Board of Directors

Julia Alvarez, Honorary Chairwoman

In 2014 Julia Alvarez received the National Medal of the Arts Award from President Barack Obama. An icon in Latino literature, Dominican-American poet, novelist, essayist and writer in residence at Middlebury College, Julia has supported and inspired the girls, volunteers, and staff at The Mariposa DR Foundation since the beginning. Her novel, “In the Time of the Butterflies” tells the story of the Mirabal sisters, the heroines of the Dominican Republic, who lost their lives fighting for social justice in the times of Trujillo.

Tesha McCord Poe, President

Tesha McCord Poe is a passionate educator and fundraiser who uses her legal and business background to support the long term success of nonprofits. A graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University with a B.A. in economics, Tesha received a JD/MBA from Northwestern University and has worked in several industries including broadcast journalism, banking, corporate law, and as a tenure track law teacher. Tesha spent the last decade working as a senior administrator in independent schools in the Bay Area where she helped set and implement innovative educational strategies and provide growing revenue streams. In Fall 2018, Tesha joined the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula as the Chief Development Officer which serves 2,500 students in 9 sites near Palo Alto. Prior to BGCP Tesha led advancement teams at Castilleja School and Hillbrook School.

Jessica Mitchell, Treasurer

Jessica Mitchell was born in Rome, Italy, to an American father and a Chilean mother. She grew up in the U.S. and traveled extensively in Chile and in Europe. In 1988 she taught English in a Chilean elementary school. She earned a BS in Education from SUNY Cortland (New York) in 1994 and taught preschoolers in Ithaca for 3 years. She and her husband Rich Sheiman have 3 children, Max, Emma, and Ivy. Jessica holds Montessori certification at both the Early Childhood and Elementary I levels. She taught at the Elizabeth Anne Clune (EAC) Montessori School of Ithaca for 4 years, and then homeschooled for 3 years. With her children now in public schools, Jessica works for the Ithaca Beer Company, developing recipes and menus for their farm-to-table brewpub.

Raymond Jay Dunn

Raymond (Jay) Dunn is a Managing Director at GeoGlobal Energy LLC, a geothermal energy development focused on the worldwide development and acquisition of geothermal energy projects. Mr. Dunn is responsible for all aspects of business and commercial development, acquisitions, and project and investment management. Mr. Dunn has over 25 years experience working in international finance. Prior to GGE, Mr. Dunn was the co-founder and Managing Director of the Latin Healthcare Fund (LHF), a US-based investment group that invested in private healthcare companies in Latin America and the U.S.. Additionally, Mr. Dunn served as Senior Investment Officer at Global Environment Fund where he managed the investment program for Latin America, and as a Banking Officer at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in the Trade Finance Group. Mr. Dunn holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from Middlebury College.

Rosy Gonzalez

Vice President at Northwind Strategies, Rosy Gonzalez is a senior strategy and development professional. Born in New York City to Dominican parents, Rosy is a first- generation American that has experienced how education and opportunity can truly change your life trajectory. Rosy has served as the Finance Director and Political liaison for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. In this role she managed TogetherPAC, his political committee, and implemented the Governor’s surrogacy and fundraising efforts on behalf of candidates’ and donors nationwide. In addition, Rosy has worked as the Finance Director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party through the elections for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey, where she worked closely with senior leadership on strategy and implementation that led to victories on both campaigns; and as the Community Organizing Director and later Finance Director to former Boston At-Large City Councilor, and current Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston, Felix G. Arroyo. Rosy is a graduate of Simmons College, and of the Arabic Language Institute in Cairo, Egypt. She lives in Boston and currently serves as the President of Fair Shot for All Inc., an organization focused on building a better life for Massachusetts’ working families.

Stacey Kertsman

Stacey Kertsman is the Director of the Center for Awareness, Compassion, and Engagement at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, CA. Stacey received her M.A. from UC Berkeley in the field of Social and Cultural Studies in Education. Stacey has spent time teaching in the independent school system, as well as acting as an integral member of curriculum development and school restructuring teams. Recent program initiatives include the development/implementation of a comprehensive, school-wide social and emotional learning program at Saint Mark’s School in San Rafael, CA. She was awarded the title “Teacher of the Future, 2010” by the National Association of Independent Schools for her focus on the use of technology and emphasis on global education in the classroom to create an innovative platform for teaching 21st century skills. In 2008 Stacey co-founded eduWeavers, a non-profit dedicated to partnering schools in the United States and South Africa around the concept of reciprocal learning. While she has taught across grade levels and in the University of California system, her most rewarding personal experiences have occurred during her extensive global travels with her own family, Robert, Talia, and Ariana. When they aren’t off on an adventure, they love to hike with their dog, spend time with extended family, and cook food from around the world.

Bessie Speers

Bessie Speers has nearly 25 years of experience in independent school education, currently finishing 8 years as the Head of Ethel Walker School to become the first female Head of School at Tower Hill. Bessie currently serves on the boards of the National Association of Principals of Schools with Girls, National Coalition of Girls Schools, Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education, Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, and she was founding Board Chair for the Community Farm of Simsbury. Bessie is a graduate of The Bryn Mawr School, a PK-12 girls’ school in Baltimore. She holds a BA in English from Middlebury College, an MLA from Johns Hopkins University and has participated in education programs at Harvard and Columbia Universities. Her extensive background includes teaching positions as well as expertise in the areas of administration, admissions, curriculum, strategic planning, and diversity. She is a competitive tennis player and enjoys hiking and travel with her family, husband Rev. Thomas G. Speers III and their two young children Nellie and Guthrie, as well as philanthropic endeavors.

Patricia Thorndike Suriel

In 1992 Patricia Thorndike Suriel arrived in Cabarete, Dominican Republic and founded Iguana Mama Mountain Bike and Adventure tours, an eco-tourism company that helped put the Dominican Republic on the map as an international adventure destination. Offering her clients discounts up to 25%, if they donated children’s books in Spanish; Suriel was able to build three small libraries at local schools. The building of these libraries, lead to the founding of her first “not for profit” in 1999 “The Friends of the DR.”. In 2002 with Suriel at the helm, this same organization moved into working full time and became the Dominican Republic Mentoring And Education Project the DREAM Project.

In the 2009 Suriel began to develop the concept that would become the Mariposa DR foundation and in October 2009 the Mariposa DR foundation was granted their 501(c3) status. Patricia married Freddy Mendez Suriel in January 1995. The couple has two children Tatianna and Nicolas. The family owns and operates Cabarete Coffee Company and Tours, which promotes organic farming and eco tourism.

Advisory Board

Radmilla Cody: Miss Navajo Nation ’97-‘98, Grammy-nominated artist

Radmilla Cody is a GRAMMY Nominee, multiple Native American Music Awards winner, 46th Miss Navajo Nation, one of NPR’s 50 great voices, a Black History Maker Honoree, and an advocate against sexual and gender-based violence. Miss Cody is of the Tla’a‘schi’i’(Red Bottom People) clan and is born for the Naahilii (African-Americans). Born and raised in the beautiful and picturesque plateaus of the Navajo Nation, Radmilla’s childhood consisted of herding sheep on foot and horseback, carding and spinning wool, and searching late into the night with her grandmother for lost sheep and their lambs. A survivor of domestic violence, Radmilla uses her personal experiences to advocate strongly against the epidemic of violence. It is an issue she has become very passionate about. As a biracial person she attempts to communicate positive messages about her dual identity as children who are biracial or multiracial still bear the brunt of prejudice.

Bill Eichner: Founder of Alta Gracia

Bill Eichner, an ophthalmologist with farmer roots in Nebraska, founder of Alta Gracia organic coffee farm.

Emmanuel Franjul: Partner and Vice President at Frontier Capital

Mr. Franjul is a Partner and Vice President at Frontier Capital, a Boston-based investment firm with over $13 billion of assets under management. He is responsible for investments in the financial services industry, particularly in banking, insurance, real estate, and home building sectors. Prior to Frontier, he was an aeronautical engineer for GE Aviation, where he designed helicopter engines for military and commercial applications. He also worked at the Advanced Propulsion Lab at GE’s Global Research Center. He serves on the Advisory Board of the New Americans Integration Institute at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the largest organization in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees. Mr. Franjul earned a B.S. from the Sibley School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, and an MBA from Cornell’s Johnson School. He is originally from the Dominican Republic and currently resides in Boston.

Holly Gordon: Campaign Founder and Executive Producer Girl Rising

Holly Gordon is a Founder of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls’ education. She is also an Executive Producer for the film of same name, at the center of the movement, Girl Rising. Holly was selected by Fast Company as a member of the League of Extraordinary Women in 2012 and named by Newsweek/Daily Beast as one of 125 Women of Impact in 2012. Holly and her team traveled the globe to tell the stories of nine girls nine girls living in the developing world, striving beyond circumstance and overcoming nearly insurmountable odds to achieve their dreams. Forbes Magazine named the Girl Rising movement the #1 Most Dynamic Social Initiative of 2012.

Renee Grant-Mitchell: Ed.D, Harvard University

Dr. Renee Grant-Mitchell was the Chief Specialized Services Officer of the Chicago Public Schools and retired in June 2008. Renee is a native of Chicago, a product of the Chicago Public Schools, and a veteran educator with over 35 years of experience. For the majority of her professional career, Renee was on the front lines of special education advocacy for students with disabilities as well as for at-risk students who are in need of additional supports while pursuing their education. Dr. Mitchell began her career with an undergraduate degree from Bradley University and 15 years as a classroom teacher for the Chicago Public Schools, teaching special education, general education, elementary, and high school students. In 1985 she became a special education administrator and then earned a master’s degree in Education from Chicago State University. Obtaining successive administrative appointments of increasing responsibility within the Chicago Public Schools, in 1995, Dr. Mitchell earned a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University. She returned to the Chicago Public Schools and was appointed Deputy Chief Specialized Services Officer. She earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University in 2001. As Chief Specialized Services Officer of the nation’s third largest school district starting in 2003, Dr. Mitchell was responsible for assuring excellence in education and service provision for approximately 55,000 students with disabilities enrolled in more than 700 schools. In addition, she oversaw the programs that supported the social-emotional, behavioral, and physical health of all 450,000 Chicago Public School students and managed a fiscal budget exceeding $800 million. She was instrumental in ensuring that the Chicago Public Schools remained in the forefront of educating students with disabilities by seeking additional resources for students and by her commitment to support students, families, schools, and the Office of Specialized Services’ staff.

Judy Greenberg: M.Ed M.A., Licensed Psychologist

Judy Greenberg has extensive expertise in delivering direct services to trauma impacted populations, including those effected by vicarious and secondary trauma and loss, both domestically and internationally. She is highly skilled in the development and presentation of training and workshops for professionals (both in mental health and other fields) working in high stress environments with trauma impacted populations. She brings a profound understanding of the complexity of trauma, what the physio-psychological impact of trauma is on human behavior and functioning, and how to mitigate the impact while ensuring a trauma sensitive approach working with individuals and teams. She has conducted research with refugees from Central America on the confluence of traumatic events and asylum seeking and has provided mental health support to refugees and torture survivors living in Ecuador, SA and provided staff training around trauma for local staff working with this population. She recently received the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from the Fordham University Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs. Working with cultural and social differences is something she is very passionate about and she has a lifelong commitment to economic, gender, racial and social equity and working towards the eradication of poverty and injustice.

Richard Hansen: MBA, President and CEO of Soluz

Richard Hansen is President and Founder of Soluz, Inc., a company that introduced solar PV for rural electrification in Latin America. Soluz provides consulting services globally, and delivers PV products through Soluz Honduras in Central America. In 1984, Hansen pioneered the use of PV for rural electrification in the Dominican Republic with small systems installed by local PV enterprises combined with microfinance, a breakthrough that made PV systems affordable for rural families. In 1989, Hansen also introduced PV for rural electrification in Honduras, where he continues to lead efforts as President of Soluz Honduras. Hansen has provided advisory services to energy access efforts around the world that have delivered electricity for the first time to millions of people. Among the numerous assignments, in 1996, under contract to the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), Hansen traveled to Bangladesh to advise the Grameen Bank on a PV business plan for a new entity, Grameen Shakti. This initial $750,000 IFC loan helped launch an operation that recently announced its millionth PV customer. He presently assists the UN Foundation’s energy access practitioner network aimed at advancing the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Mr. Hansen has received numerous awards for his pioneering work in developing sustainable models for renewable energy commercialization. Hansen holds a BSME from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Boston University.

Deborah Harmon Bouknight: Educator

Deborah Harmon Bouknight was born in Rochester, NY. As a young adult she moved to Washington DC and taught in Fairfax County Public Schools for eight years, developing a life-long interest in educational issues. Over the years, Debby has supported a number of school related charities as a volunteer and donor, including serving as chairman of the restructuring committee of a DC public elementary school. Debby is married to Lon Bouknight, who was chairman of Steptoe & Johnson, a highly regarded law firm based in Washington, DC. and now holds a position as executive vice president and general counsel of PSEG (Public Service Enterprise Group) located in Newark, New Jersey. Debby and Lon reside in Washington D.C. and NY. The Bouknights have been staunch supporters of the Mariposa DR Foundation since its inception.

Sara Lulo: J.D., LL.M., M.A., Assistant Dean at Yale Law School

Sara Lulo serves as an Assistant Dean at Yale Law School. She joined Yale in 2012 as the inaugural Director of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights, and the Law School’s first director of International Programs. Before joining Yale, Lulo served as the first Executive Director of the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, where she also taught as an adjunct professor of law. Her earlier experience includes private practice in the New York and London offices of White & Case LLP, where she specialized in international arbitration. She also served on secondment to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Lulo currently serves on the Boards of Planned Parenthood for Southern New England and JUNTA for Progressive Action (the latter is a New Haven-based organization that provides services and advocacy to improve the social, political and economic conditions of local Latino communities). She also is a founding Board member of the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR), which is based in Lusaka, Zambia. Lulo received J.D. and LL.M. degrees from Cornell Law School, and served as Article Editor for the Cornell Law Review. She holds an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University, and a B.A. from Cornell University.

Nell Newman: Environmentalist, Founder of Newman’s Own Organics, President of the Nell Newman Foundation

Nell Newman is an environmentalist, biologist, and a prominent supporter of sustainable agriculture, who became an entrepreneur when she founded an organic food and pet food production company, Newman’s Own Organics. Nell’s parents raised her to be a philanthropist and she carries on her father’s legacy through her work at the Nell Newman Foundation. Nell is a visionary who supports small, innovative organizations – the underdogs making a big difference. Nell was introduced to The Mariposa DR Foundation three years ago while vacationing in Cabarete and has been instrumental to the organization’s success ever since.

Caitlin O’Shea: Educator

Caitlin O’Shea began her career in education as the first employee of the Dominican Republic Education And Mentoring (DREAM) Project. Upon graduating from Cornell University she moved to the Dominican Republic to volunteer fulltime for the nonprofit organization. As Program Coordinator, she spent four years developing educational programs with the Executive Director. Working for the DREAM Project she successfully solicited funds from USAID and private donors to implement a sustainable summer camp program for at-risk youth that is still operating today. Inspired by the community school movement, she decided to further pursue her career in social justice. In 2009, she was awarded a fellowship through the Oakland Teaching Fellow’s program and earned her multi-subject teaching credential while working as a fulltime special day class teacher in a high-need middle school in East Oakland. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Educational Policy and continuing to teach the children of East Oakland.

Yaneris M. Rosa: J.D., Harvard University

Yaneris Rosa was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York at the age of ten. She currently works as the Assistant General Counsel of the Honeywell Security Group, a division of Honeywell International Inc., where she partners with business leaders to further the growth and success of Honeywell’s product line, including assisting and facilitating Honeywell’s expansion of its Total Connect offerings throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. She was selected to become a member of Honeywell’s Legal and Government Relations Diversity Council, an organization that aligns with her commitment to support and actively promote diversity in the legal profession. Prior to joining Honeywell, she was the Associate General Counsel of Planet Payment, Inc., a Long Beach, NY based start-up. Rosa started her career as a Corporate Associate at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett LLP, a position that laid the foundation for her current corporate practice. She also managed pro bono matters, including asylum/immigration cases, divorces/family law issues for domestic violence victims. She received a Bachelor of Science in Policy Analysis and Management with concentrations in Latino Studies and African Diaspora Studies from Cornell University and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

Elizabeth Thorndike: Ph.D., Non-Profit Consultant

Elizabeth Thorndike has spent her professional career in the nonprofit and education sectors, and in public policy positions concerned with the environment at the local, state, and federal levels. Dr. Thorndike was founder, executive director, president, and member of the board of the Center for Environmental Information (CEI) in Rochester, NY from 1973 to 2007. She has held appointments as adjunct faculty at Cornell University since 1996, teaching an environmental policy course in the departments of Natural Resources and City and Regional Planning. She has received awards and commendations from U.S. EPA (1975,1986); Environmental Law Section of the NYS Bar Association (1992); New York Parks and Conservation Association (2002); Association for Protection of the Adirondacks (2007); and Adirondack Research Consortium (2013). Dr. Thorndike holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and Harvard University and a doctorate in natural resource policy and planning from Cornell University.

James C. White: Ph.D, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University

James C. White, professor emeritus at Cornell University, has had a distinguished career of leadership in academic education, research and outreach, and in not-for-profit governance. At Cornell he was a professor of food and dairy science and a Cooperative Extension leader in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and later served as assistant dean for academic affairs in the School of Hotel Administration where he taught courses in sanitation. He is a past president of the New York State Association of Milk and Food Sanitarians, the author of numerous research papers in his field, and the editor of 10 volumes of conference proceedings on the topics of acid rain and global climate change. His leadership in the not-for-profit world includes serving as a founder and president of the Tompkins County Environmental Management Council, founding president of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, scientific advisor, Board member and officer of the Center for Environmental Information. He has traveled widely and has lived in New Zealand, Brazil, and France while undertaking extensive academic assignments. He holds a Ph.D in microbiology from Cornell University.

Michelle Wucker: MA, Author and Vice President of Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Michele Wucker ( is author of THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore (St Martin’s Press, April 2016). She also is the author of LOCKOUT: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right and WHY THE COCKS FIGHT: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle for Hispaniola. She has served as Vice President of Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; President of the World Policy Institute; and Latin America Bureau Chief at International Financing Review. She has been recognized as a 2009 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2008 Womens Media Center Progressive Womens Voices alumna, among other honors. She holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a BA from Rice University. She speaks frequently on the global economy, immigration, leadership, and crisis management. She has been widely interviewed by US and international media including NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, and CNN. She is a mentor-editor for The OpEd Project and a founding member of the Border of Lights arts collective. She also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, PEN, and the Authors Guild; an Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet Ambassador; and a member of the global advisory board of Womensphere.

Joelle Wyser-Pratte: Founding Partner of OCP Capital LLC

Joelle Wyser-Pratte is Founding Partner of OCP Capital LLC. Joelle’s experience in the securities industries spans over 20 years. This year Joelle was named top professional woman of the year by Worldwide Whos Who. In 1994, she founded Minerva Capital Management Ltd. In 2004, she joined her father’s firm, Wyser-Pratte Management Co. Inc., to launch and market the Wyser-Pratte Euro Value Fund. Prior to the securities business, Joelle began her career in journalism with International Media Partners and NBC Television in Florida. Joelle graduated from Tufts University, and holds Series 7 and 63 registrations with FINRA. Joelle is co-chair of the board of Educate Girls Globally, a not-for-profit organization focused on improving education for girls in the developing world. She is also on the advisory Board of Global Partnerships forum in association with the United Nations and a featured member of Ladies who Launch in support of women entrepreneurs and an active participant in a long supported charity for childrens education in Nigaragua, the Fabretto Organization. She is an active supporter of many other education and womens’ rights based organizations such as the NYCLU’s defense of womens rights.
Joelle lives with her three children in Manhattan and is an avid equestrian who also enjoys travel, furniture design, sculpting, and all outdoor and water sports from kite surfing to skiing.

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