Karen Spencer, Founder & CEO
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 Mental Health Journal 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. In 2017, she received the Pikler/Lóczy USA Founders Award, and People Magazine named her one of “25 Women Changing the World.”
Pete La Raus, Chief Operations Officer
Pete La Raus has been overseas promoting and protecting children’s rights since 2004 in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Most recently, he served in Nepal as Save the Children’s Deputy Country Director for Operations, managing more than 600 staff and an annual budget of $80 million. Pete was Save the Children’s Country Director in Nicaragua and Colombia, and previously served as country director for the Peace Corps in Panama and Plan International in Indonesia. He worked in Sudan during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, and also in Indonesia as Chief of Party during the tsunami response. Pete brings to Whole Child a wealth of experience in both a development and humanitarian context. He has programmatic and operational experience, having developed advocacy strategies and monitoring and evaluation plans, and implemented projects directly and through partners. Pete graduated from Bowdoin College with a double-major in Government and Spanish with a minor in Economics. He later graduated from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in 2004 with a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on nonprofits. He is also the author of “Program Management in a Development Context.” He started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia.
Hope Rippere, Chief of Staff & Director of Executive Communications
Hope Rippere is a nationally recognized expert in executive brand management and visibility strategies who uses her passion for leveraging all aspects of an executive’s professional life, combined with her vast experience working with high-profile individuals, to elevate an executive’s vision and global presence. Hope’s unique talent for raising the leve l of strategic order to executive brands is recognized by corporate and entertainment executives alike. She has worked with several of the world’ s most powerful women in business including: Chief of Staff for Tyra Banks; Special Projects Manager for Oprah Winfrey; and Executive Communications Manager for Carly Fiorina (then Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company). Most recently, Hope was Chief of Staff for the head of Epic Records, Antonio L.A. Reid. In her dual role as Chief of Staff for Karen Spencer and Director of Executive Communications for Whole Child International, Hope is able to bring her experience, skill set, and passion to the important work of Whole Child International, with the goal of expanding the organization’s reach and ultimate impact on improving the lives of vulnerable children.
Gary Newton, Senior Director for Policy
Gary Newton is the Senior Director for Policy at Whole Child. In addition to his work with us, Gary serves on the Advisory Council for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, which supports a 160-member bipartisan caucus which focuses on law and policy to improve the lives of vulnerable children in the U.S. and globally. He is also on the board of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Alumni Association.
Gary has been part of the international development community for more than 35 years, 21 of them resident in six countries in Africa and Asia. Gary served as a Foreign Service Officer with USAID for 24 years (1987-2011) in a number of positions including as the U.S. Government Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Mission Director in Namibia, Associate Mission Director in Egypt, chief of the health office in Kenya and Malawi, and deputy director of the HIV/AIDS division in USAID/Washington.
Upon completion of his foreign service, Gary was the Senior Advisor for Public Investment in Children at Save the Children (2013-2014), and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where he taught a course on vulnerable children (2015-2017). Prior to the Foreign Service, he worked in Bangladesh for four years on family planning and reproductive health programs, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger. He has a bachelor’s degree from Colby College, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Smith College, and a Master’s in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
Scott Chamberlin, Director of Outreach
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.
Libby Coufal, Administrative Assistant
Libby joined Whole Child in 2017 as our Administrative Assistant. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Education from UC Berkeley, she came to us with an understanding of and deep commitment to improving childcare standards. Libby is a native Californian who has previously worked in nonprofit administration in organizations that share a common thread of helping ensure that as many children as possible have access to the stable, healthy relationships they deserve.
The El Salvador Team
Sonia Silva, Country Director
El Salvador Country Director Sonia Silva has more than 30 years of experience in international development and in the private sector. She has specialized in child rights and protection, childhood care and development, participatory community development, post-conflict social reintegration, emergency response/rehabilitation/reconstruction, education and training, governance, and organizational development. She has worked for numerous organizations working for vulnerable populations, especially children, including CARE, USAID, UNDP, and Save the Children. For Save the Children, she served in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, where she was Country Director for four years. Among her positions at CARE was as Special Advisor to CARE International’s Secretary General, in Geneva, Switzerland.
She received her BA at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, studied at the Universidad Centro Americana in San Salvador, EI Salvador, and holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from the Irish Management Institute.
Tamara Bayres Mosher, Technical Supervisor
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.
Marina del Carmen Sanabria, Research Assistant
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.