Staff & Volunteers

 
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.

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.

Jessica Lawson,  Co-Founder  Jessica’s love affair with the Dominican Republic began in 2003 when she first came to Cabarete on vacation. Her work was instrumental in the formation of the Mariposa DR Foundation, earning her the Martin Luther King Social Justice award from her alma mater, Dartmouth College. Now back in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois, Jessica continues to champion for girls in the Dominican Republic and raise awareness of how educating and empowering young women is the only way to affect lasting change.

Jessica Lawson, Co-Founder

Jessica’s love affair with the Dominican Republic began in 2003 when she first came to Cabarete on vacation. Her work was instrumental in the formation of the Mariposa DR Foundation, earning her the Martin Luther King Social Justice award from her alma mater, Dartmouth College. Now back in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois, Jessica continues to champion for girls in the Dominican Republic and raise awareness of how educating and empowering young women is the only way to affect lasting change.

Yany "Gladys" Almonte,  Kitchen Staff  Gladys is in charge of our kitchen and all the meals we serve to our girls. Vital to our commitment to provide healthy and consistent nutrition to Mariposa girls, Gladys prepares and serves breakfast and afternoon snack to all of our girls everyday. She also aids in the cleaning and maintenance of our eatery, and has offered a helping hand in our cooking classes. As an older sister of a graduated Mariposa, Gladys has seen the positive impact that our programs have and is passionate about her contributions to our team.

Yany "Gladys" Almonte, Kitchen Staff

Gladys is in charge of our kitchen and all the meals we serve to our girls. Vital to our commitment to provide healthy and consistent nutrition to Mariposa girls, Gladys prepares and serves breakfast and afternoon snack to all of our girls everyday. She also aids in the cleaning and maintenance of our eatery, and has offered a helping hand in our cooking classes. As an older sister of a graduated Mariposa, Gladys has seen the positive impact that our programs have and is passionate about her contributions to our team.

Amanda Bucci,  Program Coordinator and Director of Art & Culture  Originally from California, Amanda Bucci graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology and later studied traditional midwifery in Puerto Rico. After traveling extensively through the developing world, she joined Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (2002-2004). Amanda has a broad knowledge and years of practical experience in the area of sustainability and environmental education. Here at the foundation, she coordinates our environmental programs and shares her expertise in this area with over 600 volunteers a year. Amanda and her family happily live “off-the-grid” in a small sustainable farm on the north coast.

Amanda Bucci, Program Coordinator and Director of Art & Culture

Originally from California, Amanda Bucci graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology and later studied traditional midwifery in Puerto Rico. After traveling extensively through the developing world, she joined Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (2002-2004). Amanda has a broad knowledge and years of practical experience in the area of sustainability and environmental education. Here at the foundation, she coordinates our environmental programs and shares her expertise in this area with over 600 volunteers a year. Amanda and her family happily live “off-the-grid” in a small sustainable farm on the north coast.

Pamela Cuadros,  Graphic Designer & Surfing Mentor  Pamela’s passion for graphics began in her early teen years and has since blossomed into a successful career in graphic design. She studied Graphic Design, Fine Arts and Art Direction at Altos de Chavon School of Design and the School of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo, and Advertising in the University APEC (Universidad Acción Pro-Educación y Cultura). Pamela is originally from Santo Domingo, and decided to move to the North Coast nine years ago to become an independent graphic designer and enjoy the waves. She is the in-house graphic designer for Mariposa, lending her talents to the  “Cabarete Responsible Tourism & Investment Guide”  and our other publications. An avid surfer, she gives lessons to our girls and is fluent in Spanish and English. She hopes to one day have the equipment at the center to teach our older Mariposas graphic design as part of the job skills program!

Pamela Cuadros, Graphic Designer & Surfing Mentor

Pamela’s passion for graphics began in her early teen years and has since blossomed into a successful career in graphic design. She studied Graphic Design, Fine Arts and Art Direction at Altos de Chavon School of Design and the School of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo, and Advertising in the University APEC (Universidad Acción Pro-Educación y Cultura). Pamela is originally from Santo Domingo, and decided to move to the North Coast nine years ago to become an independent graphic designer and enjoy the waves. She is the in-house graphic designer for Mariposa, lending her talents to the “Cabarete Responsible Tourism & Investment Guide” and our other publications. An avid surfer, she gives lessons to our girls and is fluent in Spanish and English. She hopes to one day have the equipment at the center to teach our older Mariposas graphic design as part of the job skills program!

Altagracia De La Rosa,  Community Social Worker  Altagracia De La Rosa is currently studying clinical psychology. She is originally from the town of Nagua, but moved to Cabarete 30 years ago. She has 12 siblings, 3 children and 3 grandsons. She loves spending time with her family. She’s very happy to join the Mariposa team because she is passionate about helping others.

Altagracia De La Rosa, Community Social Worker

Altagracia De La Rosa is currently studying clinical psychology. She is originally from the town of Nagua, but moved to Cabarete 30 years ago. She has 12 siblings, 3 children and 3 grandsons. She loves spending time with her family. She’s very happy to join the Mariposa team because she is passionate about helping others.

Aislinn Doyle,  Development & Volunteer Relations Specialist  Aislinn had been with the Mariposa DR Foundation since the beginning, first as a volunteer and then as an Executive Board Member. She served as President of the Board from 2011-2017. Aislinn has a Master’s degree in education from Harvard and her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. She is based out of Massachusetts, but gets down to the DR as often as she can.

Aislinn Doyle, Development & Volunteer Relations Specialist

Aislinn had been with the Mariposa DR Foundation since the beginning, first as a volunteer and then as an Executive Board Member. She served as President of the Board from 2011-2017. Aislinn has a Master’s degree in education from Harvard and her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. She is based out of Massachusetts, but gets down to the DR as often as she can.

Rebeca Dugue,  Program Assistant  Originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Rebecca Dugue has now lived in Cabarete for 18 years. She loves music and reading and likes to explore new things. Besides her work in tutoring at Mariposa DR Foundation, Dugue is completing her bachelor's degree in psychology at the Technical University of Santiago. From a young age, she has worked with various communities by leading reading-clubs and organizing early childhood programming for parents. It is a pleasure to dedicate her energy and love where the results of her work are apparent.

Rebeca Dugue, Program Assistant

Originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Rebecca Dugue has now lived in Cabarete for 18 years. She loves music and reading and likes to explore new things. Besides her work in tutoring at Mariposa DR Foundation, Dugue is completing her bachelor's degree in psychology at the Technical University of Santiago. From a young age, she has worked with various communities by leading reading-clubs and organizing early childhood programming for parents. It is a pleasure to dedicate her energy and love where the results of her work are apparent.

Nora Fallon,  Assistant Director of Elementary & Middle School  Born and raised in Indiana, Nora considers herself very lucky to begin working at Mariposa. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, she served in the first group of Cambodian Peace Corps volunteers, teaching students and educators in the rural countryside. For ten years, she's been teaching in Texas, from community college classes for people emerging from incarceration to middle school classes of immigrants. With a firm belief in the transformative power of education, it's an honor to join in the movement for girls' empowerment and environmental protection here in Cabarete.

Nora Fallon, Assistant Director of Elementary & Middle School

Born and raised in Indiana, Nora considers herself very lucky to begin working at Mariposa. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, she served in the first group of Cambodian Peace Corps volunteers, teaching students and educators in the rural countryside. For ten years, she's been teaching in Texas, from community college classes for people emerging from incarceration to middle school classes of immigrants. With a firm belief in the transformative power of education, it's an honor to join in the movement for girls' empowerment and environmental protection here in Cabarete.

Fernanda Garcia,  Program Assistant  Fernanda is a talented young woman who graduated from Mariposa programs to work for the Foundation. As the sixth of eight children, she is one of the few people in her family who has finished high school. At Mariposa, Fernanda enjoys being part of of a wonderful team and being able to give back by sharing what she learned with the girls at the Center. She hopes to be a great example to her two children, the girls at Mariposa and her community.

Fernanda Garcia, Program Assistant

Fernanda is a talented young woman who graduated from Mariposa programs to work for the Foundation. As the sixth of eight children, she is one of the few people in her family who has finished high school. At Mariposa, Fernanda enjoys being part of of a wonderful team and being able to give back by sharing what she learned with the girls at the Center. She hopes to be a great example to her two children, the girls at Mariposa and her community.

Tessa Getchis , Long-Term Volunteer, Marine Science  While with Mariposa, Tessa is teaching a marine science class and a hands-on course involving paddling and snorkeling. She has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree in aquaculture from the University of Rhode Island. Tessa is passionate about the ocean and is so excited to explore it with the girls at the Center. In her free time, she enjoys running, dancing, surfing and fishing. She lives in Mystic, Connecticut with her husband and their two daughters who will also be volunteering at the Center.

Tessa Getchis, Long-Term Volunteer, Marine Science

While with Mariposa, Tessa is teaching a marine science class and a hands-on course involving paddling and snorkeling. She has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree in aquaculture from the University of Rhode Island. Tessa is passionate about the ocean and is so excited to explore it with the girls at the Center. In her free time, she enjoys running, dancing, surfing and fishing. She lives in Mystic, Connecticut with her husband and their two daughters who will also be volunteering at the Center.

Ryan Getchis , Long-Term Volunteer, Water-Sports/Lifeguard  Ryan has a bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is a pilot for Jetblue Airways. He lives in Mystic, Connecticut but as a water-sports enthusiast considers the North Coast of the DR a second home. His parents own a small home here and it’s often the place of family reunions, vacations and making memories with his daughters Cameron and Makena and wife Tessa. Ryan is excited to take a break from his busy flying schedule to work at the Center. He will be assisting Tessa and Diego as a lifeguard in the marine science SUP program, and is looking forward to providing the Mariposas with a safe and memorable experience on the water.

Ryan Getchis, Long-Term Volunteer, Water-Sports/Lifeguard

Ryan has a bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is a pilot for Jetblue Airways. He lives in Mystic, Connecticut but as a water-sports enthusiast considers the North Coast of the DR a second home. His parents own a small home here and it’s often the place of family reunions, vacations and making memories with his daughters Cameron and Makena and wife Tessa. Ryan is excited to take a break from his busy flying schedule to work at the Center. He will be assisting Tessa and Diego as a lifeguard in the marine science SUP program, and is looking forward to providing the Mariposas with a safe and memorable experience on the water.

Yajaira Martinez,  Office Manager  Yajaira started her first job in 2006 at The DREAM Project and in 2009, she followed Suriel to Cabarete Coffee Company where she became the top barista and shop manager. Yajaira is now the office manager at The Mariposa Center for Girls. Yajaira holds a degree in marketing from UTESA in Puerto Plata and has a young daughter, Zoe. Yajaira is a great role model for all the Mariposa girls and a shining example of what an empowered young woman can accomplish in her community.

Yajaira Martinez, Office Manager

Yajaira started her first job in 2006 at The DREAM Project and in 2009, she followed Suriel to Cabarete Coffee Company where she became the top barista and shop manager. Yajaira is now the office manager at The Mariposa Center for Girls. Yajaira holds a degree in marketing from UTESA in Puerto Plata and has a young daughter, Zoe. Yajaira is a great role model for all the Mariposa girls and a shining example of what an empowered young woman can accomplish in her community.

Dilsaurys Mercado,  Literacy Guide & Librarian  A Cabarete local, Dilsaurys joined our team at the beginning of 2018 as a skilled educator and library administrator. While she is not working at Mariposa, Dilsaurys attends the Technical University of Santiago, where she is completing her studies in early childhood education. At Mariposa, Dilsaurys teaches reading, oversees both the young adult and children’s library, and assists with one-on-one tutoring. Dilsaurys aims to grow and develop as an educator so she can continue to give back to her community.

Dilsaurys Mercado, Literacy Guide & Librarian

A Cabarete local, Dilsaurys joined our team at the beginning of 2018 as a skilled educator and library administrator. While she is not working at Mariposa, Dilsaurys attends the Technical University of Santiago, where she is completing her studies in early childhood education. At Mariposa, Dilsaurys teaches reading, oversees both the young adult and children’s library, and assists with one-on-one tutoring. Dilsaurys aims to grow and develop as an educator so she can continue to give back to her community.

Miriam Orellana,  Program Coordinator  Miriam is originally from Bolivia but has lived in the Dominican Republic for over 5 years. Miriam has more than 20 years of experience working in development and program management in a variety of capacities. She is polyglot and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Miriam Graduated from United World Colleges and has served in the  UWC  International Board, Bolivian National Committee and right now as President of the Dominican Republic National Committee. Here at Mariposa, Miriam will be working to better develop our Mariposa Volando Program and supporting programs and management in a variety of ways.

Miriam Orellana, Program Coordinator

Miriam is originally from Bolivia but has lived in the Dominican Republic for over 5 years. Miriam has more than 20 years of experience working in development and program management in a variety of capacities. She is polyglot and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Miriam Graduated from United World Colleges and has served in the UWC International Board, Bolivian National Committee and right now as President of the Dominican Republic National Committee. Here at Mariposa, Miriam will be working to better develop our Mariposa Volando Program and supporting programs and management in a variety of ways.

Maria Alexandra Rivas,  Production Supervisor, Mariposa Upcycled Sails  Maria Alexandra Rivas Lopez has a degree in Education and her teaching experience includes 2 years teaching a special needs child and 5 years working in a private school with children 6-8 years old. As a teacher she focuses not just on teaching content, but also uses mediating strategies to develop sensitivity towards animals and the environment, as well as social and emotional learning for personal growth and daily life. At Mariposa she works in our literacy program and also sews in our Mariposa Upcycled Sails social enterprise.

Maria Alexandra Rivas, Production Supervisor, Mariposa Upcycled Sails

Maria Alexandra Rivas Lopez has a degree in Education and her teaching experience includes 2 years teaching a special needs child and 5 years working in a private school with children 6-8 years old. As a teacher she focuses not just on teaching content, but also uses mediating strategies to develop sensitivity towards animals and the environment, as well as social and emotional learning for personal growth and daily life. At Mariposa she works in our literacy program and also sews in our Mariposa Upcycled Sails social enterprise.

Yanaira Rodriguez,  Administrative Assistant  Yanaira is a full-time intern at Mariposa, working at the front office as an administrative assistant. Yanaira is a Mariposa Volando, and has been with the Foundation since she was 11. With Mariposa’s support, she studies business administration and has plans to run a business one day.

Yanaira Rodriguez, Administrative Assistant

Yanaira is a full-time intern at Mariposa, working at the front office as an administrative assistant. Yanaira is a Mariposa Volando, and has been with the Foundation since she was 11. With Mariposa’s support, she studies business administration and has plans to run a business one day.

Luis Sosa,  General Services  Born in Cabarete and raised in the countryside near Río San Juan, Luís brings his love of the countryside and knowledge of native plants and trees, and their care, to Mariposa. Luís enjoys working to ensure a safe and clean learning space for our girls. His responsibilities range from pool maintenance to kitchen help, and he works alongside Jelsi in property and facility maintenance.

Luis Sosa, General Services

Born in Cabarete and raised in the countryside near Río San Juan, Luís brings his love of the countryside and knowledge of native plants and trees, and their care, to Mariposa. Luís enjoys working to ensure a safe and clean learning space for our girls. His responsibilities range from pool maintenance to kitchen help, and he works alongside Jelsi in property and facility maintenance.

Eva Torres , Grounds  Eva was born and raised in Cabarete and she comes from a humble family. Her parents are Dominican and she has three children that she raises on her own.

Eva Torres, Grounds

Eva was born and raised in Cabarete and she comes from a humble family. Her parents are Dominican and she has three children that she raises on her own.

Harriet Trower,  Environmental Ambassador  Harriet Trower is a British Geography graduate from the University of Leeds. Since graduating in 2011 she has taken courses in Environmental Management, Community Development, Herbal Medicine and a life changing Permaculture Design Course. Her love for the natural environment started young from helping her parents and grandparents in their allotments. She was fascinated by the growing process, and enjoyed harvesting and cooking what she had sowed herself! In 2017 she became a Forest School leader in the UK, and is keen to spread the empowering student led learning approach. Her mission is to inspire the girls to love Mother Earth, because if you love something you will always want to take care of it.

Harriet Trower, Environmental Ambassador

Harriet Trower is a British Geography graduate from the University of Leeds. Since graduating in 2011 she has taken courses in Environmental Management, Community Development, Herbal Medicine and a life changing Permaculture Design Course. Her love for the natural environment started young from helping her parents and grandparents in their allotments. She was fascinated by the growing process, and enjoyed harvesting and cooking what she had sowed herself! In 2017 she became a Forest School leader in the UK, and is keen to spread the empowering student led learning approach. Her mission is to inspire the girls to love Mother Earth, because if you love something you will always want to take care of it.

Braden Diego Wilson,  Long-Term Volunteer, SUP Program  Braden Diego Wilson teaches middle school in the mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He is thrilled to be working alongside the Mariposa team with a new group of students and a new classroom; the rivers and ocean of the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Diego has spent the past decade planning and leading student service learning programs focusing on community development and coffee production in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. Most recently, he has handled the logistics of disaster relief efforts with student groups in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Diego is the proud father of Isabel and husband of Erin and he is an avid mountain biker, skier, surfer, and standup paddler who feels equally at home trudging through coffee fields as he does pursuing his passions in the mountains or on the water.

Braden Diego Wilson, Long-Term Volunteer, SUP Program

Braden Diego Wilson teaches middle school in the mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He is thrilled to be working alongside the Mariposa team with a new group of students and a new classroom; the rivers and ocean of the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Diego has spent the past decade planning and leading student service learning programs focusing on community development and coffee production in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. Most recently, he has handled the logistics of disaster relief efforts with student groups in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Diego is the proud father of Isabel and husband of Erin and he is an avid mountain biker, skier, surfer, and standup paddler who feels equally at home trudging through coffee fields as he does pursuing his passions in the mountains or on the water.

Belkis Ynoa , Seamstress, Mariposa Upcycled Sails  A Mariposa mother, Belkys began working as a seamstress in our Upcycled project two years ago. She assists in the production and design of our Upcycled products, which include backpacks, wristlets, and reusable shopping bags. She also assists in sewing classes for Mariposa girls. A mother of three, Belkys enjoys being a part of a team dedicated to educating and uplifting girls in her community.

Belkis Ynoa, Seamstress, Mariposa Upcycled Sails

A Mariposa mother, Belkys began working as a seamstress in our Upcycled project two years ago. She assists in the production and design of our Upcycled products, which include backpacks, wristlets, and reusable shopping bags. She also assists in sewing classes for Mariposa girls. A mother of three, Belkys enjoys being a part of a team dedicated to educating and uplifting girls in her community.