Board of Trustees


Board of Trustees

A nine-person Board of Trustees governs the school. Six members are elected from the parent community and four of them serve three-year terms and the other two serve two year terms, which allows for ideal transitions. Two faculty members are elected to sit on the board, and they serve a one-year term. Any member may be re-elected. The ninth member is the US Ambassador’s representative, an appointed position.

The Director reports to the Board and is responsible for overseeing the overall operations of the school. There are separate principals for the Elementary School, Middle School and High School Divisions.

Below you will find documents related to the Board, Bylaws, Policy Manual and our General Assembly.

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Board Member Bios


Caridad Ribadeneira

Caridad Ribadeneira was born in Quito and has 2 children attending Academia Cotopaxi. She went to school at the American University in Washington DC, where she got a B.A. in Business Administration with specialization in Finance and Technology. Later she got her master’s degree in business administration from IDE Business School in Quito. She lived 4 years with her family in Brazil as an expat. From the past 13 years she has been involved in her family businesses.  This would be her first year serving on the board. 

Cheryl Johnson

Cheryl Johnson is the Counselor for Management Affairs at the U.S. Embassy and serves as the Ambassador’s representative on the Board of Trustees. She has been in the U.S. Foreign Service for over 20 years, serving in Mexico and Eastern Europe, including a tour in Lithuania where she was a member of the school board at the American International School of Vilnius.

Dominic Straessle

Dominic is a Cotopaxi Alum, who studied Hospitality Management in Switzerland and attended AC from 5th grade to graduation. His children have attended Cotopaxi since Pre-Kinder. He has specialized his career in the food industry providing convenience, all natural products, as well as refrigerated logistics services. He also works in commercial real estate. He has served on the Cotopaxi Board for seven years, and is honored to be able to contribute to our community’s growth and improvement.

Edward Luchessi

Ed Luchessi is the Financial Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Quito and is serving on the Board of Trustees as a parent representative.  He has been in the U.S. diplomatic corps for over 15 years.  Ed is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the University of California-San Diego’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. His son is in elementary school at Academia Cotopaxi.

Haifa Khamis

My name is Haifa Khamis and I was born in Quito, Ecuador. I am parent of three  kids at Academia Cotopaxi, Nicolás, Arielle and Micaela. I have earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and at the present time I am obtaining my Master’s degree in Marketing and Digital Communication at the IMF Business School.  For around fourteen years, I have worked in the retailing industry as General Manager. I was dedicated to build long term relationships through strategic planning based on establishing a strong based connection and relationship plan with different stakeholders. I have based my experience in developing new projects and opening new clients, gaining a lot of involvement in customer service, public relations and brand management.

Leigh Murrell

Leigh Murrell was born in San Diego, California. She has a BA in Language Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Educational Technology from San Diego State University. At present, Leigh works at Academia Cotopaxi as an Instructional Coach and Teaching Computer Science in the High School. 

Luis Flores

Luis was born in Quito and raised at Academia Cotopaxi. After starting PK at AC’s old Naciones Unidas campus and graduating at our current campus in 1998, he went on to become an Electrical and Mechanical Engineer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He now works as both a Management and Business consultant and an Executive Coach at PROFESA, as well as an active Mediator. He has been serving Academia Cotopaxi as an Associate, non-parent member of the Board of Trustees since 2012; he is passionate about supporting AC in becoming an innovative and vibrant learning community!

Tanya E. de Durán-Ballén

Tanya has been in education for more than 25 years, 24 of those years have been at Academia Cotopaxi. Prior to coming to our school Tanya graduated with a BA double major: one in Child Development and the other in Psychology. After completing her BA she got her Master's degree in School Psychology. Tanya worked in Charlotte NC as a School Psychologist with children newly born to 21 years old. Her knowledge of developmental appropriateness and best practices in education provides a valuable insight to our board. Tanya considers Academia Cotopaxi her home away from home. Her daughter attended Academia Cotopaxi for many years before going to University. Tanya has dedicated her career to students, teachers, and families.

Patrick Müller

Patrick Müller graduated from Academia Cotopaxi in 1994.  He was born in Quito from Swiss and Colombian parents.  He is currently  the CEO of Aromcolor S.A. He has two daughters Martina and Luciana who currently attend AC. He is serving his third year of a three year term on the AC Board.  Having such a diverse background and having attended all his school life at AC allows Patrick to bring a broad perspective for the development of the school. Patrick enjoys fencing, riding bikes and spending time with his family. Patrick is pleased to be a part of this community and to be able to help shape AC for the future.