As we enter a new year, we are thrilled to announce the addition of six new members to our Board of Directors at EOS International, two of whom are longtime staff members and Country Directors. Diana Calix (Co-founder and Honduran Country Director) and Alvaro Rodriguez (Co-founder and Nicaraguan Country Director) have accepted invitations to join the board in December of 2020. While both Alvaro and Diana have always had a strong voice at EOS, we wanted to formalize their role as an integral part of our Board of Directors and amplify their voice.
When EOS began over ten years ago, Alvaro Rodriguez, three US-based engineers, and I formed a grassroots organization, in daily contact with our clients and partners. Alvaro and I were able to make quick decisions and adjust our strategy to meet the needs of our neighbors in Nicaragua. We would debate and plan out projects over a cup of coffee and a plate of gallo pinto (rice and beans). The demand for our technical innovations grew quickly by word-of-mouth. With Alvaro and I as the only ‘staff’ in the field sharing a single motorcycle… things were simpler back then.
Throughout the last ten years, our board, staff, and volunteer base has grown significantly to support our organization with a strong focus of US operations to fundraise support in order to increase the impact that we can make in Nicaragua and Honduras. Our US-based board has mirrored this focus, emphasizing fundraising objectives, alongside responsibilities for programming and governance. Reflecting on the board composition over the past decade, EOS has often aspired to add Central American board members, but we were never able to find the “right” time to bring local programmatic expertise to an English-speaking, US-centric board culture. The board became accustomed to speaking “about” Central America, without necessarily speaking directly “with” Central Americans.
While Alvaro and Diana were not members of the board in the past, they have both participated in previous board meetings and have been an integral part of our team, managing day-to-day operations in Nicaragua and Honduras, respectively. The co-founders have always had a strong voice in decision-making and management strategy, however they have never had a vote in board-level policy.
It’s safe to say that 2020 taught us a lot about the importance of diverse, inclusive, and equitable leadership. The aftermath of George Floyd’s death this past summer right in our own backyard, the Twin Cities, shocked us at EOS. While our organization expresses support and solidarity with movements for racial and social justice, we recognize our responsibility to fight injustice, intolerance and oppression within our institutions, businesses, communities, and organizations.
Here at EOS, it’s been a time to reflect on our own values and beliefs in equity, inclusion, and anti-oppression. EOS’ core mission is to empower rural families in Central America with access to safe drinking water and opportunities to generate income through simple technology solutions and education. To achieve this, it is critical that Central Americans have a formal role in strategic decision-making and leadership at every level in our organization, including within our Board of Directors. It is only natural that Alvaro and Diana would be EOS’s first Central American board members, and we look forward to our newly-bilingual board meetings in 2021 and beyond, as we strive to prioritize deeper accountability to the communities where we work.
In the coming months and years, EOS will continue to highlight the perspectives and leadership of our field staff and the families we serve. We will continue to model inclusive, bottom-up leadership, centering the voices and experiences of those most impacted by our work, empowering beneficiaries to guide benefactors in transformational innovation at scale. Our mission remains vital to the communities where we work and we pledge to model relational accountability in our leadership structure and board composition, while providing our partners and donors the transparency they’ve come to expect and appreciate over the past decade.
We welcome your feedback and ideas for how to live our mission into practice and we are thrilled to have Alvaro and Diana’s voices and votes at the center of our organizational decision-making going forward.