Haley Wiggins became the Executive Director of The Family Place in September 2008 after working with the organization for four years as the Adult ESL/Family Literacy Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies: Development and a Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Brigham Young University. Haley is fully bilingual (English/Spanish) and has been working with the Latino community since 1999. She is committed to The Family Place’s mission of empowering low income families to foster the optimal development of their young children through educational and support services. Her knowledge and experience as a teacher, along with her meaningful and real interactions with Family Place participants – their literacy and familial struggles – and her big picture perspective as Executive Director help her to lead and guide the success of The Family Place.
Director of Education
Rebeca Barge first arrived at The Family Place in 2009 to serve through the Discipleship Year programs as an Americorps volunteer. During her first year Rebeca supported TFP’s programs in a broad variety of ways as Case Manager, from accompanying participants to court, to referring them to other services. In August 2010, Rebeca was hired as the Adult Ed. ESL Instructor and Family Literacy Coordinator, and in April 2011 became the Director of Education. Rebeca received her Bachelors of Arts in Social Work from Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, VA. She is currently working on her MSW from Catholic University of America. Rebeca, fluent in both Spanish and English, was born in El Salvador and raised in Guatemala. She lived in Latin America for 12 years and her experience helps her connect well with our participants and she considers herself a Latina at heart. Rebeca’s interests and passion have always been with the Latino community in the United States which has affected her decisions about college volunteer work placements, research projects, and her future at TFP.
Director of Social Services and HIPPY Coordinator
Katherine Rosas, the current TFP Director of Social Services and HIPPY Coordinator, joined The Family Place in January 2009. Katherine, originally from Bogota, Colombia, moved to the USA when she was 17 to pursue her studies. She graduated from Northern Virginia Community College in 2006 with an Associate Degree in General Studies in Science. She has numerous years of experience in both the customer service and the medical field. Her previous jobs gave her the opportunity to be in direct contact with the community. At the same time they provided her with the necessary tools to help her fellow community members accomplish their goals and improve their lives and the lives of their children. Katherine joined TFP as the Social Services Coordinator and Program Assistant. Since her first year at TFP, she’s been able to form great relationships with the participants and their children. By getting to know them more, she realized that she could do much more for them by volunteering for the Domestic Violence Program. By June 2009 she was the Domestic Violence Coordinator, and April 2011, Katherine was promoted to her current position. When asked about her experience of direct service to the community, Katherine answered that she feels she has learned and is still learning a lot from every single participant TFP has had throughout the years. In her own words: “… [our participants] are the main reason why I want to come to work every day. I feel that TFP has helped a lot [of people] in different ways through the services we provide and the support we give them to be able to accomplish their goals.”
HIPPY Home Visitor
Carla joined The Family Place in January 2013 bringing her previous experience in Family Literacy & Early Childhood as a HIPPY Home Visitor. Originally from Peru, Carla arrived to the United States when she was 11 years old. Currently has an Early Childhood Associates Degree and is pursuing a higher degree in the Humanities. She loves working and serving our community via the HIPPY Program.
Volunteer Coordinator and Case Manger
Sarah Baker is from Denver, Colorado and holds a degree in International Development and Studio Art from Calvin College. After spending a semester in Honduras, Sarah became interested in the Latino culture; this spurred her to take Spanish classes and eventually return to Central America. She spent a year in Nicaragua where she served as a volunteer teaching art classes at a Cultural Center in Managua. She loves to cook (and eat) and enjoys hiking and being active. She is excited to work at The Family Place and hopes to find the city’s best homemade tortillas.
Spanish Literacy Coordinator Plaza Comunitaria (Evening)
Originally from Uruguay, Tony Brun joined The Family Place 2008. He has had the privilege of traveling and living throughout South and Central America. This has profoundly enriched his cultural background. During his travels, Tony has studied and worked in different universities in Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Guatemala. While in Costa Rica, Tony earned two MAs in Latin American Studies and Theology. He then furthered his interests by earning his PhD in Education in Brazil. His studies later brought him to the United States where he earned his second PhD in Misión y Ministerio(Theology). Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, Tony is currently the Spanish Literacy Coordinator for TFP’s Plaza Comunitaria program. Tony deeply believes in the power of education as a way to improve the quality of life of the community. When asked about his job, Tony likes to give the following example to summarize the reason why he works at TFP. One night one of his Spanish Literacy students came to class with great news. For the first time the night before, he was able to read a story to one of his two children.
Reyna Campos joined The Family Place in July 2012. Originally from El Salvador, Reyna arrived to the United States when she was 20. Her main goal has always been to continue improving herself. First she took ESL class in order to be able to communicate in her host country’s language. Later, Reyna earned her GED and now is working towards receiving her certification in notary public. In 2011, Reyna learned about and enrolled in the HIPPY program. The program was very helpful for her as a mother as well as for her children. She is very excited to work with the HIPPY team at The Family Place and help other families with young children.
Early Childhood Educator
Angelica Castro joined the TFP team as the Infant & Toddler Assistant Educator in 2006. She received her CDA training and certification from Centronia and has continued her education by participating in refresher courses periodically; along with receiving Creative Curriculum trainings. Angelica, originally from El Salvador and a mother, is a key member of the staff as she is able to relate on a more personal level to the mothers while also using her expertise in child care to better the Early Childhood Education program here at TFP. In May 2011, Angelica joined the HIPPY team for five months. She brings with her the knowledge of both Spanish and English and expertise in Early Childhood Education. Angelica loves to be involved directly with mothers, some of whom are past participants of the TFP Family Literacy program.
Social Services Support Worker
María Céspedes, originally from Bolivia, first joined The Family Place as a volunteer in 2009. After six months she moved to Executive Assistant but it was only in 2010 that she started to collaborate with the Family Wellness programs. She is now working for the Parenting, Prenatal, and Infant classes offered in partnership with the Children’s Hospital. Her passion to work directly with Latino parents started in Bolivia where, while working for an import-export agency, she was involved with her church. During her years of volunteer service for her church, María was able to support young parents and couples through their first years of marriage. One of the things María enjoys the most about her job is being in direct contact with our participants, something that strongly reminds her of her volunteer service in Bolivia.
Lidia Fleitas is one of The Family Place’s longest standing employees. With over 15 years of experience serving the Latino community at TFP, Lidia has flourished in a variety of different roles and responsibilities. She has worked in both direct services and administration. Lidia is fluent in Spanish and English and has roots in Latin America. She relates well to The Family Place participants, has two children of her own and brings a wealth of knowledge to her present position at The Family Place. Lidia has a keen ability to connect the participants to a wide array of community resources. She helps participants feel welcome at The Family Place and normalizes their experience in a new and different culture. Her long-standing tenure at The Family Place provides for a sense of confidence to the participants as they come to TFP to take advantage of a variety of educational and emergency services.
HIPPY Home Visitor
Jacqueline Guerrero was born in Washington, DC but spent most of her childhood in El Salvador. Growing up in a poverty-stricken area of El Salvador left Jacqueline with an ardent desire to help others in need. She has done missionary work in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Canada. Collecting food, clothing and toys to distribute to deprived children and families in developing countries is one of her hobbies. Jacqueline is also the spokesperson for CHOP, Children Having Overcoming Power, a non-profit that helps at-risk youth. She holds an associate’s degree in Philosophy from Ambassadors International Bible College and is continuing her Criminal Justices studies at College of Southern Maryland. She likes to live life to the fullest and is excited to be a part of an organization that provides much assistance to families in the community!
Ingrid Orjuela joined The Family Place in June 2012 as the Assistant Coordinator for the HIPPY Program. Ingrid studied Social Communication at the Universidad Santo Tomas, in her native Colombia, and from an early age has been interested in social issues. During the academic career she became involved in different activities and organization such as the YMCA and the Colombian Government in the Republic Vice-presidential program within the observatory for land mines. It was this last experience that made her decide to continue contributing with her perspective and philosophy of life to the wellbeing of her community, most of all to the wellbeing of children. In 2007, Ingrid travelled to London, England to study English at Malvern House. In the same year she was also able to receive a diploma from Oxford College. It was in 2011 that Ingrid came to the United States where she volunteered for six months at La Clínica del Pueblo, supporting the communication department. Ingrid feels proud and blessed to be a Latina working with the Latino community in a foreign country.
HIPPY Home Visitor
Originally from El Salvador, Ana Ortega started working at TFP as one of the HIPPY Home Visitors in May 2011. She earned her high school degree from Nuevo Liceo Centroamericano in El Salvador with a focus in Administration and IT. She attended college for two years at the University Francisco Gavida. After arriving in Washington, DC, Ana became involved in the community and volunteered for a local NGO called Latinos en Acción. There she helped by supporting the administration and outreach departments. While working as a restaurant manager and cashier in a department store, Ana continued supporting the community. She volunteered for a local child care center in 2009 where she became more and more interested in early childhood education. It is this interest that later led her to her current position at TFP. When asked about her favorite aspect of her work, Ana answered she loves working for an organization that is completely committed to the wellbeing of the families in the community. From her broad experience in volunteering for the community, Ana really appreciates the work TFP is doing helping families in different domains.
HIPPY Home Visitor
Agueda Sanchez joined The Family Place team in 2011 as one of the current HIPPY Home Visitors. She brings many years of social work experience in her home country, Mexico where she studied to be a Social Worker. Her connection with The Family Place started in 2010 when she enrolled in our EL Civics program at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School (EWS). Her enthusiasm about the organization grew month after month until she applied and then was hired to be one of the HIPPY home visitors. Agueda brings to TFP the perspective of a current participant, a mother of young children, as well as a strong passion for helping parents prepare their youngsters for school readiness.
Family Literacy Program Coordinator and Early Childhood Educator
Originally from Florence, Italy, Cassandra Scarpino joined TFP as the Lead Infant and Toddler Educator in September 2010. After graduating in 2007 from the University of Florence in Early Childhood Development and Education with a focus on Women Studies, Cassandra gained experience by interning in a public daycare, working with recently immigrated families in Italy. In 2008 Cassandra moved to Worcester, MA to study and work at the College of the Holy Cross. While there, she was able to expand her studies in Global Women’s Health and the role of women as family caregivers. Her studies and interests led her to volunteer in Senegal for the international NGO Tostan. This organization focuses on community-led development by implementing a successful culturally sensitive and human rights oriented program in different countries in Africa. It was during her time in Senegal that Cassandra witnessed the power of community involvement and how formal and non-formal education for women is the key to positive change. Her work at TFP has provided an opportunity to be directly involved with her community in the United States. In May 2011, in addition to her work in the Early Childhood Education program, Cassandra became the Family Literacy Program Coordinator. She also facilitates the weekly parenting class for the Family Literacy Program. Being the Family Literacy Program Coordinator has helped her develop stronger relationships with TFP participants. Fluent in Italian and English, Cassandra also speaks excellent Spanish and French.
Nicole Snyder joined TFP in May 2012 as a Family Literacy intern and in July 2012 she became the Executive Assistant. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology. She was born in Virginia Beach, Va, but has lived in a variety of states due to her family being military, and she believes that has broadened her view and understanding of diverse cultures. It has always been a strong desire for her to work with children and families and to be able to provide them with the resources they need to live healthy, stable lives. Working with the TFP participants, children, and staff has given her the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to continue to work and empower all low-income individuals and families. In the near future, she aims to gain a Master’s degree in Social Work.
Luselia Uribe Tuirán
Spanish Adult Education Instructor (Daytime)
Luselia Uribe Tuirán joined The Family Place in September 2006 as the Spanish Adult Education Instructor. Throughout the years Luselia has been involved with different projects within the organization and in addition to Spanish class she started to work with the Computer class starting September 2010. Originally from Colombia, Luselia earned her degree in Communication from the Universidad Autónoma del Caribe. After working as an Administrative Assistant in Colombia, Luselia moved to Denver, Colorado where she worked in insurance and at a travel agency. It was by arriving at TFP that Luselia was able to broaden her experience and understand her real passion for literacy. She describes her interest in joining TFP with these words: “… the idea of working with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and cultures intrigued me as well as the idea of working with the Latino community. I was fascinated with the idea of working with adult mothers and contributing to a positive change in their lives.”
Kirsten Wittkowski joined the TFP team as the Adult ESL Instructor in June of 2012. She first discovered her love for teaching ESL to immigrants as a volunteer while in school at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where she received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Kirsten later served as a caseworker at Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington and taught ESL at a private language institution. She has long been committed to education, immigrants’ rights and issues in the Americas, and the natural combination of these interests led to her work at The Family Place. Born in Peru, Kirsten lived in Bolivia and Ecuador for the first seven years of her life and also studied in Brazil; she is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. She looks forward to forming relationships with her students and supporting them as they build their skills and self-confidence.