Alejandra Cádiz grew up the daughter of Chilean Diplomats living in several countries across South America, including Peru, Venezuela and Argentina. Subsequently her family was posted to Sweden and Denmark where she was educated at international schools. She attended a boarding school in Oxford, England, doing her ‘O’ Levels in English, Spanish and French literature. Returning to Chile she studied journalism at the Universidad de Chile. Following that she rejoined her family in Geneva, Switzerland where she studied French and Commerce at the Académie de Langues et de Commerce. She also lived in Hamburg, Germany for 5 years before returning to Chile in the mid 1990s, gaining fluency in German. Alejandra has a passion for languages and loves sharing it through teaching. She has taught English at all levels, from beginner to advanced at the Tronwell institute in Chile and has also taught Spanish privately.Alejandra moved to Charlottesville in August 2012 where she has found her new home and is happily working as part-time Guest Services Specialist at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation since August 2013. Since January 2017 she also works part-time as a certified Health Care Interpreter in Spanish/English. She looks forward to sharing her love of languages with Spanish students at all levels.
A native of Colombia, South America, Lucia has been teaching Spanish to children at the International School of Charlottesville (ISC) since 2008, just after moving to Charlottesville. She graduated as an Occupational Therapist from University of Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Bogota. Since 1992 when she arrived to the USA, Lucia has also worked as a medical interpreter in Alabama and Virginia as well as a Spanish teacher substitute for middle and high school in both states. Lucia is also trained with “Radiant Child Yoga” and plans to incorporate some daily yoga into her summer camps. Her sense of team work, patience, happiness, creativity and her kindness are the assets that will guarantee that your child will have a very valuable and unforgettable experience at Highland.
Luisa Herrera Dowd
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Luisa has always felt passionate about languages and has had a great appreciation for teaching Spanish to others. She moved to the U.S. in 2000, and while in Seattle working tutoring private students, she became certified and worked as a Spanish Medical Interpreter in the state of Washington. Luisa has lived in Charlottesville since 2010 with her husband and son. To enhance her main career as an imports and vineyard liason for a national wine importer, Luisa first joined Speak! as a student in 2014, working to refine her Italian language skills. She aspires to continue reaching a higher level of Italian and start her 4th language soon. Based on her love of languages and appreciation for the importance that a new language brings to one’s life both professionally and personally, Luisa is dedicated to helping others reach a higher proficiency in Spanish.
Ninel Espinosa Foss
Ninel Espinosa Foss is originally from La Paz, Bolivia where she earned her JD Degree in Law from the Universidad Mayor de San Andres. Most of her career she worked advocating for the rights of vulnerable people as the indigenous individuals in Bolivia and legally representing the Bolivian Government. She studied Gerencia Pública in La Universidad de Alcalá de Henares and El Instituto de Administración Pública INAP in Spain. In 2006 she met and married her American husband and moved to Virginia and has since been working to educate and provide legal assistance for farm workers in issues related to their employment. She has experience in legal translation and interpretation. Ninel loves to teach about her language and her culture — and also to cook, dance and sing.
Diana was born in Peru where she earned her B.A. degree in Spanish Language and Literature. In 2009, she moved to the United States to get an M.A .and Ph.D degree in Spanish Literature at the University of Virginia. Diana is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at James Madison University where she teaches Medical Spanish and Grammar and Composition. She has taught Spanish courses, from basic to advanced for ten years. She enjoys running, walking her two dogs, cooking with her husband, watching movies and hanging out with friends.
Kimber settled in Charlottesville after years of traveling throughout the world with extended years of residence in Kenya, Spain, and France. She holds multiple degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in French from the University of Massachusetts, a Master of Arts in English Teaching Methodology from Bordeaux II in France, and a Diploma of Hispanic Studies from the University of Granada. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Speak! team. Kimber is an energetic teacher of ESL/English, Spanish, and French, and she loves sharing her passion and knowledge of language, culture, as well as food and wine with her students.
Annie taught Spanish as a Lecturer and Graduate Student Instructor at the University of Virginia and also has experience teaching English to high school students and adults in Chile and Guatemala. She finished her Master’s degree in Spanish at U.Va. in 2014. More recently, Annie completed a 40-hour medical interpreter training course and has since worked part-time as an interpreter in various hospitals and clinics in the Charlottesville area. Previously, as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bucknell University, Annie received B.A. degrees in English and Spanish as well as a minor in International Relations. During her college years Annie studied abroad at the University of Granada in Spain and at various universities in Santiago, Chile. Her other experiences in Spanish-speaking countries include an advocacy internship in Costa Rica with a regional office of Habitat For Humanity and a job in Guatemala working in sustainable ecotourism. Annie enjoys keeping up with Charlottesville’s new restaurants and vineyards, working on writing and translation projects, and improving her French and Portuguese.
Jessie Marroquín is a bilingual, native speaker of Spanish and English, born in Ohio, USA and raised in Cancun, Mexico. She attended the International American School of Cancun (IAS) from preK to high school and then attained her Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College in Modern Languages (Spanish and French) with a minor in Anthropology. After Kenyon, she returned to IAS in Mexico, where she taught a range of courses that included Spanish Literature and Culture AP. She came to Charlottesville in 2012 and completed her Masters Degree at the University of Virginia. For the next year and nine months, Jessie worked as a Latin America Regional Analyst for the Marine Corps at Quantico, VA at the Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). She moved back in August 2017 to pursue a PhD in the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Department at the University of Virginia. She has experience teaching beginning to advanced levels of Spanish and writing curricula using authentic materials to teach about different Latin American histories, societies, and cultures. She loves fishing, spending time with her dog Rambo, literature, and learning about different cultures. She has lived in Mexico, France, and Spain and has experience traveling in Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, and Spain among other non-Spanish speaking countries.
Cassandra O’Mahoney is a doctoral student in Spanish at the University of Virginia. She has dedicated her studies to teaching and learning Spanish languages, literatures, and cultures. After graduating Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Education, Cassandra moved to Madrid, Spain, where she lived for two years while pursuing a Masters degree in Spanish at Saint Louis University’s Madrid campus. She has experience teaching Spanish and English at a variety of age and ability levels both at home and abroad, and mostly loves sharing her passion for all things Spain with her curious students. At UVa, she has gained extensive foreign language teaching experience at the Intermediate and Advanced-Intermediate levels, and is continuously seeking new opportunities to grow as a language instructor. When not teaching and learning, Cassandra is an enthusiastic traveller – she loves exploring new languages, foods, music, cultures and people around the world!
Alicia Salinas is PhD candidate in Spanish at the University of Virginia who loves teaching language and learning about different cultures as a way of connecting with those in her community. She has taught a variety of Spanish courses at UVa, including beginning and intermediate levels and Business Spanish, in which she enjoys tying in aspects of Latin American and US Latino cultures to enrich the language-learning process. Originally from Ohio, she also loves sharing her own language and culture with others, and has experience teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language in the U.S. and Yucatan, Mexico, with students of all ages and levels. Alicia is herself a language student, with intermediate fluency in the Maya language spoken in Yucatan. Since living and working in Yucatán for a year in 2010-2011, she has enjoyed learning about contemporary Maya culture, and her dissertation analyzes contemporary literature written in Maya, including issues of author self-translation translation to Spanish that almost always accompany Maya-language publications. Alicia is currently obsessed with hanging out with family and friends, food, fall, board games, DIY projects, and debates on politics and social issues. She hopes you all are well! / ¡Que les vaya bien! / Ka xi’ik te’ex uts!
Ali Sullivan is a native from Bogota, Colombia, where she graduated from college with a degree in journalism. Ali has a certification from the North American Montessori Center and a certification for teaching Spanish as a second language from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She began teaching Spanish in 1994 at the International School of Indianapolis and also worked at the International School of Charlottesville for seven years. Ali currently teaches at Mountaintop Montessori. She is a huge fan of the full immersion process, believing it is the best and most efficient way for young children to learn a language. She uses singing, dancing, storytelling, creative movement and games to keep the children interested and involved in learning Spanish.
Emmie Wright fell in love with Spanish on a high school trip to Guatemala and her enthusiasm for the language and its many cultures has never ceased. She earned her B.A in Spanish, with a minor in Anthropology, from Washington and Lee University and spent her junior year in Sevilla, Spain. After graduating, she had a job that allowed her to travel for a year (in a polyster tartan plaid uniform) before beginning her first year as a Spanish teacher and enrolling in Middlebury College’s Language Institute where she received her Master’s Degree after finishing her summer semester in Guadalajara, Mexico. She has taught high school Spanish for nearly 15 years in independent schools in Charleston, SC, New York City, NY and here in Charlottesville. She has traveled extensively throughout Spain and Latin America, on her own and with students, and is always planning her next trip. While she is currently not in the classroom, her two young children, Stella (4.5) and Jack (2.5), with whom she only speaks Spanish, are her most captive audience. She and her family try their best to travel to Spanish speaking countries as often as possible and relish other culture’s late nights out with children.