Sean McKaughan
Chair of the Board

Charlie OxenfordSean McKaughan has over 20 years of experience in the field of sustainable development, primarily in Latin America. He is Chair of Fundación Avina’s board of directors and a member of the board of its sister organization WTT (World-Transforming Technologies).

Mr. McKaughan has been with Avina since 1998. Before being named as Chair, he led Avina’s executive team for seven years. He became chief operating officer in 2006, and was tapped as chief executive officer and board member in 2007. During his time at Avina, Mr. McKaughan has been a champion and global advocate for inclusive business, efforts to combat deforestation, social innovation networks, and the promotion of sustainability in Latin America and throughout the world. He was one of the main architects of the strategy and implementation of Avina programs in Brazil.

Mr. McKaughan holds master’s degrees in Urban Planning and in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before beginning his work with Avina, he collaborated with institutions such as Brazil’s Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade.

Mr. McKaughan is married with two children. He divides his time between Austin, Texas and Rio de Janeiro.

Brizio Biondi-Morra

Brizio Biondi-MorraDr. Biondi-Morra is the former President of Fundación Avina. He is the former Chair of FUNDES, which promotes small and medium enterprise (SME) development in ten Latin American countries, as well as the Chair of INCAE, the leading Latin American business school with campuses in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Dr. Biondi-Morra graduated with a doctoral degree in Business Administration from Harvard University and also earned a Ph.D. in Economics from Bocconi University in Italy. In his professional career, he has been a management consultant at Arthur D. Little in Cambridge, Massachusetts, founded a chemical company in New York and worked in marketing for E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. in Europe.

Dr. John C. Ickis

John IckisDr. Ickis is a former Dean and Professor of Business Administration at INCAE, the top-ranked business school in Latin America. He holds a Doctorate of Business Administration and an MBA from Harvard University. He has published numerous articles and cases on social management topics in journals such as The Harvard Business Review and World Development, and is coauthor of Beyond Bureaucracy: Strategic Management of Social Development.

Dr. Ickis has held the positions of President of J.E. Austin Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm specializing in economic and social development, and Chief-of-Party of the Croatian Competitiveness Initiative. His recent activities have focused upon the promotion of competitiveness in emerging economies through entrepreneurial activity. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer, a Soweto, South Africa Honorary Citizen and appears in the International Who´s Who of Professionals, Who´s Who in the World and Who´s Who in Finance and Industry.

Katherine Marshall

Katherine MarshallMrs. Marshall has held international development responsibilities for more than three decades, focusing on issues facing the world’s poorest countries. She is a Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, speaking and publishing widely on development issues. She is a Trustee of Princeton University, where she earned her master’s and MPA. She served as a senior advisor for the World Bank from 1971-2006 on a range of assignments, particularly in Africa. She is a board member for several NGOs and works on a number of advisory groups, among which are the Core Group for the Council of 100, an initiative of the World Economic Forum; the Council on Foreign Relations; and the International Development Ethics Association. She has been involved in the creation and development of the World Faiths Development Dialogue as the Executive Director. She co-moderates the Fes Forum, part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music.

Larry H. Slesinger

Mr. Slesinger is an executive search consultant with Slesinger Management Services, recruiting key leadership and management positions for nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC area. He graduated with an MBA from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College. He has extensive experience with nonprofit management, currently serving as an administrator for the Foundation for Management Education in Central America, which assists the highly-regarded business graduate school, INCAE. Mr. Slesinger formerly served as the VP of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Special Assistant to the President of the Inter-American Foundation, Program Officer of the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation and VP of BoardSource. He is the author of The Search: Winning Strategies to Get Your Next Job in the Nonprofit World, Self-Assessment for Nonprofit Governing Boards and co-author of the first edition of A Snapshot of America’s Nonprofit Boards: Results of a National Survey.

Valeria Scorza
Executive Director

Jessie Petrini
Grants and Operations Officer

Jessie joined Avina Americas in April 2014 to support the organization’s expanding portfolio of Allies in the field. She grew up in Maryland and holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Maryland. She also holds a master’s degree in Sociology/Demography from Fordham University where she was the Rogler Fellow for Latin American and Latino Studies. Currently, Jessie is studying to obtain her MBA from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining Avina Americas, Jessie worked to close the achievement gap for Hispanic high school students as well as ran an advocacy campaign for children in New York.