Meet The Team
Derek is native to the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Vancouver, Washington. He was an all-state high school basketball player at Evergreen High School and then went on to play at Portland State University from 1996-2000, where he was an Academic All-American as well as an inductee into the 2006 Hall of Fame Class.
During and after college, Derek played basketball in 14 countries around the world. It was those trips that planted the seed for Courts for Kids as he saw the universality of sports and how a simple concrete court could be such a vital asset to a community. He also saw a tremendous change in his own life through those cross-cultural experiences and developed a strong desire to take other Americans to share in similar experiences. After a random email from the Philippines in 2006 expressing a need for a basketball court and a group of Americans ready to volunteer, these two visions became a reality and Courts for Kids was born.
Selene Nesland also grew up in Vancouver, Washington, and attended college at Seattle Pacific University. She has worked in the non-profit sector for over a decade and also has her Masters of Arts in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Derek and Selene are married and have two sons, Channing and Bryton.
Selene has worked with both high school and college students her whole career and has a passion to see them expand their worldview, try new things, and be pushed out of their comfort zones so they can grow into responsible, caring and empathic adults who want to serve others. She is passionate to create a mission that is accomplishing just that in Courts for Kids. She also enjoys watching her two sons play sports and wants to provide the same opportunities for children all over the globe. In July of 2015 the whole Nesland family went to Nicaragua making Courts for Kids a passion the whole family shares in.
East Coast Director
Chris is a native of Richmond, Virginia and an Old Dominion University business graduate. After years in the IT and small business sector, he and his wife decided they needed to do more for others by sharing their talents and abilities. Therefore, they dropped everything and joined the Peace Corps where they lived and worked in a small town in Peru.
As a Small Business Development Volunteer in Peru, Chris worked on community development projects, taught youth how to start their own businesses, created micro-credit institutions, and taught courses on goal setting and self-esteem. During this time, Chris collaborated with other Peace Corps Volunteers on two Courts For Kids projects. He saw how these small but powerful projects change the lives of the volunteers involved, bring communities together, and help in ways never imaginable.
Chris is now working to expand the life-changing impact that Courts For Kids has on volunteers and communities around the world by bringing these opportunities to volunteers on the East Coast.
Panama In-Country Director
Anibal is a native of Panama City, Panama, and Technological University of Panama business and corporate communications graduate/TWC Alumni.
After living in Washington DC for a short period, Anibal built a relationship with Partners of the Americas and founded the first chapter of Partners Campus in Panama. Through this chapter Anibal became introduced to Courts for Kids, whereby he discovered how powerful projects like this could be in Panama and in many other third world countries.
Anibal is now working to expand the life-changing impact that Courts For Kids has on volunteers and communities around the world by bringing these opportunities to volunteers and communities in Panama.
Dominican Republic In-Country Director
Natalie is a native of Dubuque, IA and a graduate from Loras College where she received her BA in Integrated Visual Arts and Spanish and competed as a four-year athlete.
After college, Natalie completed a one-year AmeriCorps VISTA term working in the Office of Civic and Community Engagement at the University of Miami (FL) and taught comprehensive health education for two years at the Boys & Girls Club of Denver (CO). She then joined the Peace Corps and served as a Youth, Family, and Community Development volunteer in the Dominican Republic. During her service she held leadership positions with the DR’s Grassroots Soccer program, Sports for Life (a program that uses sports as a vehicle to teach healthy behaviors and HIV/AIDS prevention) and as the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader for the Youth Development sector. Outside of work, Natalie could often be found reading, trying to teach Dominicans how to salsa dance, and experimenting with new recipes for her host family and neighbors to try.
She began her love of service and travel after a high school trip, similar to Courts for Kids, in Honduras. She looks forward to helping create similar life-changing opportunities for youth while combining her passions of sports, community-based development, and service learning working for Courts for Kids in the Dominican Republic.
Nicaragua In-Country Director
Jordyn Strege is native to Mahtomedi, Minnesota. She grew up with a love for sports and continued her passion at Winona State University where she was on the women's soccer team for four years.
After graduating from WSU with a dual degree in Education (Spanish and Mathematics) she joined the Peace Corps. Jordyn served as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) volunteer in Nicaragua. Besides her regular teaching duties, Jordyn took on many other projects as a volunteer. Her proudest moment was when she completed her Improved Stoves Project which benefited 50 families, where each family received training on the health, economic, and environmental benefits their new stove offered. The project proved to be both successful and sustainable as local women have been contracted to build more stoves for neighboring communities. She is excited to utilize these lessons learned from her Peace Corps experience and her passion for sports to further develop Courts for Kids in Nicaragua.
Sam was born and raised in Entebbe, Uganda and graduated from Makerere University Kampala with a Bachelor’s of Economics and a Masters of Economic Planning and Policy. For the past 8 years Sam has worked as Quality Assurance Leader and Project Administrator with Research Study for Kaposis’ Sarcoma Cancer with the University of California in San Francisco.
At Makerere University Sam played into the Basketball Hall of Fame and later coached both the men’s and women’s teams. Sam played semi-professional basketball with the Uganda Falcons, served as coach, and is now the team’s Technical Director.
Since 2008 Sam has worked as Courts for Kids’ Africa Representative leading teams of volunteers to help build courts all over the continent. Sam lives in Uganda with his wife Barbara Atuhuura and son Liam Kimara Seth.
Board of Directors
- Trips: Azerbaijan 2014, Paraguay 2016, Cambodia 2017
- CEO of J/Fit
- "As a small business owner who travels to remote areas of the world every few months, I would consider myself a “global citizen”. Last year, I went to Azerbaijan with Courts for Kids and immediately realized my worth as a global citizen. I was able to see how a simple court, with some real equipment to play with, can completely transform a community.
Courts for Kids serves in two ways: the first being the court for the village, the second being the global consciousness that impacts our own children and adults that travel to build the court.
Through play, we develop creativity, decision making, conflict resolution, and cooperation. Through volunteering, we develop acceptance, empathy, and a sense of purpose. If I can inspire just one child in the village to sustain their dreams even in the most dire situation, or a volunteer to return home with a sense of purpose to inspire others, then my time, efforts, money and support have all been worth it!”
- Trips: Rwanda 2010, Tanzania 2011, Dominican Republic 2012, Costa Rica 2013, Azerbaijan 2014
- President, North Pacific Management
- “I am humbled by the entire organization and the idea of those with more helping those with less. However at the end of the day my firm belief is that those that might be perceived with more get far more out of the experience than those who are perceived as having far less. Funny how that works. The trips always help me find a little more perspective, a little more humility, a little more patience, and in the end I hope help shape me in to a man of character and integrity in this journey we call life.”
- Trips: Coming soon…
- Owner, Avamere
- “I got involved with Courts for Kids because this organization literally changes people’s lives. Not only does it have the obvious impact of changing the kids lives who we build the courts with, but it positively impacts every person who volunteers to build the court!
- Trips: Philippines 2006, Uganda 2008, Costa Rica 2009, Panama 2017
- Head Men’s Basketball Coach, George Fox University
- “I serve on this board because I believe in the mission and values of Courts for Kids. Having been connected with Derek and Selene from day one I love being a part of the growth this organization has experienced. Most importantly though, I love the opportunities provided by Courts for Kids to serve in the developing world, while also being challenged to think outside of our comfort zone and to be stretched. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of this organization.”
- Trips: Peru 2012, Costa Rica 2014, Cambodia 2017
- Community Volunteer/ Retired Attorney
- “I serve on the board of Courts for Kids because this organization provides life-changing experiences. Having taken 2 trips with my husband and 3 girls in tow, I’ve seen first-hand the impact of traveling to a far-away place, working and living with strangers who soon become friends, and pushing yourself to do more than you thought possible. It is a real privilege to join with the communities we visit, build something together, and learn from one another. Most importantly, these trips are just plain fun, and unexpected and amazing things always happen.”
- Trips: Peru 2011, Costa Rica 2014, Cambodia 2017
- CFO Phoenix Industrial
- "The thing I love most about Courts for Kids and the reason I’m excited to be more involved in the organization, is the spirit of collaboration and camaraderie that is developed between the volunteer groups, the local contractors, and the host communities. There may be language barriers, lack of materials, bad weather, etc. but people all working toward a common goal usually manage to figure it out."
- Trips: Coming soon!
- Attorney at Buckley Law
- "I got involved with Courts for Kids because of the organizations unique ability to positively impact and make a difference in the lives of people from vastly different backgrounds in every trip. Further, athletics was an important part of my childhood and the opportunity to build a court which provides a place for kids in developing regions to play is truly special."
- David Austen, CPA
- Marty Johnson
- Paul Van Gasse, M.E.
- Steven Ellis, P.E.
- Jeff Trautman, J.D.
- Rob Closs