Patricia Suriel, Founder and Executive Director
Patricia Thorndike Suriel has been passionate about alleviating extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic since 1992 when she first arrived on the island of Hispaniola. Beginning with collecting donations of a few books through her adventure travel company, Iguana Mama, to create the first library, she then joined with friends, colleagues, and volunteers from around the world to mobilize the establishment of the first educational nonprofit, The DREAM Project, in Cabarete. For these pioneer initiatives she received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic, which recognizes contributions made by a U.S. citizen abroad. After serving the Cabarete community and advocating for equal access to quality education for more than 15 years, Suriel recognized a critical need for innovative programs specifically for girls. In 2009, in partnership with a group of passionate advisors, donors, volunteers and community members, Suriel founded The Mariposa DR Foundation – a nonprofit dedicated to educating and empowering girls to end generational poverty. Today, the Mariposa Center for Girls in Cabarete, Dominican Republic serves more than 150 girls ages 8-21 and their families and has hosted over 2,000 international visitors who are eager to learn about Mariposa’s work.