In 2000, San Miguel de Allende suffered a particularly harsh winter. The unusual freezing temperatures of this winter caused several deaths in the municipality because of the extraordinarily difficult living conditions in which many rural families found themselves. Jeffrey Brown, a San Miguel resident, stonemason, and graphic artist, with the help of Irma Rosado, a local human-services consultant, secured a small donation and in 2001 formed Casita Linda, A.C., a Mexican nonprofit. From the very beginning, Casita Linda has been a wonderful team of foreigners and Mexicans working together to create hope for impoverished local families.
Over the years, our impact has steadily expanded. In January 2016, Casita Linda began offering a series of intensive workshops to the recipients of our homes, covering topics such as goal-setting, nutrition, child care, home care, water conservation, organic gardening, making herbal remedies and other income-generating projects, sexuality and family planning, addiction, and domestic violence.
In 2017, Casita Linda earned 501c3 status, becoming a recognized nonprofit organization in the United States as well as Mexico. Donations from people around the world make Casita Linda’s achievements possible.
Casita Linda enables families to move from dirt-floor shacks into homes with concrete floors, separate bedrooms for girls and boys, a real bathroom, actual windows, a water cistern, basic furniture, and doors that lock. Moving into a home that is safe, secure, clean, and big enough is a life-changing event.
As we came to know the families we build homes for, we learned more about the huge challenges they face in their daily lives, and they inspired us to do more. So Casita Linda now offers a series of intensive workshops to the recipients of our homes. The workshops are led by two gifted and impressive Mexican women, one of whom is a social worker and the other a lawyer. Twice a week for at least nine months the women in a Casita Linda community gather to study, share, and work together. Their husbands join them for one of the sessions each week. Our workshops begin with topics such as goal-setting, nutrition, child care, home care, water conservation, organic gardening, making herbal remedies and other income-generating projects, and work up to such challenging issues as sexuality and family planning, addiction, and domestic violence. We also work with other nonprofits to provide additional services and referrals for our Casita Linda families.
With the skills and knowledge we provide to our recipients through these workshops, they are better prepared to start a new chapter in their lives and break negative cycles. They dream of better jobs and better futures for themselves—and are more capable of working toward those dreams.
All-Volunteer Board of Directors
Louise Gilliam, President, has lived in San Miguel for 12 years after having lived in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas. Louise was Director of Corporate Communications for a major airline and then went on to open an Executive Search firm specializing in placing high caliber airline executives for both domestic and international carriers. Louise began producing events for Casita Linda in 2006. She is committed to seeing that the poorest of the poor in San Miguel are treated with dignity and respect and have sustainable shelter and is passionate about paving the way for the children of our families to build better lives for themselves.
Rachel Ballard, Vice President. Board Member specializing in budgeting, forecasting and analysis, Rachel brings to Casita Linda her 20 years’ combined knowledge and experience working in international development in Latin America and in the US private sector. Rachel began her international career in Asuncion, Paraguay, leading a successful United Nations Development Program sponsored budget & financial reform project with the Municipality of Asuncion. Rachel holds a BA in Latin American Studies from Trinity College, CT, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. After falling in love with San Miguel de Allende on a cross-country college road trip with her best friend, Rachel returned 10 years ago with her family and is now a resident.
Gregg Blackburn, Treasurer, is a former civil litigation attorney from Boston, Massachusetts. After retiring he came to San Miguel in 2009 with his wife Karen who has longtime connections to San Miguel. He started out with Casita Linda as a volunteer laborer in the field screening sand and laying block. Working with the construction crew and seeing firsthand the living conditions of house recipients has fostered a commitment to Casita Linda’s goals and its crew. He joined the board in 2014 and became treasurer in the spring of that year.
Lyn Gawron, Secretary, has lived in Europe, North Africa, the US and Mexico. She owned seven gas stations in Southern Arizona before moving on to the Office of Cultural Programs, Colorado State University, bringing events and covering all disciplines of the Arts to the campus and the city of Fort Collins, CO. She then spent three years as a Personal Banking Officer and Business Development Specialist for the Bank of Santa Fe in New Mexico. As a volunteer, she was responsible for hospitality for Film Festivals in Houston, Charleston, Denver, Durango, Taos and Santa Fe. Lyn and her husband currently reside in San Miguel de Allende and Santa Fe, New Mexico where she works in the movie industry.
Kim Slote, Board Member, has spent the majority of her career working in the non-profit field. An attorney, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Network, a human rights organization focusing on violence against women and children that was based at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Kim co-directed this organization until 2003 . From 2004 to 2010, Kim was the Director of Education and Advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Collier County where her primary functions were to direct the agency’s legislative, advocacy and public policy work, sex education policy and programs, and community organizing efforts. Kim is the the V.P. of Communications at VUEMED, a global healthcare technology company based out of Seattle. She resides in San Miguel de Allende with her husband and two children.
Guadalupe Alessio, is a Mexican sociologist with a degree in Human Rights and Gender Studies and a Masters degree in Studies in International Relations. Lupita has worked in several government institutions. She was Executive Secretary of the ” Commission for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas” and was a teacher at the prep school and University level. Lupita has written several articles about social issues in various magazines. She joined the Casita Linda Board because she believes that owning a house is the most elementary human need and human right. She believes it is very important to help the most deprived families in our community. Lupita is married and she and her husband have three children. She is an accomplished artist and an avid reader.
Mario Lopez Gonzalez Garza, is a Mexican architect who has been involved in more than seventy national and international projects. He is the founder of Mario Lopez-Arquitectura with offices in Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende. Mario has designed projects focused on sustainability, social responsibility, and urban marginality. Mario has a Masters in Architecture from UNAM, where he graduated with honors. He was in charge of the Architecture Program at La Salle University in México City and now he teaches Urbanism in the Anahuac University, Querétaro. Mario holds numerous honors and awards in the architectural field. He resides in San Miguel de Allende with his wife, Lina Dabbagh. Mario is instrumental in overseeing our building more sustainable and environmentally friendly homes for those less fortunate.
Wendy Coulson has been a resident of Mexico since 2004 and happily married to one of its citizens. She is a career English Language Teaching professional developing curricula and teaching materials and training teachers in Mexico and in various corners of the world. She is a Rotary Peace Fellow graduate nominated by Rotary Mid-day Club and as such has worked on community-based education programs for development projects with Rotary and other local NGOs.
Ann Marie Jackson, has traveled widely on five continents and seen the powerful impact in poor communities that careful, strategic interventions, such as Casita Linda’s, can have. After earning degrees from Stanford and Harvard, she worked for several NGOs, including A Better Chance, Human Rights Watch, and Internews, and for the U.S. Department of State, promoting human rights in Asia. An American, she has lived in China, Japan, Fiji, and England, as well as cities on both coasts of the U.S. She currently resides in San Miguel de Allende with her husband and two young sons. She joined Casita Linda’s board in 2015.
A crucial part of making Casita Linda viable is keeping our costs to a bare minimum. We seek to put the maximum amount of each donation toward the actual construction of the homes we build. We have achieved this enviable record thanks to the dedication and talents of our volunteer board members and the help of many other volunteers. Furthermore, we manage to build each durable, secure, comfortable, well-constructed home for only $12,000 – $15,000 USD. In the process, we provide good jobs to a dedicated crew of local construction workers.
Please contact us for detailed financial records.
These companies support our work through discounted prices for building materials: