Inspiring Teachers>Creating Leaders

While visiting a school in Mexico City during a business trip in 2000, Wall Street executive Luanne Zurlo learned about the lack of quality education available for most Latin American children. She then spent two months visiting schools serving needy children in the region, and returned determined to make a difference. She left Goldman Sachs and a successful nine-year career on Wall Street to start World Education & Development Fund, Worldfund, in December 2002.

Luanne Zurlo spent time covering companies in the region, which she had come to love. “But the job wasn’t making me happy after nine years… I wanted to try to give back to the region.” For the next three years, Zurlo ran Worldfund from her apartment, living off her savings, working long hours. She started out by raising funds to offer scholarship and construction funding to needy schools, many of them Catholic, in the region.

Her firm convictions about education kept her going. Her grandparents – European immigrants with only a sixth grade education — earned their GEDs as octogenarians, the same year Luanne graduated from Dartmouth College. Luanne also has degrees from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Columbia Business School. But in between, she taught for a year in an impoverished town in northern Spain, an eye-opening experience.

“Education is a human right. Every child should have access to a great education like I did.” 

Luanne Zurlo

Soon, her investment and passion paid off. Worldfund built a committed board of top executives and attracted sponsorship from major corporations and individuals in the U.S. and Latin America. In 2007 one of Worldfund’s programs, the Inter-American Partnership for Education, became a Clinton Global Initiative. In 2011 Worldfund was honored internationally when Luanne received the Latin Trade Humanitarian of the Year Award.


 Worldfund raised over US$ 30 million to be invested in Mexico and Brazil 

Luanne might have felt burned-out after an intense nine years on Wall Street, yet she credits the experience with equipping her with the skills needed to manage and run a growing non-profit with an ambitious mission. In addition, she has become a go-to expert in the field of international education, and teaches a graduate seminar on Education in Developing Countries at Catholic University. “The work of education reform is extraordinarily challenging,” Luanne said. “But it’s all worth it when you see the teachers responding to the training and the students coming alive in class. I know we are making a difference.”

By carefully selecting pedagogical partners and building alliances with local education authorities, Worldfund has swiftly become the premier U.S. non-profit dedicated exclusively to improving basic K-12 education in Latin America. All of our programs emphasize the teacher-student bond and focus on critical skills for personal growth and employability.


STEM Brasil teacher Paulo Henrique do Nascimento and his students at a public school in Paraíba, Brazil


Worldfund’s vision is for every child in Latin America to benefit from exceptional educators who inspire them to learn the skills necessary for dignified work and life. We believe that quality education has the power to transform lives, build vibrant communities, and strengthen societies.

Worldfund exists to transform the education of Latin American youth. We deliver world-class training and ongoing support to teachers and principals from public schools, creating systemic change in education while equipping young people for improved professional career opportunities, leading to a brighter, more prosperous future.

Motivating beliefs

  • We believe a quality education is every person’s human right
  • We believe education is a cornerstone of individual actualization, civic health and economic growth
  • We believe teachers and principals are key to learning
  • We believe raising educational quality in Latin America requires changing mindsets and practices of teachers and principals
  • We believe high performing educators have an extraordinarily valuable and difficult vocation and deserve to be treated with great respect

Wordfund’s programs have evolved dramatically over the decade. Initially, we invested in exemplary private schools serving the poor that deliver quality academics and integrate the whole family.

In 2007 Worldfund identified the region’s key need – teacher quality – and moved nimbly to address it. We began to roll-out intensive training programs for teachers and principals in the region’s vast public school systems. Unlike bricks and mortar, these programs can scale quickly and reach thousands more children – exponentially – per year. A teacher whose career is likely to span 40 years can positively impact thousands of children; the same holds true for a school principal. Furthermore, research clearly indicates that teacher quality is a key driver of school quality.

To date, Worldfund has trained over 8,000 teachers and principals in Mexico and Brazil 

Our training programs – IAPELISTO and STEM Brasil– are designed to inspire teachers to attain the highest standards of the profession. They are multi-year courses delivered in-person in the region by local Worldfund-trained trainers. Featuring world-class content, the programs help educators take charge of learning outcomes, engage students, and develop assignments that encourage creative problem solving. They also support and mentor educators as they embrace their vital role in society.

With your help, we can create a growing corps of skilled educators across Latin America who can create lasting change in their communities.

Mr. Fabio Barbosa was honored by Worldfund at the Gala 2017


Board of Directors

  • Steven Shindler, Co-Chair, Chairman, NII Holdings, Inc.
  • Luanne Zurlo, Co-Chair, Founder, Worldfund
  • Cecilia Bilesio, TENARIS
  • Denise Damiani, Director, Denise Damiani Consulting
  • Mark Denham, Partner, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, LLP
  • Peter Foyo, Investor & Board Member, Marquette Company
  • Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College
  • Claudio X. González Guajardo, President, Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad
  • Tara Kenney, Senior Vice President, Boston Common Asset Management
  • Carlos Labarthe, President, Gentera
  • Mimi Lichtenstein
  • Arturo López Martín, Chief Investment Officer, Cinepolis
  • Marcos Magalhães, President, Instituto de Co-Responsabilidade pela Educação
  • Bradshaw McKee, Managing Director, Gramercy Funds Management
  • Lisandro Miguens, Head of Latin America Debt Capital Markets, JPMorgan
  • Stefano Natella
  • Balbina Sada de Garza
  • Katherine Shea Westra, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley
  • Ronaldo Stern, Managing Director, HStern
  • Jane Winslow

Our leadership 

Kelly Maurice | Executive Director

In 2016, after six years as the Director of Worldfund Brazil, Kelly Maurice accepted a new role as Executive Director of Worldfund. Kelly originally joined Worldfund in 2010 following a 25-year business development career in International Banking. Having worked at BankBoston, JPMorgan and later at Royal Bank of Canada, Kelly headed corporate and institutional business for the LATAM region. Kelly has been living in São Paulo, Brazil, since 1991. In addition to her role at Worldfund, Kelly has maintained long-term leadership roles with several charitable organizations. Kelly holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Studies of Religion from the University of Michigan.


Kirsten Evans | Chief Operating Officer

Kirsten Evans joined Worldfund in 2017 from Inveniam Capital Partners where she served as chief of staff, following a diverse background in non-profit and education management. Early in her career Kirsten served as the assistant director of K-12 schools in both Monterrey, Mexico and Mexico City, while earning a licenciate degree in education and development from the Anahuac University in Mexico City. Most recently Kirsten was the founding executive director and senior advisor of a leading Washington, DC-based political advocacy organization dedicated to the protection of religious minorities in the Middle East. She holds masters degrees in international public policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a masters degree in religious sciences from the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, Italy, and a specialization in international human rights law from the University of Oxford. She is fluent in Spanish and is a student of Portuguese.

Jim Citron | Director, IAPE

Jim, who joined Worldfund in 2007, has worked for more than 25 years in language and intercultural education. Dividing his time between Mexico and Hanover, New Hampshire where he is an Intercultural Education Specialist at Dartmouth College and a Master Teacher and Teacher Trainer for Dartmouth’s Rassias Center for World Languages and Cultures, Jim has taught Spanish and Intercultural Communication at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels and has served in a variety of leadership capacities in international educational exchange in the United States and Mexico. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Dartmouth College.

Rafelina Hernandez | Finance and Operations Manager

Rafelina joined Worldfund in 2015. Raised as a New Yorker, Rafelina is a hard working, self motivated individual who has worked for recognized firms such as JP Morgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo. She brings 6 years of experience in the banking industry, having helped her customers succeed financially, is characterized by her enthusiasm and always being eager to learn and help others. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Rafelina, graduated from the distinguished City University of New York- Baruch College with a BA in Economics in 2010.

Matthew Heymann | Development Manager and Board Liaison

Matthew joined Worldfund in 2017. Prior to joining Worldfund, Matthew practiced civil litigation, and served as a strategy consultant for numerous start-ups. He has previously held roles in business-to-consumer sales, teaching, and learning and development. Matthew received a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, and is a licensed attorney in New York and New Jersey. He earned a B.B.A., cum laude, from The George Washington University School of Business with concentrations in marketing, international business, and psychology. Matthew is a native New Yorker and alumnus of The Bronx High School of Science. Matt is a corporate club mentor in Toastmasters International, and a proud supporter of Alpha Kappa Psi, two organizations that train individuals in business leadership and communication. 



Tere Pérez de Acha | Chief Financial Officer

Tere Perez de Acha is a Public Accountant graduated from the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM). She received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the same university and a Certificate in Business Management from ITESM. Tere has more than fifteen years of experience in the financial sector. Her professional career began in brokerage firms as a Treasurer in the first Financial Factoring in Mexico. Tere then spent eight years in various areas of Credit Control at the National Bank of Mexico and eight years in operational and financial management at a law firm. In the past four years she served in the public sector overseeing government accounting and finance projects. She has taught Financial Accounting at ITAM and CESSA and was the president of the Alumni Association of ITAM in 2007. In 2013 she founded the Committee for Entities with Non-Profit Purposes at the College of Public Accountants of Mexico with the purpose of spreading awareness of the recently enacted New Standards of Financial Reporting that govern non-profit organizations.

Dolores Gonzalez | Director, LISTO

Dolores joined Worldfund as LISTO Director in 2012. Dolores brings 32 years of experience working in the Mexican Education Sector, the last 20 years she trained educational personnel in the private and public sectors. She held both teaching and administrative positions leading  teams at NGO’s and in the public sector. Dolores has worked with curriculum design programs.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Education.  She has certificates from Management Skills for Local Authorities (UP), Disruptive Education (ILCE), Human Development (UIA) and Public Education Policy and Intervention (CIDE). She is currently studying a PhD on Humanist Psycology.

Perla Hidalgo | Development Senior Manager

Perla joined Worldfund in 2017 to contribute her more than six years of experience in collaboration, institutional development and fundraising. Perla joined the team because she is convinced that education is the driver of the much needed societal change. Previously, she was with the Educa Mexico Foundation as Director of Institutional Development. Before that, she was Director of Institutional Relations at Comedor Santa María. Her professional trajectory also includes eight years with ad agencies in charge of communication and advertising for large brands in Mexico. Perla holds a degree in marketing, with a diploma in finance from the Universidad Tecnológica de México. She also holds a diploma in institution-building from Indiana University, in partnership with the organization Procura.

Cristina Salazar Gallardo | Senior Metrics & Evaluation Manager/Blended Learning Coordinator

Gallardo is a researcher whose primary interests are around the issues of digital literacies and multimodal learning through ethnographic methods of research. She has an M.A. from Columbia University in Communication and Education, and she completed a Doctoral Degree in Communication Media and Learning Technologies at the same university. Her dissertation work focuses on the activism practices of undocumented youth and on the analysis of the ways in which their multimodal participation can provide them the opportunity to engage in transformative spaces of learning. Cristina has also worked for the past 5 years as a technology specialist for faculty at the Teachers College of Columbia University, supporting them in the implementation and design of content for digital platforms.

Rocío Martínez | Development and Communication Manager

Rocío has a B.A. in Industrial Relations from Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes. Throughout her career, she has primarily focused in the HR areas of personnel management and resource management for the effective functioning of work groups.

Ivonne Sevilla | Operation and logistics Coordinator, LISTO

Ivonne joined Worldfund in 2011 after ten years of working with a nonprofit organization as Director of Personnel Development. She has a B.A. in Education and Human Development and a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Ivonne has experience in logistics and planning, training seminars, personal development and educational coaching.

Laura Buen Abad Velázquez | Coordinator, LISTO

Laura is a pedagogue by profession and nature. She has both a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in education, with a specialization in Management of Schools, from the Universidad Panamericana. She has devoted her professional life to education at different levels, from preschool to higher education, has delivered more than 500 hours of training to teachers in schools and at the university level and served as an academic coordinator and educational programming developer. Her work is based on the firm conviction that education is the base for the growth of the individual and society, and therefore our country.

Karen Antonio | Accounting and Administrative Coordinator

Karen Antonio joined the Worldfund team in 2017. She graduated as a Public Accountant from the National Polytechnic Institute. Karen has experience working in Administration and Finance at the Chartered Accountant Association and with two accounting firms. She has completed additional courses about Mexican financial reporting standards.

Raúl  López Acero |   Academic Coordinator, IAPE  & Rassias Trainer

A member of the first IAPE cohort at Dartmouth College, Raúl has played an integral role in the program’s evolution since 2008.  Employed through our partner, Dartmouth College’s Rassias Center, Raúl has managed the IAPE training center in Mexico since 2011 and has provided academic oversight for all IAPE activity in Mexico since 2016. A certified Rassias Method® Trainer, he holds a degree in Graphic Design and certificates in English as a Second Language and  Language Training.

Eduardo Flores | Coordinator, STEM Mexico

Eduardo Flores joined Worldfund as the STEM México Coordinator in 2017. Eduardo Flores is a Manager of Science, Technology and Innovation, an experienced environmental consultant and has been developed in research centers. He has been a researcher at some universities in Mexico and worked in state and municipal governments. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Management and Audits, and is an advisor to companies and governments officials on environmental matters.

Brando Carmona | Administrative Coordinator

Brando joined Worldfund in January 2017, serving as an intern with the IAPE program carrying out various tasks, thus recognizing the true impact of education. He is currently in his ninth semester of Business Management and Administration at the Universidad Anáhuac. Throughout his university career, Brando has carried out various activities such as the promotion and execution of social events in Mexico City. Nowadays he is part of the administration and finance team at Worldfund Mexico as Administrative Coordinator.

Consuelo Murillo | Metrics and Evaluation Specialist 

For over 10 years, Consuelo Murillo has served in the Mexican basic and higher education fields in various capacities. Consuelo has also conducted research in the fields of Innovation for the Improvement of Educational Quality and Environmental and Sustainability Education. In addition, she co-authored the Education for Sustainable Development textbook, used in various graduate degree curricula. Consuelo holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from Monterrey Tech and Associate Degrees in Educational Integration, Outstanding Skills, Leadership and Teaching Competences, School Leadership, and Quality and Directive Competences. She graduated in 2010 from Worldfund’s LISTO program and has supported LISTO since 2012. In 2015, she joined the M&E area to lend her expertise to both of Worldfund Mexico’s programs: LISTO and IAPE.

Diana Vales | Administrative and Logistics Assistant, LISTO

In March of 2017, Diana joined the Worldfund team with the aim of supporting education, since she believes strongly that quality education will transform our society. Diana graduated in January 2011 with a degree in Finance from the EBC School of Banking and Commerce in Mexico City. She worked in the Hospital Español for fifteen years, most recently working as a financial administrator in the oncology unit.

Yesenia Ortiz | Program Assistant, LISTO

Yesenia joined Worldfund LISTO in September of 2017. A recent graduate of Harvard College, Yesenia holds a B.A. in the Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality, with a minor in Latino Studies. She worked as a student coordinator for the First Generation Program in the Admissions Office of Harvard College for two years, focusing on outreach and communications to other prospective first-generation college students. She also served as an intern with a gender and justice organization, Equipo Latinoamerica de Justicia y Género in Buenos Aires.

Brian Acosta | Program Assistant, IAPE

Brian joined Worldfund in 2017 con IAPE. A second-generation Mexican-American, first-generation college student, and Chicagoland native, Brian received his B.A. in Comparative Literature with minors in Education and Latin American and Latino Studies from Swarthmore College and studied abroad in Cuba at the University of Habana and at the Centro de Estudios Demográficos (CEDEM). He has interned with the community organization ENLACE Chicago in the Little Village neighborhood as part of University of Chicago’s Urban Studies program and hopes to continue his career within the educational field, working to empower children from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed within society.

Maricruz Bourillon | Platform Associate, LISTO

Maricruz holds a bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy from the Panamerican University, having graduated in June of 2013, with a specialization in Education Innovation. She has more than six years of experience in LMS platform management and development for online learning. She trusts firmly that education is one of the most important change agents in society.

Nadia Bustos | Associate in Metrics and Evaluation, LISTO

Nadia joined the Worldfund team in March of 2017. She is a Computer Systems Engineer graduated from the Technological Institute of Pachuca, with a Master’s in Information Technology from the TecMilenio Campus Ferrería. She holds a Diploma in Project Management from Stratominds Consulting. With ten years of experience in Systems Consulting in the area of ​​quality and testing of systems development, she is part of the LISTO Team contributing to the development of new technological perspectives that help to continue training educational leaders who support education in Mexico.

Julieta Sánchez | External Relations and Admissions, IAPE

Julieta joined Worldfund in 2012. She was born in Mexico City and has worked for nearly twenty years in education and intercultural exchange in Mexico and the United States and in the tourism industry in Mexico. She holds English as a Second Language certificates from Bentley College and an ESL Teachers’ Certificate from the Grupo Educativo Anglo Americano in Mexico City.


Marcos Paim | Director, STEM 

Marcos Paim is the leading architect of the STEM Brasil program. Marcos serves as the head trainer and coordinator for Worldfund STEM Brasil trainers. Prior to joining Worldfund in 2009, Marcos worked at the Cognitive Studies Laboratory of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul State (LEC/UFRGS), where he trained teachers and managed educational projects for the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC). He managed educational projects for Grupo Positivo, the Technology Institute of Paraná (TECPAR), and the Municipality of Curitiba. Marcos graduated from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul with a concentration in Physics.

Felipe Machado | Communications Director

Felipe Machado joined Worldfund in 2017. Machado is an experienced journalist and an award-winning writer from Brazil who has worked for some of the most important media companies in the country. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Communications, a Master’s degree in Digital Journalism, and is a contributing writer to publications such as Citizen K, Double (France), Vision (China), and Fair Observer (USA), among others. He is also a popular culture blogger and musician.

Marília Gessa | Senior Development Manager

Marília Gessa joined Worldfund in 2014, after having worked as a teacher for 8 years and as an editor for 5 years. She has also conducted Social and Educational Programs in São Paulo slums since 2006. Marília speaks Portuguese, French, and English, has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Linguistics from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), and is a Brown University fellow.

Jeison Poletto | Senior Global Technology Manager

Jeison joined Worldfund in 2016. Before joining Worldfund, he worked in the Barigui Automotive Group for more than 13 years in the areas of information technology, project management, database administration and system development. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the University Presidente Kennedy (CNEC).

Lucas Lobo | Global Technology Manager

Lucas joined Worldfund in 2017. His professional experience includes four years in Database System Development, installation and configuration of softwares with an emphasis on Moodle, Oxwall and Tableau platforms. He worked at technology companies as well as the Barigui Automotive Group. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Management at FACSUL – Sociedade de Ensino Superior do Leste do Paraná.

Anna Andrea Adas Dualibi | Finance and Operations Manager

Anna Andrea joined the Worldfund team in 2017. She has worked in the financial administration area for over twenty years, serving diverse national and multinational companies such as the developer Rossi Residencial, the multinational gaming company IGT -GTetch Brasil, the publishing company Pulo do Gato, the construction company Morro Verde, and the food distributor Buffalo Beef. Andrea received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) and has partially completed an MBA at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas.

Anderson Sakuma | Manager, STEM

Anderson acted as a Senior Trainer at Worldfund before officially joining the team in 2018. He graduated in Technology in Public Management from the Federal University of Paraná (2011), Technology in Environmental Management from the Faculty of Education of Araucária (2010) and he holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and Materials Sciences from the Federal University of Paraná (2013). He has worked as a researcher at the LACTEC Institutes and TECPAR Institute of Technology in Paraná in the area of Environmental Engineering with emphasis on Effluent Treatment. He was also Professor and Coordinator of the area of renewable energies of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná and Senior Researcher at Geo Energy Company.

Laura Fatio | Communications Coordinator

Laura Fatio holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Geography from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. She has worked with data research at the Institute of Media and Research of the University of Zurich for 18 months and later joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Research Centre for International Policy. She is also the ‘One Young World’ Coordinating Ambassador for Brazil. Laura speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and French.

Ana Maria Fernandes | Trainer, STEM Brasil

Ana Maria Fernandes has participated in STEM Brasil since 2014 as a contracted trainer, but in 2017 she officially joined Worldfund as a permanent team member. She has more than 20 years of team leadership and training experience in the customer service industry and has led legal support teams in pharmaceutical companies and in telecommunications companies such as Claro and TIM. Ana received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Instituto Paulista de Ensino e Pesquisa (IPEP) and is a certified Professional Coach.

Francisco Kozel Teixeira | Trainer, STEM Brasil

Francisco Kozel Teixeira joined Worldfund in 2017. He has eight years of experience in education, working as a mathematics, physics and chemistry teacher in middle and high school. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Technology in Environmental Processes and Environmental Chemistry from the UTFPR – Universidade Federal do Paraná . He is currently completing a degree in Chemistry at the same University.

Maria Cecília Jurado | Executive Assistant

Maria Cecília Jurado joined the Worldfund team in 2017, and brings with her 35 years of experience as an Executive Secretary in large and multinational companies such as Eurofarma Laboratórios, Goodyear, Telecomunicações Intraco and Sperry Vickers. Maria Cecília has a Bachelor’s degree in Literature from the Universidade São Marcos.

Izabela Desgualdo | Program Assistant, STEM Brasil

Izabela joined Worldfund in 2016. She has a bachelor’s degree in Tourism from Unibero and completed a specialization course in Management and Entrepreneurship at PUC São Paulo. Her professional experience includes seven years as the financial coordinator in travel related businesses.

Claudia Souza | Program Assistant, STEM Brasil

Claudia joined Worldfund in 2016. Before joining Worldfund she worked at Tyson, a multinational food company. She also worked at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Paraná (IFPR), where she drafted reports, collected files and database information, and organized schedules, agendas, and company travel. She received her Bachelor’s degree in administrative assistance from the University PUC Paraná.

Hyginus Ugwu | Program Assistant, STEM Brasil

Hyginus Ugwu joined Worldfund in 2017. Originally from Nigeria, Hyginus has worked in China, Qatar and now Brazil in diverse areas such as Business Consulting, Marketing, Construction and procurement. Hyginus has an educational background in natural sciences and is working towards a degree in Engineering.

Bianca Molina | Program Assistant, STEM Brasil

Bianca joined Worldfund in October, 2017 as its Princeton in Latin America Fellow. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Latin American and Latino Studies as well as a minor in Mathematics. Her past experience includes an internship with Eleva Educação where she worked with Brazilian high school students and college readiness. Bianca speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Andressa Moraes | Program Assistant, STEM Brasil

Andressa joined Worldfund in 2018. She graduated with a degree in Human Resource Management from the Universidade Positivo, in Curitiba. She has over six years experience in educational administration and has always worked with student-teacher interaction via technology.

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