A Conversation with SOIL Board Member: Erica Lloyd

Erica Lloyd


During a recent conversation with SOIL staff, Erica Lloyd, a seasoned nonprofit professional, was invited to reflect on her nine-year journey with SOIL and share her current endeavors. Drawn by Haiti's allure and inspired by SOIL's innovative approach to the sanitation crisis there, Erica's roles evolved from communications to directing research and innovation, culminating in her transition to the Board of Directors. Throughout her tenure, she witnessed SOIL's profound impact in Haitian communities, from providing in-home toilets to regenerating soil health. Join us as we learn about her journey and insights through the interview below.


  1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself? (i.e. your work/ educational background, experience and/ or any personal details that you’d like to share)

I’ve worked in nonprofits for my entire career, including nine years working with SOIL as the Systems Director and Research Director. I currently serve as the Director of College and Career Access at the LAYC Career Academy, an adult education program in Washington, DC, and previously served as the Program Director of the “I Have a Dream" Foundation of Charlottesville. I have a Master’s in Teaching and a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Virginia. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor adventures, baking delicious things, and being a devoted aunt.


  1. How did you get connected to SOIL? (how did you hear about our work? What was your interest in getting involved with the organization? Do you have a connection to Haiti?) 

I had always wanted to live overseas, and got interested in visiting Haiti after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. I am a sucker for places where the mountains meet the sea, so thirty minutes into my first visit to Cap-Haitian I had fallen head over heels for Haiti and knew it was where I wanted to be. I spent several months researching different organizations working in Haiti primarily related to education and youth, so it wasn’t until I got connected with a friend of a friend (Ellie Happel, SOIL Advisory Board member) that I learned about SOIL. 


  1. What initially drew you to work with SOIL, and how did your role evolve during your nine years with the organization?

When I learned about SOIL’s work, I was fascinated! It had never occurred to me that the nutrients that our bodies dispose of are the very same nutrients needed to grow more food. I wanted to learn more! Since I knew very little about ecological sanitation at the time, I used my nonprofit management skills to talk my way in the door. I started off focusing on communications and external relations, but my inner nerd could only be contained for so long. After about a year, I moved into a role as Systems Director, where I got to focus on improving our administrative and financial functions to make the organization operate more smoothly. After a few years, my role morphed into Director of Research and Innovation, where I got to bring that same focus on efficiency and improvement to other aspects of SOIL’s operations.


  1. What is the impact that you see SOIL is having and why do you feel that it is important? (On communities & individuals? On the environment? On public health?)

One thing I love about SOIL is how many different benefits it provides to the community. First, gaining access to a toilet in your own home is a profound improvement in quality of life. It makes people, especially women and girls, feel safer and more hygienic. Second, the whole community becomes cleaner, because fewer people have to resort to open defecation, and all of the waste SOIL collects is treated safely. Third, it’s also a boon to farmers because the compost that SOIL produces is helping restore health and nutrients to the soil. Fourth, our employees earn a living wage and good benefits doing work that they are proud of. I could go on, but you get the point - SOIL is doing amazing work!


  1. How do you envision leveraging your skills and network to further advance SOIL's goals and increase its impact?

I think I have a unique perspective as a former employee that now sits on the Board. While SOIL’s work and conditions in Haiti continue to evolve, I’m able to draw on my experience working at SOIL to add insights into Board discussions and decisions.


  1. Looking back on your time with SOIL, what are you most proud of achieving, and what do you hope will be the lasting legacy of your work with the organization?

I got to work on all sorts of projects that were aimed at making SOIL’s work easier, safer, and more efficient. Some of the most incredible people I’ve met on this planet are SOIL employees - they are so dedicated and work so hard under conditions that are often unbelievably challenging - and making their jobs even a tiny bit easier was such a privilege. I have no doubt the current research team is carrying on this work with creativity and inspiration (and lots of spreadsheets)!


  1. Where do you hope to see Haiti in the next 10 years? 

My hope for Haiti is always the same: peace and justice. Because things are so tough right now, it’s hard to hold onto that hope some days. But I try to remind myself that no one would have imagined Haiti defeating the French army and winning its independence, up until it happened. I believe Haiti can surprise the world again. 


  1. Is there anything else you’d like to add or share with our donors and supporters? 

There are so many problems in the world we can’t solve - diseases we can’t cure, wars we can’t stop - but we can provide everyone with safe and dignified sanitation. This is a problem we know how to fix. Every time you feel discouraged about the state of the world, remember that your generosity is helping to do just that. 

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