Local Team


Meet our incredibly hard-working team members!

Ani Yanachkova
Ani Yanachkova is Yspaniola’s Executive Director. Ani has extensive experience teaching, conducting community outreach, managing teachers, and developing curricula in the Dominican Republic and the United States. Before joining Yspaniola, she spent four years with the DREAM Project on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic as an Academic Director, overseeing educational programs. Ani holds a B.A. from UMASS Amherst and a Master of Education in Policy, Planning, and Administration in International Development from Boston University.

Julio Louis
Julio Louis is Yspaniola’s Local Coordinator, working directly with the organization’s Service Learning program, University Scholars Program, operations, and community development. Julio graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the Technological University of Santiago (UTESA) with a degree in Tourism and Hotel Business Administration. He started working with the Yspaniola in 2005 for a cultural exchange program with American students. In 2013, Julio finished a course of study in pedagogy at the American Language Partnership International Institute of English language teaching; he has since taught English in several schools throughout the Dominican Republic. Julio has been a facilitator of Service Learning programs for the CIEE Council in International Education Exchange, a study abroad program operating worldwide. He also has worked for The DREAM Project’s A Ganar program as a counselor and professor of vocational skills in the areas of Customer Service and Mathematics. In 2016, Julio founded Innobatey, a technical training and youth development program for adolescents living in batey contexts.
Ronaldo Charle
Ronaldo Charle (Ronny), a veteran teacher from Batey Libertad, currently serves as Director of Yspaniola's Learning Center. Ronny attended the Santiago University of Technology (UTESA) through a scholarship program with Education Across Borders. Since completing his law degree in 2012, Ronny has worked with youth from various communities around Batey Libertad. He worked as a trainer with Deportes Para la Vida (Sports for Life), a program that teaches local youth about HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual health through interactive games and activities. Before joining our local team, Ronny was involved with Yspaniola as a camp volunteer and assisted with our Service Learning Trips .

Anne-Sophie Gerald
Anne-Sophie Gerald is currently serving as the Local Program Manager, overseeing Yspaniola’s Student Service Learning, Internship & Fellowship, University Scholarship, Summer Camp, and Community Outreach Programs. Anne-Sophie graduated in 2014 from The College of New Jersey with a double major in International Studies, with a focus on Latin America, and Spanish. Before assuming her role as Local Program Manager, Anne-Sophie served as a Princeton in Latin America Fellow for two years. Until August 2016, she worked at the World Food Programme in Port-au-Prince, Haiti as a Communications Fellow. Prior to that, she taught English at El Centro Educativo Trilingüe Nuevo Amanecer in Parramos, Guatemala and supported literacy programs in a local Rieken library.


Willy José Estache
Willy José Estache is currently serving as a full-time teacher in the Learning Center. Willy is from Batey Libertad and he is in his second year studying Education at the Santiago University of Technology (UTESA) campus in Mao. After graduation, he intends to work as a high school science teacher. As a volunteer with Deportes para la Vida (Sports for Life), Willy brings with him seven years of experience mentoring and teaching youth from various communities around Batey Libertad.


Daniel Luis Joseph
Daniel Luis Joseph is a full-time assistant in Yspaniola’s Learning Centre. A native of Batey Libertad, Daniel recently graduated from High School at el Liceo Vespertino Maizal, topping his class and earning the title ‘estudiante de máxima excelencia’. With more than 3 years collaborating with Yspaniola on his résumé, Daniel hopes to pursue a career in education in the future.

Roberto Nacien
Roberto Naicen is currently serving as Yspaniola’s staff driver. Roberto is from Batey Libertad, and before joining the Yspaniola team in July 2016 he worked as a taxi driver in Esperanza and Santiago. Roberto has great expectations for community changes in the upcoming years, including 24-hour electricity and better education for the community’s children.

Marisela Peña Marte
Marisela Peña Marte is currently serving as a full-time teacher in the Learning Center. Marisela is from Batey Libertad and holds a degree in education from La Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago. Prior to working in the Learning Center, Marisela was the Food Program Coordinator for the Learning Center's Food Program's pilot phase. With an intimate knowledge of the batey and a background in education and program coordination, Marisela brings essential experience and expertise to the Learning Center team.

Leídy Rodríguez
Leídy Rodríguez is a full-time assistant in Yspaniola’s Learning Centre. A native of Maizal, Leídy is also currently pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education at La Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA) in Mao. Leídy works primarily with our younger students and brings valuable knowledge and experience to the Yspaniola team.

Mayra Rodríguez
Mayra Rodriguez is currently serving as a full-time teacher in the Learning Centre. Mayra, who is a recent graduate of our University Scholars Program, earned a degree in Natural Sciences Education from the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA) in Santiago. Mayra has been a part of Yspaniola’s programming for several years, helping students and supporting teachers in the classrooms.
Wilson Sentimo
Wilson Sentimo is currently serving as doorman in Yspaniola’s Learning Center. Wilson is from Batey Libertad and in addition to working in the Learning Center, he is a volunteer on the Youth Committee and a consistent volunteer in Yspaniola’s Summer Camp Program. Since he was young, Wilson has enjoyed showing visitors around Batey Libertad, sharing stories about the community and the changes that the batey has seen over time.

Dolores Molina Rosado
Dolores Molina Rosado currently serves as Yspaniola’s Administrative Assistant, supporting the local team with administrative tasks in Esperanza and Batey Libertad. Dolores believes in Yspaniola’s work, and thinks that it is important because it helps young people and allows them to have the opportunity for a better future.

Local Volunteers
Yspaniola works closely with a committee of young adults from Batey Libertad to help plan and run service-learning trips. The volunteer committee also helps with outreach in the community related to the Learning Center, parent and community member inclusion, documentation, and more. The committee is crucial in achieving cross-cultural learning with our service-learning trip participants, and represents Yspaniola's efforts to facilitate the education and leadership of marginalized youth so that they can act within and advocate for their communities.
Princeton in Latin America Fellows and Interns
Yspaniola partners with Princeton in Latin America, a non-profit organization that places recent college graduates interested in international development and education with non-profits across Latin America. In addition, Yspaniola also hires talented interns to further strengthen the organization’s team and aid with specific tasks. Fellows and interns support Yspaniola’s local programs and contribute to media development, grant writing, and community outreach projects.

(From left to right: Jacob Phillips, Tiffany Brown, Kayla Lemus, Camille Fontenelle, Erica Thomas).

Jacob Phillips graduated from Macalester College (2016) with majors in International Studies and Hispanic Studies (Spanish and Portuguese), and a concentration in Human Rights. From Jamaica, Jacob’s interest in Caribbean development led him to join Yspaniola in the Dominican Republic. Before joining Yspaniola, Jacob interned at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC where he worked with both the Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States and the Department of Bilateral Relations (Jamaica-US). In addition, Jacob has worked periodically as an English teacher and translator at the Latin America-Caribbean Centre at the University of the West Indies in Kingston. While at Yspaniola, Jacob is excited to broaden his knowledge and experience in education and the administration of a non-profit organization. He also hopes to gain deeper insight into the realities of Batey residents, Dominican society and Pan-Caribbean identity.

Tiffany Brown graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in Spanish (2014). While there, she also studied education methodology and pedagogy with an emphasis in World Language Education. Before moving to the Dominican Republic to join Yspaniola, Tiffany lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she worked at an international school and researched the Afro-Argentine consciousness movement. She subsequently spent two years teaching English first as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and later as an independent English teacher in Medellin, Colombia. Tiffany is excited to use this opportunity with Yspaniola to deepen her interests in Latin America, community education, and family literacy.

Kayla Lemus graduated from Scripps college with a BA in Spanish and French (2016). As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant in the U.S., Kayla’s experience gave her an interest in education and foreign language learning as a means of promoting equality and intercultural understanding. Kayla has previously interned as a foreign language teacher, translator, and grant writer for several non-profits including Libraries without Borders in France, l’AMSAT and Feminin Pluriel in Morocco, and Claremont Heritage in Claremont, California. The intercultural exchanges she has had and the relationships she has developed within these communities have inspired her to continue working in the nonprofit sector. During her fellowship at Yspaniola, Kayla hopes to broaden her experience in the education and nonprofit fields, learn Haitian Creole, and deepen her understanding of issues of race, citizenship, and access to education in the Dominican Republic.

Camille Fontenelle graduated from the University of Delaware (UD, 2016) with a BS in Elementary Teacher Education and a concentration in Middle School Science.While at university, Camille worked in various education settings including as a Senior Summer Camp Counsellor for the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware. She also served in various roles on the eboard of the student chapter of the International Literacy Association at UD for 3 years. Having visited Batey Libertad twice before through Service-Learning trips with her university, she recently decided to pursue a year-long internship with Yspaniola where she will work primarily with the younger Class 1 and Pre-K students, as well as help to restructure the library. Of St. Lucian descent, Camille looks forward to deepening her knowledge and experience in education as well as learn Haitian Creole and Spanish over the next year.

Erica Thomas graduated from American University (2015) with a double major in International Relations and Economics, and a minor in Spanish. Erica brings a lot of experience working in Latin America to the Yspaniola team. Prior to moving to the Dominican Republic, Erica studied the impact of globalization, US foreign policy and tourism on farming communities and labour unions in Nicaragua and El Salvador. She has also volunteered with an environmental education organization in Chile, which inspired her to create a similar program for a Washington, D.C. arts-based mentorship program for African American males called Life Pieces to Masterpieces. Erica is excited and honored to focus on community development and youth education at Yspaniola.