LCEF Staff


Current Staff



Julie Catton Amezcua

Julie, originally from California, is one of the founders of LCEF.  As a former school teacher Julie has a love and passion for helping children.  Julie has spent extensive time in Spain and Mexico where she has taught English to children and adults. Julie holds a B.A. in Recreation Administration from San Diego State University and an M.S. in Education from Dominican University in San Rafael, CA and is currently taking courses in Mindful Education.

Program Coordinator

Gardenia Aguilar Sahagun

Gardenia  Aguilar Sahagun Works as our Program Coordinator overseeing our Wings Scholarship program and other educational programs.  She also teaches an Early Education course for toddlers and their mothers.  Gardenia recently finished her degree in Computer Systems Engineering in La Huerta, Jalisco.  She enjoys working as our Program Coordinator, as this allows her a chance to give back to the community where she was raised. 


Art Teacher & Scholarship Program Teacher

Lorena Ponto Martinez

Lorena Ponto Martinez is our well-loved after school art teacher.  Being a pre-school teacher in La Manzanilla, Lorena brings lots of fun and engaging arts & crafts activities to our after-school program. Lorena also teaches Spanish & writing to our scholarship students. Lorena is originally from a village near La Huerta and earned her bachelor's degree from "Escuela Normal para Educadores" in Union de Tula.   She enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and two children. 


Pre-School English Teacher

Mari Mar Lara

Mari Mar Lara is originally from Guadalajara.  Her family has had a second in La Manzanilla for the last 10 year.  Mari studied at Motolinia Technical School in Guadaljara where she received a degree in Education. Mari spent 13 years working as a bilingual pre-school teacher in Guadalajara.  She now resides in La Manzanilla with her family and is very happy to be our English teacher in the local pre-school. 


English Teacher Intern

Eulalea Cardenaz

Eulalea Cardenaz is our current English Teacher Intern.  She teaches English in the public schools to kids in grades 1 through middle school, as well as to our adult community.  Eulalea is originally from California and completed her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 2008 in Political Science, Gender and Women’s Studies.  Eulalea brings a love of working with kids and teens, and also has been enjoying her lively and dedicated group of adult students that she teaches in the evenings.


Substitute English Teacher

Gerardo Martinez

Gerardo come from a large family in La Manzanilla, many of whom are also teachers.  A few years after graduating from high school, Gerardo spent several years in Canada and became fluent in English.  Now he enjoys teaching the English language to other adults in the community.  Gerardo plans to enter the university in the future to get a degree in biology.

Scholarship Program Teacher/Mentor

Rodrigo Rodiguez

Rodrigo Rodriguez is the teacher/mentor for our 30+ scholarship students. Rodrigo grew up in Chihuahua and later in Chiapas. He studied Administration at a technological school in Ciudad Juarez and then moved to Guadalajara where he studied Visual Arts at the Universidad de Guadalajara and graduated in 2009.  Rodrigo spends enjoys spending time with his wife Mayan and young son and engaging in painting and art work.


Project Consultant

Nancy Wyeth 

Nancy has worked and volunteered in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico and has developed a strong desire to always give back through her work. She holds an MBA from the University of British Columbia and a BA in Anthropology. Nancy's business and non-profit experience has been an asset to the foundation as our Program Director in 2011-12 and currently as our Project Consultant.  


Visiting Librarian/Director RLP

Sue O'Riley 

Sue O’Riley is an educator, international service worker, and dedicated parent and grandparent from Massachusetts. In 1997, Sue and her two daughters founded and launched Rural Literacy Project (RLP). RLP is committed to offering greater literacy opportunities through the development of libraries in Latin America and through other service projects in South America and Tanzania, Africa. In 2012, Sue partnered with La Catalina Foundation to bring RLP to residents of La Manzanilla. 


Current Volunteer Teachers

Deborah receiving handmade flowers from children


Deborah Dagoli has provided invaluable assistance to the foundation and the children of La Manzanilla!  She tirelessly teaches English in the elementary school for the 7 months of the year that she is here.  She also does a lot of other activities in the community helping out the kids. 


Marilyn Sudbeck has been leading a crafts program for the kids since 2010. Marilyn's classes are so unique that kids it's not unusual to see 20 or more kids pack the classroom for this after school class.  Marilyn also brings her own supplies every year, which is a big help to the foundation. 

Myranda O'Byrne has been offering guitar classes and music classes with the kids since 2010.  Not only does she provide musical instruments and supporting materials, she also brings all of her enthusiasm for music and for teaching to the kids of La Manzanilla! 


John Collins is teaching English at La Manzanilla middle school.  We are lucky to have John as a volunteer teacher, as he brings a wealth of experience teaching ESL in a variety of settings.


Judy Rohloff helps out with the English classes in the elementary school.  Judy's presence makes the lessons more effective and fun for everyone!  She makes teaching the very large classes a bit more manageable for the volunteer teacher.


Past local volunteer teachers include: Karin Carter, Norma Rejall, Kim Odell, Linda Koenig, Mazinka Rutherford, Deanna Hammersley, Tonia Kimsey


Previous Interns


Ryanne Fujita-Conrads (Teacher Intern Spring/Summer 2012)

Dean Klompas (Program Director Winter 2007 – Spring 2012) Show Bio

Lacey Rimer (Teacher Intern January - April 2012) Show Bio

Jordan Rees (Teacher Intern January - March 2012) Show Bio

Traver Riggins (Teacher Intern September 2011- current) Show Bio

Stephanie Fernandes (Teacher Intern April - August 2011) Show Bio

Kelly Thomas (Teacher Intern June - August 2011) Show Bio

Elizabeth Cabrera (Program Director January - December 2010) Show Bio

Mateo Colby (Teacher Intern Summer 2010) Show Bio

Amanda Weynand (Teacher Intern Fall/Winter 2009) Show Bio

Shanna McClarnon (Teacher Intern Spring 2009 - Spring 2010) Show Bio

Elisa de la Pena (Teacher Intern Fall/Winter 2008) Show Bio

Ruth Parino Santiago (Teacher Intern Fall 2006 - Spring 2007) Show Bio

Erin McCall (Teacher Intern Winter/Spring 2006) Show Bio

Dana Borja (Teacher Intern Fall/Winter 2005) Show Bio

Anna Roberts (Teacher Intern Winter/Spring 2005) Show Bio

Michael Topmiller (Teacher Intern Fall/Winter 2004) Show Bio