Our Board

Our board keeps us focused on what matters most.

Our board counsels Flamboyan’s President and provides governance over the business, affairs, and impact of the organization.

Rea Carey

Board Member

Rea Carey has served on the Flamboyan board of directors since its founding. She shares a vision for improved outcomes and excellence in public education for all children. Rea most recently served as the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. Currently, she is the Principal of Carey Forward, LLC providing consulting and strategic advice to executive leaders.

She has over 30 years of experience in nonprofit start-up, fundraising, and fiscal sustainability, program oversight, boards of directors, management, and leadership development. She has worked extensively in HIV/AIDS prevention for youth and young adults. Rea was the founding executive director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. In 1999, the Advocate named Rea one of its “Best and Brightest” for individual contributions to the LGBT rights movement.

In addition to serving on Flamboyan’s board since its founding, Rea currently serves on the board of directors of the Freeman Foundation and has served on the board of directors for the Alliance for Justice, and for Sapientis, advancing social and economic development in Puerto Rico by developing leaders who improve public education. She has also served as an advisor to individual major donors and foundations and has served on the advisory boards for such wide-ranging publications as Teen People magazine and the Georgetown University Journal of Gender and the Law. She earned her master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives in Washington, DC with her partner and daughter.

Kristin Ehrgood

CEO and Board Chair

Kristin Ehrgood is Flamboyan Foundation’s CEO and Board Chair. Since launching Flamboyan in 2008, Kristin has led the Foundation’s work to ensure a day where every child, particularly those most impacted by inequity, will have the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. An education advocate, Kristin oversees the Foundation’s efforts to ensure students are prepared to succeed in school and beyond, tailoring programs to meet the unique contexts in which the Foundation operates.

In D.C., Flamboyan is accelerating student learning by helping educators and school systems transform their relationships with families. In Puerto Rico, Flamboyan is ensuring students are reading in Spanish on grade level by third grade while building a thriving philanthropic and nonprofit sector. Flamboyan also created the Flamboyan Arts Fund in partnership with Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family, and the Hamilton musical to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane María. Flamboyan also works on a range of collaborative initiatives that allow the Foundation to flexibly meet the changing needs of communities as they arise.

Kristin’s commitment to championing educational equity began early in her career, from her time teaching in Baton Rouge and Trenton as a Teach for America (TFA) corps member to her promotion to Executive Director of the New Jersey region and on to Chicago and other locations around the country as the Director of New Site Development. After earning her Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, she began leveraging the adaptive leadership model to make strategic investments in public education. In 2002, she co-founded Sapientis, an organization that connected and engaged change agents in all sectors of Puerto Rico to improve public education. She went on to start Flamboyan in Puerto Rico in 2008 and opened the Washington, DC office in 2009.

Kristin is the founding board chair at DCSRN, vice-chair at Teach for America-DC and serves as a director at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. She also sits on the investment committee at Education Forward DC and the neurosurgery advisory board at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and a member of the International Women’s Foundation-DC. She previously sat on the Board of Directors at both Venture Philanthropy Partners and Stand for Children. For her work with Sapientis, she was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young in the area of Social Responsibility.

Kristin also holds a B.A. in International Relations from Bucknell University.

Vadim Nikitine

Board Member

Vadim Nikitine is the President of Commercial Centers Management, a holding company involved in 6 million square feet of commercial space in Puerto Rico, Florida, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwestern United States. His companies are actively involved in all phases of the development of shopping centers, mixed-use projects, hotels, and mini-warehouses. In Puerto Rico, Vadim developed the first self storage facilities that rely primarily on solar energy. In the last several years, Vadim has continued to invest in the energy field, primarily focusing on efficiency and alternative energy sources.

Vadim is a graduate of Harvard University, where he obtained an undergraduate degree in economic development and sociology in 1989, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government in 2001.

Vadim is a co-founder of Sapientis, a non-profit organization committed to improving public education by mobilizing a diverse and informed network of change agents. Additionally, he is on the Board of Rare Conservation, an international environmental non-profit organization, and he has participated in the creation and preservation of a 580,000 acre national park in Peru.

In December 2001, Vadim was recognized in Caribbean Business as one of 40 people under the age of 40 having a significant and positive impact on the Caribbean. In June 2003, he received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst and Young in the field of Real Estate, Construction and Hospitality.

Our Team

Our people are at the heart of what we do.

Every member of the team has a unique strength to share. Working together, our team lives out Flamboyan’s core values of people, equity, impact, and catalytic action every day with one goal in mind: to ensure that students most impacted by inequity have what they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Coral M. Aponte Rivera

Managing Director, Policy and Partner Engagement

Coral works to promote the adoption of public policies and collaborations that ensure quality education for the children most affected by inequity in Puerto Rico. Daughter, granddaughter, niece and sister of teachers, as well as a student of the public system, Coral seeks to guarantee the fundamental right to public education in Puerto Rico.

Before joining Flamboyán, she worked as Director of the Office of Education and Community Relations of the Judiciary. From that role, she led the development of projects aimed at educating the community about their rights, duties, the court system and judicial processes. She strongly believes in the power of education to remove barriers to access justice and promote equity in our society.

Coral is a lawyer admitted to practice law in Puerto Rico. She completed her juris doctor at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. She also has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, and a master’s degree in investigative journalism from Florida International University.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? I had excellent teachers in my schools. However, my high school Social Studies teacher was instrumental in my academic and social development. Carlos Pagán Durán not only taught me history. He was also the advisory teacher of the school youth cooperative. Through this additional role, he gave me invaluable entrepreneurship and leadership experience. He looked for opportunities for me on and off the island, encouraged me to take them, accompanied me and showed his pride.

En español

Coral trabaja para promover la adopción de políticas públicas y colaboraciones que aseguren una educación de calidad para los niños y las niñas más afectados por la desigualdad en Puerto Rico. Hija, nieta, sobrina y hermana de maestras, además de estudiante del sistema público, Coral busca que se garantice el derecho fundamental a la educación pública en Puerto Rico.

Antes de integrarse al equipo de trabajo de Flamboyán, trabajó como directora de la Oficina de Educación y Relaciones con la Comunidad del Poder Judicial. Desde ese rol lideró el desarrollo de proyectos dirigidos a educar a la comunidad sobre sus derechos, deberes, el sistema de tribunales y los procesos judiciales. Ella cree firmemente en el poder de la educación para eliminar barreras de acceso a la justicia y promover la equidad en nuestra sociedad.

Coral es abogada admitida a ejercer la profesión legal en Puerto Rico. Completó su juris doctor en la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Además, posee un bachillerato en periodismo de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, y una maestría en periodismo investigativo de la Universidad Internacional de Florida.

¿Quién fue tu maestro favorito en la escuela? Tuve excelentes maestros y maestras en mis escuelas. Sin embargo, mi maestro de Estudios Sociales de escuela superior fue fundamental en mi desarrollo académico y social. Carlos Pagán Durán no solo me enseñó historia. También era el maestro consejero de la cooperativa juvenil escolar. A través de esa función adicional me brindó una experiencia de empresarismo y liderazgo invaluable. Me buscó oportunidades dentro y fuera de la isla, me animó a tomarlas, me acompañó y demostró su orgullo. 

Juan Headshot

Juan Gudiño Cabrera

Senior Director, Flamboyan Arts Fund

As Senior Director of the Flamboyan Arts Fund, Juan seeks to create and nurture collaborative and long-term relationships with individual artists and organizations to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts and cultural ecosystem in Puerto Rico.

Juan is a facilitator of arts and culture projects with a specialization in grant writing and compliance. He is also a musician, member, and instructor within various artistic collectives. He leads an educational program which provides music therapy and dance workshop throughout the island, bringing culturally relevant music experiences to public schools and communities. He’s also a dance and percussion instructor at Dr. Modesto Cepeda’s Bomba and Plena Cultural Center in his hometown Villa Palmeras, Santurce.

In previous roles, Juan worked at Puerto Rico’s Department of State supporting international academic initiatives, and in Foundation for Puerto Rico as Program Manager and co-lead in the Research and Analytics Unit. Currently, he’s an adjunct professor of tourism in the Business Administration Faculty at Sacred Heart University. Juan has a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and another in Political Science with an emphasis on Comparative Politics and International Relations from the University of Puerto Rico. He’s currently pursuing his Master’s in Cultural Management and Agency at the same institution.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? History. Part of the understanding of a society relies on its history and the voices of those who narrate it. I focus more on those voices that were/are systematically left behind – that’s when you get a complete spectrum of reality.

En Español

Como Director Senior del Fondo de las Artes Flamboyán, Juan busca crear y fomentar relaciones colaborativas y de largo plazo con artistas y organizaciones individuales para preservar, amplificar y sostener el ecosistema cultural y artístico en Puerto Rico.

Juan es un facilitador de proyectos de arte y cultura con una especialización en redacción de subvenciones y cumplimiento. También es músico, miembro e instructor de varios colectivos artísticos. Dirige un programa educativo que ofrece musicoterapia y talleres de danza en toda la isla, llevando experiencias musicales culturalmente relevantes a las escuelas y comunidades públicas. También es instructor de danza y percusión en el Centro Cultural Bomba y Plena del Dr. Modesto Cepeda en su barrio natal Villa Palmeras, Santurce.

En puestos anteriores, Juan trabajó en el Departamento de Estado de Puerto Rico apoyando iniciativas académicas internacionales y en Foundation for Puerto Rico como Gerente de Programas y codirector de la Unidad de Investigación y Análisis. Actualmente, es profesor adjunto de turismo en la Facultad de Administración de Empresas de la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. Juan tiene una licenciatura en Ciencias Naturales y otra en Ciencias Políticas con énfasis en Política Comparada y Relaciones Internacionales de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Actualmente está cursando su Maestría en Gestión y Agencia Cultural en la misma institución.

¿Cuál fue tu maestro favorito en la escuela? Historia. Parte de la comprensión de una sociedad se basa en su historia y en las voces de quienes la narran. Me concentro más en aquellas voces que fueron / son sistemáticamente dejadas atrás; ahí es cuando obtienes un espectro completo de la realidad.

Toni Ann DeGuzman

Manager, Design + Digital Communications

Toni helps grow Flamboyan’s profile by bringing its story and products to life through graphic design, photography, and coordination of Flamboyan’s major digital assets. Toni is committed to working in education because she believes all children, despite the socio-economic status they live in, should be able to receive a fulfilling education while having the same opportunities and resources as others.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Toni worked mostly in the non-profit sector. With a background in web development, design, and new media, she began her career interning in web and digital production for organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, GMMB+, and the American Association of University Women. Most recently, she worked at The Engage Group, where she specialized in digital production for online fundraising — working with clients such as the Human Rights Campaign and WETA.

Outside of Flamboyan, Toni enjoys doing pottery, taking photos, reading, trying new foods, and traveling! Connect with Toni on LinkedIn.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? My high school IB Biology teacher, Mr. Myzak. He never stopped believing that I had the ability to succeed and always encouraged me to be the best I can be.

Kristin Ehrgood

CEO + Board Chair

Kristin Ehrgood is Flamboyan Foundation’s CEO and Board Chair. Since launching Flamboyan in 2008, Kristin has led the Foundation’s work to ensure a day where every child, particularly those most impacted by inequity, will have the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. An education advocate, Kristin oversees the Foundation’s efforts to ensure students are prepared to succeed in school and beyond, tailoring programs to meet the unique contexts in which the Foundation operates.

In D.C., Flamboyan is accelerating student learning by helping educators and school systems transform their relationships with families. In Puerto Rico, Flamboyan is ensuring students are reading in Spanish on grade level by third grade while building a thriving philanthropic and nonprofit sector. Flamboyan also created the Flamboyan Arts Fund in partnership with Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family, and the Hamilton musical to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane María. Flamboyan also works on a range of collaborative initiatives that allow the Foundation to flexibly meet the changing needs of communities as they arise.

Kristin’s commitment to championing educational equity began early in her career, from her time teaching in Baton Rouge and Trenton as a Teach for America (TFA) corps member to her promotion to Executive Director of the New Jersey region and on to other locations around the country as the Director of New Site Development. After earning her Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, she began leveraging the adaptive leadership model to make strategic investments in public education. In 2002, she co-founded Sapientis, an organization that connected and engaged change agents in all sectors of Puerto Rico to improve public education. She went on to start Flamboyan in Puerto Rico in 2008 and opened the Washington, DC office in 2009.

Kristin is the founding board chair at DC School Reform Now and serves as a director at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. She also sits on the investment committee at Education Forward DC and the neurosurgery advisory board at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and a member of the International Women’s Foundation-DC. She previously sat on the Board of Directors at Venture Philanthropy Partners, Teach for America-DC and Stand for Children.

Kristin also holds a B.A. in International Relations from Bucknell University.

Hilary Tone Forslund

Managing Director, Communications + Public Affairs

Hilary elevates Flamboyan’s profile and expands engagement with the organization by strengthening its local and national brand, broadening its visibility, and attracting partnership support to advance its strategic goals. A proud product of California’s public schools, she is passionate about ensuring equity for those furthest from opportunity.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Hilary led the Communications Team at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and oversaw press, digital, strategic, and crisis communications for the broader school district and in support of its 116 schools. Before DCPS, she served as an editor and program director at Media Matters for America, and in communications roles advancing human rights at the Equal Rights Center in Washington, DC and Border Action Network in Tucson, Arizona.

Hilary holds a Master’s degree in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Spanish Studies from Santa Clara University. When she’s not advancing Flamboyan’s mission, she is a dancer and dance instructor specializing in tap. She lives in the DC area with her husband, daughter, and rescue cat. Connect with Hilary on LinkedIn.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? My favorite teacher was my 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Haren. She had a captivating sense about her, and an unconventional way of teaching. She held us to high standards but celebrated our individuality in a way I’d never experienced. I felt so challenged and fulfilled in her class!

Shoko Fox

Managing Director, School + District Partnerships

Shoko supports school districts across the country to embed family engagement practices that are responsive to the specific needs of their communities. She is committed to education because she deeply believes that education can empower individuals and communities and is an essential part of creating a more just world.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Shoko began her career as a middle school science teacher at a charter school in Washington, DC. After several years in the classroom, she became the Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction at a non-profit organization in the Boston area that provided out-of-school-time supports for middle and high school students and teacher training for the next generation of educators. After seven years in Boston, she returned to the DC area and joined DC Public Schools to help schools implement a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to ensure that all students received high-quality instruction and the supports they deserved.  As someone who has worked with middle school students her entire career and as a parent herself, Shoko sees firsthand how critical family engagement is to student success.

Outside of Flamboyan, Shoko is the proud parent of a toddler who both makes her laugh and teaches her patience every single day. She spends as much time as she can outside and aspires to one day live on a farm with too many dogs.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mr. Jones, my AP US History teacher. He not only made history engaging but got to know me outside of the classroom and gave me advice and a space to just talk.

Maricruz Freytes, Ph.D.

Managing Director, Talent + Operations

Maricruz directs talent and operations related to human resources, culture, and strategic planning in Flamboyan’s Puerto Rico office to ensure a high-functioning organization with effective systems and programs.

Maricruz is passionate about transforming people’s lives in the workplace. Before joining Flamboyan, she worked as a senior professional for two global consulting firms and oversaw their responsibilities in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. She also served as a senior talent development consultant and professional coach supporting executives and professionals in their strategic plans and organizational changes in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Florida. She has managed projects in leadership development, assessments, and coaching, and has assisted hundreds of professionals in world class companies at all levels of their career.

Maricruz is an active member of the Society for Human Resources Management’s National and Puerto Rico Chapters (SHRM). She holds a Master’s and Doctorate degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. She is also certified as a talent coach by the International Coaching Federation (IFC), and in Hogan Assessments by Hogan International. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking for her family, running, and playing with her three Poodles. Connect with Maricruz on LinkedIn.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? Sciences because I very much enjoyed knowing and having a sense of the existence of the world.

En Español

Maricruz dirige el área de talento y las operaciones relacionadas con los recursos humanos, la cultura y la planificación estratégica en la oficina de Flamboyán en Puerto Rico de modo que se pueda garantizar una organización de alto funcionamiento con sistemas y programas efectivos.

A Maricruz le apasiona transformar la vida de las personas en el lugar de trabajo. Antes de unirse a Flamboyan, trabajó como profesional senior para dos firmas consultoras globales y supervisó sus responsabilidades en Puerto Rico y el Caribe. También se desempeñó como consultora senior de desarrollo de talento y coach profesional apoyando a ejecutivos y profesionales en sus planes estratégicos y cambios organizacionales en Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Jamaica y Florida. Ha gestionado proyectos de desarrollo de liderazgo, evaluaciones y coaching, y ha ayudado a cientos de profesionales en empresas de clase mundial en todos los niveles de su carrera.

Maricruz es miembro activo de los Capítulos Nacionales y de Puerto Rico de la Sociedad para la Gestión de Recursos Humanos (SHRM). Tiene una Maestría y Doctorado en Psicología Industrial y Organizacional de la Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico. También está certificada como coach de talentos por la International Coaching Federation (IFC) y en Hogan Assessments por Hogan International. En su tiempo libre, le gusta cocinar para su familia, correr y jugar con sus tres perros. Conéctese con Maricruz en LinkedIn.

¿Cuál era tu materia o curso favorito en la escuela? Ciencias porque disfrutaba mucho el conocer y tener un sentido de la existencia en el mundo.

Emily Garcia

Senior Managing Director, Program

Emily leads Flamboyan’s Program team, overseeing the organization’s work to expand REAL Family Engagement with partners both locally and nationally. Emily is deeply committed to education because she believes that as a product of public education, all students should have access to high-quality education and opportunities, regardless of their background.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Emily spent more than a decade working at DC Public Schools – both at the district level overseeing the redesign of the teacher selection model and recruitment process, and as a school-level administrator. She began her career in education with TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) supporting Prince George’s County, MD and the state of Delaware with alternative route teaching programs. Emily is a proud graduate of the University of Maryland and was introduced to the education world more than 15 years ago as an intern with DC Public Schools during the summer of 2007.

Outside of Flamboyan, Emily is an avid reader who is always looking for book recommendations. She and her wonderful husband Fredy live in Maryland with their dog and backyard chickens.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mrs. Trebilcock – my 10th grade US History teacher. She created an environment where you felt safe to take risks – both academically and socially. She not only knew your name, but your story and that made each student feel seen.

Mamie Elizabeth Hall

Director, School Support

Mamie helps school leaders and teachers improve student outcomes by creating immediate and sustainable REAL Family Engagement. After 20 years as a teacher and school leader, she is committed to continuously working in education because all children deserve a secure space to learn and grow.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Mamie taught middle school for 10 years in North Carolina before starting a Personalized Learning STEM High School in Research Triangle Park. She also worked with the Hope Street Group Teacher Voice Network to amplify constructive teacher-led conversations around education policy that most benefits students.

Outside of Flamboyan, Mamie can be found spending time with her family and their tiny dog, reading both frivolous fiction and provocative prose, or playing one of her collections of over two hundred board games.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? My high school English teacher, Mrs. Mammi. She taught me that books are powerful tools to help us better understand the perspectives of others.

Kimberly Hooper-Twumasi

Senior Director, Data + Learning

As Senior Director of Data + Learning, Kimberly leads Flamboyan’s listening, learning, and measurement efforts. Through this work, Kimberly ensures the organization’s commitment to understanding our impact and providing support that is responsive to educators, students, and families. Prior to joining Flamboyan, she worked for both the New York City Department of Education and Alexandria City Public Schools, in Alexandria, Virginia, supporting equity, inclusion, and family engagement programs. 

Nelson Mandela once said, ” Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and Kimberly believes this with all her heart. She is committed to her work in education understanding that access to quality, no-cost education, regardless of race, creed, nation of origin, home language, ability, or socioeconomic status is the great equalizer. 

Outside of Flamboyan, Kimberly enjoys baking, going through old cookbooks, and trying new recipes. She also enjoys tutoring and mentoring with organizations including the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and The Fresh Air Fund. Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Dr. Jeffery Chapman, he was my graduate school microeconomics teacher. He was a funny, brilliant, and highly skilled economist who taught me to have a critical eye when developing and implementing public policy.

Isabel Huston

Senior Director, Training + Product Design

Isabel “Izzy” Huston oversees Flamboyan’s training program. She designs training sessions on REAL Family Engagement for school partners in addition to managing and developing the parent-teacher trainer cohort that leads each session.

Isabel is committed to working in education because she feels that it is the place where systems are reborn. She believes in an equitable public education system where all students feel loved and affirmed, where the seeds for a greater world are planted.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Isabel spent a decade in the education space largely focused on developing equity-centered policy and advocacy leaders. Most recently, she served as the Director of Career and Leadership Development at DC Public Schools where she launched the design of a new talent development career ladder.

Outside of Flamboyan, Isabel is an aspiring writer and artist, and published her first poetry collection in 2020. When she’s not at work, writing, or reading, Isabel can be found traveling or playing ice hockey. Connect with Isabel on LinkedIn.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mrs. Solomon because she held a high standard for her students and provided us the tools to meet it. In her AP Composition class, I had the chance to write a one act play that was professionally produced, and it was the first experience I had of feeling like I had a voice that truly mattered.

Ryan Lokhorst

Associate, Finance + Operations

Ryan supports the back-office finance and organizational operations for the Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico offices. He is the go-to for Flamboyan’s financial, tech, and legal processes, and ensures that the Flamboyan staff have a deep understanding of org-wide systems, structures, and processes that are aligned with our core values. Ryan believes that educational attainment is a significant factor in life outcomes and wants to work toward an equitable pathway for all. 

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Ryan graduated from the University of Notre Dame with degrees in Finance and Sociology. He most recently worked at Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Services in Los Angeles, where he assisted with immigration legal services, compiled demographic reports, and coordinated a variety of client programs. 

Outside of Flamboyan, Ryan enjoys traveling, discovering new music, and watching any and all sports. He is new to the DC area and is excited to discover what it has to offer. 

My favorite subject in school was… math because I enjoyed the problem solving and pattern recognition that it taught me. 

Jasmine Lopez


Jasmine provides essential administrative, logistical, and operational support to multiple teams across the organization. She is committed to education because she believes that education is a powerful tool that can allow us to understand one another and change the world for the better. She believes that every child deserves an opportunity to receive high-quality education regardless of their background, race, or social class.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Jasmine worked in special education as a dedicated aide for more than two years in Prince George’s County, Maryland, primarily working with children with autism spectrum disorder. She worked alongside teachers and therapists, and assisted with implementing Applied Behavior Analysis support.

Outside of Flamboyan, Jasmine enjoys spending time with her cats, cooking, watching Anime, reading manga, and spending time with her family and friends. Connect with Jasmine on LinkedIn.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mr. Smith. He was a math teacher and although math was not and is still not my best subject, he always made every effort to help me understand the material and provided lots of encouragement and advice that I still hold onto.

Nicole Magnani

Senior Managing Director, Finance + Operations

Nicole oversees all finance, operations, and reporting activities for the organization, and ensures that Flamboyan has the systems and procedures in place to support its programs and operations. She believes that all children have a desire to learn and deserve support to remove any barriers to their education.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Nicole was the Associate Director of Finance at Capitol Technology University (CTU). In this role, she supported the CFO in all issues relating to finance, budgeting and accounting, and performed the day-to-day financial functions for the University. She also served as secretary and controller of the CTU Foundation, managing a relationship between The Foundation and a development company to build and manage new residence halls for students.

Nicole holds an MBA from Capitol Technology University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Delaware with Minors in International Business and Italian. In her free time, she is leveraging her Italian language background to re-learn Spanish. Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? My favorite subject was Science. I loved learning how the natural world worked, and experiments and demonstrations were always so fascinating to me!


Iris A. Medina Torres

Director, Revitalizing in Education

As Director, Revitalizing in Education, Iris works to strengthen Flamboyan’s philanthropic investments, initiatives, and alliances, thus contributing to revitalizing Puerto Rico through education. She seeks to strengthen Flamboyan’s collaborations with other organizations and contribute to the philanthropic ecosystem in Puerto Rico with a focus on education.

Iris comes to us with a long and diverse career in project management, program design/development, and administration. She has extensive work in the nonprofit and government sectors in Puerto Rico. In past years, as the Administrator of the Salon Literario Libroamérica P.R. / Festival de la Palabra, a literary cultural festival, she both led the work and then pivoted the community outreach and partnerships in response to Hurricane Maria. She has extensive work in key areas including justice, health, and community development. She is a published writer, poet, musician, and a self-taught techy.

Iris has more than 20 years of experience collaborating with non-profit organizations in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the last decade, she has worked with various non-profit organizations as a consultant, administrator, and coordinator in poverty elimination strategies, asset building, HIV/AIDS, and homelessness awareness programs.  Iris has also worked with Arizona State University as part of the Learning Enterprise team which leads the field in giving underserved community youth, access to a college education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Public Policy Implementation from the University of Puerto Rico.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? History! I have always been fascinated by it. For me, it’s amazingly interesting to study and see how things have come to be. I believe that if we know our past and we look at it with an honest eye, we can build on it better and stronger. In my opinion, history is the premise of the universe of knowledge and I fell in love with it at a very young age.

En español

Como Directora, Revitalización en Educación, Iris trabaja para fortalecer las iniciativas y alianzas filantrópicas de la Fundación Flamboyán y así contribuir al ecosistema filantrópico de Puerto Rico y a la revitalización del archipiélago puertorriqueño a través de la educación.

Iris cuenta con una carrera larga y diversa en gestión de proyectos, diseño/desarrollo de programas y administración. Tiene un extenso trabajo en los sectores gubernamentales y de las organizaciones sin fines de lucro en Puerto Rico. En los últimos años, se desempeñó como Administradora del Salón Literario Libroamérica PR / Festival de la Palabra, un festival cultural literario donde dirigió el trabajo y luego coordinó los esfuerzos del alcance comunitario y las asociaciones en respuesta al huracán María. Tiene un extenso trabajo en áreas claves que incluyen justicia, salud y desarrollo comunitario. Es escritora, poeta, música y autodidacta en tecnología.

Tiene más de 20 años de experiencia colaborando con organizaciones sin fines de lucro en San Juan, Puerto Rico. En la última década, ha trabajado con varias organizaciones sin fines de lucro como consultora, administradora y coordinadora en estrategias de eliminación de la pobreza, creación de activos, programas de concientización sobre el VIH/SIDA y la falta de vivienda. Iris también laboró con la Universidad Estatal de Arizona como parte del equipo de Learning Enterprise, que lidera el campo en brindar acceso a la educación universitaria a los jóvenes de la comunidad desatendida. Tiene un bachillerato en Ciencias Políticas y un Certificado en Implementación de Políticas Públicas de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

¿Cuál era tu asignatura o curso favorito en la escuela? ¡Definitivamente, historia! Siempre me ha fascinado. Para mí, es increíblemente interesante estudiar y ver cómo han llegado a ser las cosas. Creo que, si conocemos nuestro pasado y lo miramos con honestidad, podemos construir sobre él mejor y más fuerte. En mi opinión, la historia es la premisa del universo del conocimiento y me enamoré de ella desde muy joven.

Laura Navarro Rosado

Managing Director, Education

Laura is responsible for directing a team of professionals to achieve the results of our programmatic efforts in education, including the strengthening of K-3 reading and to revitalize the education of K-12 in Puerto Rico. Daughter and niece of teachers, in addition to being a student of the public system, her work is to supervise the implementation of the strategies so that children can read at their grade level in Spanish.

Before joining the Flamboyán team, she worked as an educational project manager in the non -profit organization Boys & Girls Clubs in Puerto Rico. From that role she designed, development, implemented and supervised the Academic Pillar of the organization, which includes the Educational Program and Post-secondary Program, guaranteeing the opportunity for children and young people to have other learning opportunities that strengthen their skills.

Laura is a teacher by profession and vocation. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Education K-3 with a specialty in Language Arts at the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in Teaching at the Interamerican University. She then worked at the Cap Cana Heritage School International College, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, where she specialized as a teacher of literacy and creative writing in grades K-3, knowledge that she wanted to bring to Puerto Rico to continue contributing to education. Currently, she is doing her doctoral studies in Psychology with a specialty in Consulting, Research and Teaching at the Carlos Albizu University. She also has certifications of cognitive neurosciences applied to education and as a mindfulness teacher of preschool children.

Who was your favorite teacher? I had many teachers on the way that helped me to be a better person, but I remember with great affection Ms. Marrero, dance teacher at the elementary school, who gave me the opportunity to belong to the school’s dance group when I was in sixth grade. I was in full transition from private education to public education. Through that experience, I discovered my talent for dance and used that space to channel my emotions, feel safe, strengthen my self -esteem and establish group relationships. I am faithful believer that the Fine Arts must be part of the integral development of every human being.

En Español

Laura es responsable de dirigir un equipo de profesionales para lograr los resultados de nuestros esfuerzos programáticos en materia de educación, incluido el fortalecimiento de la lectura de K-3 y para revitalizar la educación de K-12 en Puerto Rico.  Hija y sobrina de maestras, además de ser estudiante del sistema público, su trabajo es supervisar la implementación de las estrategias dirigidas a que los niños y niñas lean a nivel de su grado en la materia de Español.

Antes de integrarse al equipo de Flamboyán, trabajó como Gerente de Proyectos Educativos en la organización sin fines de lucro Boys & Girls Clubs de Puerto Rico.  Desde ese rol diseñó, desarrollo, implantó y supervisó el Pilar Académico de la organización, que incluye el Programa Educativo y Programa Post-Secundario en horario luego de la escuela, garantizando la oportunidad a niños, niñas y jóvenes de tener otras oportunidades de aprendizajes que fortalezcan sus habilidades y les brinden visión de futuro.

Laura es maestra de profesión y vocación. Completó su bachillerato en Educación K-3 con Especialidad en Artes del Lenguaje de la Universidad de Puerto Rico y una maestría en Enseñanza de la Universidad Interamericana.  Trabajó en el Colegio Internacional Cap Cana Heritage School, en Punta Cana, República Dominicana, donde se especializó como maestra de Lectoescritura y escritura creativa en los grados K-3, conocimiento que quiso traer a Puerto Rico para seguir aportando a la educación.  Actualmente cursa estudios doctorales en Psicología con especialidad en Consultoría, Investigación y Docencia de la Universidad Carlos Albizu. También cuenta con certificaciones de Neurociencias Cognitivas aplicadas a la Educación y como Maestra de Mindfulness de niños preescolares.

¿Quién fue tu maestro favorito? Tuve muchos maestros en el camino que me ayudaron a ser una mejor persona, pero recuerdo con mucho cariño a Ms. Marrero, maestra de baile de la escuela elemental, quién me dio la oportunidad de pertenecer al grupo de baile de la escuela cuando estaba en sexto grado. Me encontraba en plena transición de educación privada a educación pública.  A través de esa experiencia, descubrí mi talento para el baile y utilicé ese espacio para canalizar mis emociones, sentirme segura, fortalecer mi autoestima y establecer relaciones de grupo.  Soy fiel creyente que las Bellas Artes deben ser parte del desarrollo integral de todo ser humano.    

Patience B. Peabody

Executive Director, Washington DC

Patience shapes, implements, and oversees all aspects of Flamboyan’s strategic impact efforts in DC and across the country. As Executive Director, she maximizes the impact of our education work by building and sustaining an equity-focused, high-functioning team that produces catalytic and sustainable results, and helps guide the overall direction of the organization.

A native Washingtonian from southeast DC, Patience has nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofits, philanthropy, and the public sector. Before her appointment to DC Executive Director, she served as the Senior Managing Director of External Affairs at Flamboyan where she oversaw communications, product development, and public affairs. Before joining Flamboyan, she was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Administration to serve as the Director of Communications and Community Engagement at DC’s state education agency, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Prior to OSSE, Patience was Vice President of Communications and Creative at the national poverty-alleviation organization, LIFT, where she built a communications domain from the ground up. She has also worked in fundraising communications at The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; ran grant programming for hunger alleviation funder Share Our Strength (No Kid Hungry); and began her career in sales for the global healthcare and higher education consulting firm, Advisory Board Company.

Outside of her role at Flamboyan, Patience strives to “be the change you wish to see” by philanthropically supporting local and national charities committed to making communities stronger. She is Vice Chair of New Futures, an organization working to end generational poverty in the DC region, and she is currently serving a three-year term on the Congressional Hunger Center’s Board of Directors. She also mentors young women of color as they navigate college and begin their careers and is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

With a strong village of support, she graduated from Hampton University with a B.S. in Marketing and later received her master’s degree in Global Strategic Communication from Georgetown University. Patience’s most important and fulfilling roles are as a mom to two young girls, Peyton and Sidney, and as a partner to her husband Dan.

Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? My 8th grade English teacher. She recognized, cultivated, and encouraged my hustle and entrepreneurial spirit. From encouraging me to give speeches in front of the school and submit pieces for writing contests, to helping me apply – and get into – one of the best high schools in D.C., she watered my innate strengths and helped me obliterate self doubt. Her encouragement and opportunities changed the trajectory of my life.

Paola Marie Perea Flores

Manager, Program

Paola manages the office atmosphere, creating a pleasant and efficient environment where every team member in Puerto Rico has what they need to do their best work. She spends time fielding calls, welcoming guests, completing administrative tasks, and supporting the Operations Manager and Executive Director.

Paola has no doubt that education is the basis for producing lasting change in our generation and for those who follow. She is dedicated to education because she believes it is the solution to problems and that society must provide youth with the tools necessary for personal development.

Paola has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico in Audiovisual Communication. She’s pursuing her Doctorate degree in Curriculum and Teaching, with a subspecialty in learning technologies. Her goals is to create inclusive educational resources using technology as a learning tool and virtual learning environment.

Paola is an educator for life. Not only does she see herself teaching students, but she also instructs educators. Her goals is to help students learn through an art, playful lens. Her role as a teacher trainer gives her a platform to teach over 400 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educators.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? Spanish and art. Both were spaces of learning that allowed for self-discovery, reaffirmed my interests, social perspectives, and developed my skills from a semiotic perspective.

En Español

Paola asiste en el manejo de la oficina, creando un ambiente agradable y eficiente donde cada miembro del equipo en Puerto Rico tiene lo que necesita para hacer su mejor trabajo. Pasa tiempo atendiendo llamadas, dando la bienvenida a los invitados, completando tareas administrativas y apoyando al Gerente de Operaciones y al Director Ejecutivo.

Paola no tiene ninguna duda de que la educación es la base para producir un cambio duradero en nuestra generación y las siguientes.  Se dedica a la educación porque cree que es la solución a los problemas y que la sociedad debe brindar a los jóvenes las herramientas necesarias para su desarrollo personal.

Paola tiene una licenciatura de la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Comunicación Audiovisual. Está cursando su Doctorado en Currículo y Enseñanza, con una subespecialidad en tecnologías de aprendizaje. Su objetivo es crear recursos educativos inclusivos utilizando la tecnología como herramienta de aprendizaje y entorno de aprendizaje virtual.

Paola es educadora para toda la vida. No solo se ve a sí misma enseñando a los estudiantes, sino que también instruye a los educadores. Su objetivo es ayudar a los estudiantes a aprender a través de un lente lúdico y artístico. Su papel como formadora de profesores le brinda una plataforma para enseñar a más de 400 educadores de ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM).

¿Cuál fue tu asignatura o curso favorito en la escuela? Español y arte. Ambos fueron espacios de aprendizaje que permitieron el autodescubrimiento, reafirmaron mis intereses, perspectivas sociales y desarrollaron mis habilidades desde una perspectiva semiótica.

Cynthia Phillips

Managing Director, Administration + Learning

Cynthia ensures our programmatic operations are maximized and our organization fosters a culture of learning. The Administration and Learning Team is charged with three functions: program operations, data and learning, and knowledge management.

Cynthia’s passion for education is rooted in her desire for students to have the supports they need to overcome barriers. Her hope is for committed educators to work together to move the needle to ensure there is greater equity and opportunity for all students.

Before Cynthia joined Flamboyan, she served as Vice President of Operations for The Heart of America Foundation, where she oversaw organizational processes, strategic planning, Human Resources, and IT. Cynthia also worked as the Director of the National Book Program for Reading Is Fundamental. During the earlier years of her career she supported Education Sector programs as a bilingual liaison for the Peace Corps Inter-America Region.

Cynthia’s love for operations is tied to her love for puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, and anything that teases the brain.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Ms. Ponko was my high school biology teacher and she managed her classroom with enthusiasm and ease. She made biology approachable, meaningful, and fun.


Isabel Ponce Marrero

Senior Director, K-3 Reading

Isabel is responsible for integrating educational content into the strategies destined to increase the number of students able to read at grade level. Part of her job is to propel the use of essential practices in teaching literacy while also leading daily efforts with de Puerto Rico Department of Education and other associates to bring continuous technical assistance in the planning and implementation of the work aligned with Flamboyan’s vision. 

Children inspire Isabel, who was formerly a kindergarten and pre-school teacher at The School of San Juan. There, she also worked as an Academic Coordinator. As an educator, she’s an agent of change who facilitates significant educational experiences for teachers, students, and families. She aims to continue the mission of bettering the quality of education and guaranteeing that all children have access to the same educational opportunities.

Isabel attended the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedra Campus, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Pre-school Education and a Master’s degree in Teaching of Reading.

Isabel participated in a life-changing special project that expanded her awareness on the impact conversations on the environment and natural resources can have on students growth and development.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mr. Bruce taught me that language should never be seen as an obstacle or a barrier. Most importantly, he taught me that reading can teach you amazing things, and it can also show you the reality of the world. Mr. Bruce’s class was memorable and inspired me to believe in myself.

En Español

Isabel es responsable de integrar el contenido educativo en las estrategias destinadas a lograr aumentar la cantidad de estudiantes que leen en su nivel de grado. Parte de su rol es impulsar el uso de las prácticas esenciales para la enseñanza de la lectoescritura. Además, lidera esfuerzos diarios con el Departamento de Educación de Puerto Rico y con otros socios del campo de la educación, brindando asistencia técnica continua en la planificación e implementación de los esfuerzos que se alinean con la visión de Flamboyán. 

Los niños son la fuente de inspiración de Isabel, quien fue maestra de Pre-kinder y Kindergarten en The School of San Juan. Allí, también laboró como Coordinadora Académica. Como educadora, es una agente de cambio que facilita experiencias educativas significativas para maestros, estudiantes y familias. Su misión es continuar mejorando la calidad de la educación y garantizar que todos los niños tengan acceso a las mismas oportunidades educativas.

Isabel asistió a la Universidad de Puerto Rico, en el campus de Río Piedras, donde obtuvo un bachillerato en Educación Preescolar y una maestría en la Enseñanza de la Lectura.

Isabel participó en un proyecto especial que transformó su enseñanza al incorporar nuevos aspectos de cambio climático y educación ambiental en su entorno escolar.

¿Quién fue tu maestro favorito en la escuela? El Sr. Bruce me enseñó que el lenguaje nunca debe ser visto como un obstáculo o una barrera. Más importante aún, él me enseñó que la lectura puede revelarte cosas asombrosas, pero también te puede mostrar la realidad del mundo. La clase del Sr. Bruce fue memorable y me inspiró a creer en mí misma.

Rosiris A. Ramos Meléndez

Manager, Visual and Digital Communications

Rosiris spends her time managing Flamboyan’s website and creating written and audiovisual content – videos and photos – to help communicate our programmatic work and the organizational aspiration towards a better education for students in Puerto Rico. Rosiris works with staff in our Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. to ensure Flamboyan’s audiences are informed about the positive impact our programs and services have on students most impacted by inequity.

Rosiris deeply believes that there is only one path to real success – nurturing every person’s life with the acquisition of knowledge because education is the key to overcome inequity. Rosiris has worked to improve and shed light on inequities throughout her career. Before joining Flamboyan, Rosiris served as Programming Coordinator at the only public and education centered TV station in Puerto Rico – Sistema TV, Canal 40. She also worked at Prensa Comunitaria, an organization centered on the social journalism. There, she assigned and covered news on some of the most disadvantaged communities on the island.

Rosiris spends a lot of time admiring the beauty of nature on the island, where any short trip leads to mountains, caves, rivers, and amazing beaches.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? History. It is fundamental for every generation to have the opportunity to know the struggles, suffering, and conquers of the people who lived before us.

En Español


Rosiris dedica su tiempo a manejar la página web de Flamboyán y a crear contenido escrito y audiovisual – videos y fotos – para ayudar a comunicar nuestro trabajo programático y la aspiración organizacional hacia una mejor educación para los estudiantes en Puerto Rico. Rosiris trabaja tanto con el personal en Puerto Rico como en  Washington, D.C. para garantizar que nuestras audiencias estén informadas sobre el impacto positivo que nuestros programas y servicios tienen en los estudiantes más afectados por la desigualdad.

Rosiris cree profundamente que solo hay un camino hacia el éxito real: nutrir la vida de cada persona con la adquisición de conocimientos porque la educación es la clave para superar la inequidad. Rosiris ha trabajado para mejorar y arrojar luz sobre las desigualdades a lo largo de su carrera. Antes de unirse a Flamboyán, se desempeñó como Coordinadora de Programación en la única estación de televisión pública y educativa de Puerto Rico – Sistema TV, Canal 40. También trabajó en Prensa Comunitaria, una organización centrada en el periodismo social. Allí, asignó y cubrió noticias sobre algunas de las comunidades más desfavorecidas de la isla.

Rosiris pasa mucho tiempo admirando la belleza de la naturaleza en la isla, donde cualquier viaje corto conduce a montañas, cuevas, ríos y playas increíbles.

¿Cuál fue tu asignatura o curso favorito en la escuela? Historia. Es fundamental que cada generación tenga la oportunidad de conocer las luchas, sufrimientos y conquistas de las personas que vivieron antes que nosotros.

Carlos Rodríguez Silvestre

Executive Director, Puerto Rico

As Executive Director, Carlos shapes, implements, and oversees all aspects of the Foundation’s mission-driven work and programmatic strategy in Puerto Rico.

Carlos believes education is one of the most important tools we have to achieve a more just society and disrupt barriers of inequity.

Before joining Flamboyan, Carlos was an engineer and business strategist focused on solving complex operations and logistics challenges faced by Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that, he supported sales, finance, operations, and federal regulatory compliance for Univision Communications, Inc. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has a Master’s in Business Administration (M.B.A.) from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. Carlos is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico, a member of the Puerto Rico College of Engineers and Surveyors (CIAPR), and a member of the Puerto Rico, Florida and Washington, D.C. BAR.

Carlos likes traveling. Getting to know other countries and its peoples broadens his perspective and develops his empathy.

What was your favorite course of subject in school? Literature. It reignited the love I felt for reading when I was a kid.

En Español

Como Director Ejecutivo, Carlos da forma, implementa y supervisa todos los aspectos del trabajo impulsado por la misión y la estrategia programática de la Fundación en Puerto Rico.

Carlos cree que la educación es una de las herramientas más importantes que tenemos para lograr una sociedad más justa y romper las barreras de la desigualdad.

Antes de unirse a Flamboyán, Carlos era ingeniero y estratega de negocios enfocado en resolver operaciones complejas y desafíos logísticos que enfrentan las compañías Fortune 500. Antes de eso, apoyó las ventas, las finanzas, las operaciones y el cumplimiento normativo federal para Univision Communications, Inc. Obtuvo una licenciatura y una maestría en ingeniería industrial del Instituto de Tecnología de Georgia. Tiene una Maestría en Administración de Empresas (MBA) de The Wharton School en la Universidad de Pennsylvania y un Juris Doctor de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Carlos es un Ingeniero Profesional con licencia (PE) en la jurisdicción de Puerto Rico, miembro del Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrimensores de Puerto Rico (CIAPR) y miembro del BAR de Puerto Rico, Florida y Washington, D.C.

A Carlos le gusta viajar. Conocer otros países y sus gentes amplía su perspectiva y desarrolla su empatía.

¿Cuál fue tu asignatura favorita en la escuela? Literatura. Reavivó el amor que sentía por la lectura cuando era niño.

Andrew Sanchez

Senior Director, Program Partner Engagement

Andrew brings together and cultivates meaningful relationships with organizational partners and manages strategic initiatives to amplify Flamboyan’s family engagement priorities and impact. He is committed to education because he believes that it is an essential key to success. He supports the notion that education fosters growth both inside and outside of the classroom and opens doors to limitless opportunities. Additionally, Andrew is passionate about visibility and representation because they set the bar for what is possible and allow people to serve as a voice for others.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Andrew served as a Program Manager for a nonprofit organization that oversaw programming for DC students attending college across the country, which included financial aid processes, academic counseling, data collection + reporting, and partnership building. His degree in counseling allows him to leverage the power of relationships to define needs, determine approaches, leverage support, and bring people together to reach a common goal.

Outside of Flamboyan, Andrew loves to dance. He has taught salsa classes all over the DMV and enjoys interacting with people from different backgrounds through his lessons. Andrew also likes DIY projects that challenge his creativity and manual skills.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Ms. Cruz – she was not afraid to share parts of herself in her lessons, ensured that her students were able to see themselves in what they learned, and demanded that her students think critically about the world around them.

Garvin Sierra

Manager, Graphic Design

In his role at Flamboyan, Garvin supports the Foundation’s products and resources through graphic design. By producing visuals for social media, infographics, and conceptualizing publications and reports, Garvin’s artistic work complements and highlights the messages the External Affairs team communicates to Flamboyan’s audiences.

Garvin is a renowned graphic artist in Puerto Rico, capable of translating concepts and ideas into powerful images. He has spent many years designing exhibitions for galleries and museums. Through his artistic work, he is able to show his commitment to creating a better Puerto Rico so that new generations have a future where learning and education are a priority.

Before joining Flamboyan, Garvin worked as a graphic artist at a cultural and artistic institution, and he also creates as a visual artist. Garvin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. In his free time, he donates his artistic work to contribute to the island’s agenda of social change specifically to promote the importance of a barrier-free public education.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? My favorite teacher was my Technical Drawing teacher, Juan Carlos Velázquez. He gave me the push I needed to formally study art at the university.

En español

En su puesto en Flamboyán, Garvin se encarga de apoyar de manera gráfica los productos y recursos que produce la Fundación. Ya sea en la creación de visuales para redes sociales, infografías o incluso en la conceptualización gráfica de publicaciones e informes, el trabajo artístico de Garvin complementa y realza los mensajes que el equipo de Comunicaciones y Asuntos Externos desea comunicar.

Garvin es un reconocido artista gráfico en Puerto Rico, capaz de plasmar en un visual conceptos, ideas o luchas. También se ha dedicado por años al diseño de exhibiciones. Por medio de su disciplina, muestra su compromiso – de aportar a construir un mejor país para que las futuras generaciones tengan un porvenir donde la enseñanza y la educación sean una prioridad.

Antes de comenzar a trabajar en Flamboyán, Garvin se desempeñó como artista gráfico de una institución cultural y artística. En lo personal, también se ha dedicado a ejercer su obra como artista plástico. Garvin cuenta con un bachillerato en Artes Plásticas de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras. En su tiempo libre, usa su disciplina para ayudar a construir un mejor país donde la educación sea libre y no tenga fronteras ni barreras.

¿Quién fue tu maestro favorito en la escuela? Mi maestro favorito en la escuela fue Juan Carlos Velázquez, maestro de dibujo técnico. Fue la última gota de agua del empuje que necesité para adentrarme a las artes como estudio universitario.

Sanjay Singh

Senior Director, District Support

In his role at Flamboyan, Sanjay supports school districts nationally in crafting a strategic plan to improve their family engagement and scaling out from plans to practice. Additionally, he supports Graduated District Schools that have become self-sustained after finishing their initial fellowships with Flamboyan. 

Sanjay is committed to working in education because he comes from a family of educators. His wife is a principal, and they are both dedicated to improving the education landscape for their sons and their people. 

Sanjay began his educational journey 20 years ago as a Teach For America Corps Member in Washington, DC. He met his wife Danielle at his placement school and they have worked in DC for the last two decades to improve the educational landscape for students in grades Pre-K(3) through 12th Grade. Prior to joining Flamboyan, he served in various roles, ranging from Instructional Coach and IB Coordinator to Assistant Principal and Principal. 

Sanjay is equally passionate about food and loves to cook. He creates intimate in-home dining experiences in his free time. 

Connect with Sanjay on LinkedIn. 

My favorite teacher in school was… Mrs. Helen Del Vecchio. She helped me transition from a smart student to a dynamic and critical thinker. 

Neeltje Headshot

Neeltje L. van Marissing Méndez

Senior Managing Director, Communications + External Affairs

Neeltje plays a critical role to increase the profile of Flamboyan’s work to revitalize Puerto Rico.

Neeltje believes in the transformative power of education. She’s also passionate about promoting reading and literature and spent the earlier years of her career as a Manager of the Children’s Literature Room of Puerto Rico’s National Library and as General Coordinator of the Festival de la Palabra, a yearly literary event that brings together 50 international and local writers and more than 20,000 visitors.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, she worked as Executive Director of the University of Puerto Rico Press. She oversaw the publishing, sales, and marketing initiatives of this prestigious academic publisher. She also worked at Santillana, an international Spanish publishing house that specializes in K-12 educational materials where she held three roles as Children’s Literature Editor, General Interest Books Division Director, and Communications Director. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Languages and Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, and speaks four languages.

Neeltje has also been a volunteer at Proyecto Enlace’s Literacy Program for adults. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? My favorite courses were always History and Literature. I was very lucky to have wonderful and committed teachers in these two disciplines. In addition, the division lines between reality and fiction and how these translate into the written word fascinate me. 

En Español

Neeltje desempeña un rol fundamental en darle visibilidad al trabajo que hace Flamboyán en Puerto Rico en las áreas de educación y arte y cultura.

Neeltje cree en el poder transformador de la educación. También es una apasionada de la promoción de la lectura y de la literatura. Ha fungido como gerente de la Sala de Literatura Infantil de la Biblioteca Nacional de Puerto Rico y como coordinadora general del Festival de la Palabra, evento literario que reunía anualmente a 50 escritores internacionales y locales y más de 20.000 visitantes.

Antes de unirse a Flamboyán, se desempeñó como directora ejecutiva de la Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, donde supervisó las iniciativas de publicación, ventas y marketing de esta prestigiosa editorial académica. También trabajó en Santillana, una editorial española internacional que se especializa en materiales educativos para los grados K-12. Allí ocupó tres puestos, fue editora de literatura infantil, directora de la división de libros de interés general y directora de Comunicaciones. Neeltje tiene un bachillerato en Lenguas y Literatura Modernas de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras y habla cuatro idiomas.

Conéctate con ella en LinkedIn.

¿Cuál fue tu asignatura o curso favorito en la escuela? Mis clases favoritas siempre fueron Historia y Español (Literatura). Tuve la suerte de tener maestras maravillosas en esas dos disciplinas. Además, las líneas divisorias entre realidad y ficción y cómo se traducen en la palabra escrita me llaman mucho la atención.

Janelyn M. Vega Medina

Director, communications

Janelyn provides a voice to the work carried out by the Flamboyán Foundation in Puerto Rico.

As the daughter of a teacher -in addition to being a product of the country’s public education system- Janelyn knows firsthand that education is one of the essential tools to fight inequality.

Janelyn has spent her entire professional career as a communicator. From the booth of Radio Universidad de Puerto Rico, to the digital newsrooms of NotiCel and El Nuevo Día, her focus was always on the role of journalism in achieving justice and equality. She has also worked as a part-time professor at Sagrado Corazón University, where she taught a class on digital journalism. She has her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She also has a professional certification as a paralegal from Sagrado Corazón University. Connect with Janelyn on LinkedIn.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? History and Music. Both classes gave free rein to my imagination and opened windows to new worlds. The study of our past is vital to understand our present and visualizing what we can do to achieve a fuller and fairer future.

En español

Janelyn brinda voz, a través de las comunicaciones, al trabajo que realiza la Fundación Flamboyán en Puerto Rico.

Como hija de una maestra -además de ser producto del sistema público de enseñanza del país- Janelyn conoce y sabe de primera mano que la educación es una de las herramientas esenciales para batallar la inequidad.

Janelyn se ha desempeñado toda su carrera profesional como comunicadora. Desde la cabina de Radio Universidad de Puerto Rico, hasta las redacciones digitales de NotiCel y El Nuevo Día, su enfoque siempre estuvo en el rol que tiene el periodismo para lograr justicia y equidad para los ciudadanos del país. También ha ejercido como profesora a tiempo parcial en la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, donde ofreció clases sobre periodismo digital. Tiene su título de bachillerato en periodismo de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras. También cuenta con una certificación como paralegal de la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.

Conéctate con ella en LinkedIn.

¿Cuál era tu asignatura o curso favorito en la escuela? Historia y Música. Ambas clases daban rienda suelta a mi imaginación y abrían ventanas a mundos nuevos. El estudio de nuestro pasado es vital para entender nuestro presente y visualizar qué podemos hacer para alcanzar un futuro más pleno y justo.

Thedra White

Managing Director, Training + Development

Thedra leads the training and product development initiatives at Flamboyan, ensuring that educators have the training, resources, and products they need to grow and sustain their family engagement practice. She is committed to education because she feels that education opens the door to see the world in a new way, helps you figure out how you fit in the world, and gives you the power to fight to make the world a better place.

Thedra has more than 15 years of experience in developing, implementing, and leading global training programs. Prior to joining Flamboyan, she developed continuing education programs, both online and in-person, for healthcare professionals. She has also held positions in marketing and finance, and as a high school teacher. Thedra received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

In her spare time, Thedra is an avid tennis player. She also loves traveling the world and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mr. Hamlin, my high school math teacher. He helped me work through the negative self-talk I had about my ability to conquer math by working with me after school to review math problems, step by step, and show me I could do it. With his help, I moved on to calculus and enjoyed it.

Lindsay Wright

Director, Strategy Management

Lindsay is the right-hand to Flamboyan Foundation’s Senior Leadership Team and functions as their liaison to the DC and Puerto Rico teams. As Director of Strategy Management, Lindsay lives out her commitment to advancing educational equity by stewarding internal culture and providing strategic support to the organization’s leaders and Board of Directors. In her role, she directs internal communications, develops systems that prioritize organizational effectiveness, and leads organization-wide special projects.

Lindsay shares the belief that all children should have access to a high-quality education no matter their background or life circumstances. Prior to her tenure at Flamboyan, Lindsay began her career in the non-profit sector at NewBridges Immigrant Resource Center in Harrisonburg, VA. There, she managed client casework and developed bilingual communication resources. She also interned at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and developed content related to CDF’s policy priorities.

Lindsay speaks Spanish fluently and looks for opportunities to use her language skills whenever she can. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

What was your favorite subject or course in school? English. I love the way language and stories open us up to new realities and help us make sense of the world.

Youval Yadlin

Manager, Training + Product

Youval oversees and tracks the operation of Flamboyan’s training program, including supporting the organization’s parent and teacher trainers. She is committed to education because she believes that every young person has immense potential, and it is through education and holistic support that they can be enabled to thrive.

Prior to joining Flamboyan, Youval worked in the youth leadership development space, supporting LearnServe International’s social entrepreneurship fellowship program. Her background is in conflict transformation, understanding the ways young people are both impacted by conflict and working to address conflict in their community.

Outside of Flamboyan, Youval’s favorite place to relax is out on her back porch, reading a book while her cat rolls around in the dirt.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Ms. Malkin (Global Cultures and AP Gov), she made history and politics come alive in powerful ways and made every student feel their contributions were valid.

Marci Young

President + Chief Operating Officer

Marci oversees Flamboyan’s overall strategy, program, and operations. Her work ensures that the foundation is maximizing its cohesion, effectiveness, and sustainability across its offices in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

A nonprofit management veteran with more than twenty years’ experience, she started her careers as a kindergarten teacher in Maryland and has always believed education is the foundation for young people to live their best lives and achieve their dreams. Marci is a “fierce fighter” on behalf of students, especially those who are most marginalized and has spent her career fighting at the local, state, and national levels to improve the lives of children and youth of low-income families. Marci’s track record includes having been a Partner at Venture Philanthropy Partners, Vice President of Impact at United Way Worldwide, and having held leadership roles at Pew Center of States and the Center for the Child Care Workforce. She has served on numerous local and national boards and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University and a master’s degree in early childhood education with a specialization in policy and administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Marci is inspired by the connections and community we share because our shared humanity is a powerful and positive force.

Who was your favorite teacher in school? Mrs. Cleveland believed in my success even when I doubted myself. She always pushed me to do my best and overcome challenges (in the classroom and beyond).