Academia Cotopaxi

Meet the Admin Team

Madeleine Maceda Heide


Madeleine Maceda Heide is the Director of Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador. She joined Academia Cotopaxi after a career in international schools around the world – she served as the Assistant Superintendent at the American School of Bombay, as the Principal of the Lower Primary division in Hong Kong International School, as the Founding Head of the Early Childhood Center at the International School of Brussels, and as a teacher at Taipei American School. Madeleine was a member of the NESA Professional Development Advisory Committee and currently serves on the AASSA Board. Madeleine has two advanced degrees – an Educational Specialist degree in Language and Literacy and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, both from Indiana University in Bloomington. She has done extensive teacher training, consulting, and university-level teaching in the Philippines, Taiwan, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, China, Chile, India, and the United States. Working alongside many talented teachers, parents, students, and administrators around the world fuels her enthusiasm for innovative teaching and learning practices and the school structures that support them. Always learning, Madeleine is attempting to blog at Email her at


Daniel Kerr

Intermediate Principal

Dan is currently the Principal of our Intermediate Division (Grades 3-8), and joins us after several impressive stints as a teacher leader and administrator in Toronto, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta, and Shanghai. He’s been working in International Schools for over 15 years, and is passionate about education, educational change, and building strong and lasting relationships within his community. Dan is also an adjunct professor for Endicott College in Massachusetts, where he teaches Masters level courses to international cohorts in Madrid, Spain each summer. He holds 3 degrees as well as his Principal certification from his on-going work with the Principal’s Training Center (PTC). Dan blogs at and is a featured educational blogger for TIE online. Check out his TED talk too. Contact him at


David Muniz

Director of Technology

David Muñiz joined AC as Director of Technology in 2014. He holds a MEd in Educational Technology and came to Quito from Germany with his beautiful wife and son, Xol. David began his teaching career at the American School Foundation in Mexico City in 2008. In his free time, besides spending time with his wife and son, David likes to make music with computers, synthesizers, and guitars, and enjoys finding other ways technology can enhance creativity. David is fluent in Spanish and English and excited to be part of the Academia Cotopaxi community! Contact him at


Esther Clark

Director of External Relations

Esther joined AC in 2014 after 10 years of working with public and private organizations in the region of Latin America; her recent work includes project management of the New Quito International Airport and regional development for a photo crowdsourcing application. She has also worked with major brands such as BMW, Government of Canada, Amazon and Forbes. Esther is Canadian and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC and an International MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Esther helps identify and connect stakeholders inside and outside the AC Community and is an avid sailor, writer (contributor to Forbes and America Economia magazines) and entrepreneur. Contact her at or via Twitter @ClarkEsther


Garth Wyncoll

High School Principal

Garth, incoming high school principal, is joining the administrative team at Academia Cotopaxi this school year. He has spent the past four years leading the high school division at the American International School of Lagos, Nigeria. Prior to Lagos, Garth was the Deputy Headmaster at Brent International School in Subic Bay, Philippines. Garth has led schools through the International Baccalaureate's authorization process as well as their re-accreditation cycle. Garth holds a Master's degree in Educational Leadership. Contact him at


Gina Del Hierro

Director of Human Resources

Gina is Ecuadorian and passionate about cultures around the world. She returned to Quito two years ago after a six-year experience abroad in Mexico and Dubai. Gina holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and has worked in variety of areas - Finance, Strategy, HR and Talent Management - with multinational companies. She embraces a spirit of leading change and of generating high impacts that come with positive change both in business and people. Gina dreams big and believes in continuous improvement. Gina is pleased to be part of the educational world at AC and is inspired by our community that continue to grow, learn and contribute. Her email is


Kathy Burns

Director of Admissions

Kathy grew up on the U.S. east coast states of Maryland, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. She studied Finance at the University of Georgia and has a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kathy has over fifteen years of corporate development and finance experience working with various large multinational corporations and collaborating with diverse and multicultural teams. Kathy recently took these skills to the international school community and before heading to Quito in 2015, she was the interim Head of Admissions for the American School of Barcelona. In her free time she loves to travel with her family, spend time outdoors and test new recipes in the kitchen. Contact her at


Mauricio Mera

Director of Business and Finance

Mauricio holds a business administration degree from the Universidad Católica de Quito and an MBA from the University of Dallas (USA) with a focus in Corporate Finance. He is Ecuadorian and married with three children. He has worked at AC since 1997 as Director of Finance. His previous experience includes: banking, financial analysis, external audit and insurance. His email is


Paola Pereira

Early Childhood Principal

Paola is the Early Childhood Division Principal (IMAGINE through Grade 2) at Academia Cotopaxi. Development and learning have inspired her since childhood and she has been professionally involved in education for over 20 years. Paola’s pedagogical and leadership background includes US undergraduate studies in early childhood & elementary education, a master’s in special education and a Principal’s certificate from The Principal’s Training Center. For fun, Paola looks for opportunities to have conversations with others (her husband, children, siblings, parents and grandparents…, old friends and new friends), to laugh together, to accompany others in their successes and challenges, and to learn from them by listening, by watching, by reading. Email her at


Associate Principals and The ONE Institute

Bret Olson

Associate Principal (Grades 6 – 10)

Bret is in his second year at Academia Cotopaxi as the Associate Principal for Middle School and High School students.  He works with our students to achieve success both in and out of the classroom by supporting their academic as well as social-emotional growth.  Bret has been working with international school communities for over 10 years spanning elementary, middle, and high school divisions.  Prior to moving to Quito Bret worked as a teacher and educational leader in Houston, Milan, and Shanghai.  He tweets @The1sWhoDo and blogs at


Dr. Joy Brooke

Early Childhood Associate Principal

Joy joined us after much experience as a teacher leader, educational columnist, consultant, and non-profit leader in the United States. She’s been impacting education for over 17 years as a teacher first and foremost and now as an administrator. Joy's a National Board Certified Teacher and her area of expertise is definitely in the area of literacy (reading and writing) and social and emotional teaching and learning. She also is very passionate about leadership, innovative practices in education, English language learning, and special education. She holds her Doctorate of Education Leadership from Seattle University, as well as her Masters and Bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Oregon. She also has endorsements in Reading, Special Education, ELL, along with her Principal Certification.  You can check out her website at and contact her at .


Thomas (Trae) Holland

Director of The ONE Institute

Trae serves as Director of Academia Cotopaxi’s ONE Institute and also teaches Economics, Psychology and Mathematics as a member of AC’s faculty. Formerly the Language Center, the ONE Institute specializes in applied language instruction, community and business sector partnerships and providing student service opportunities with language learning as a core mission.  Before joining Academia Cotopaxi, Trae served as a Development Director for a leading central Florida museum and with his certification as a LEED Green Associate, co-founded and led an international sustainability and development design firm.  In addition, he has 19 years’ experience teaching both in the US and in international schools, with a specialization in learning differentiation. Trae holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics from Davidson College and a Masters in International Relations from Bilgi University in Istanbul, Turkey.


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