Casa Connection Board of Directors
Jennifer Brown Miller (Assistant Secretary)
Jennifer has visited the Casa three different times and falls more in love with the children each time. She went to the Casa not knowing it would change her life. After her first time there she realized that she had to do something to serve these amazing kids.
Jennifer works as a director for an after school program and understands the impact a safe nurturing environment can have on a child. She feels so honored to be elected as the assistant secretary for the Casa Connection. Jen has happily committed to being part of a group of individuals committed to ensuring the children of the Casa always have a safe nurturing place to learn and grow.
Erica Edwards (Secretary)
Erica has been involved with the Casa San Jose since 2005 when she attended her first mission trip with First Church Somerville. Since that first trip, she has been passionate about the work the Casa does and the children and staff who live and work there, and she’s returned several times (four trips total), most recently in 2011. Over the years Erica has been a consistent organizer of events and activities that support the Casa San Jose. Most recently she served as a founding board member of the Casa Connection, organized the FCS side of the Casa Pen Pal Program, organized the FCS Mission trip in 2010, and coordinated parts of the visit from the Casa San Jose Director and Doctor in the Summer of 2010.
Erica lives with her partner, Elizabeth Danner, in Somerville, MA. She recently graduated with a degree in Clinical Mental Health from Lesley University and is the Educational Specialist for Housing Families, a non-profit that works with homeless families located in Malden, MA. Erica has been a member of First Church Somerville since 2004 and has been involved with various committees and social justice activities, including monthly involvement with preparation of the dinners for the Somerville Homeless Coalition.
Melissa Hines Shungu
Melissa lived and volunteered at the Casa Hogar San José from September 2010-May 2011 along with her husband, Pete Shungu. During that time, she taught English to kids and youth at the Casa as well as some staff, led spirituality activities with the children, read bedtime stories with the youngest ones, prepared Sunday night dinners with the few kids who stayed at the Casa on the weekends, and met weekly with the Director of the Casa and a small team to discuss financial and strategic planning for the organization.
Serving on the Casa Connection, Inc. Board of Directors is an opportunity for Melissa to continue to work on behalf of the Casa Hogar’s children and staff, whom she deeply loves and respects, and for whom she wants there to be a stable and positive future.
In the Boston area, Melissa works as an elementary school teacher. She is a member of First Church Somerville, the community which introduced her to the Casa Hogar. She is committed to working for social justice, both through her work in education and through her spiritual community.
Rebecca was born in Boston, MA and grew up in Cambridge and Arlington. She attended Brown University where she majored in biology. After college she lived in Eritrea for a year and worked with a social marketing company on several projects promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. When Rebecca returned to the US, she worked with Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts doing education and outreach for two years. Her interest in public health prompted her to consider medical school and, after several years fulfilling her premed requirements, Rebecca entered the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She returned to the Boston area for residency and completed her pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center combined program. Rebecca is now in private practice in Brookline as a primary care pediatrician. She also provides primary care to teen moms and their children one day each week as a member of the Young Parent Program at Children’s.
Rebecca married her husband, Michael Molla, in 2003 and their twin girls, Celia and Eva, were born a year later. They live in Lexington, MA. Rebecca has served as the METCO Family Friends co-coordinator at the girls’ school for the last year.
Doug has been engaged with the Casa San Jose for more than ten years by supporting family member work visits and fund raising for Second Congregational Church trips, as well as spiritual support for bi-annual trips. He has held numerous positions in leadership at Second Congregational Church, including Board of Deacons, Christian Education, Prudential Board, and Moderator.
Doug’s other not-for-profit experience includes Home At Last (HAL), where he was in charge of membership (1991-2009) and served on the HAL Board of Directors, 1999-2009, as treasurer. Home At Last rehabbed two multifamily residences and established the Cotton Mill Housing coop in Beverly, MA, a small low-income housing development. In 2009, Cotton Mill Coop successfully merged with several other small not-for-profit housing organizations into Harborlight Community Partners, which provided sustainable scale and professional management.
Doug also serves on the Missouri S&T Alumni Association Board of Directors (2010- present). In addition to being the New England area representative, he assists with fund raising from alumni for student scholarships and outreach to promote Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) educational development programs.
Doug is senior manager of supplier quality at The Boeing Company and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO and a Master’s of Business Administration from Babson College in Wellesley, MA. He and his wife, Cheri, have three grown sons and a grandaughter, Makayla.
Matthew Miller (President)
Matthew is a high school history teacher and running coach in Natick, MA. Prior to teaching, he worked in various positions in the Navy and federal government. He is a founding member and former vice-president of the nonprofit Dallas Swing Dance Society. Matthew has visited the Casa San Jose three times, once with a church mission group and twice on his own. Visiting the Casa was a life-changing experience. His Spanish is coming along in spurts, and he has vowed to be mostly fluent by his next visit. Matthew is married to fellow Casa Connection, Inc. director, Jennifer Brown Miller. They live in Somerville, MA with their two cats, Ella and Nina.
Owen has been making trips to the Casa every six months since 2008. He has been involved in projects to establish a computer lab at the Casa, and to bring several Casa students to the United States for a summer visit. He is also involved in interacting with the St. Joseph Foundation board on matters involving the Casa’s finances. Owen works at an organization called Partners in Health in Boston, where he is working to develop and operate a new national referral hospital in Haiti.
Pete has felt a strong attachment to the Casa San Jose de Los Huérfanos since February 2010, when he went on a mission trip with First Church Somerville to the orphanage. Following this week long trip, Pete and his wife, Melissa Hines Shungu, were inspired to return to the Casa for eight months in 2010-2011 and teach English and lead other activities there, a journey that left a powerful impact on both of them and led them to help with the formation of the Casa Connection. Pete works a day job assisting Boston high school students and families with the daunting financial aid process for college as College Affordability Awareness Manager for the non-profit organization ACCESS. In addition, he is an accomplished musician and spoken word poet. Originally from New Jersey, Pete attended Tufts University for college and has been living in Massachusetts since 1999.
Jamie Thompson (Assistant Treasurer)
Jamie and her daughter, Sophia, visited the Casa San Jose for the first time in February 2010, as part of First Church Somerville’s biannual mission trip. It was their first time visiting Mexico and, despite not being able to speak Spanish, Jamie and Sophia both formed intense bonds with the children and found the entire experience to be an eye-opening and transformative one. After the trip, they decided to stay involved with the Casa and, along with several other mission trip alumni from First Church Somerville and Second Church in Beverly, Jamie became a founding board member of the newly formed Casa Connection, Inc.
Jamie works as the part-time church administrator at First Church Somerville and is active on various church committees, including Communications, Buildings and Grounds, and Mission and Justice. She’s also a state-licensed massage therapist and the sole proprietor of Red Lotus Massage and Bodywork in Brighton, MA, where she and Sophia currently reside.
Jamie holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and philosophy from Boston College and a diploma in massage therapy from Cortiva Institute – Boston, and she’s lived and studied abroad in Oxford, England and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Past volunteer work includes serving four years on the Winship Elementary School Parent Council Executive Committee and a two-year term on the ONEin3 Boston Mayor’s Advisory Council. She is also currently a board member of The Endowment for Unexceptional Humans, a nonprofit in Jamaica Plain, MA.