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 ten 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 multilingual team perfectly positioned to change lives through literacy.

Linda Smith

Founder and Executive Director

Linda has a background in education, public health, entrepreneurship, fair trade, business operations and community sustainability. 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.

Lori Eggers

Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant

Lori earned her BA in Business Management at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has three years’ experience as a bookkeeper. Her passion is traveling and exploring, and she finds there is nothing more healing than discovering the beauty in the landscapes and people of our world.   

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.

Brenda Saloj

Community Facilitator, Guatemala

Brenda Saloj is a bright and young Kaqchikel woman finishing her third year of studies in Special Education in college. She speaks three languages: Kaqchikel, Quiche and Spanish. In addition to her studies and work for Reading Village, Brenda is a freelance reporter for an international network called the Global Press Journal, writing articles about Guatemala and giving voice to those who are silenced. In all her work she is driven by her strong conviction to serve the indigenous people. She works to give youth a voice and freedom to develop to their highest potential, to be what they want to be.

Mayra Choc

Community Facilitator, Guatemala

Mayra is a Maya woman and an educator trained in Paulo Freire’s methodology of Popular Education. She is dedicated to developing leadership in young men and women. She has worked as an elementary school teacher, and is currently a student of Social Work and Community Development. Her vision is to provide a seed for peace and dignity for all historically marginalized peoples. Reading Village gives her the opportunity to reach for this vision by promoting the role of every child, man and woman in rural Maya communities for their own human and community development.

Rosalina Tzapinel

Community Facilitator, Guatemala

Rosalina is a vivacious Maya woman studying social work at university. She is trilingual, speaking Spanish, K’iche’ and English. At her young age of 19, she has participated in cultural exchange experiences at Michigan and Georgetown Universities as well as in Brazil and México.  She has strong leadership skills and a strong voice and wants to help empower other youth to have more significant participation in their communities and work towards a better world.

Aaron Smith

Board President

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.

Tommy Perkins

Board Treasurer

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.

Jan Snooks

Board Secretary

Jan Wanner 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.

Debra Robbins

Board Member

Debra is the immediate past president of Reading Village and serves professionally as a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas. She has served her congregation, the largest Reform synagogue in the state of Texas, for 25 years. Inspirational fundraiser, teacher, and leader, Debra has refined her leadership expertise as Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and on the Board of Jewish Family Service. A published author and passionate reader, she joined the Reading Village board in October 2011, participated in her first Learning Journey, accompanied by her family, in March 2012 and her second Learning Journey with women from her congregation in March 2014.

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 and currently serves as the Program Consultant for the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation.

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 the Executive Director of Leadership and Professional Development US at Kaplan. Melissa spends a lot of time outside of NYC, her current home, traveling for both business and pleasure.

Nick Felsing

Board Member

Through his jobs with several multinationals, Nick has had the opportunity to live and work across the globe on all continents. An experienced, creative, hands on, motivational and internationalised business leader, he speaks 6 languages, so can certainly make himself understood. Throughout his 30 marriage to his teacher wife Jill, Nick has been passionately involved in educational programs – from Colombia to the Philippines and from the Canary Islands to Hungary, they have all been equally life changing. He now lives and works in the UK, but is never too far away from his next international adventure.

Colin Sivasundaram

Board Member

Colin is a director with rogenSi based in New York and as a happy coincidence, a colleague of Tommy Perkins. In that role, he is the co-head of facilitation and design for the North American practice. He is well travelled and passionate about human transformation. At nearly ten years in this role, and after 19 in the I.T. industry, Colin is passionate about “giving back” – helping those who can’t always help themselves. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne where he earned a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science. At home, he enjoys reading, films and listening to an increasingly diverse list of music.