Jaime Belden is a dedicated teacher from Robbinsdale, Minnesota and co founder of the 501c3 nonprofit Future Roots Project. Starting in 2013 with the belief that all children deserve a high quality education regardless of the situation in which they are born. She has been dedicating herself to improving the quality of education in Central America by providing teacher trainings that promote literacy, critical thinking, creativity, and social emotional development. While supporting the most impoverished schools, teachers and students, she has been actively promoting peace in high conflict communities by investing in basic literacy education.
In 2018, Hamline University Alumni Association awarded her the First Decade Award for outstanding accomplishments in the field of Global Studies. Her specialization in global education and in-depth cultural knowledge allows her to effectively analyze the transnational issues of education inequality and illiteracy. Putting into practice key concepts of cultural competency, awareness, and sensitivity, she is able to successfully collaborate with local leaders through powerful cross-cultural relationship building.
Born in Cambodia, raised in California, Nita fell in love with teaching as an AmeriCorps member at the Nativity School of Worcester. She continued her commitment to providing quality education to the most vulnerable children at Brooke Charter School in East Boston and Para Los Niños in Los Angeles. Her work in education led her to Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, and India. She teamed up with Future Roots Literacy Projects in 2015. She is grateful for her international experiences that showed her how educators can create meaningful change everywhere.
Nita has earned her BA from Wellesley College, an MBA from Assumption College and an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In addition to working as a middle-school Instructional Lead and teaching math, Nita works at the intersection of education and technology to support teachers in crisis. In her spare time, she practices Hatha yoga, plays the ukulele, and goes hiking/cycling as often as possible.
Current Board Members
Secretary | Board Member
Kerry Ness helped with the conversion of Future Roots Project to a qualified nonprofit corporation in 2016 and now serves as secretary and board member. For the past 19 years, he was a chief financial officer in the banking industry and retired in 2019. He and his wife Sheryl live in Plymouth, Minnesota, near their three grown children and nine grandchildren. They have been enthusiastic supporters of Jaime’s great work from the very beginning.
Project Coordinator | Board Member
Timothy Daly attended Hamline University with the founders of Future Roots Project. He has experience working with non-profit institutions in Minnesota, including Minnesota Historical Society, Walker Art Center, Classical Actors Ensemble, Youth Performance Company, as well as many other small arts and arts education organizations.
Timothy spent half of a year as an in-country volunteer for Future Roots Project empowering children, teachers, and communities.
Mary Leinfelder has 35 years of experience teaching young children at the University of Minnesota Child Development Center, where she works with many children, families, and students studying early childhood development. In her spare time, she enjoys singing with local blues, roots, and jazz musicians.
Christina Capello has a background in biology and conservation. Her work includes research on biodiversity as well as Jaguar and Tapir distribution. She helped set up management plans and capacity building together with local communities.
Currently, she is finishing her M.Sc. in remote sensing, working on a machine-learning based approach to detect the drivers of deforestation with community-based data.
Walter Enloe is a professor emeritus at Hamline University in human development (anthropology, psychology, sociology). He taught K-12 for nineteen years, and for eight years, he was the principal of Hiroshima International School. Presently, he is a senior advisor to the Peace Crane Project (www.peacecraneproject.org).
Christine is the Executive Director of Urban Alliance , connecting low-income high schoolers to the opportunities, skills, and networks they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency in adulthood. Having earned her M.A. in social enterprise, she is excited by financially-sustainable approaches to solving social challenges, particularly in Latin America. Previously, Christine served as co-director of Proyecto CocoMango where she first learned about the work of the Future Roots Project while organizing educational and enrichment programs.
Johanna Ulseth is a Student Service Coordinator and Special Projects Manager at an innovative charter school for immigrant families in Washington, D.C. Originally from Minneapolis, Johanna has lived and worked abroad teaching ESL in Mexico, Guatemala, and South Korea. She earned her master’s degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management from The School for International Training (SIT). During that time, she learned about Future Roots and reconnected with Jaime, after having worked together at a Minneapolis public school four years prior. Together, they collaborated on a community-based, participatory impact evaluation to measure project effectiveness.
Alejandro joined Future Roots in 2018 and has been and invaluable member of our team. With an impressive background in information technology, website development, graphic design, video editing and photography he has generously offered his expertise to help Future Roots Project and those living in conditions of extreme poverty in Central America.