Lauren recently graduated Cum Laude from Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA and has spent the last three summers as a camp counselor working with eight to twelve-year old children. She has deferred her enrollment at Brandeis University to take a gap year. She first visited the Foundation briefly with her high school during a service trip to the rural mountain regions of the Dominican Republic. Passionate about Spanish, diversity, and feminism, she couldn’t wait to return to the Center to volunteer. Lauren hopes that her work at the Center will inspire the girls to work hard in school and love learning. She is excited to immerse herself in the culture and empower the next generation. During the rest of her gap year, Lauren plans to intern in Boston for a couple of months. Then, she will spend three months in Nepal volunteering and trekking. She is currently undecided about her college major, but knows that her experiences at the Mariposa DR Foundation will profoundly influence her decision.
Sewing Teacher and Local Volunteer
Johannil Napoleón, MAAT, is Mariposa DR Foundation’s Art Teacher/ Art Therapist. She leads art/art therapy classes, is involved in community art projects, and is helping to create a sustainable psychology program. She is a Haitian Dominican born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After 22 years of living in the US she decided to return to the DR to reconnect with her roots and give back to her country by working with Mariposa. She received her Masters Degree in Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Her interests are women’s health, women’s rights, women empowerment, and working with survivors of sexual trauma. During her time at SAIC, she founded SPEAK: Empowering Students to Use Their Voice- a student run organization of artists and leaders who create projects to educate and bring awareness about sexual violence to the community of SAIC. From 2012-2014 she worked at A Long Walk Home, an organization that uses art and the creative performing arts to end gender-based violence. During her time there she worked in various capacities: Art Therapist, Program Coordinator Assistant, Executive Assistant and Program Coordinator. Her passion is to continue to advocate for survivors of sexual trauma and create spaces where girls and women can gain a sense of empowerment through education, community engagement, counseling, social activism, and the arts.
Mikaela graduated from Middlebury College in 2014, where she earned her BA in Political Science, minoring in African Studies and Arabic. She became interested in development work after studying abroad in Morocco during the Arab Spring, where she witnessed the revolution and the unveiling of the new Moroccan constitution. In 2013 she participated in a week-long service trip in Rio San Juan through the Mariposa DR Foundation, where she became passionate about women’s empowerment and ending generational poverty. This led her to African School for Excellence in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she developed and ran a women’s empowerment course for over 100 students, taught daily English classes, helping to raise students’ reading levels from the 1st grade level to the 6th grade level in a matter of 3 weeks, and co-developed a 6 year entrepreneurship program plan for the school. She then realized a passion for public health, becoming a fellow at Shelburne Farms where she led sustainability and environmental camps and explored farm-to-plate and nutritional programs for children. With experience at both start-up nonprofits and large nonprofits, she is excited to begin her work with the Mariposa DR Foundation and learn about nonprofit management, aspiring to one-day found her own organization.
Victor is a Puerto Rican born artist who currently lives in San Juan, P.R. He studied Drama at the University of Puerto Rico, where he developed as an actor as well as a lighting and stagecraft designer. He became involved with theater at 15 years old, pursuing his passion and interest in the arts to make a better life for those in need. Throughout his life, he has participated in different community art projects in his hometown in San German, and other small communities around Puerto Rico. As an artist, he envisions new possibilities to create art within the realm of theater, reaching communities where children can grow in a safe and optimistic world. As a student, he participated in different Festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, KCACTF Regional and National Festival, O’Neill’s Theater Center Summer Festival, Santiago de Compostela Festival, and the Complutense University in Madrid. He recently worked in the National Theater of Fine Arts in San Juan as a lighting technician and as an actor for the International and National Theater festival for the fall season. He also taught at artsInsideOut in N’Kosis Haven, South Africa as part of ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty). Following his work as a theater instructor at the Mariposa DR Foundation, he aspires to work in his own country to help share the experiences he has had abroad, believing art is the key to change the world.
Ada graduated from Wellesley College as an Environmental Studies and Anthropology double major. As a Madeleine Albright Fellow, Ada will come to Cabarete this year to help develop the environmental education and swimming programs at the Mariposa Foundation. Her interest and passion for experiential environmental education and the Caribbean region truly began two summers ago in Vieques, Puerto Rico where she spent three months organizing summer “eco-camps” and learning about the unique environmental history of the island, a topic she explored in her senior thesis. Ada’s experiences with the Williams Mystic Seaport Program, a semester dedicated to marine studies, and her time spent working on organic farms and gardens in Costa Rica and France have instilled in her a passion for getting outside and learning-by-doing which she is eager to share. As a cross-country runner and swimmer, Ada is also very excited to be part of the active community in Cabarete and try her luck at surfing and SUPing with the Mariposas.
Elyse comes to us from ASTEP, Artists Striving to End Poverty, and is very excited to implement and lead a dance program here at Mariposa. Elyse started dancing at the age of 5 with the Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After having a successful competitive career, she gave up competition to start teaching dance and attend college. Shortly after, she had her first taste of professional dancing when she was asked to dance in a commercial for LG Electronics and was instantly hooked. During her final semester at the University of Minnesota, Elyse was contacted to tour the United States with Michael Londra’s new show Celtic Fire. After completing her BA in Spanish Studies, Elyse went on to tour Europe and the United States with various other companies including Gaelforce Dance and Raglan Road in Disney World. Elyse has taught dance for over 10 years in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Delaware and even taught a small class in Zambia. She is very excited to have the opportunity to work here with ASTEP at Mariposa.
Chris is a high school psychology teacher and swimming coach from Lancaster, Pa. An award-winning, student-athlete while attending the University of Pittsburgh. Chris has a degree in secondary social studies education, Sociology and Women’s Studies. Chris has coached swimmers of all ages and levels, ranging from beginners to Olympic level swimmers.
Jessica is currently a senior at Dartmouth College, pursuing a BA in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, with a concentration in Geography and History. She is a Los Angeles, CA native of Mexican heritage. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies she plans to participate in a teaching fellowship in hopes of furthering her commitment for Education reform, prior to pursuing a Masters in Education. In the future, Jessica plans to work as a high school guidance counselor and higher education access coordinator for under resourced communities such as her own.