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
A former graduate of our University Scholars Program, Julio now serves as Yspaniola's Director of Operations in charge of Experiential Learning and University Scholars Program. 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.
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.

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 .

Alejandra Garcia
Alejandra joins the Yspaniola family as our new Academic Director, in charge of overseeing curriculum and teacher professional development. She is from Caracas, Venezuela and has over 15 years of experience in education.

Amy Porter
Amy joins the Yspaniola family as Development Director, in charge of all our partnerships and fundraising initiatives.

Tiffany Brown
Tiffany, our former Princeton in Latin America fellow, is now our Director of Outreach and Education Programs. She is in charge of coordinating the Experiential Learning and Summer Camp programs, as well as our volunteers and fellows. Originally from Warner Robins, Georgia, Tiffany graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish (2014). Following graduation, Tiffany moved to Medellin, Colombia and started working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Universidad de Antioquia. There, she continued to nurture her interests in language and community narrative creation through her student and wider community interactions. Tiffany is thrilled for the opportunity to bridge her interests in Latin America and community education through her work with Yspaniola.

Mirian Rodriguez
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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.

Meet our Princeton in Latin America Fellow 2017-2018: Natassja Ruybal

Natassja graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in international studies and management, and a minor in nonprofit management. Originally from Quito, Ecuador, she grew up in five developing countries throughout Africa and Latin America. Her childhood gave her a deep understanding of the harsh realities most people in the world face, and a desire to work hard to find solutions to those problems. As a recent graduate, she moved to Australia and worked at YGAP, an international development organization. Natassja is now extremely excited to start this journey in the Dominican Republic, supporting the Yspaniola team in various communications, development, and operations projects.