Brillo de Sol, Inc. is a US nonprofit organization established exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, supporting and advancing the education, health and quality of life of children with special needs and disabilities in Guatemala, including:
1. Fundraising, educational and other support to:
• Provide scholarships and other direct tuition assistance to children attending Asociación Brillo de Sol School, a registered Guatemalan non-governmental organization operating a school for children with special needs located in San Gaspar Vivar, in the municipality of La Antigua, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala.
• Provide funding to Asociación Brillo de Sol for capital expenditures, instructional expenses of the school, and for administration of other programs designed to promote and foster special education teacher training and services.
• Educate and provide information to the general public about the educational, social, and health needs of families and children in Guatemala.
2. To recruit and coordinate the efforts of volunteers and professionals from the USA and Canada to assist Asociación Brillo de Sol and its partner organizations in providing educational and health services to children and families in Guatemala.
3. To promote and improve the Education and Health of indigenous communities in Guatemala and to cooperate with other agencies or groups delivering education and health services that augment or support Asociación Brillo de Sol’s programs.
A copy of our IRS 501 (c) (3) determination letter can be found by clicking this link: 501(c)(3) Determination Letter
Board of Directors
Christiane has been a board member of Brillo de Sol USA since 2014. She is a speech-language pathologist by training and works as clinic coordinator and clinical educator at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Washington State University. She has extensive volunteer experience in many educational and non-profit organizations, including president of the Wyoming Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a state association education advocacy group, founder and president of the Wyoming Guatemala Accompaniment Project, an organization that funded human rights accompaniers in Guatemala to support communities affected by the genocide and international mega-industrial projects, and board chair of Habitat for Humanity (Albany City, WY), an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. She has organized 5k and 10k races for a variety of causes, loves non-profit work others may dislike, such as raising funds or attending meetings, and these days, beside her love for Brillo de Sol, is passionate about immigrant rights.
“I feel honored to be serving on the board of directors of Brillo de Sol. As fellow speech therapists, Letty and I connected really quickly. Her founding and successfully running a school for disabled children is such a unique accomplishment, in the absence of the kind of legislation that we have in the US, such as ADA or IDEA. I wanted to contribute to the success of this school that allows these awesome children to obtain an education and with that the opportunity to find jobs upon graduation.”
As the founder and past-president of Brillo de Sol USA, Joe comes to us with 30+ years experience in accounting, information systems and operations management in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. He has served in a number of volunteer roles over the years, including many years as a board member and finance committee chair for a Catholic Elementary school in Baltimore Maryland, as a Scout leader, and as a volunteer with our partner organization, CasaSito, developing a curriculum and mentoring young entrepreneurs. While living in Guatemala, he worked with Letty to formalize business processes and practices and assisted with the process of organization and recognition of Asociación Brillo de Sol as a Guatemalan ONG. He runs an IT consulting business specializing in retail systems and finance. He holds a degree in Accounting from Loyola University in Maryland and an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
“When I first encountered the children from Brillo de Sol at the CasaSito Festivals, and watched how they looked out for each other, I knew this program was something special. Letty and her team have worked hard to grow the program, improve its organizational and educational capabilities, and are working hard to put Brillo de Sol on a sustainable path for many years to come. It has been a privilege to be a part of these changes. We have a terrific team on the USA board and thanks to the help of our friends and supporters in the USA and Canada, the future looks bright for the school and the children and families we serve.”
Elisa has been a board member of Brillo de Sol, USA since 2017. She is Canadian and has lived and worked in Morristown, NJ since 2008 as well as 2 years in Singapore. She has two teenagers and a warm and fuzzy Newfoundland named Thomas. Elisa holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science, MBA and an MA in International Development. She worked at Mondelez International (including Kraft Foods, Nabisco, Cadbury) in marketing and global management for 20 years. Throughout her career, Elisa led many employee volunteer and corporate social responsibility initiatives, mostly focused on hunger alleviation. Elisa is also a board member of Souljourn Yoga, an organization that supports girls education in developing countries. She has a passion for Guatemala, visiting for the first time as an intrepid traveler, followed by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in San Marcos, Guatemala. In 2016, Elisa visited Brillo de Sol for the first time and immediately was captivated by the children and teachers at the school. She knew she wanted to be more involved to help support the school through fundraising and marketing efforts. Elisa has visited Brillo de Sol numerous times and with each visit she continues to be inspired by them all!
Steven and Sabrina Cooper
Steven and Sabrina are from Toronto Canada where they live with their two dogs Chico and Brix. Steven has been in the furniture industry for many years starting in a successful family upholstery manufacturing business. For the past 22 years he has been a marketing specialist with Ashley Furniture. Sabrina has been a Registered Dental Hygienist for over 20 years and is a Certified Culinary Nutrition Educator. She has a not for profit The Nourish Well Community Project that provides healthy food initiatives for youth and families in local low income communities. Sabrina is a volunteer with St. Johns Ambulance Dog Therapy program with her dog Chico. In their down time they love travelling, enjoy time in nature, reading a good book and spending time with their family. Together they have volunteered with Global Dental Relief providing dental care to children in need in the rural areas of Guatemala. They also had the opportunity to visit Brillo de Sol and spend time with the students and staff helping in many ways. After their numerous volunteer trips to Guatemala they are pleased to have the opportunity to get more involved and continue efforts to support Brillo de Sol, the school they fell in love with.
Michael is a speech-language pathologist and received his Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He has 21 years of clinical experience working with individuals across the life span. Michael’s research has focused on the areas of cognitive-motor interference following stroke, cognitive rehabilitation, concussion in sport, and narrative medicine-based approaches for meeting the needs of adults with acquired brain injury. He is a member of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, and is actively involved in several task forces conducting evidence-based reviews of treatments for traumatic brain injury and stroke. Michael has traveled to Guatemala on four separate occasions, bringing college students for service-learning excursions. In 2017, his students spent a month at Brillo de Sol collecting baseline cognitive and linguistic data so teachers would have a way to track student progress. He is thrilled by the opportunity to continue his partnership with Brillo de Sol.
Brian hails from New Jersey and currently lives in London, UK. He works in development and events for his alma mater, the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the UK’s oldest drama school. He studied at Syracuse University and LAMDA, and most recently received a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy, Relations & Diplomacy at the University of London, Goldsmiths. Brian also has worked extensively in study abroad and international education. In an endless desire to ‘see the world and understand its people,’ Brian has traveled to sixty-five different countries. He first fell in love with Brillo de Sol in 2016 during a stay in Antigua while studying Spanish.
Carly lives in central Washington, where she works as a bilingual speech-language pathologist in early intervention birth to 3, and in rural schools. Carly holds an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Lafayette University in Pennsylvania. Because she did not want to spend her professional life working in a lab, she decided to obtain an advanced degree in speech-language pathology from Western Washington University. Carly volunteers with Operation Smile, and also started supporting university programs taking students to Guatemala, as a volunteer supervisor. She supported and volunteered with several universities at other organizations in Guatemala, until she came with a group from her alma mater to Brillo de Sol. She instantly loved the school, the director, and the school’s mission of supporting the whole child – which often includes addressing the significant trauma that children have experienced. Carly has visited the school now for several years. Her experience in educational settings and her bilingualism is invaluable for the USA board of directors. Carly leads a busy life … and, she is a Marathon Runner!!
Letty López Contreras
Board Member; Founder and Executive Director of Asociación Brillo de Sol, Guatemala
As a therapist, Letty found her mission a many years ago providing education to children with different forms of learning. She began the school with a positive attitude, 2 tables and 8 chairs. As a result of Letty’s leadership, Brillo de Sol has grown to over 85 students in the school, added an early learning program, plus programs for speech therapy, psychology, teacher training, parent education, cooking classes, agronomy, and other academic support. Letty carries the message of how important it is to provide special education opportunities in Guatemala to local and national government and community organizations. She works with families to unleash the potential of their children. She is a tireless champion for these children, constantly reminding people of the gifts and potential they possess.
“I work every day to maintain excellence in education and rehabilitation of our students, always ensuring that their education is appropriate to their needs. That they learn values such as respect for diversity and each other, develop their critical thinking skills, and that they realize how bright they are and above all, to see life with joy.”