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Kristin Van Busum

Founder & CEO

Kristin has over ten years of experience as a scholar and an advocate for resilient communities. She has worked in New York City on public health initiatives to prevent obesity, helped families in need in Mexico secure stable housing, and provided counseling to incarcerated women in Indiana. Prior to founding Project Alianza, she served as Manager of Health Advisory Services at RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank. Kristin has earned degrees from Butler University and New York University, and is a Fulbright Scholar. 


Amalia Castellanos Altamirano

Nicaraguan Country Director

Born in a remote community in Nueva Segovia and as a long-term resident of Matagalpa, Amalia knows the realities of farm life and rural educational structures in the coffeelands. Amalia brings a strong vision for promoting social mobility through action: she believes that real progress will be achieved by opening doors to economic and educational opportunities to the most vulnerable populations in Nicaragua, mainly women and children. Amalia has dedicated her life to being part of this change as a manager, educator, advocate and campaigner in social impact organizations, including Fundación Mujer y Desarrollo Económico Comunitario (FUMDEC) and Grupo Venancia.  Amalia has degrees in Sociology and Business Administration, from Universidad del Norte de Nicaragua and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, respectively.

Amalia leads the actions, programs and operations in Nicaragua to bring the vision of Project Alianza to life. She works to develop strategies and build relationships with farmers, families and children to do what she does best -- promote social change through educational opportunities. 


Analy Castillo

Head of Technology and Educators Network

Analy feels strongly that education is the most effective way to break social barries. Born in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, she has resided in Ciudad Dario since 2015. Analy earned a BA in Social Work and Development Management at UCA Central American University of Nicaragua (Managua campus) while working at "Hogar Mother Abertina" a center dedicated to the protection of children at risk located in the colonial city of Granada. Analy has worked on the Departmental Advisory Council in the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education and is currently a professor of Social Work at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, where she conveys to students the importance of making profound changes in education if we wish a brighter future for Nicaragua.

Analy leads Project Alianza's Literacy through Technology and the Rural Educators Network to help teachers re-imagine the classroom with alternative teaching methods and materials to create learning opportunities in low-resource rural communities.


Elizabeth Perez

lead teacher

Elizabeth is our team's lead teacher who works (and lives) on the front lines with kids living on coffee farms. She joined our team during summer 'harvest' camp in 2015, and through her overt passion and dedication quickly became a student favorite! Elizabeth creatively manages a one-room classroom by helping students develop problem-solving skills, compassion, respect for the environment and independence. Elizabeth is originally from a rural community in Matagalpa, and the second youngest in a family of six. Most of her siblings and friends did not go to school, so she understands the importance of a strong support network to make education accessible for kids in rural contexts. Elizabeth credits her siblings, especially one of her older brothers, as her main influence to work towards a career in education. She took a leap to pursue her dreams and in 2016, completed her teaching degree at Escuela Normal in Matagalpa. 

Elizabeth's is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Language and Literature on Saturdays. She believes that having an education is the most fundamental part in a human’s development, especially when it helps define the destiny of her beloved home country, Nicaragua.


Niki Hrusa Castillo

Princeton in Latin America Fellow

Niki understood from a very young age the importance of education as a means to create opportunities in a person’s life, especially in the developing world. A dual Honduras/USA citizen, Niki grew up in an agricultural town in southern Honduras. Lacking access to a good education system in her hometown, Niki moved to the capital, Tegucigalpa, in search of better opportunities. Niki developed her passion for the development of education systems while studying in São Paulo, Brazil and through hands-on experience working on infrastructure and teaching strategies with rural primary schools around Tegucigalpa. Her research experience includes exploring the affect of religious affiliations on school curricula and community attitudes towards education. Niki is a graduate of Vassar College where she majored in International Studies with an emphasis on political science and education, while maintaining a regional concentration on Latin America. 

Niki aims to help Project Alianza improve impact by collaborating with teachers on education programming, developing a monitoring and evaluation strategy and managing creative outreach and communications. She was awarded a Princeton in Latin America Fellowship in 2016.