EARTH University Board of Directors

The EARTH University Board of Directors is comprised of 12 volunteer members, led by a Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary who will serve for up to 4 terms. Among its responsibilities, the Board of Directors appoints the University’s President, and approves the strategy – both administrative and academic – and the annual operating and capital investment budgets.


Alan Kelso

Position: Chair

Country: Costa Rica

Alan Kelso is the CEO of Ecodesarrollo Papagayo, S.A.; Chairman and CEO of the Sinergo Development Group; as well as the CEO of Desarrollos NHD, S.A.; Hotelera Cali, S.A; Marina de Herradura, S.A; and Datagrama Comunicaciones, S.A. Under his leadership the Global Industrial Park, Papagayo Peninsula, Marriott Costa Rica Hotel, Los Sueños Marriott Beach & Gold Resort, Hyatt Place Hotel, and Hyatt Andaz in Papagayo were developed. In addition to his service on the EARTH University Board of Directors, he contributes to the improvement of education in Guanacaste province of Costa Rica through his work with the Growing Together for the Development of Guanacaste Association.

Mark S. Brouse

Position: Vice Chair

Country: United States

Mark S. Brouse retired as president of VISTA Staffing Solutions, Inc., the physician staffing segment of On Assignment. Mr. Brouse joined On Assignment as a result of On Assignment’s December 2006 acquisition of VISTA, a company he co-founded in 1990. Mr. Brouse began his career in pharmaceutical sales in 1980, and in 1986 joined CompHealth, a locum tenens staffing company, where he led specialty teams serving psychiatry and internal medicine clients before founding VISTA. Currently, Mr. Brouse is a member of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Northern Utah and is a past president of that board. He provides mentoring for social entrepreneurs via his participation in the Ashoka Support Network, which supports Ashoka fellows throughout the world. Mr. Brouse is also a member of the National Advisory Board for the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and is an active investor and member of the Salt Lake City Angels. Previously, Mr. Brouse served as a member of the board of Utah HealthCare Institute, a not-for-profit entity providing Salt Lake City with quality healthcare through St. Marks Family Medicine Residency, and PEHR Technologies, an electronic medical records company. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Alejandra Cobb

Position: Secretary

Country: Costa Rica

Alejandra Cobb is currently an independent business and strategy consultant and active member of the Board of Directors of UNIFOOD Holding, one of Chile’s most important gastronomic operators, and member of the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees of EARTH University. As an executive with Procter & Gamble (P&G) for over 15 years, she held multiple regional leadership roles in Latin America and Europe in the areas of corporate affairs, government relations, sustainability, and communications. She served the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica for 4 years, as an International Trade Negotiator in various bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations, culminating her service there as Adjunct Chief Negotiator for the “Central America – United States Free Trade Agreement” (CAFTA). She has contributed to multiple Boards of Directors for business and nonprofit organizations chambers and associations in Costa Rica and Spain. Most prominent, the Costa Rican Free Trade Zone Association (AZOFRAS), United Way Costa Rica (Asociación de Empresarial para el Desarrollo – AED), Advisor Counsel of Technology for Costa Rica (CAATEC), the Spanish Soap and Detergent Association (ADELMA) and the Spanish Advertising Self-Regulatory Organization (AUTOCONTROL), amongst others. She earned a BA and MBA from the University of Costa Rica and carried out Trade Diplomacy studies at the Center for Trade Policy and Law in Ottawa, Canada.

Ana Regina Aguirre de Riojas

Position: Member

Country: Guatemala

Ana Regina Aguirre de Riojas is the Director of Grupo Duwest; Founder of the Guatemalan Scholarship Association; President of United World Colleges Guatemala Committee and a member of the International Council and the Board of Directors of the United Way Guatemala. As the founder of Guauhitemala she has published 6 volumes in Spanish about trees and one in English, “Trees in the life of the Maya World”, in aim of rescuing and reproducing native species. She is an active member of CentraRSE (Action Center for Corporate Social Responsibility) and leads their Business Eco-efficiency project. She studied economics at Rafael Landivar University and computer programming at the International Computer Science Institute.

Marisa Brenninkmeyer

Position: Member

Country: England

Marisa has been part of the Counselor, Family and Bereavement Team of the Thames Valley Hospice working with individuals and families in bereavement or pre-bereavement. Mrs. Brenninkmeyer has a Bachelor’s in Education from George Washington University and a Master’s of Science in Integrative Counseling from Roehamption University.

Franklin Chang-Díaz

Position: Member

Country: Costa Rica

Dr. Franklin Chang Díaz is chairman and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company, a Texas based US aerospace firm developing high-power in-space electric propulsion. Ad Astra’s Costa Rica subsidiary focuses on green hydrogen and renewable energy infrastructure globally. A former NASA astronaut and veteran of 7 space missions, he logged over 1,600 hours in space, including 19 hours in three space walks, during his 25-year NASA career. In 1994, he founded and directed NASA’s Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory to develop the physics of his 1980 invention, the VASIMR® rocket, and founded Ad Astra in 2005 to commercialize the technology. Inducted in the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2012, Dr. Chang Díaz is a four-time recipient of NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, the agency’s highest honor. He holds a PhD in applied plasma physics from MIT and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut. He is an Adjunct Professor of Physics at Rice University and the University of Houston.

Francis Durman

Position: Member

Country: Costa Rica


Francis Durman is a mechanical engineer graduated from Texas A&M University and currently oversees the holding company that watches over his family’s investments, which include a technology products distribution business, a hospital with facilities in two different locations, a logistics enterprise, two free zone parks, and a helicopter charter flights operator. Previously he served as the CEO for the Latin American chapter of Aliaxis Group, and was the CEO of Durman Esquivel PVC, a family-owned pipes and fittings factory that his father started in 1959. Under his leadership, the company expanded into Mexico, Central America, Peru, and Colombia. Today Mr. Durman is the Director of BAC San José, a leading credit card financial bank in Central America; Chairman of the Board of Manga Rica, Central America’s largest mango farm; President and Chairman of the Board of the Pan-American School; a member of the Board of Purdy Motor Company, Costa Rica’s leading automotive dealer and of the Board of GDC, one of the Central American Region’s largest developers of tourism-oriented projects.

Adriana Echandi

Position: Member

Country: Costa Rica


Adriana Echandi is the CEO for the travel retail division of Grupo Britt N.V. She started her professional career in 2001 when Café Britt decided to create a new business division for travel retail stores starting as a salesperson and quickly advanced to join the leadership team. During the 16 years working for Britt, she has fostered different social programs within the communities that have given her the opportunity to work with local artisans; helped them to innovate their techniques, facilitate them with full knowledge of business, as well as introducing new products. Ms. Echandi was named one of the 40 most influential leaders under 40 by El Financiero. She graduated from Universidad Internacional de las Américas in Costa Rica and did a Global Executive MBA at INCAE Business School. She is a fellow of the 13th class of the Central America Leadership Initiative (CALI) and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Oliver Niedermaier

Position: Member

Country: Germany/United States

Oliver Niedermaier is the Chairman and CEO of TAU, a New York and Hong Kong-based investment firm focused exclusively on the transformation of global supply chains. He is also the Chairman of Common Ground, a vertically integrated hub that features farming, along with accelerator, incubator and distribution programs for farmers and food entrepreneurs in Hawaii. For more than 20 years, Oliver has worked to accelerate solutions to broken systems that hinder humanity’s potential for achieving a sustainable world. As investor and entrepreneur, Oliver has led and co-lead more than 50 investments and acquisitions from early stage to billion-dollar buyouts. He holds a Ph.D. in Strategic Management from the University of Munich, is a World Economic Forum/Young Global Leader 2010 and has served on numerous public, private and non-profit boards such as the World Policy Institute, and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Khan Nedd

Position: Member

Country: Grenada 


Dr. Nedd is a native-born islander from Grenada who founded Infusion Associates in 2001. He’s responsible for all clinical and quality activity. He’s also devoted to building a strong work community with a passion for addressing healthcare disparities, as well as extensive work on the issue of healthcare diversity through research and advocacy. Additionally, he serves as the Process Improvement Leader for several clinical trials.

He completed his high school education before immigrating to the United States. He received his B.S. from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. After Andrew University, he attended and received his M.D. degree from Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI. Following his post-graduate training, he has completed fellowships in Process Improvement and Leadership. Dr. Nedd serves on several boards, such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Board, and has extensive experience as a leader in the physician community through physician organizations and clinical integrated networks. He’s committed to building strong communities and strong families where the young can thrive.

Dele Olojede

Position: Member

Country: Nigeria/United States

Dele Olojede is the first African-born winner of the Pulitzer Prize, journalism highest honor. A writer, publisher and media entrepreneur, Dele is also a public speaker, particularly on what constitutes the good society, and how we might hope to achieve it, preferably in our lifetimes. He is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative as well as the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and a moderator of Aspen leadership seminars. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he is also a winner of the McNulty Prize and numerous others. Dele serves on the board of EARTH University, in Costa Rica, and is a Distinguished Alumnus of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Emeriti Directors – Board of Directors

Isabel Abreu | Country: Dominican Republic

Pedro León Azofeifa | Country: Costa Rica

Theodore (Tim) Solso | Country: United States

† Salvador Alemany | Country: Puerto Rico

† Luis Alberto Monge | Country: Costa Rica

† Eduardo King Carr | Country: Brazil

† Norman A. Brown | Country: United States

† Jorge Manuel Dengo O. | Country: Costa Rica

† Hernán Fonseca | Country: Costa Rica

† Rodolfo Cortés R. | Country: Costa Rica

† José Elias Sánchez | Country: Honduras

† Glen Taggart | Country: Estados Unidos

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