The Reading Village model is innovative, responsive, and effective, in equal measure. We could say the same of our board and staff. Over the past six years, we have built a team of inspired and inspiring individuals. With diverse backgrounds and expertise in areas ranging from technology and teaching to communications and community development, we have built a tri-lingual team perfectly positioned to change lives through literacy.

Linda Smith

Founder and Executive Director

Linda has a background in education, public health, business, solar energy, and community-sustainability, both in the corporate and non-profit worlds. She has been connected to Guatemala since 1988. She earned an MBA and MA in Latin American Studies from UCLA, is fluent in Spanish and is learning Kaqchikel. Dreamer, doer, and constant learner, Reading Village continues to thrive under Linda’s leadership and expertise.

Juan Skinner

National Director, Guatemala
With a background in anthropology, Juan is an environmental scientist, organizer and professor. With decades of experience collaborating with Guatemalan government and local communities, Juan is passionate about supporting marginalized populations find their voice. And he believes that literacy, education, and leadership are integral to empowering these populations to express themselves critically and creatively. As our Program Director, Juan is helping build the same skills among our youth leaders and supporting them to build these skills among the next generation of indigenous children in Guatemala.

Marcella Varley

Development Manager

With a BA in Spanish, German and International Studies, Marcella has built a well rounded background in international development as well as account management in both non-profit and corporate environments. Her love of Latin American culture is rooted from her year living in Ecuador as a Rotary Exchange student and her passion for fundraising was born from her experiences as a volunteer in rural Uganda. Traveler and fundraiser, Marcella has a strong belief in the power of the human spirit and is continuously inspired by the people she meets along life’s journey.

Ismael Pecher

Community Facilitator, Guatemala

Ismael is a Guatemalan native with a university degree in education. He has six year’s experience in teaching and youth and community development training based on popular education methodology. Recruiter and mentor, he is responsible for the selection, cultivation, and training of our teen reading promoters. Ismael comes from the same area as the teens in our program and like them fought hard to get his education. He is bilingual Kaqchikel/Spanish.

Debra Robbins

Board President

Debra is the Associate Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas. She has served her congregation, the largest Reform synagogue in the state of Texas, for 21 years. Inspirational fundraiser, teacher, and leader, Debra has refined this expertise as Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and on the Board of Jewish Family Service. She joined the Reading Village board in October 2011 and participated in her first Learning Journey, accompanied by her family, in March 2012.

Martin Kruger

Board Treasurer

Martin is the Chief Operating Officer at Earth Island/Follow Your Heart, a Los Angeles based manufacturer of natural/organic, vegetarian/vegan condiments, dressings and cheese alternatives. Strategist, performance measurement expert and our go-to numbers guy, Martin has led Reading Village’s financial management and strategic planning process since 2008. He has traveled with us to Guatemala twice in that time.

Aaron Smith

Board Secretary

Aaron is an analyst at Google, where he uses data to analyze and improve security for users. Aaron earned a BA from Wake Forest University and a MS from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. Outside of work, Aaron can be found chasing his son, wife, and golden retriever and indulging in Swiss chocolate.

Larry Dressler

Board Member

For over 25 years Larry Dressler helped people in organizations and communities mobilize their collective insight, commitment, and energy to make a positive difference in the world. He is a facilitator of high-­stakes conversations and a trusted advisor to leaders who seek to weave authentic engagement and collaboration into the fabric of their organizations. Confidante, trip-leader, and visionary, Larry is a founding board member of Reading Village.

Julia Young

Board Member

Julia combines the logical mind of an engineer and a facilitator’s attention to group dynamics, to explore how collaborative and innovative thinking can augment the effectiveness of work teams. Julia was a co-founder of Facilitate.com, developer of web meeting software offering collaboration tools for innovative thinking and decision making. Julia joined the Reading Village Board of Directors in 2012 . When she’s not traveling, Julia lives with her husband, Ray, in San Francisco. She is a founding member of the UCSF Gynecologic Cancer Friends’ Circle, volunteering to save women’s lives.

Jan Snooks

Board Member

Jan Snooks has worked in education for nearly 40 years. In that time, she has been an elementary teacher, Special Education teacher, school librarian, counselor, IT consultant, even school secretary. Now officially retired, Jan is learning to paint, write and photograph her way around the world. Those travels took her to Guatemala twelve years ago and her interest in the country has grown ever since. Jan joined the Reading Village board in 2013. She has traveled with us on three Learning Journeys and brings an intense creativity as well as her education expertise to our team.

Tommy Perkins

Board Member

Tommy is a Senior Manager of Sales for rogenSi, a management consulting firm based in New York specializing in leadership, communication and sales effectiveness. Influencer, negotiator, team player and father, he manages client teams to develop the strengths of leaders in many top line organizations. Tommy earned a BS from Texas A&M University and a MBA from the Universidad del CEMA in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he spent several years with his wife before moving back to the US. Now he lives in New York and attempts to corral two young children.

Melissa Vuernick

Board Member

Melissa is a former special education teacher who has worked in learning and development for over 20 years– twelve of which were in the publishing industry. Now, Melissa is a senior consultant at rogenSi, a management consulting firm based in New York specializing in leadership, communication and sales effectiveness. Melissa spends a lot of time outside of NYC, her current home, traveling for both business and pleasure.

Alvaro Aguilar

Board Member

Alvaro is an Energy Systems Research Engineer with Texas Instruments, where he focuses on developing next generation power converter systems for mobile devices.  Alvaro was born in Guatemala and attended high school in Honduras before moving to the US for higher education. Combining deep analytical and communication skills, he likes working in small teams to create innovative solutions for complex problems. A firm believer in the power of education, he strives to help others see the change it can bring to their own lives.