Program Director (Peru)
Gabriela has been Program Director of SVP since 2012. Born in Piamonte, a small village in Argentina, Gabriela graduated from the Universidad Nacional of Rosario with a degree in Psychology. Previously, Gabriela was the Director of the Santa Cecilia Center in Rosario, Argentina for six years. At this home-care and day-care center, she managed its child development programs focusing on youth with cognitive deficits and supported the program’s overall operation and growth. Throughout her career in psychology, she has maintained a focus on working closely with children with developmental disabilities while honing in on more specific areas of study such as the prevention and intervention of school and domestic violence, vocational orientation, and sports therapy for children with disabilities.
As the program director, Gabriela manages finance, coordinates volunteers, oversees community and family relationships, and leads educational development, house policies, partnerships and general day to day operations of both dormitories.
SVP believes that our girls can make their academic and professional dreams come true and that they need strong, female examples as guidance. The role of the house mother is to guide our students through the difficult decisions they face during adolescence and encourage them to make meaningful, impactful choices for themselves and their community. SVP believes that a well educated, indigenous role model for the girls is essential to their long-term success.
KATHIUSHCA MEA OCHOA
House Mother (Peru)
Born in Lamay, a district of the province of Cusco, Kathiushca studied technical nursing and enjoys working closely with children. Kathiushca loves to share in the girls’ world and to help every aspect of discovering their true potential. She is most invested in learning about who they will become and how far they have come already
YESSICA VILCA POLCCHO
House Mother (Peru)
A native of the province of Arequipa, Yessica studied primary with her mother and secondary alongside her strict disciplinarian father. Independently, she began college at 17 years in the school of philosophy. Currently, she is teaching since having achieved a certification in Education. Yessica enjoys working in education because she believes it is the fundamental basis of becoming human beings and helps us build our core principles and values.
Other Staff Positions
Ollantaytambo Dormitory Cook – Provides daily, nutritious meals for SVP students in Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo Auxilary – Provides security to SVP dormitory in Ollantaytambo.
Quechua speaking, after school tutors – Provide supplemental academic support to help ease the academic and language transition for students coming from a Quechua speaking village to a Spanish speaking school.
Board of Directors
Founder, President and Board Chair (Peru/U.S.)
Alex spends most of the year in the Sacred Valley overseeing the project and helping to coordinate growth and improvement of the dormitory. A graduate of Brandeis University, Alex has worked leading service trips to Peru and Costa Rica since 2005. He has traveled extensively throughout South and Central America including time building houses with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica and studying the Landless Workers Movement in northeastern Brazil. Alex has an intimate knowledge of the Sacred Valley and has worked with local communities and the regional government in efforts to improve rural sanitation, build infrastructure for sustainable economic development and install electricity in rural communities.
PH: +51 84 984 553 895 (Peru)
PH: (973) 632 6362 (USA)
JOE LEVITAN, Phd
Co-Founder, Director of Educational Programming and Operations (Peru/U.S.)
Joe Levitan is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Comparative and International Education at Penn State University. His role at the Sacred Valley Project is to develop educational programing, focusing on comprehensive learning, leadership, and life skills. He also works to ensure opportunities for the students after graduation. Joe received an MA in International Educational Development with a concentration in Peace Education from Columbia University Teachers College and received a BA cum laude at Brandeis University with high honors in philosophy and a minor in comparative religion. A native of Baltimore, Joe has lived, worked and learned in Thailand, Japan, Costa Rica and Iceland. Joe is also an avid soccer player and enjoys coaching.
PH: +51 951 125 927 (Peru)
Director of Development (U.S.)
Christie has been involved with the Sacred Valley Project since completing her graduate internship with us in 2010. Christie is now focused on sustainable development for the program, growing our network of friends, partners and supporters and serving as a liaison between our donors and staff in Peru. Christie received her M.A. in Intercultural Relations with a focus in International Education from Lesley University in 2010 and graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Communications from Rollins College in 2005. Christie’s experience with International Education has taken her from running community service programs in Costa Rica and Peru, teaching English in Spain, and working with study abroad and exchange students at Middlebury College, to managing study abroad admissions for programs in Australia, New Zealand and Spain with GlobaLinks Learning Abroad. Now as our Director of Development, Christie hopes to influence the growth of the project so that we can continue to reach more students, families and communities of the Sacred Valley. Christie is based in Boulder, Colorado.
Email: email@example.com PH: 704-968-8626 (USA)
NICOLE VERA CASEY
Board of Directors, Secretary (U.S)
Nicole is a half-Peruvian living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Though she grew up visiting Peru often, she never lived here until she and her husband, Sean Casey, came to Ollantaytambo to volunteer with the Project in 2012 for 7 months. With a background in Program Management and Development, Nicole supports the Project’s efforts to expand. Nicole graduated from Marymount University in 2013 with a degree in English, went on to support humanitarian de-mining efforts of the Organization of American States, and subsequently managed an AmeriCorps Program aimed at mentoring underprivileged youth in Denver, CO. Nicole currently manages AmeriCorps programs for Reading Partners, a U.S.-based literacy nonprofit.
Board of Directors, Treasurer and Media (U.S)
Sean has been involved with SVP since 2012 when he and his wife, Nicole Vera, lived in Ollantaytambo for 7 months. After graduating with a Physics degree from Dickinson College, Sean earned a Masters in Building Systems from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Colorado. Currently, Sean is an engineer for a consulting company in Charlottesville, VA. With his background in sustainable building and engineering, he helped design the original dormitory and provided tutoring in maths and sciences for the students. Sean continues to support SVP with content management on the website.
As a small nonprofit, we appreciate all the help that friends, family, schools and community members are able to provide. We value every individual’s collaboration and interest in the project, and acknowledge that without our volunteers, donors and fundraisers, we would not be able to provide the young women of the Sacred Valley with educational support.
If you want to positively affect the lives of young women from indigenous communities, have a fulfilling experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life or explore the multifaceted aspects of running a non-profit, the Sacred Valley Project is happy to have you join our team!