Our Team


In The Field


Executive Director: Ian McGroarty

Ian graduated from the Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business with a B.S. in Economics, a minor in International Business, and a focus in International, Development and Transition Economics. After working in both New York City and Washington DC in development related NGO´s and foundations, he moved to Peru in 2009. Since then Ian has worked in the creation and implementation of community, education and economic development projects as the General Coordinator of Nexos Voluntarios in Urubamba and as an Economic Development Project Coordinator in the District Municipality of Maras. Ian began working for Alma on July 20, 2011. He hires, trains and manages our Project Coordinators and teachers. He is involved in the creation of all of our community projects and he creates all of our curriculum. Ian spends most of his time in the communities where we work and lives with his wife and daughter in Urubamba Peru.



Project Coordinator: Octavio Quispe Checca 

Octavio is from the town of Huancarara, in Paruro province, Peru. He completed his higher education studies at the Valle Grande Institute in Cañete, Lima, Peru. Following graduation, he worked three years as a classroom teacher for the Pro Rural Schools. Octavio joined the Alma team two years ago, as a classroom teacher for our Colcha Biblioteca project. He now works with our Project Manager Ian, as a Project Coordinator for the Cusco Region.



Project Coordinator: Andrea Fernández Blacutt

Andrea is a psychology graduate from the State University of Tarija-Bolivia. She has a diploma in Higher Education, in Management and Resolution of Social Conflicts and a specialty in Clinical Neuropsychology. She has worked for more than 6 years as a University teacher at the Faculty of Pedagogy and Social Communication Sciences and worked in the Academic Planning unit at the Autonomous University of Beni. She has carried out research on gender, youth and rural development as a consultant in Beni. She worked at NGOs on issues of empowerment of indigenous communities in Beni and in youth leadership. She worked as Project Coordinator in Alma-Beni between 2015 and 2017 and currently manages all of our Bolivia programs.


Pedagogical Coordinator – PERU: Susan Cconucuyca Huallaparimachi

Susana has a degree in Art Education, graduated from the National University “Diego Quispe Tito” of Cusco and has been working at Alma since 2015; for the past 5 years she has worked as a teacher in field projects and for 4 years as pedagogical coordinator. Alma Children’s is an institution that has given her the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

“It is gratifying to have been part of the forming of Alma’s methodology through collaborative work, with successes and failures along the way, which has made it possible for us to respond in a practical way to the educational needs in the Cusco region.”


Departmental Coordinator: Zorana Sfarcich Rojas

Zorana graduated with a degree in Law and International Relations in Tarija, her hometown located  in southern Bolivia. She has more than 10 years of professional experience in public and private institutions related to rural and legal development, which has allowed her to contribute from other perspectives to Alma’s pedagogical proposals.

She worked with us as a virtual teacher trainer in Beni for two years, excelling in her duties and always managing to establish close and trusting relationships with our beneficiaries. In 2022, with the expansion of our institutional coverage to the department of Tarija, Zorana became our departmental coordinator in this region.



Departmental Coordinator: Leonel Saavedra Caceres

Leonel is a Systems Engineer graduated from Universidad Autónoma del Beni “José Ballivián” in the city of Trinidad. He has experience in adult education and has volunteered in the educational field on digital inclusion and is currently a Information Technology and Communications teacher in a school in the city of Trinidad.

Leonel has been working at Alma since 2020 and has always stood out for his teaching skills in teacher training both in pedagogy and the use of technology. He currently leads our team in Beni as departmental coordinator.



Board of Directors



Alan Harman

Alan is the Founder and President of Alma. He is a Director and Portfolio Manager at ScotiaMcLeod where he has managed socially and environmentally responsible portfolios since 1987. Alan started his first charity at the age of 27 and has shown a weakness for founding social purpose organizations since then. He has held senior roles in a variety of civil society initiatives and has sat on several charity boards, most recently Variety Village, Bereaved Families of Ontario and Small Change Fund.



Garfield Gini-Newman

Garfield Gini-Newman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE, University of Toronto. He explores how to teach through sustained critical inquiry while nurturing deep conceptual understanding and genuine competence. Garfield has helped teachers around the world frame learning around engaging and provocative activities and rich, authentic assessments.

He has authored several articles, chapters in books and seven textbooks – his interest in effective teaching and learning has led him to actively explore the challenges and opportunities presented by teaching and learning in the digital age.


Laura Gini-Newman

Laura is a recently retired educator with 25 years of experience working as a classroom teacher, resource teacher, coach and instructional co-ordinator for success planning. She is also the math consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium working with students, teachers, and leaders to become better critical thinkers in mathematics, and other subject areas, across Canada, and around the world. She has published and co-authored textbooks, papers and learning resources in philosophy, history, mathematics, and Indigenous education.

Laura is the co-founder of Flourish Co, an organization that works with individuals, communities, and businesses to help them learn to flourish through critical thinking and self-coaching.


Sandy Houston

Sandy is the past President of the Metcalf Foundation, a leading private Toronto-based foundation focused on sustainability, creativity and social justice. Sandy has a background in law and mediation and has worked as a consultant and advisor in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. As a volunteer Sandy has served on numerous boards and committees and was the founding Chair of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.




Rob Djurfeldt

Rob Djurfeldt is the Managing Director, C.I.B.C. Wood Gundy. Previously Rob was Group Head of ScotiaMcLeod. He has lived in several South American countries and shares our passion for the welfare of children in those countries. Rob and his children have visited our projects in Peru and Bolivia four times!





Michael  McCarthy

Michael is a senior executive at Flybits. Previously Michael was the Director of Software Solutions at Hewlett Packard. He has held senior management roles in Fortune 500 software companies for 25 years. In the not-for-profit world, Michael worked for TV Ontario and The Art Gallery of Ontario.




Photo - Board - Ana Maria Villaran


 Ana Maria Villaran

Ana Maria is a real estate consultant and former Director for Retail Investment Products at  Scotiabank. Ana Maria managing all of the Alma partner projects and created the “Alma kids” program. She has two young children and is passionate about providing youth with fair opportunities for quality education, particularly in the poorest areas of her home country.




Partners and Donors

In addition to our hundreds of individual donors, the Alma Children’s Education Foundation is grateful to the following organizations for their ongoing support and commitment:



Toronto Rotary





We are very grateful for the 50+ volunteers who dedicate their time, energy and skill to our organization. Our impact would not be possible without the talent and passion of our volunteers.


Interested in Volunteering?

We are currently looking for passionate leaders to join our volunteer team. We are seeking team members in the following areas:

  • Translators
    • Fluency in Spanish and English required
  • Website editing
    • WordPress experience required
  • Fundraising & outreach
  • Social media
    • Instagram Manager

If you are interested in any of Alma’s current volunteer opportunities, please email info@almafoundation.ca.