Board of Directors

Providing counseling, expertise, and time to the advancement of our missions, discover our Board Members.

Silvio Torres-Saillant

Honorary Chairman
Silvio Torres-Saillant is a Professor of English at Syracuse University and one of the foremost intellectuals and scholars of the Dominican diaspora, Caribbean histories and literatures, and race in Latin-American and diasporic Latino communities. His writing includes An Intellectual History of the Caribbean, The Dominican-Americans, Introduction to Dominican Blackness, Caribbean Poetics, El Tigueraje Intelectual, and Diasporic Disquisitions: Dominicanists, Transnationalism, and The Community, among many articles, chapters, and edited volumes. Prior to joining the faculty at Syracuse, he founded the prestigious CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at the City College of New York, where he taught from 1997 to 2000.

Cynthia So-Armah

Chairwoman of the Board
Cynthia is an internal medicine physician and Medical Director of Brookside Community Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts, serving a predominantly Dominican patient population. She has worked closely with Yspaniola ever since co-leading the first trip from Yale to Batey Libertad in 2005. Her undergraduate thesis in 2007 explored the complexities of migration between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She spent a year working with Batey Relief Alliance in Santo Domingo prior to co-founding Yspaniola as a non-profit organization in 2009. As Chairwoman of the Board, she assists with long-term strategy and planning.

Contact Cynthia at her email, cynthia@yspaniola.org.

Jon DiMaio

Jon received a Parker Huang Fellowship to study development and structure Yspaniola in the Dominican Republic after graduating from Yale in 2009. With Stephen Wirth, he designed and implemented Yspaniola’s University Scholarship Program in late 2010. As Executive Director from 2011 until 2015, Jon directed the growth of the University Scholarship Program and the Service-Learning Trips Program, and oversaw the creation of the Learning Center and Summer Camp.

Gerald McElroy

Co-founder & Partnership Advisor
Gerald is an international relations and development professional with extensive experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, specifically in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He has worked on a variety of projects on both sides of Hispaniola. He served as an adviser to former US Ambassador James Brewster and currently works with the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Port-au-Prince. As an undergraduate at Yale, Gerald co-founded Yspaniola. During a Fulbright grant in 2010, Gerald worked to improve Yspaniola’s local program and grow the organization from the ground up. In addition to Yspaniola’s board, Gerald serves on the National Democratic Institute (NDI)’s Equal Voices Council. He has also lived, studied and/or conducted research in France, Cuba, China, Argentina and the UK and speaks Spanish, French, Haitian Creole and Portuguese. Gerald holds a B.A. in International Studies and French from Yale University and a Master’s of Public Administration in International Development from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Cory Fox

Education Programming Advisor
Cory is a middle school math teacher at the Trinity School in New York City. Cory has domestic and international experience in teaching, coaching, and education program management, having taught and coached teachers in New York City public schools, served as the Director of Community Education Programs at Yspaniola, and managed an elementary after school program in New York City. She holds a Master in Special Education from Hunter College and a Master in International Affairs from Columbia University.

Sarah Kabay

Sarah first visited Batey Libertad in 2005 and subsequently joined the Yspaniola student group at Yale, participating in and leading trips to the community. In 2007, she won a “Projects for Peace” grant to install a water system in Batey Libertad. After graduating from Yale, Sarah worked for Institute for Poverty Action, working primarily on projects in Uganda, and she is currently a PhD candidate in International Education at New York University.

Stephen Wirth

Stephen is from Whitefish, Montana, and graduated from Yale in 2009. He joined Yspaniola in 2010 to develop the University Scholarship Program and thereafter joined Yspaniola’s Board of Directors. Stephen received his J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2014. He served as a law clerk to the Hon. Carlos T. Bea on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco (2014–2015) and the Hon. Paul A. Crotty on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan (2015–2016). He is an associate at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., where he works in the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court practice group.

Charlotte Castillo

Charlotte Castillo is a seasoned and dynamic brand builder, strategist and hands-on collaborative leader with over 20 years experience in media, marketing to the Latinx community and building fearless, innovative, and inclusive global teams. Currently serving as Managing Director for Poderistas TM , the fastest growing digital community for Latinas in the US, Charlotte was hand-picked by the founders to launch and ultimately lead the breakthrough organization that leverages modern media platforms and in-culture content to harness Latina power and drive civic engagement and participation. As Managing Director, Castillo oversees all areas of the 501c3 organization including operations, strategy, fundraising and partnership development. Before Poderistas, Charlotte was an award-winning senior executive at ViacomCBS (now Paramount Global) for 14+ years and prior to that the founding Marketing Director of Latina Magazine. Charlotte is a radical optimist, daughter of Dominican immigrants, first generation college graduate, born and raised in NYC and currently resides in The Bronx with her 13 year old son.

Maria V Lopez-Bresnahan, MD, MBA, FAAN 

Maria Lopez-Bresnahan is a senior biopharmaceutical executive with more than 20 years of industry experience developing new treatments for neurologic diseases. She is currently Head of Clinical Development for Neuroscience at Bristol Myers Squibb and has served in leadership roles at Pfizer Inc, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Merck Serono. After receiving her BA from Yale, Maria earned an MS from Georgetown University, an MD from New York University School of Medicine, and an MBA from Northeastern University. She completed neurology training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, where she served as Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. Maria is originally from the Dominican Republic, where she maintains close ties. She and her husband live in the Boston area. They love to travel with their two daughters to interesting places around the world. Maria volunteers as a Yale alumni leader, including tenures as President of the Yale Club of Boston and on the Board of Governors for the Alumni Association. Currently she serves on the Board of the Yale International Alliance, an alumni group focused on connecting Yale alumni across the globe, embracing diverse cultures and having a positive impact on humanity.

Elisa Istueta

For more than 20 years, Elisa has successfully managed and developed non-profit organizations in New York City, with an emphasis on youth programming and education for vulnerable communities. Elisa joined Directions For Our Youth in 2019 as the organization’s Executive Director. She currently oversees all strategic and programmatic initiatives for the organization, as well as the execution of DFOY’s mission. Prior to joining DFOY, she previously served as Executive Director for Chances for Children – NY and Storefront Academy. Under her leadership, Elisa strengthened organizational capacity and led the development of new programs, expanding each organization’s impact. She spent 15 years working with direct service organizations in the Bronx, including Department Director of Children and Youth Programs at BronxWorks. Elisa received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University Teachers College.

Diego Cuesy

Diego Cuesy first visited the Batey in 2012 as a Yale visiting student. In 2013 he became Yspaniola’s outreach coordinator, helping to organize the in-loco visit of the Interamerican Human Rights Commission, the Yale Day of Service, and an internship program for Mexican university students. Diego has a Master’s degree in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Tecnológico de Monterrey. He is an Open Government in the Americas Fellow and has worked on social innovation projects with public, private, and nonprofit organizations in Mexico and abroad for 10 years.