Who We Are

Vision

To see the Ixil region flourish through Christ-centered education.

Mission

Empowering Mayan youth to break the generational cycle of poverty in the Ixil region of Guatemala through Christ-centered education.

The values that guide all we do are:

  • Serving Christ through Loving Others. Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NIV
  • Building Relationships. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” NIV
  • Hope. Psalm 9:18 “But God will never forget the needy: the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” NIV
  • Compassion. Psalm 72:12-14 “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” NIV
  • Justice and Equity. Micah 6:8 “The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must act with justice. You must love to show mercy. And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God.”
  • Integrity. 1 Chronicles 29:17 “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” NIV
  • Stewardship and Transparency. 1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” NIV

Board of Directors

Al Lopus

President/Board Chair Emeritus

Al Lopus

President/Board Chair Emeritus
With over 30 years of expertise in human resources, Al Lopus has established himself as an authority on creating flourishing work cultures. As the Co-Founder and Board Chair of Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCW), his book Road to Flourishing: Eight Keys to Boost Employee Engagement and Well-Being digs into the question of what makes a flourishing workplace. He is also a sought-after speaker and consultant whose insights are featured through BCW's podcast, The Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast. Before establishing BCW, he spent 21 years at a global HR consulting firm where he held various leadership roles – making him one of today’s most reliable sources for creating thriving workplaces! Al has a heart for missions. He co-founded and now serves as President/Chairman Emeritus for Nicolás Fund For Education. Al enjoys spending quality moments with his beloved wife, Kathy, and two adult daughters while also being a member at Encounter Church.

Becci Merritt

President and Board Chairman

Becci Merritt

President and Board Chairman
Becci owns her own business as an RN case manager in the field of workers’ compensation. Becci , a multi-trip veteran, began travelling to the Ixil in 1997 and is an ardent supporter of education for Ixil region students as a way to escape poverty.

Kathy Riper

Director, Donor Engagement

Kathy Riper

Director, Donor Engagement
"I am grateful that God would call me to the work that NFE is doing in the Ixil region since 2001. I taught ice skating for 36 years to competitive and recreational students. I volunteered with Agros International for 16 years. My passion now is to help my dear friends. and new friends in the Ixil region of Guatemala have the opportunity to receive a higher education that they would not otherwise receive beyond the government provided primary school education through just the sixth grade."

Carrie Nordberg

Director

Carrie Nordberg

Director
Carrie Nordberg graduated from The University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. She also earned a certificate in Specialty Desserts and Artisan Breads from Seattle Central Community College. Carrie spent 17 years volunteering and working at the Crisis Clinic, a 24-hour suicide hotline based in Seattle, as both a phone worker and Crisis Intervention Specialist. She currently works in the Admissions office of the Bear Creek School and as a summer swim coach. Carrie serves as a volunteer on the drama team at her church and has been to Baja, Mexico and the Ixil, Guatemala for mission trips. A lifelong resident of the Northwest, Carrie lives in Bellevue with her husband Sean, four kids ages 6-19 and dog, Banjo. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, working out, doing puzzles, hanging out with friends, and playing games with her kids.

Mary Young

Director

Mary Young

Director
Mary fervently believes education is fundamental to ending the cycle of poverty. Helping the less fortunate achieve financial independence is key to building a viable local economy. Learning science, math, technology, literature, history, languages, and trade skills enriches students’ lives, equips them to achieve self-reliance, financially support themselves and their families, and contribute to their community.

During her visits to Guatemala’s Ixil Region, Mary has been touched by the warmth of the people and the appreciation they express for the help provided by the Nicolás Fund for Education. Mary has lived in the Pacific Northwest for 40 years and currently works for an international software company.










Lolo Levy

Treasurer

Lolo Levy

Treasurer
Lolo is passionate about breaking the cycle of poverty with the rural poor and has been on multiple service team trips to Guatemala. Lolo was a CPA in public accounting and various large corporations, and now is a financial consultant helping individuals with accounting needs.



Bill Safstrom

Vice-Chair and Academic Committee Chair

Bill Safstrom

Vice-Chair and Academic Committee Chair
Bill Safstrom has extensive experience as a teacher and principal in Christian schools. Bill earned a M.Ed from Seattle Pacific University. Bill and his wife, Janet, have three children and live in Woodinville, Washington. He currently works in teacher education at Seattle Pacific University. He has worked with teachers and students in the Ixil region of Guatemala since the beginning of the Nicolas Fund for Education.

Heidi Reynolds Ph.D.

Director

Heidi Reynolds Ph.D.

Director
Heidi Reynolds is a Materials Science Engineering Consultant, specializing in STEM education and project management. In addition, she has extensive industry experience with practical work in electronic and optoelectronic packaging and materials characterization techniques and expertise in failure analysis. Her work typically involves resolving a broad range of materials issues, working with multiple disciplines to solve technical problems. Heidi earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Science in Materials Science Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Heidi is passionate about empowering students to dream big, encouraging them to boldly follow God’s path for their lives.

Paul Selvig

Director

Paul Selvig

Director
Paul Selvig is an accomplished graduate of the University of Washington who currently holds the position of IT Manager for a renowned international early childhood education company. However, his true passion lies in breaking the cycle of poverty in the Ixil Triangle region of Guatemala through education, particularly through the impactful efforts of the Nicolas Fund for Education. Paul's dedication stems from a life-changing trip to Guatemala in 2000, which he has since revisited multiple times with his wife and two sons, all of whom have joined Nicolas Fund for Education teams. In his free time, Paul enjoys reading, running, and all things soccer, including playing, refereeing, and cheering from the sidelines. Based in Woodinville, he is making a difference in the world.

Guatemalan Staff

Ivan Espana

National Director - Guatemala

Ivan Espana

National Director - Guatemala
I have a Mechanical Industrial Engineering degree, have completed my MBA, and have a B.S. in Theology. I have a certification in Leadership from the John Maxwell Team. I define myself as a worshipper, a preacher and a teacher for the past 35 years. I love seeing people transformed by the love of Jesus. I started going to the Ixil in 2001 and God spoke to me in a vision to work with the poor people in my country. I began working for Nicolás Fund for Education in December 2010. I am most satisfied when I contribute my talents to the NFE students and their families. Being the National Director for NFE is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.