Volunteer Team in Panama

  • Neil Christiansen

    Founder/President
    The founder and brainchild behind Give & Surf serves as the captain whether he’s jungle living or doing development work in the states. Packing more excitement and energy than the normal human, Neil is a modern day energizer bunny. Learn more about Give & Surf through his eyes here.
  • Emily Talentino

    Executive Director
    Emily toyed with the "Should I move to Panama" idea for sometime so it was not hard to lure her to join us in Panama when the idea of working outdoors with children in the warmth of Panama was proposed. Emily shed her Massachusetts wardrobe and brings years of experience in development and counseling as the Executive Director of a YMCA.
  • Jazmin Levis

    Director of Education
    Jazmin AKA Jaz AKA Jaz Paws is our new Director of Education. She’s originally from Buenas Aires, Argentina, but has traveled extensively and lived abroad in both the United States and Australia. Jaz has a background in early childhood development through sports and has taught children skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, and paddle boarding. Her energy in and out of the classroom keeps the children (and volunteers) smiling and enjoying new experiences. Jaz's passion for travel, surfing, and making a change in children’s lives has brought her to Bocas.
  • Drew Berger

    Volunteer Director
    Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, meet Drew. After studying graphic design at Rollins College, he decided that a desk job was not for him and worked as a kindergarten teacher in Thailand prior to joining us. His love for the ocean and giving back landed him here in Panama. Drew has jumped right in and gotten his hands dirty...literally! He has led the construction of the new Bahia Roja school as well as is the chief host of the volunteers. He loves taking our volunteers on new adventures, especially surfing and spearfishing!
  • La Loma Jungle Lodge

    La Loma Jungle Lodge is family to us. Henry, Margaret, little Lucho, and the rest of the gang have our back.  La Loma has helped the local community of Bahia Honda for ten years and it was their guidance and support that allows us to do what we do.  Give and Surf partners with La Loma to provide a number of community development projects.  We look forward to many collaborative efforts and good times with our La Loma family in the future. 
  • Eddy Gomez

    Logistics and Project Coordinator
      Eddy is our knight in shining armor.  Eddy is the wave behind the surfboard that is Give and Surf. Our unwavering captain can fix anything, and his immense knowledge of the island archipelago is invaluable when it comes to transporting our precious preschool cargo.  Eddie is also a baseball and volleyball legend in Bahia Honda, and enjoys fishing, painting dolphins, and sharing his knowledge of the flora and fauna of Bocas del Toro. 
    • Maria Elena Santos

      Lead Teacher
        Our teaching staff would not be complete without Maria Elena and her always present smile. As an instrumental person in the community of Bahia Roja Maria Elena tirelessly pursued a life of serving others through obtaining her teaching degree. Her main focus is working with the kindergarten aged children ages 5-6.
      • Vaneza Milton

        Lead Teacher
          Vaneza has been part of the Give & Surf family from the very beginning! With a strong connection to her children's future education Vaneza played a supportive role as a teacher in during the first years of Bahia Honda kindergarten. Vaneza is now our lead kindergarten teacher and will soon be graduating from teacher's college thanks to Education is Power.
        • Nico Almeida

          Volunteer Coordinator
          Nico is our Volunteer Coordinator whose primary role is to ensure that our volunteers have a safe, fun, and fulfilling time with us in Panama. He was born in Columbia but grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and has also lived in Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, and Australia. The wisdom he has earned from working and living abroad for many years has proved invaluable to his role as a mentor and guide for our volunteers!
        • Dylan Vahradian

          Development Coordinator
          We have Dylan to thank for the development of our cultural immersion workshop program. Mr. Dylan joined us as an intern this fall and is back to lend his skills and insight into making Give & Surf a better organization as our Development Coordinator.