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 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.
Pete La Raus, Chief Operating 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.
Gary Newton, Senior Director for Policy
Gary Newton has 35 years of experience working in international development, 21 of those years resident in six countries in Africa and Asia, beginning as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger (1974-75). He spent four years in Bangladesh (1983-1987) as Assistant Director of Engender Health’s Asia Regional Office before joining USAID as a Foreign Service Officer. With USAID, Newton served in Malawi (1988-1992) and Kenya (1992-1996), where he was in charge of USAID assistance to the health sector; Egypt (1996-2000), where he was an Associate Mission Director in charge of assistance for health, education, and democracy and governance; and Namibia (2004-2008), where he was the USAID Mission Director. He served two tours at USAID headquarters in Washington: the first, in the Bureau for Global Health, where he helped establish an office of HIV/AIDS (2000-2004); and, the second, as the first full-time U.S. Government Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (2008-2011).
Following completion of his Foreign Service career in 2011, he was the Senior Advisor for Public Investment in Children at Save the Children (2013-2014), and is currently (October 2015) an Adjunct Professor (part-time) at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where he’s teaching a course on vulnerable children. Newton serves on the board of Retrak, a UK-based non-profit organization assisting street children in Africa, and serves on the advisory board of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
Newton has a B.A. from Maine’s Colby College and master’s degrees in education from Smith College and in public health from 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.
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
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.