NPH and iLEAP: Providing Professional and Personal Development Opportunities to Hermanos Mayores and NPH Staff


What happens when you invest in the lives of youth who know hardship personally and have experienced suffering and great loss in their young lives? When you meet their basic needs, give them opportunity and surround them with a family who cares?

With over 60 years of experience, NPH shows that as adults many use their education, skills and up-close understanding of the need in their communities to become strong leaders of positive change.


Luz de Maria Lopez Vigil from NPH El Salvador presents her Applied Leadership Project and cumulative learnings after 4 weeks in the iLEAP Global Leadership Program for NPH. Photo was taken on July 2, 2015 at the graduation ceremony by Chip Rountree.

These ‘hermanos mayores’, or ‘older brothers and sisters’, are no longer under the direct care of NPH, but once they become part of the family they stay part of the family. They have become independent, strong and inspiring professionals. Many decide to work for NPH and take on leadership roles in the homes.

The NPHI Family Services team and supporters strive to invest in these leaders and provide unique professional development opportunities for them. From this effort arose the idea to partner with iLEAP, a Seattle-based, international organization designed to provide professional development opportunities and inspire leaders to ignite social change around the world.

John DeBlasio, founder of the Global Peace and Development (GPD) Charitable Trust and major supporter of NPH youth development and leadership programs for many years, shares one of the reasons he chose to invest in the NPH – iLEAP partnership.

“iLEAP has a strong track-record of developing social entrepreneurs from around the world.  Father Wasson was, among many things, an entrepreneur.  He was an innovative leader and inspired the creation of NPH, an organization which continues to thrive in his absence.  I see iLEAP as a resource for helping to develop the next generation of NPH leaders so they can develop into a modern version of the social entrepreneur that Father Wasson was.”

Caitlin Terashima, the Global Programs Coordinator of iLEAP, explains how the partnership developed, “I think after meeting, both organizations saw a common vision and a way of working together that could really align with both of our missions. We worked closely with Donna Egge (Director of NPHI Family Services) who approached us about creating a program specifically for NPH staff and hermanos mayores, who had a strong desire to work for NPH in the future.”

Soon after, ten participants arrived from El Salvador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Honduras, all NPH staff and/or hermanos mayores and spanning fields such as law, nursing and administration. They were chosen from an extensive list of applicants to leave their posts in June for a month of personal and professional development in the new program they named as ‘iLEAP Global Leadership Program for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos’.

With the goal of developing leadership and igniting growth within each participant, the group participated in seminars and reflection, visited socially innovative businesses, received one-on-one coaching, and designed an applied leadership project to implement in their home countries.


The 10 iLEAP Global Leadership Program participants (with Donna Egge, Director of Family Services) from Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos receive certificates of completion at the iLEAP Graduation Ceremony on July 2, 2015. (front, left to right: Donna Egge, Ricardo Velasco, Sandra Baca, Luz de Maria Lopez Vigil, Denis Morales, Miriam Garcia, Karina Rodriguez) (back, left to right: Hugo Ocampo, Yonel Posadas, Kenson Kaas, Christian Cruz)

The hermanos mayores and NPH staff arrived at this workshop already incredibly talented and skilled professionals, but their growth over the years and in the iLEAP workshop is inspiring.  John DeBlasio shares, “As I watch some of the Hermanos Mayores develop, it’s clear to me they have the intelligence and capacity to become very successful by any measure.  What I notice and inspires me is that they begin to develop real confidence in addition to their capabilities, which is key to fully actualizing their potential.”

Martha Karina Rodríguez Herrera was one of the participant of the iLEAP program . She is an hermana mayor from Mexico who became part of the NPH family at the age of 11, graduated from university, and is now 24, working as the Assistant Director of Public Relations and Fundraising at an NPH home in Matamoros, Mexico. She reflects on her month with iLEAP:


left to right: Martha Karina Rodríguez Herrera from Mexico, Caitlin Terashima (iLEAP Global Programs Coordinator), Yonel Posadas from Honduras

“At the end of the program I noticed a great difference in me; this experience has helped me identify that I truly am a leader, and the type of leader I am and want to be in the future.

I learned to value myself, to be okay with myself and how to best develop my skills and activities. To be able to inspire others so that they can be leaders not only in the community but in the country. I learned to listen and share in a different way and to be open in a spiritual way and empathetic with all people.

I believe in myself and I know that if I do a little day after day, I can achieve great results.”

On behalf of the Family Services team, supporters and entire NPH family, we believe in you too!

All Photos taken by Chip Rountree

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