About LeaderSurf

LeaderSurf was founded by Brian Formato a seasoned organizational development and leadership development expert.  Brian believes firmly in action and experiential learning.  His LeaderSurf program is the outgrowth of having designed and facilitated executive development programs throughout his career.  According to Brian,  “People learn best when they are in a safe, yet foreign, environment.  Classroom based leadership development programs that are run within an organization have very little impact on driving new leadership behaviors.  Public programs that are experiential and learner centered, versus lecture based, have the biggest impact on sustainable behavior change.”

This is the basis for LeaderSurf.

Brian leadersurf headshot

Brian Formato

Founder & Facilitator

Brian is the founder and lead facilitator for LeaderSurf.  When not running leadership retreats, Brian Formato is President and Principal consultant at Groove Management, a strength focused consulting firm.  Brian is a certified executive coach who has developed and led leadership development programs for several global organizations including the AARP, Time Warner Cable, The Motley Fool, Land O’Lakes, Doosan and Ingersoll Rand.  As a seasoned organizational development practitioner Brian’s firm serves as an advisor, coach and facilitator to a diverse group of client companies. Brian is a member of the board of the Surfrider Foundation's Charlotte Chapter.

Rayito LeaderSurf Instructor

Manuel "Rayito" Garcia

Lead Surf Instructor

Rayito is a professional surf instructor that has been giving surf lessons for the last 19 years. He has taught “students” between the ages of 3 to 71 years old. Rayito is an ISA (international surf association) certified surf instructor, and he has been teaching people from all around the globe. He is originally from Galicia, on the north west coast of Spain, but he has lived in California, Australia, and Indonesia. He understands the link between surfing and leadership. Rayito sees the importance of commitment and hard work in the water to achieve personal goals. He has been competing for over 15 years and has been living in Nicaragua for the last 2 and a half years.  Rayito is fluent in English and Spanish.

Aura Boulton LeaderSurf Surf Instructor

Aura Boulton

Lead Surf Instructor

Aura, 33, was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She spent a lot of time on the beaches in Venezuela where her love for surfing was initially sparked by her stepfather at the young age of 8. She lived in NYC from the age of 12 to 21, left surfing and farm life behind, finished high school, and studied photography and sociology. In 2004, Aura returned to her native country, Venezuela, started surfing again, and together with some friends founded a NGO that facilitated environmental and sports education programs for poor kids and communities along the coasts. Now she lives in Nicaragua, continues to do work with local communities, practices yoga, massage, surfing, and is making her dream come true of owning a beautiful piece of land where she intends to run an off the grid eco-walk and home stay. She believes in community unity, education, health, and sharing the love of the land and sea with all. Aura is fluent in English and Spanish.


Marielena Solorzano

LeaderServe Clean Water Humanitarian Aid Project Leader

Marielena is from Granada, Nicaragua.  She lived and studied in the USA.  She is a veterinarian in Granada as her full-time job.  Marielena enjoys partnering with the LeaderSurf program because she feels it is important as a Nicaraguan to have a commitment and the responsibility to help improve of the quality of life of those less fortunate!!! She knows this work will help to avoid  major diseases that can be caused by the lack of something as important as clean water !!  Marielena has been involved in three LeaderServe Clean Water Aid days. In her free time she loves to spend time with her son and riding horses.  Marielena is fluent in English and Spanish. 

Gilles Rusca

Buena Onda Resort Manager

Gilles is the hotel co-manager at the Buena Onda Beach Resort.  He has been very instrumental in the setup and coordination of the LeaderSurf program.  Gilles is originally from Switzerland where he studied at the Swiss School of Tourism.  Gilles has managed properties in both Switzerland and Nicaragua.  He brings his positive customer focused approach to running the hotel.  Gilles has been a great partner for LeaderSurf coordinating the program to insure that all participants have a great experience.  Gilles speaks French, German, English and Spanish.


Aurelie Dafflon

Buena Onda Resort Manager

Aurélie is the co-manager at Buena Onda Beach Resort.  She brings her customer focus to her work and makes certain that all hotel guest enjoy a positive and memorable experience. Aurélie is originally from Switzerland where she graduated from School of Management. She has been working in the hospitality business in Switzerland, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Aurélie makes it a point to check in with her guest daily to insure that the hotel is meeting or exceeding their expectations.  She speaks French, German, English and Spanish.

Donald Stone LeaderSurf Photographer

Donald Stone

Surf and Program Photographer

Donald is a professional photographer who focuses most of his photography on surfing.  He is originally from Emerald Isle, North Carolina but has made Nicaragua his home for the past 10+ years.  Donald is married to a Nicaraguan and when not taking surfing pictures enjoys surfing and spending time with his family. Donald’s photos can be seen at zoomnicaragua.net.





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