administration Manager

Pedro Castillo holds a Bachelor Degree in Commercial Education with an emphasis in Accounting from the School of Accounting and an Associate Degree in Business Education from Dominican World University. He has more than 40 years working in community organizations of which 9 of these years have been with Esperanza International.

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Nelly Ulerio

Microfinance Manager

Nelly has more than 15 years of experience in microfinance in the Dominican Republic. She earned degrees in both accounting and education. Nelly identifies with Esperanza’s love for Jesus and wants to focus on serving impoverished communities.

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Eliana Ponserrate

Coordinator of Non-Financial Services

Eliana has a degree in Clinical Psychology. She has worked for Esperanza since 2016, performing several functions and serving in various roles. Today, she serves as Coordinator of Non-Financial Services. Her passion is for others to know about Jesus’ love in an integral way.

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United States

Dave Valle

Founder

Dave is a former MLB player; he played for the Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers during his 13-year professional career. Dave was a color commentator for the Seattle Mariners TV and radio broadcasts, and since 2007, he has co-hosted the post game show on the Mariners’ radio network. He was also named the manager of the Everett Aquasox, an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, for the 2014 season. In 1995, Dave founded Esperanza International together with his wife Victoria.

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Melinda Clark

Director of Development

Melinda was raised in Argentina, earned her undergraduate degree in Wisconsin, and has focused her professional career on positioning vulnerable populations to flourish. With a degree in Home and Family Studies, graduate credential in Christian Non-Profit Leadership, and MBA in progress, she has held leadership positions in multiple sectors. For almost a decade Melinda served as CEO of a faith-based non-profit in Colorado, where she spearheaded marketing campaigns, cultivated meaningful donor partnerships, and managed two capital campaigns and a complete re-branding process. Melinda is a passionate leader, communicator, mentor, and most of all, a woman who deeply loves God, her family, and the community of faith. Melinda and her family live in the Lancaster, PA area (with their emotional Lhasa Apso and a bunny named Maggie) where she enjoys good coffee, hikes, and the beautiful chaos of advocating for people in hard places to thrive.

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Ashley Howard

Regional Representative

Ashley is a graduate from Baylor University having received her Masters in Social Work with a certificate in Christian Ministry and Religion. Ashley has a background in public policy, having worked at the Texas Capitol in nonprofit advocacy and policy development. She has completed The Initiative Network’s 72 Training Program in the Dallas area, is a Reading Buddy to elementary-aged children, and serves as a Dallas CASA. Ashley served alongside Youth With A Mission in the Dominican Republic while in college and runs a small hand-lettering business during her free time. Ashley joined the Esperanza International team in 2017 and is passionate about empowering the poor through sustainable, life-giving opportunities.

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Dave Valle

Founder

Dave Valle cofounded Esperanza International in 1995 with his wife, Victoria after playing winter baseball in the Dominican Republic and seeing the needs of the children on the island. Dave is a former Major League baseball player for the Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and Texas Rangers from 1984 to 1996. In 2000, Dave was asked to become the President and CEO of Esperanza and has grown the loan program to 235,000 loans disbursed, totaling more than $74 million dollars. During that time, both the school and water loan programs were implemented.

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Toby Kilgore

Chairman of the Board

Toby Kilgore is an experienced business leader with an extensive track record of over 25 years working with leading domestic and international institutions to successfully address core issues of strategic focus and differentiation, operating model effectiveness and scalability, and organizational alignment and transformation. Toby received an MBA from Harvard University, and a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt University, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Toby was a partner at A.T. Kearney where he had various responsibilities, including Co-Head of the North America Financial Institutions Group and lead partner on a number of key accounts. Toby also held senior positions at Bank of America and in PwC’s Strategy Consulting Group. From 2005 through early 2017, Toby was a partner in the Strategy and Operations practice of Deloitte Consulting. Firm leadership roles included Deloitte’s Australian banking consulting practice leader and advisory board member of the Deloitte Center for Banking Solutions.

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Alex Nuñez

Chief Executive Officer

Prior to working at Esperanza, Alex worked in a major government defense company for 11 years. She began serving with Esperanza in March 2012 as the Vice President of Public Affairs and Caribbean Investment prior to taking becoming Director in February 2014. Alex received her MBA from Belhaven College, a B.S. from Eastern Mennonite University, and graduated from the Lifework Leadership Program in 2012. Alex joined the Esperanza Board of Directors in December 2014.

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Cheryl Hunter

Board Member

Cheryl received a BS degree in Education from the University of Minnesota. She began her career teaching in the Minneapolis school system, With 45 years of experience in the restaurant industry, she was a franchisee for Dairy Queen and McDonald’s and was a Director for McDonald’s Corporation. Currently, Cheryl is living out her life’s mission: trusting in the Lord to use her skills to encourage and influence business people who desire to become all God has called them to be, while providing for their families through impacting their community and God’s Kingdom. She has four children, three of whom are adopted and have great stories about how they came into her family.

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David Wasik

Board Member

David is a partner at 2nd Order Solutions, a credit risk advisory firm that consults to banks and lenders worldwide. Previously, David worked for HOPE International, a partner of Esperanza. As the vice president of operations, he led HOPE’s network of credit and savings programs. David graduated from Duke University with a degree in mechanical engineering, then worked for Capital One Bank for 17 years. At Capital One he served in a variety of leadership roles in operations, marketing, product development, and credit management. David lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Jennifer and two children.

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Jerameel Rosario

Board Member

Jerameel is an executive coach and trainer, specializing in leadership and team development through his firm Achieve Consulting Group. He also leads Crown Financial Ministries in his home country, Dominican Republic, serving as personal finances and career coach. Jerameel holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from UNPHU University and master’s degree in Executive Management from INTEC University. Certified Master Trainer of the Career Direct® career orientation system for the Spanish market. Father of three and loving husband to one for more than 20 years.

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Scott Olson

Board Member

Scott Olson began his legal career at Andrews Kurth, LLP, as an Associate; was a Managing Partner at Larson King, LLP; then founded the Dallas office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, an international law firm, and assumed the role of Managing Shareholder of that office. Beginning in 2006, Scott took on the role of advisor and/or investor in a variety of business opportunities, including serving as Managing Director of an asset-based hedge fund from 2006-2009.

Currently, Scott is the CEO of Pathway Healthcare, a national owner and operator of outpatient addiction and mental health clinics. He is also a Partner with Turtle Creek Holdings, a 22-year-old investment partnership focusing on private equity and venture capital investments. Turtle Creek Holdings is a founding investor in Pathway Healthcare.

Scott attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham and holds a JD from Vanderbilt Law School. Before college, Scott served our country in the USAF. He is committed to philanthropic involvement and to his church and serves on a number of ministry boards. Scott has been married to Erin since 2000, and they have three children.

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Elie Lafortune

Board Member

Elie is an Executive with nearly 20 years of experience. He has managed teams in humanitarian and development programs to meet complex needs of individuals, businesses, NGOs, and Government Agencies, with experiences across the globe, especially in Haiti and Africa.

He began his career with the Central Bank of Haiti (BRH) and has with Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) around Micro-Finance and Financial-Inclusion initiatives. He is a partner of the Haiti Venture Impact Partners and has significant experience in supporting the development of local grassroots non-profit organizations.

Mr. Lafortune holds a BS from the State University of Haiti’s School of Agriculture, a MBA from the Simon Business School of the University of Rochester, and a MPA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Elie resides in Petion Ville, Haiti, with his wife Katarina and two young kids, Samuel and Esther. They can often be found enjoying Haiti’s magnificent beaches or far off in Eastern Europe.

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