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 decade, we have built a team of inspired and inspiring individuals.

Carolyn Fairman

Executive Director

Through non-profit leadership, executive management, grassroots development and sustainability, Carolyn has worked for global social change for nearly 20 years. Her background is in the coffee industry where she confronted the many complex issues in smallholder coffee farming communities, addressing endemic poverty while educating and engaging the global industry in new practices. She worked most recently with United Farm Workers as the Director of Strategic Initiatives. There her focus was on global supply chains, building stakeholder engagement through collaborative efforts from the farm worker to the farm owner, buyer and retailer.

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.

Juliana Vasquez

Program Coordinator, Guatemala

Very proud of being a Maya-K’iche woman, Juliana is passionate to be of service to others. She is a teacher and has university studies in law and social sciences. With experience in community development as well as children’s rights, Juliana is especially interested in working towards improving the quality of life of indigenous people in the region and strengthening their leadership and influence in social and economic spheres. She has worked to coordinate and develop relations between ancestral authorities, customary law, and the state system.

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.

Kenia Guoz

Administrative Assistant, Guatemala

I am a young Tz’utujil woman with many desires and dreams of overcoming poverty. Kenia was born and raised in the small village of Cerro de Oro on the south shore of Lake Atitlán. The first woman in her family to graduate from high school in the whole family, she has university studies in auditing and public accounting. Her parents have only ever supported her brothers to study, but as Administrative Assistant at Reading Village she is able to pay her own way.

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.   

Linda Smith

Founder and Former 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.

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 Wanner

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.

Larry Dressler

Founding 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.

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.

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.

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.