A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to celebrate a couple of milestones.
In the Dominican Republic I bade farewell to two of our longest serving employees, and welcomed another to a position of leadership.
Carlos Disla, who has been the director of our local partner, Floresta Incorporada for the last fourteen years, retires having led the organization through tremendous growth and change. When Carlos became director, we were serving about 350 families in the central Dominican Republic. Under his tenure, we moved away from more traditional microfinance to savings groups. Fully integrating savings groups into the program allowed us to significantly scale up work, while concentrating in key watersheds. Today, thanks to the leadership Carlos provided, we work with nearly 5000 families in three distinct geographical regions.
Estela (Felicita) Rodriguez, who has been a part of the Plant With Purpose family for 28 years, is retiring after a long and faithful career. She has been running many of our credit and savings programs and successfully oversaw the transformation from microcredit to the more efficient and appropriate savings program.
She is one of only two people who have been involved with Plant With Purpose/Floresta for longer than I have, and I still remember her warmth and kindness on my first visit to the Dominican Republic in early 1993. She will be sorely missed.
Finally, we welcome Durbel Lora Brito, our longtime Agroecology Director into the role of Executive Director. Durbel has been a colleague and friend for nineteen years. In addition to his degree in agronomy he has also earned an MBA, and perhaps most importantly brings tremendous spiritual depth and compassion for the farmers we serve. However, I really glimpsed the depth of Durbel’s character in 2012 when I brought my family to the Dominican Republic: