Board of Directors
Erica Thompson - President
In the summer of 1997 I accepted a position with the US Peace Corps in Guayaquil, Ecuador where I lived and worked for three years. Upon return to the United States in the fall of 2000, I started seminary in Princeton, NJ. I am currently the Associate Pastor at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, CT.
My husband Brian and I were married on January 14, 2007 in Ecuador, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and we are the parents of two wonderful little girls, Maya and Noelle who bring more joy to our lives than we thought possible!
The chorus of one of my favorite song says, "All it takes is a point of light, a ray of hope in the darkest night. If you see what's wrong and you try to make it right, you become a point of light." I believe that I am called to be a point of light in the world, and for the last 15 years I have enjoyed working with the people of Guasmo Sur.
Linda Smith - Vice President
Linda has a degree in Dental Hygiene from Fones School of Hygiene at the University of Bridgeport and has worked as a hygienist for 45 years. Her career in hygiene began as a VISTA volunteer at Riverside Indian Boarding School in Anadarko, Oklahoma in 1967 and continues with the yearly dental projects in Guasmo Sur.
She was youth director at First Congregational Church of Branford for 18 years and started the Adopta una Familia mission projects to Ecuador in 1999.
She retired in 2009 and began spending the summers in Ecuador preparing for and working on the projects.
Laurie Parsons - Secretary
Laurie has been a HR professional for over 14 years and is currently the HR lead for a new site development in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area for MetLife's Global Technology & Operations organization. She received her Bachelor's degree from Boston College and MBA from NYU. She lives in Apex, NC with her husband Dan and 2 year old son Ryan.
Laurie joined the AUF Board in 2013 with much excitement. She joined her first work trip in 2000 and after many project trips and celebratory trips she has seen AUF grow in size, intensify focus and achieve great milestones since that time. Laurie is proud to be part of the team helping to shape the future and continued success of this unique and vital organization.
Bonnie Ballantyne - Treasurer
Bonnie Ballantyne is Director of Finance at NeighborWorks New Horizons in New Haven, CT. Bonnie provides leadership and support to all areas of the organization’s accounting and administrative divisions. She is a CPA and Financial Manager with extensive experience in P&L management, auditing and compliance, grants, contracts, budgeting and financial reporting. She holds a BS in Accounting from Quinnipiac University.
In her free time, Bonnie has served as Treasurer for various organizations, most recently The Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival, The Connecticut Swing Dance Society and North Branford Congregational Church. She also volunteers time at the annual Guilford Library book sale.
She participated in the Adopta Una Familia project in 2008 after traveling to Guayaquil with her organization in 2007. In October 2010, she provided a QuickBooks overview to the Mi Cometa staff during a three day seminar at Casa Grande University.
Jack Clarkson is a workers’ compensation defense lawyer who practices in Hartford. He holds a BA in Religion and Greek from Connecticut College and a JD from the University of Connecticut. He is a former EMT and longtime ski patroller with a lifelong interest in emergency medicine.
Jack’s interest in AUF began in 2013 when his son, Graham, traveled to Guasmo as a volunteer. Jack joined Graham for the 2014 building project and two have now made three trips together. Jack joined the AUF Board in 2016 and sits on the Building Committee.
Chris is a High School Mathematics teacher in Malden, MA. He graduated from Boston University in 2010 with a BS in Mathematics Education.
Chris first became aware of Adopta Una Familia as the member of the First Congregational Church of Branford, CT, where he grew up. He went on his first trip with the project in 2005. Since then, he has served as a summer intern with the CASF program twice, in 2008 nd 2011, as well as worked with the dental mission in 2012.
Stephanie Hackett is a physician assistant who works in a pediatric HIV clinic in Atlanta, GA. She also serves as the International Operations Director of Safe Mothers Safe Babies, a community-based maternal and child health organization serving southeast Uganda. She obtained her Masters of Public Health in Global Health from Emory University as well as her Masters in Medical Science from the Emory University Physician Assistant Program.
Stephanie first traveled to Guasmo in 2004 and has since returned nearly every year. She was a summer intern during CASF's inaugural year and has since utilized her background in health to provide basic first aid education, support the first dental project, complete a community needs assessment, provide free health screenings, and support the creation of a diabetes support group.
Stephanie currently lives in Atlanta with her husband Ryan and their dog and cat.
Betsy has undergraduate degrees from Tufts University and Boston University. She received her Master’s degree and midwifery education from Yale University in 1984. She worked as a midwife in a private practice in the New Haven area for more than 30 years, welcoming more than 2500 babies into the world.
She was a member of the first group to go to Guasmo in 1999 and has participated in seven projects since then. Her trips to Guasmo have involved not only construction work, but also women’s health care, family planning clinics and diabetes screening.
Betsy is webmaster of this AUF web page, is editor of our newsletters, and is Chair of the Marketing Committee.
Christine is a high school ESL teacher in Wallingford, Connecticut. She holds a BA in Spanish and English from the University of Connecticut and a Masters of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Fairfield University.
Christine first learned about AUF in 2002 and has participated in nine building projects since her first trip. She was also a summer intern during CASF’s inaugural year. Christine's work with the CASF program influenced her decision to study education and become an ESL teacher in the United States. She joined the AUF Board of Directors in 2016 and is currently serving as the Education Committee Chair.
Erin Peterson is a clinical social worker at Boston Medical Center (BMC)’s pediatric and adolescent primary care clinics. She has worked with children, adolescents and their families for the past 3 years at BMC. Erin received her BA in Sociology with a concentration in Social Work from Saint Anselm College (SAC) in 2003. She volunteered with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Syracuse, NY the year after she graduated from SAC. Erin graduated with a Masters Degree in Social Work from Bridgewater State College in 2008. Erin has previously worked in a variety of settings including, a community center running programs for refugee youth and families, in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities and as an intensive family supports coordinator for families with children with developmental disabilities. She is a licensed independent clinical social worker in Massachusetts and has been trained in critical incident debriefing.
Erin has participated in the Adopta Una Familia Project for the past 8 years with her husband. AUF has changed Erin’s life in so many ways. In fact in 2011 she and her husband had a second wedding ceremony with their Ecuadorian families.
My connection to the Guasmo Sur community started at age 14 when I began participating annually in the Adopta Una Familia building projects. In 2007, upon graduating from UVM, I moved to Ecuador with the hopes of starting an educational program for students in the community. I took an existing scholarship program and expanded it to include a tutoring and mentoring component for students k-12 and created a work study program for select college bound students. The result was a program called Creacion de Alumnos Sin Fronteras (CASF). We have been working for 7 years in conjunction with the organization Mi Cometa.
In 2008, while living in Guayaquil, I met my husband Carlos. We were married in 2011 and in March of 2013 we relocated to the United States.
I joined the AUF Inc. board of directors in 2013. We’ve come a long way in 15 years but there is still work to be done and I look forward as we fulfill our mission to serve the people of Guasmo.
David was born and raised in the Hartford, Connecticut area. David currently lives in Tolland, CT with his wife, Patience. He attended the University of Connecticut where he received his BS in Accounting in 1985. He started his career as a CPA in Hartford and has worked in Connecticut his entire career. David is currently a business owner and finance executive for a manufacturing business in Waterbury, CT. David is a member of Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. He has served as a deacon at the church and as a member of the finance and administration committee.
David became active with AUF in 2013. He has traveled to Guasmo three times along with his daughter, Courtney and son, Josh. He and his family have participated in the building projects and have actively participated in the fundraising activities for AUF, Inc. David has established an extremely strong bond with his Ecuadorian family and sponsors children from the family in the CASF education program.
Hannah is in her third year of graduate school at Harvard Divinity School pursuing a Masters of Divinity. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in faith baed non-profit management, specifically focusing on ensuring women’s equality and eliminating gender violence through community advocacy and education.
Hannah first travelled to Guasmo Sur with AUF in the summer of 2008, and her life was forever changed. The next two summers, she served as a Teaching Intern in the CASF Program, and returned as an AUF Board member consultant in the summer of 2014. She is passionate about AUF Inc.’s sustainable impact in Guasmo Sur and is excited to see the organization continue to grow in the coming years!
Meg worked in financial services for 15 years, most recently as an Executive Director in Business Management for JPMorgan Chase & Co in Manhattan. She received her undergraduate degree from Boston College, and her MBA in Finance from Fordham University. In 2013 Meg left her career to be a full time mom and support Teape Training International.
Meg first visited Erica in Ecuador, prior to the initial AUF project, in 1999 and became familiar with the Guasmo Sur community and was instantly driven to commit to the future of the organization. After eight building projects and many other trips to Ecuador for celebrations, Meg is thrilled to be on the board of the newly formed AUF, Inc.
Beth Vossler has been involved with AUF mission trips since 2008. She is grateful to have shared the AUF experience with her three children: Robb, Sarah, and Molly, and hopes her husband, Chris, can some day meet her family and friends in Guasmo Sur.
Beth has been an active member of Asylum Hill Congregational Church for more than 20 years.
She enjoys working as a school nurse at Conard High School in West Hartford, CT. Beth received a BSN from the University of Vermont and an MSN from Yale University.