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)
Founding Board Member (Peru)
Aaron Alvarez, 33 years old and a Native Peruvian, considers himself fortunate enough to have obtained a college education. However, he recognizes that this is not the case for many young people, especially girls, from rural communities across his beloved country of Peru.
Aaron knows that he was lucky to obtain a college education in a country where so many are less fortunate than he. In many parts of Peru, he knows that there is a rooted idea that males are more valuable than females. Aaron wants to be a part of the change ensuring that more young girls can attend school and have the opportunities that he did.
Aaron now has two sons and wants to give them the chance to live the life they want with opportunities to be whatever they want to be (though he says ‘be a good person’ is number 1 and is not negotiable). Aaron believes that educational opportunities are a human right and that all of the children in the world should have the right to finish high school and obtain the skills and the tools to live a decent and happy life.
Co-Founder, Director of Educational Programming and Operations (Peru/U.S.)
Joe’s 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. In his spare time, he teaches and does research on learning, identity, and student wellbeing at McGill University. Joe has a PhD in International and Comparative Education and Educational Leadership from Penn State, an MA in International Educational Development from Columbia University Teachers College, and a BA from Brandeis University in philosophy. 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.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org PH: +51 951 125 927 (Peru)
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 US friends 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. 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)
Lizzie Morales joined the Board of the Sacred Valley Project in 2018. With a degree in music from the University of Maryland and experience teaching, Lizzie studied and worked in countries such as Ghana, South Korea, and Japan. In 2008, Lizzie moved to
Peru to teach and volunteer with various organizations to provide arts-based workshops for at-risk youth. She later pursued a graduate degree in ethnomusicology and focused her research on Andean culture and musical traditions. She currently works at the John
F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. where she manages arts education programs for teachers and schools. Lizzie enjoys applying her skills in education, arts, and event planning to fundraising events to help support the mission and goals of the Sacred Valley Project.
Board of Directors (U.S)
Rachel first started spending time in the Sacred Valley in 2014, and hasn’t been able to stay away since. She led student educational travel programs throughout Peru with Rustic Pathways where she started working closely with the students at SVP. With a background in marketing for an impact-driven company, Rustic Pathways, Rachel supports SVP’s goal to grow and support more students. Rachel graduated from the University of Vermont in 2013 with a degree in sociology and Spanish. She currently lives in California in the Tahoe area, exploring the Sierras and maximizing time outside.
Board of Directors (U.S)
Mary joined the board of the Sacred Valley Project in 2019. She spent time living and working in the Peruvian Andes each year from 2012-2018, and currently calls Bend, OR, home. She has been involved with the project since 2015. She loves spending time with the girls at the dormitories, and is looking forward applying her skills in building community partnerships, photography, education, and fundraising to help support the mission and goals of the Sacred Valley Project. She graduated from Boston University with degrees in Photojournalism and Spanish, and currently works for Rustic Pathways, an educational student travel company, managing school partnerships on the west coast.
Board of Directors (U.S)
Kelly’s passion for community service in Peru through her work as the Rustic Pathways Peru Country Director led Kelly to the Sacred Valley Project. Kelly’s deep knowledge of Peruvian culture mixed with her keen interest in supporting vulnerable women in the country make her an ideal addition to the team. Kelly earned a degree in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C. Kelly’s commitment to SVP is derived from her belief that all girls deserve an education and equal opportunities despite where they live, or the resources that they may or may not possess.
Board of Directors (U.S)
Itzel Vasquez-Rodriguez is a recent Harvard College graduate, where she majored in Sociology with a minor in Economics. She was a leader in Latinx and Native American cultural groups on campus, as well as ethnic studies advocacy coalitions. Itzel has a broad range of experience in Latin America: from studying abroad in Havana, Cuba, to working as a volunteer English teacher in rural Costa Rica. In 2018, Itzel spent 6 months volunteering with the Sacred Valley Project as a Student Service Group Coordinator. She is now working in Sacramento, CA as an Assembly Fellow, where she hopes to enact positive change through policy work.
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!