Chris Elisara - Executive Director Ph.D.
A visionary educator, social entrepreneur, and filmmaker, Dr. Chris Elisara and his wife Tricia founded CCSP in 2002. A native New Zealander, Dr. Elisara earned a B.A. from the University of Auckland, an M.B.A. from Eastern University, and a Ph.D. in cross-cultural education from Biola University, CA. More recently he founded the Center for Environmental Leadership in Buffalo, NY, and in late 2011 Dr. Elisara became the inaugural chair of the World Evangelical Alliance's creation care task force. Closer to home Dr. Elisara is a board member of the Volcan Mountain Foundation, a conservation organization which has preserved over 17,000 acres of critical habitat in San Diego County.
Courtnay Wilson - NZ Program Director B.A., M.T.S.
Courtnay is a Canuck from Dundas, Ontario, Canada. Did you know that, with over 100 waterfalls, Dundas claims to be the “waterfall capital of the world”? Courtnay joined the New Zealand team four years ago after spending two years working for SoPac’s sister program in Belize. Although she sometimes misses the escabeche and Johnny cakes, she definitely does not miss the cold showers! Prior to working with CCSP, Courtnay spent three years in Japan teaching English in a public high school. Before that, she completed a Master’s in Theological Studies at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, where she also did an undergraduate degree in History and Political science. It was at seminary that Courtnay found her theological home in the Mennonite Church. Recently, Courtnay joined St. John Ambulance in Kaikoura and is excited about her training to become a volunteer ambulance officer. Her favourite activity in Kaikoura is communing with the acrobatic dusky dolphins from the comfort of her kayak. You can call her “The Dolphin Whisperer”. Things you’re likely to hear Courtnay say: Boggle anyone? Is there coffee made? Are you going to eat that piece of chocolate?
Emma-Jane - NZ Kitchen Manager B.S.
Emma began working at CCSP at the start of 2010. She is a born and bred kiwi, her hometown being Nelson, which is situated at the northern end of the South Island. She has spent most of her life in the Marlborough Sounds, an area in the Nelson region known for its green native bush and abundant seas. Emma has also spent a bit of time in Australia. She loves ethno-botany, photography and art, and she also loves to cook, garden and go on road trips.
Her background is mainly in the food industry, she also has a BS in Botany and a certificate in natural therapies.
Micalagh Beckwith Moritz - Program Director MSW
Micalagh Beckwith Moritz, a Jersey girl at heart, has most recently been living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her farmer husband, Josh. She graduated from Messiah College with a degree in Human Development & Family Science. After working at human service organizations in PA and DC, she attended Temple University, earning her Master’s of Social Work with a Specialization in Global Community Practice. She traveled to Belize for the first time while completing an independent study while in graduate school…and fell in love with the people, the landscape, and the fry jacks. She has had varied job and volunteer experience with youth and community efforts in urban areas, and has most recently worked as a clinical therapist for youth, families, and adults in Harrisburg.
She has lived in several forms of intentional community, including a volunteer year with Church of the Saviour in DC and in Harrisburg, and is excited to participate in community living at CCSP. She is passionate about investing in community wherever she goes, listening to and sharing stories, doing yoga, drinking good coffee, and enjoying the outdoors.
Joshua J. D. Moritz – Belize Property Manager B.A.
Joshua Moritz was born in Nebraska and still visits regularly to see his extended family. He claims Nebraska is in his blood and that’s why he enjoys farming. His primary responsibilities are managing the facilities and property of CCSP Belize and using some of the land to organically grow food for the campus. He is supporting and encouraging the director Micalagh, his wife as much as possible. They celebrated their marriage surrounded by family and friends in Harrisburg, PA on July 30th 2011.
Joshua is a 2002 graduate from Dickinson College where he studied Political Science and Religious Studies, but there isn’t a day that goes by that life isn’t teaching him something. Joshua is coming to CCSP from working with the Joshua Group for the last 6 years. There, he has tutored, mentored, and formed relationships with inner city youth from preschool to early 20’s. In recent years he has grown into the role of co-manager at the Joshua Farm, an urban organic farm with a 40 member CSA, farm stand, restaurant sales and an education component. The farm employs high school youth that are already part of the Joshua Group. Through this experience he has found a deep-rooted passion for farming, the land, animals and community. He enjoys learning about other cultures, baking (coffee cake, cookies, and bread are exceptional), reading, sports and nature. He is thankful for all of God’s daily blessings.
Adam Arditi - NZ Student Life Coordinator B.A.
Adam was raised in the town of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. He has a groovy dad, a comforting mom, a buff older brother, and one very hairy twelve-year-old brother…who also happens to be his wonderful dog, Joe.
He is an artist, one who loves to create things. Adam highly value creativity because it communicates how unique humans are, and it allows them to express themselves in endless ways. He enjoys painting and keeping busy with hands-on projects, such as building instruments. He loves to play music and to sing, play the drums, almost plays the guitar, and he can occasionally plunk out some pleasing noises on the piano.
Following his love for art, Adam studied it at Messiah College (in Central PA) for four years, spending one semester in New Zealand through CCSP. He had an amazing time in the CCSP program and learned so much from engaging with the communities in Kaikoura! Adam loves spending time within God’s creation, experiencing the solitude and silence of nature, as well as the communal love found among people. Though he is a long way away from his Pennsylvanian home, Adam believe that “home” is not just a location, but rather “home” is love shared with people.
Tess Beckwith - Belize Student Life Coordinator B.A.
Tess Beckwith hails from Montclair, NJ. She loves her incredible family and jumps at the opportunity to tell a tale about them, as they are a very entertaining bunch. Tess is most happy when learning; be it about people, the environment, or the interactions between the two. She graduated from Eastern University with a major in anthropology and a minor in biology. Since graduating she has worked as a literacy teacher in North Philadelphia, a forest ranger in southern Oregon, an elf in a toy store in NJ, and most recently, a wildlife biology intern for Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the east coast of Florida.
Tess loves learning about cultures, languages, perspectives, and people—and especially enjoys finding out what each person is most passionate about. She is always learning new and better ways to care for the earth and for people and is thus SUPER excited about CCSP’s mission and her involvement in the program. Her hobbies include traveling, playing soccer, cycling, hatching things, camping, tree-climbing, butterfly watching, bird admiring, eating, cooking, playing with her food, writing letters, and finding joy in the smallest of things. She does not yet have a tolerance for spicy food, but will by the end of the semester if Marie Sharp has anything to say about it.
Nina Voli - Belize Student Life Coodinator B.A.
Nina is originally from Richmond, VA and most recently has been living in Massachusetts where she attended college. She graduated from Gordon in 2013 with a Bachelors in Community Development, through which she sought to study the connections between economic, social, and environmental justice. As a CCSP Belize alumna, Nina is thrilled to be back in Belize to work for the program.
Nina will be working for the CCSP Belize campus as both a Student Life Coordinator and Kitchen Manager, combining both her passion for community life and good food. As Kitchen Manager she will be in charge of planning healthy and tasty meals for students and staff, while seeking to source food for campus in a sustainable way including buying from local farms and vendors in the area.
Food is decidedly Nina's love language, and she has been known to cry every so often at a truly beautiful meal, or marvel extensively over the way red cabbage looks when you cut it in half. Her appreciation for food, and belief that “how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used” (Wendell Berry) is what has motivated her to pursue a vocation connecting the dots between creation care, food justice, and Christian ministry. In efforts of further discerning what this could look like, she plans to study for an M.Div at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC in the future.
Jesse Borden - Belize Internship & Cross Cultural Coordinator B.S.
Jesse was born in California, raised in East Africa from age 2-13, raised some more in Portugal from age 13-18 and has spent the most recent 9 years in Santa Barbara, CA. While in Santa Barbara, Jesse attended Westmont College and graduated with a degree in Environmental Science, met his lovely wife Annie, worked as a finish carpenter, and dove into many forms of community living. His love for nature, travel, exploration and cultures has been shaped by his upbringing and is the reason he studied Environmental Science in college. For Jesse, studying ecology and enjoying nature is a primary way that he has learned about and encountered God.
While in college, Jesse attended the 2008 spring semester at CCSP’s Belize campus, and has since hoped to work with CCSP. The intersection of environmental care, social justice and the teachings of Jesus are core to who Jesse is and something he hopes to engage with continually. As the Internship and Cross Cultural Coordinator he hopes to help students have meaningful, genuine and informative experiences with the diverse peoples and places in Belize.
Michael Whitnah - NZ Program Administrator B.A.
Michael joined CCSP staff in 2014. He graduated from Gordon College in 2008 with a degree in History and a love of experiential education, especially in wilderness contexts. Prior to working with CCSP, Michael and his wife, Joanna, spent 4 years living just outside Philadelphia, PA where he worked for a campus ministry organization called the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach). On his time off, you’ll most likely find him hiking, cooking, or reading…and often reading about what to cook on his next hiking trip!
Joanna Whitnah - NZ Sustainability Coordinator B.S.
Joanna was born and raised in Wayland, MA. She has always loved plants and growing things, even inviting friends over when she was little for garden tours. She attended Gordon College and earned a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development. After graduating, she led backpacking trips for Gordon’s La Vida wilderness ministry program, where she also happened to meet her husband, Michael. Joanna has worked in a number of different places in the U.S. and around the world, and was most recently the Field Manager at a CSA in Newtown Square, PA. She is passionate about growing food, teaching people about agriculture, and learning alongside others. She joined CCSP New Zealand in 2014.
Emma Childs - NZ Student Life Coordinator B.A.
Emma Childs is originally from the mountains of Asheville, NC but recently graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga. with a degree in agricultural development. A rambunctious childhood of building forts with her sister, playing in the dirt and riding imaginary mustangs across the yard cultivated a love of nature and animals, but it was not until her sophomore year in college that she discovered the intersection of agriculture and community health was where she was supposed to spend the rest of her days. Her semester abroad in Kaikoura with CCSP as an undergraduate student affirmed these interests and grew a newfound love for the land of the long white cloud. She is thrilled for the opportunity to return to NZ, and to spend this next season of life learning from others while immersed in conversation, hard work, vegetables, reading, biking, exploring mountains, sunshine and hopefully bundles of laughter - some of her very favorite things besides contra dancing, sewing and SEC football (though she is determined to understand rugby eventually!). She is terribly excited to be a part of the vibrant community life at the Old Convent and help cultivate a spirit of welcome for all who pause on their journey there.