Our Team

erica

Founders 

Erica McElroy

Dr. Erica McElroy, D.O.

Founder and Executive Director

Erica has a passion for helping people. She has been serving the rural communities of central Pennsylvania as an Emergency Medicine physician through the Geisinger Health System since 2005. Erica has spent many years involved in medical mission work abroad, beginning her work in Guatemala in the year 2000, and spending four years organizing and conducting medical missions partnered with Show Hope in China, which provided greatly needed surgeries for medical needs orphans. Erica began working on the Casa Materna Project two years ago when the Christ Wesleyan Church, who has worked in the region for 17 years, approached her regarding the local need for improved pregnancy and delivery care in the region. Using the proven methods of the Curamericas Casa Maternas in northwest Guatemala, she began the development of a Casa Materna in San Juan la Laguna in 2015. She lives in Danville, PA with her husband and four children.

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Dr. Jessica B. Oliveira DMS, MSPA-C

Co-Founder and Medical Director

Dr. Jessica is currently a Family Medicine Physician Assistant at FIU Herbert Wertheim's College of Medicine NeighborhoodHELP, working in a household-centered community health program addressing the social determinants of health to improve the well-being of underserved communities in Miami-Dade.  Her specific interest has always been in community health development with a focus on household centered care, women’s health and health literacy. Dr. Jessica has been an advocate for women and underserved communities globally and has worked abroad as a medical volunteer with Medical Mission Group, Basic Health International and Saving Mothers.  She has also served as the Director of Guatemala for a non-profit called Saving Mothers since 2008 and founded the Saving Mothers School of POWHER (Providing Outreach in Women's Health and Educational Resources) for Maternal Health in 2014. She received her Doctorate in Medical Sciences at Lincoln Memorial University in 2019 and her Master of Science in Physician Assistant at Seton Hall University in 2007. Jessica received her Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sports Physiology at Florida International University in 2002, where she was also an athlete on their women’s soccer Division 1 NCAA team from 1999-2001. She received her training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC from 2009-2015.

On-ground management

Jaclyn

Jaclyn Karasik

On-Ground Director of Operations

Jaclyn is passionate about working in the intersection of health, social justice and Latinx communities. As the On-Ground Director for Casa Materna, she coordinates activities with partners in the community, leads monitoring & evaluation, manages staff and ensures adherence to Casa Materna protocols and policies. She came to Guatemala for the first time in 2015 as a student to conduct research in Santa Cruz La Laguna on water contamination in homes and malnutrition in children. After receiving a B.S. in Biology with honors from Duke University, she spent three years at Global Health Strategies in NYC, working in communications and advocacy for the elimination of infectious diseases like polio, TB and HIV, supporting clients such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In her free time, she enjoys dancing Bachata, Salsa and Brazilian Zouk.

Merlyn

Merlyn Cholotio

Administrator

Merlyn is a native of San Juan and spent several years working for the municipal government as administrative assistant to the mayor in the department of women’s rights. She has been instrumental in engaging the community and bringing awareness to the need of maternal/child care in this region of the country. She has completed the San Juan School of POWHER conducted by Saving Mothers, is trained in Helping Babies Breathe, and also serves as our community educator.

erica miller

Erica Miller, RN, BSN

Clinical Staff Educator

Erica is a Labor and Delivery Nurse who serves as an on-site educator to the clinical staff. Erica is passionate about working with the perinatal population and loves being involved with the Casa Materna. She first visited Guatemala as a nursing student with the University of Wisconsin and quickly fell in love with the people, culture, landscape and vibrant colors of Guatemala. She has since returned several times as a volunteer with various organizations and is excited to help support the Casa Materna in providing affordable and accesible obstetrical care to the beautiful Lake Atitlan communities. When not in Guatemala, Erica is a travel Nurse in the U.S. and loves exploring the new cities she lands in.

Midwives (Comadronas)

Melina

Carmelina Morales

Midwife, Auxiliary Nurse, and Camotán Project Manager

Our newest member of the team began learning about midwifery at age 15 by helping her mom who is a comadrona. Melina completed her training as a professional midwife in Mexico in 2015 where she worked for over two years in hospital and home birth settings. She is interested in aromatherapy and homeopathic practices and has shared that knowledge with the team. She supports the Casa in San Juan and is leading the development of a new Casa Materna program in Camotán. She lives with her parents and 6 siblings in Chichicastenango.

Lesbia

Lesbia Cholotio

Midwife and Auxiliary Nurse

A local of San Juan, Lesbia has been working for over 10 years as a midwife. She graduated from an auxiliary nurse program in the San Jose School in Santa Clara, Guatemala, in 2010, and in 2014 and 2016 she completed the San Juan School of POWHER conducted by Saving Mothers. She has worked in ODIM San Juan conducting prenatal care, and has attended most of her clients’ births in their homes. She has a passion to help her community and the other communities of this region, especially those of the lowest resourses in the most remote areas of Guatemala. She has been instrumental in establishing the clinic facility and engaging with the community.

Johana

Johana Oneida Alvarez Cholotio

Midwife and Professional Nurse

In 2015, Johana graduated from high school and in May 2020 she will graduate from a  five-year nursing program in the Universidad Panamericana. In March 2016, she completed the course of Helping Babies Breathe and in July was a teaching assistant in this course. She completed the Saving Mothers School of POWHER in May 2016 and now works in the prenatal clinic at the Casa and as a birthing assistant. She is also the lead ultrasound technician at the Casa and aspires to continue learning about medical imaging. Johana lives in San Juan with her parents, two sisters and baby brother.

Birth Assistants

Wendy

Wendy Yotz

Birth Assistant and Auxiliary Nurse

Wendy is a San Juan local. In 2011, she graduated high school and in  2019 she completed her Auxiliary Nursing degree. In 2016 she completed the course of Helping Babies Breathe the Saving Mothers School of POWHER. She lives with her husband and daughter.

Chusita

Chusita Criado De Coxaj

Birth Assistant and Professional Nurse

Chusita joined the Casa Materna team in August 2018, completed the Saving Mothers School of Power in 2018 and completed her nursing degree in 2019. Chusita lives in San Pedro with her husband and daughter (born at the Casa Materna!)

Lesly

Lesly Hernandez

Birth Assistant and Student Nurse

Lesly joined the Casa team as a birth assistant in August 2018. She graduated high school in 2014 and started nursing school in 2018. She also completed the Saving Mothers School of POWHER in 2018. Before becoming a full-time assistant at the Casa Materna, Lesly was facilitator in San Juan and San Pablo and did post-partum visits for Casa patients. Lesly is local to San Juan and enjoys reading in her free time.

Community facilitators

Joselyn

Joselyn Ajqui

Community Facilitator, Pasajquim and Panyebar

Maria

María Griselda Rocche

Community Facilitator, San Pedro La Laguna

Gilda

Gilda Evelin Socop Ixcol

Community Facilitator, Palestina and Panyebar

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Josue Sajqui

Ambulance Driver

Finance team

Monica

Monica Lansberry

Financial Director

Monica has a BA in Sociology and now works in Florida for a dermatopathology company as the director of product management oncology. She is volunteering her time to manage the financial operations of the Casa Materna Project. She lives in Fort Myers, Florida with her husband and two daughters.

Allison

Allison Kent Cotner

Development Lead

Allison spent nearly 10 years in management consulting before taking time away from the workforce to raise her two active sons. She traveled to San Juan la Laguna last year with a team of volunteers to set-up the Casa Materna facility and she knew immediately that she wanted to continue working on this worthy endeavor. Allison lives in Danville, PA with her husband and two sons.