Karen Spencer, Founder & CEO (U.S.)
Karen Spencer founded Whole Child International in 2004 with the aim of improving the quality of care for vulnerable children worldwide. Targeting the largely overlooked emotional needs of society’s most at-risk children, Whole Child’s cost-effective, sustainable, and replicable program provides them with the tools they need to become productive members of society. As Founder and CEO of the organization, Karen leads an international team of trainers, researchers, and other staff to change systems of care, to advocate and influence policy, and to conduct related research. Whole Child programs are currently being brought to scale with funding from the Korean government through the Inter-American Development Bank and other donors. On February 20-21, 2010, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama came especially to lend his personal support to Whole Child at the launch of its global initiative to raise awareness of the plight of institutionalized children. During his two days supporting Whole Child, His Holiness participated in discussions with philanthropists, academics, government officials, and the public on how best to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children. Karen is co-author of articles published in the peer-reviewed Infant Journal of Mental Health, and Perspectives in Infant Mental Health, contributing important insights and realistic solutions to the public debate. In September 2015, she was elected an Ashoka Fellow for her innovative work as a social entrepreneur by the Ashoka Foundation, which honored her for identifying and filling a gap in care for orphans and vulnerable children. In 2016 she was made a Fellow at the University of Northampton in the United Kingdom.
Meghan López, MSN, FNP-BC, Director of Programs (El Salvador)
Meghan is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing who has worked in international program development and management for more than 15 years. Her work has contributed to health and child-development projects ranging from training rural community health workers; primary-care patient education; assessment of and training for quality childcare; and relationship development with local, national, and international partners. Meghan received her Bachelor of Arts in the Politics of Religion from Dartmouth College, after which she spent four years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. She returned to the United States to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing at Johns Hopkins University where she also became certified as a doula. Meghan is certified by the Inter-American Development Bank as an Online Teacher in Early Childhood Development. Meghan also has received Pikler Intensive Training, gaining key perspectives on the application of best practices for care of children in group care. Meghan has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Perspectives in Infant Mental Health and Infants & Young Children, as well as authoring, editing, and contributing to Whole Child’s tool for assessment of the quality childcare in limited-resource settings (WCI-QCUALS), its university course reader, and its direct caregiver training program. Meghan has previously lived and worked in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Paraguay, studied in Morocco and Haiti, had assignments in Bolivia, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Ghana, and the Philippines, and served as an NGO representative to the United Nations in New York.
Scott Chamberlin, Director of Outreach (U.S.)
Scott Chamberlin is a two-decade veteran of the nonprofit/NGO field, with experience ranging from program design, communications, fundraising, logistics, and general administration. At Whole Child International, he is helping lead the organization’s expansion of its proven child-development program in Central America to new countries in Africa, South America, and elsewhere. Prior to that position he was Development Director at Los Angeles Waterkeeper and Managing Director at Whole Child International during its startup phase. At Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, he wrote, designed, and project-managed key digital and printed materials designed to realize the potential for Holocaust survivor testimony to bring lessons of history into the classrooms and hearts of current and future generations. As a consultant, he has advised, provided support, and written and designed hundreds of mission-critical documents for a long list of small-to-medium-sized nonprofits, hospitals, universities, and content providers, with diverse focuses in fundraising, external and internal communications and outreach, educational materials, and logistics. He is a member of Pacific Council for International Policy.
Ani Shabazian, Ph.D., Senior Program Specialist (U.S.)
Ani Shabazian earned her B.A. from UCLA where she majored in Psychology and History and minored in Applied Developmental Psychology. She went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Developmental Psychology from Harvard University. Ani then returned to UCLA to complete an MA/Ph.D. program in Urban Schooling from UCLA’s Department of Education. Ani is the recipient of the UCLA Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award. While at UCLA, she had the privilege of being trained at the world-renowned Pikler Institute, a Hungarian orphanage noted for its innovative and successful approach to rearing children raised in institutions. Her research interests focus on best practices in caring for children raised in institutional settings. Currently, Ani has a dual appointment at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), serving as an Assistant Professor in the LMU School of Education and as the Director of the Children’s Center. Ani provides definitive expertise in evidenced-based best practices in childcare to all our programming. Most recently she authored Whole Child’s university course in early childhood: “Developing the Whole Child: Best Childcare Practices in Limited-Resource Settings for Children 0-8 Years of Age” and “Caregiver Training: Best Practices in Early Childhood Group Care in Limited-Resource Settings (Vols. 1-8),” and co-authored “Center Rating Tool: Evaluating Application of Best Practices for Early Childhood Care in Limited-Resource Settings,” and “Best Practices in Early Childhood Care in Limited-Resource Institutions,” a resource manual for practical application.
Managed Accounting Services: Raffa PC
Raffa PC provides Whole Child International with best-practice-based financial solutions to ensure transparent, efficient, and cost-effective financial operations. Drawing from its extensive financial and business experience, Raffa implements internal controls, procedures, and systems and acts as managed accounting service provider.
The El Salvador Team
Vilma Gaitan de Campos, Operations & Acquisitions Supervisor (El Salvador)
Vilma is an economist specializing in financial administration, operations, and management. She joined Whole Child in 2015, bringing 25 years’ experience in projects funded by USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and FOMILENIO. Based in El Salvador, she has worked with various international development contractors including IRC, CIRES, AED, CHF, DPK and Chemonics International, managing large subcontracts, overseeing USAID administrative procedures, monitoring budgets, and overseeing cooperative agreements and grants.
Tamara Bayres Mosher, Technical Supervisor (El Salvador)
A key member of Whole Child’s initial intervention programs in Nicaragua, Tamara supervises our child protection teams in El Salvador, assisting technical leaders in the government and staff of childcare and child protection centers. She has graduate degrees from Universidad Tomas Ruiz in Nicaragua in psychology and in community development and management, and has participated in the Pikler Intensive Training III and advanced Pikler Training. She has more than 10 years of experience working with NGOs, and has worked extensively for the rights of at-risk children. She supported implementing protection policies for young children, adolescents, and people with disabilities throughout Nicaragua, and trained diverse audiences as part of Nicaragua’s post-revolution literacy effort. She also supported rural community planning with an emphasis on children’s rights and has taught university classes on child development.
Gabriela Serrano, Academic Liaison (El Salvador)
Gabriela has been a key member of Whole Child’s Central America team since 2005. She has represented Whole Child both locally and internationally, from government meetings to world forums, and has received extensive training from the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary. Gabriela was born and raised in El Salvador, and received her BA from the University of Oregon in Sociology and International Studies and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Early Childhood Education at the University of North Dakota. Before working for Whole Child, she worked for the University of Oregon, the Salvadoran Embassy in Washington, DC, and the Foundation for Sustainable Development in San Francisco. Gabriela is passionate about respectful sensitive childcare being provided to all children and her beloved El Salvador. Most recently Gabriela provided her technical expertise in contributions to “Caregiver Training: Best Practices in Early Childhood Group Care in Limited-Resource Settings (Vols. 1-8).”
Pedro Amaya, Logistics Coordinator (El Salvador)
Pedro José Amaya Martínez has served Whole Child International as Logistics Coordinator since January 2015. He has worked in the logistics field for more than 15 years, with experience working with inventories, product distribution, delivery planning, staff management, customer service, procurement, and sales to the far corners of El Salvador. He studied industrial engineering and has earned university certificates in procurement, warehouse management, customer service, coaching, and staff development. Working for Whole Child International he has learned the importance of early childhood and the value of supporting vulnerable children and is happy to be supporting its efforts.
Magdalena Rodas, Accountant (El Salvador)
Idira Magdalena Beltrán de Rodas joined Whole Child International in August 2015 in our El Salvador office. She has 18 years of experience supporting the accounting and legal operations of NGOs working in development and early education, helping them establish internal controls and meet government requirements. She has also supported private-sector firms working throughout Central America.
Marina del Carmen Sanabria, Research Assistant (El Salvador)
Marina joined Whole Child International in 2015, drawing from more than four years of experience in organizational administration and a degree in systems management. Her specialties in complex databases and documentation review serve Whole Child’s research component well.