Staff: Guatemala



Carlos Vasquez, Guatemala Program Manager 
Carlos is 22 years old and is a proud native of San Juan la Laguna, Solola, who studied in Guatemala City for 2 years before completing his high school diploma in his hometown, focusing on Computer Science. Carlos began working with USH in 2012 as program participant, and produced Success, a documentary short that explores community definitions of that topic. Carlos became a Youth Educator in 2012, leading a group of students in San Juan, and has continued his work with us ever since.  He now is the local Program Manager, managing two groups of students in Santiago Atitlán, San Juan la Laguna, Nahualá, and leading internal administrative duties.


Carmen Tzoc Portillo, Program Consultant
Carmen is 21 years old from the town of Chuaxajil, a highlands community north of Lake Atitlan. Her high school studies focused on education and she holds a Guatemalan teaching certificate. With the support of the Maya Traditions Foundation Education Program she is studying Social Work at a university. She became involved in Unlocking Silent Histories in 2012, and completed her first film called Nature. Our first Youth Educator, she led a group of students in Chuacruz. She went on to hold the role of Team Administrator in 2015 and led groups of students in Chirijox and Quejel. Carmen speaks K'che' and Spanish.



Chema Vasquez, Program Consultant
Chema is 21 years old and a native of the Tzu'tujil population from San Juan la Laguna, Solola, Guatemala. Chema focused his high school studies on education, and obtained his Guatemalan licensure in primary school teaching. Chema began working with Unlocking Silent Histories as a participant in 2012, creating his first film, Fighting Women. Chema became a Youth Educator in 2013, leading one group of students in Santa Clara la Laguna. He accepted the role of Publicity & Finance Administrator in 2015 and led groups of students in San Juan la Laguna and Patanatic. Chema speaks Spanish and Tzu'tujil.



Franklin Cholotio (Kincho), Creative Consultant      
Franklin is 21 years old, a San Juan la Laguna resident, and a self-taught musician, recording artist, and videographer. He has been independently working in those fields for several years. Franklin focused his high school studies on physical education and graduated in 2012. He became involved with Unlocking Silent Histories in 2013 as a program participant and completed his first documentary film The Maya Murals of San Juan la Laguna. He became a Youth Educator supporting participants in developing their creativity and technological skills. Franklin accepted the role of Creative Consultant in 2015 and shared his expertise with all of our community sites. Franklin speaks Spanish and Tzu'tujil.




Reagan Cummings, Lumbee Tribe Program Co-Manager 
Reagan is a Native American student at UNC-Pembroke majoring in biology with a Biomedical Emphasis with aspirations to become an orthodontist. Reagan serves as an ambassador for SHPEP and is an American Indian Association Scholar. She is passionate about social issues surrounding Indigenous people and is excited to be working with USH and the Lumbee tribe.


Bryan Hunt, Lumbee Tribe Program Co-Manager 
Bryan is 20 years old and is from a small town called Fairmont, North Carolina which is located in Robeson County. He is currently seeking his Criminal Justice Degree at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. His willingness to give back to the community and help give his Lumbee people a voice, inspired him to pursue Unlocking Silent Histories: Lumbee Chapter.





Executive Staff



Donna DeGennaro, PhD Founder/Executive Director/Board Member
Donna obtained her PhD in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her passion for creating socially just learning designs that are technology-mediated and youth-driven fueled her work with youth in informal learning environments in the US and abroad for the past 10 years. During this time, she developed an innovative pedagogical model that simultaneously addresses the digital divide, culturally responsive learning, and social justice education. Donna recently founded Unlocking Silent Histories (USH), a non-profit organization that aims to amplify the voices and identities of indigenous youth. USH utilized this pedagogy model that emerges from the local context. She was motivated to start USH after being perpetually inspired by the ways that the pedagogical model not only unleashes youth voice & agency, but also opens spaces for young people to envision and create their own futures. Her commitment to indigenous populations began in Guatemala, where she witnessed USH participants capturing their languages and cultures. Donna has learned conversational Spanish from our USH students.



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