The Board


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Carmen

Carmen is a passionate being.  Passionate about what? About everything she cares about ... about education, about people, about the impact she can make within her native Guatemala.  She has a Psychology degree from the University of Chicago and a Waldorf-Steiner Teacher Certificate from Emerson College, England. Carmen’s need to impact the world took her down the path of education, where she constantly asks herself what are the gifts of her students and how she can help them reach their potential.  She loves to spend time with the people that matter to her, to feel she contributes to their lives as much as they do to hers. She likes to garden, read and dance. Carmen is the first Waldorf certified teacher in Guatemala. In her spare time she also translates and transcribes. It was in rural Guatemala, translating for a National Geographic team, where she met a boy with cerebral palsy that had no access to services.  This encouraged her to join the DIGNA board, to help people like him get the services they deserve no matter where or who they are.


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Gaby

Gabriela Castillo is an optimist, a dreamer, but above all an achiever. A founding member of DIGNA, with a Masters in Special Education and another degree in School Administration she believes that the earlier interventions can be provided for the diverse functional population, the larger their opportunity to have a better quality of life. Gaby designed and implemented the Program of Social and Work Inclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities a with great success in various high profile companies. Given her experiences and knowledge, she wants the opportunity to help the people with special needs on a larger scale and she views DIGNA as the way to achieve that.

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Amanda

Amanda’s heart was primed for service while attending Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN.  After earning a Masters and licensure as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) at the University of Texas at Dallas, she traveled to serve in Guatemala as an SLP at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos for one year. Concerned by the lack of services and professionals prepared to work with children with special needs in the country and feeling she had a purpose in this arena, she chose to stay...Five years later she is still in the country. In 2017 she embarked on an adventure and walked 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a journey that took her across Spain, which gave her time to reflect about her next steps in life. It was there where the idea for DIGNA was born. Amanda now pursues her clinical doctorate in SLP at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, has her private practice and volunteers her services wherever she feels called to.  Although she misses her family, her motivation to help others and knowing the impact that DIGNA can have on the lives of many deserving individuals inspires her to continue her work in Guatemala.


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Joy

Joy hails from rural Florida.  She studied Psychology at the University of South Florida and received a B.A. in Women’s Studies.  She has worked in Child Protection and Gender Specific programming. Joy has always been socially conscience and drawn to activism.  This commitment to her community has brought her to DIGNA. She is known for always wearing a smile and her ability start a conversation and befriend anyone.  In college she met her husband, John and since then his job with the US Department of State has taken them to Mexico, Slovakia, and currently Guatemala. Joy and John are devoted to their family and children; Jan 8, Ian 6, Xavier 5, John Stone 2, and Josephine 1.  She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, cooking, and creating a home wherever she is in the world.


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Carmen

My name is Maria del Carmen Esquivel and I’m from Guatemala City. Although I’m only 23 years old, I have experience working in a variety of fields like cleaning, working in a laundry and actually I work in the kitchen of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos.  I’m a member of the NPH Special Olympics team and have participated in the national competitions for the last six years. Last year I was chosen to be part of their leadership group for the dedication and responsibility I show.  I’ve had much support in my life and because of it I have achieved many things, I wish the same for my peers with special needs. For that reason, I want to be part of the great mission of DIGNA.


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Katie

Katie Hoyt, with her roots in Kansas City, Missouri has a passion for Blues and BBQ (sometimes cooking, but mostly eating it). Though she has lived in six different countries, she always brings a bit of K.C. with her (often found traveling with varieties of barbeque sauce). Having earned her master’s degree in Special Education at the University of Kansas and seeing the opportunities that exist for individuals with disabilities in her hometown, Katie is the ideal witness to the injustices that exist in other parts of the world for those with different abilities. She currently works as the Coordinator of Special Education for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, Guatemala, where she has received special recognition for her work in inclusion for young people with disabilities. Katie’s primary objective is to ensure that each individual, regardless of his or her abilities, succeeds to be a productive and active member of the community, and she is proud to join DIGNA in this mission.


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Laura

Laura is a native San Franciscan. She grew up hiking the Marin Headlands, rowing on Lake Merced, and eating as much focaccia and Toscano salami as her father would allow. During her high school years she volunteered at Shriners Hospital, giving her insight to what life is like for people with physical disabilities. She earned her B.A. in Art History at Wellesley College, and holds a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Laura has a passion for food, new experiences, and the outdoors. This led her on a sabbatical to Guatemala 12 years ago and she hasn’t left yet! While learning Spanish in Antigua, Laura led fundraising at a rural non-profit focused on children’s literacy. This gave her insights into the educational system in Guatemala. Knowing the challenges that people with disabilities have and learning about the lack of educational services provided for them strengthened her belief that everyone deserves an equal shot in life. Laura brings her hands-on expertise in business strategy, customer orientation, project management, and new product development to the DIGNA board.