Executive Director

Jenice Ramirez

Jenice began working with ISLA in July of 2013. She has more than 7 years of experience in the public education system and the non-profit sector. Her passion for education and social change began when she was a high school student. She began to work at a tutoring center for kids with autism and followed this passion to University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Throughout college, Jenice worked with various community organizations to develop a list of resources for Latino/Hispanic families and kids with different capacities. She continued this project at the high school where she worked  as a special education teacher from 2010 to 2013. She carries her passion for education and ISLA's mission in her heart.


Programs Operations Director

Lady Johana Cuervo

Lady Johana Cuervo has been involved with ISLA since its beginnings in 2012. With family roots in Colombia and Mexico and younger siblings attending ISLA’s heritage language classes, Lady was in the first group of older students in the secundaria classes. Her motivation and enthusiasm for helping kids learn and retain bilingual skills led to her role as Athletic Coordinator of Fútbol ISLA, which has grown in support and interest under her leadership. Through the ISLA Activado project, Lady promotes healthy eating and exercise for children and families. She is in her third year at Durham Technical Community College, and as a result of her work with ISLA recently changed her career path from nursing to social work.

Curriculum Specialist and 3rd Grade Lead Teacher

Pavelid Castañeda

Pavelid is the ISLA curriculum director, as well as being the third grade teacher. He is Colombian and has lived in the United States since 1992. He has worked as a teacher since 1975. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Musical Pedagogy at the National Pedagogical University in Bogotá, Colombia and is studying for his Master's Degree in Music Education at Five Towns College, Dix Hills, NY and teaching Spanish as a foreign language with the Ibero-American University Foundation (Universidad del Atlántico) Barcelona, ​​Spain. Pavelid likes to include music and popular traditions in teaching Spanish. Currently, Pavelid is also a music teacher at the Santo Tomas More church in Chapel Hill and a harpist at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, NC.

Program Analyst

Casey Strange

Casey is the primary contact for ISLA’s grant-writing and evaluation activities. She has experience in the formative and summative evaluation of educational intervention programs, as well as non-profit and academic grant-writing. She holds a BA and MA in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at North Carolina State University. In her recreational time, Casey enjoys bike races with her son Sebastián and salsa dancing with her husband Camilo.

Director of Community Relations

Lucinda Smith

Lucinda has been a part of ISLA since her children began attending the heritage language school in 2017. Half Bolivian, she grew up speaking spanish in a bilingual household and much like the students at ISLA, attended a Saturday spanish immersion school as a child. She studied Business Management at North Carolina State University and worked in the Financial Services industry for over 6 years post grad. She shifted her career to marketing and was the Communications Specialist for a local coffee roaster in Hillsborough, NC before joining the ISLA staff. Lucinda is proud of her cultural heritage and loves using her language skills creatively to share ISLA’s mission with the community and its supporters.

ISLA los Sábados Staff

Verónica Colorado 

Pre-K Lead Teacher 

Nidia Rajas 

Pre-K Assistant 

Maria Jaime 

Kindergarten Lead Teacher 


Jeraldin Castillo 

Kindergarten Assistant 

Ingrid Caudle

2nd Grade Lead Teacher


Indira Crespo-Bautista

2nd Grade Assistant

Susana Benites

1st Grade Lead Teacher


Gladis Castañeda

1st Grade Assistant 

Daniela Dimate Navarro

4th and 5th Grade Lead Teacher

Claudin Mangum

4th and 5th Grade Assistant

Pavelid Castañeda

3rd Grade Lead Teacher


Erika Palacio

3rd Grade Assistant

Marta Vivancos

6th and 7th Grade Lead Teacher

Glenda Lopez

6th and 7th Grade Assistant

Evelia Bernis 

Secundaria Lead Teacher