MISSION

ConTextos transforms the educational experience so students go beyond rote memorization to develop authentic literacy skills such as deep-thinking, analysis and creativity

 

 

HISTORY

Children in El Salvador lack access to books and learn via rote memorization. But books alone aren’t enough to change the culture of learning in countries like El Salvador.

That’s why I started ConTextos. Inspired by a course in social entrepreneurship at Harvard Graduate School of Education, I founded ConTextos to go beyond traditional resource distribution to build capacity that engages kids in active learning, encouraging them to question and participate.

After working as the Coordinator and Lead Author of El Salvador’s national teacher training strategy in literacy development—part of a regional effort in Central America—I knew how badly teachers needed support in the classroom. Based on my experience as a teacher in NYC, I knew what quality support looked like. Finally, by partnering with the private sector—Spanish-language book distributors, TACA airlines —I was able to cost-effectively bring resources that others can’t.

As a 2013 Echoing Green Fellow, I have been recognized for leadership and ConTextos for social change innovation. The inspiration that helped me start ConTextos still drives me: making sure that every kid develops a love of learning, and that their teachers have the skills and resources to make that happen.



Debra Gittler
Founder and Executive Director

 

 

 

BOARD

ANTHONY H. BARASH, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD.

Recently a Fellow at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, Cambridge, MA, is an attorney with extensive experience in private and corporate practice. After retirement from practice, Tony lived for 15 months in Uzbekistan, working on an international legal reform Project. He then served as Fellow-in-Residence and Scholar-in-Residence at the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University. In 2005, Tony was appointed Director of the American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono, where he served until 2010. He is passionate about national and international initiatives to provide Access to justice for the poor.

JAVIER ALFARO

General Manager for Cinemark Central America and the Caribbean since 1999. Responsible for Cinemarks' operations in 7 countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Curacao. The company currently operates 17 theaters with 122 screens throughout the region. He holds a B.S. degree in International Trade and Finance from LSU and a Master’s degree from Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. For the last 4 years he has served in the Board of Directors of AFP CRECER.

RICARDO CEVALLOS

Senior Litigation and Arbitration Partner in El Salvador, his practice focuses mainly in banking, financial, contract and comercial law as well as arbitration and litigation. He is a member of the Texas and El Salvador Bars.

Named by Latin Lawyer magazine as one of the 40 best attorneys under the age of 40 in Central America (2005), he also received the american Jurisprudence Award after receiving the highest grade in ADR in law school (1993). His international experience developed during his work at various firms in the United States and at the UN participating in UNCITRAL arbitrations.

OMAR EGAN

Omar is the CEO of Industrias Caricia, the second largest shoe company in Central America, also he is the Founder and Director of a Startup in sensorial marketing technologies for retailers. He holds a B.A. in Economics from ESEN, the top business school in the country. He produced the first podcast in El Salvador in 2005 and currently produces 3 weekly podcasts from his home studio.

DEBRA GITTLER, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.

Before Starting ConTextos, Debra authored and coordinated El Salvador’s National Teacher Training in Literacy Development, part of the national and regional education reform initiative. Previously, she was a bilingual teacher in the South Bronx. Debra studied educational policy and social entrepreneurship at Harvard University and Bilingual Education at the City college of New York.

ANNE HAND

Anne comes to the ConTextos board with multidisciplinary experience and expertise in philanthropy, nonprofits, and education. She has worked on a variety of multi-stakeholder initiatives with public and private partners specifically related to education, violence prevention, public health, and transnational leadership in the Americas. She passionately believes that the circumstances of one’s birth should not limit what people are able to accomplish in their lives, and that literacy and storytelling are essential tools to allow all people to dream. Anne is currently Senior Program Manager for Leadership and Equity Initiatives at Hispanics in Philanthropy. She holds a B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University, and an Ed.M. in International Education Policy from Harvard University. A New York native, she is based in Mexico City.

OSCAR M. OROZCO SR.

He was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and at age 11 moved to the United States, where he did all his studies. He graduated from the University of Washington with a Master in Banking Management. Oscar, began working in banking in 1971 and during these years has played many positions within the Bank. He started working as a driver, cashier, billing, credit, Branch Manager, Area Manager, Executive Vice-President in US banks and 45 years later is the Director Secretary of the Board of Banco Promerica, besides being the Regional Advisory of the Organizational Culture and also develops special projects for the Promerica Group. He was a member of the US ARMY for 3 years and during one year he fought in the Vietnam War. Oscar worked 17 years in one of the most recognized banks in the United States, Wells Fargo Bank, where he managed the largest branch of the company and managed to be Vice-President of the same. His banking experience has been in retail banking in branches, where his main focus and passion has been to customer service.

GABRIELA POMA 

Has worked as an educator and editor in Central America since 2002 and currently is affiliated with Harvard University’s Cultural Agents Initiative through which she co-facilitated the introduction of the “Pre-Texts” methodology in San Salvador in 2012 for over 30 teachers. As an activist and educator, she has worked for numerous organizations across social sectors in El Salvador, and has devoted over 25 years working to strengthen the non-profit sector of her home countries El Salvador and Nicaragua, especially in the áreas of arts, literature, and strengthening education through democracy. Gabriela has a degree in French and Italian from Georgetown University’s School of Languages and Linguistics, a Master’s in Spanish from Stanford University’s ILAC Program, and a Master’s from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications.

GLORIA RASKOSKY 

A native of Nicaragua, Gloria has lived in El Salvador since 1994. Prior to devoting her time to humanitarian efforts, she worked in the banking industry and as Director of Planning and Special Projects for the Nicaraguan Minister of Culture, Gladys Ramirez Espinosa, during the presidency of Violeta Chamorro from 1992-1994. Gloria is affiliated with FUSAL-El Salvador, a health and human development institution, was a board member of Tin Marin, El Salvador's Children's Museum from 2009-2012 and for ten years, has taught the FORJA character building program methodology at the American School of El Salvador.

Gloria has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Connecticut College and graduated high school from the Carrolton School of the Sacred Heart in Miami. She is a passionate supporter of initiatives that address social issues and believes that education plays a vital role in closing the gap between poverty and self-actualization. 

STAFF

Our organizational culture values our employees and partners. We invest in on-going development of our team. Just as we develop constant reflection in our teachers and schools, we are a learning organization that constantly improves.

ConTextos doesn’t just stand out for our work in the field, but also for our organizational structure. Rather than rely upon bilateral aid or a small group of donors, we develop a community of collaborators in order to create financial and institutional sustainability. Our supporters include Salvadoran immigrants, foundations, private-sector partnerships and revenue-generating opportunities.

 

DEBRA GITTLER
Founder and Executive Director

ALEJANDRA MEJÍA
Director of Development

ZOILA RECINOS
Program Coordinator

MARÍA TERESA FUNES
Director of Administration and Finance

REBECCA BARRIERE
Communications Coordinator

JENNIFFER COREAS
Teacher Trainer

CARLOS RECINOS
Teacher Trainer

JACKELINE ASCENCIO
Library Technician

ENRIQUE QUINTANILLA
Teacher Trainer

ANNE RUELLE
Program Associate

WILLIAM RIVAS
Security and Logistics