Board Elections 2019

2Board Elections 2019


Elections for the Board of Trustees will take place from Monday May 20th through Tuesday May 21st. Voting will be done electronically as was done last year, making it more convenient for everyone. 

  • All parents and faculty are eligible to vote as long as they are in good standing with their payments to the school. Please note that both parents of a student are each entitled to an individual vote. We have taken precautions to ensure that each eligible voter can only vote once and that their vote is secure and anonymous.
  • We have appointed an Elections Committee to oversee the voting. Once the voting is completed, the Committee will convey the information to the Trustees Committee and the results will be ratified by the General Assembly on May 22nd. The Board President will announce the final winners at the General Assembly and will communicate to the entire community after that.

The individuals below are candidates for membership in the Board of Trustees. This year, the exact number of candidates for each available position were nominated, meaning that we do not have multiple candidates to choose from. We held an open nomination process which produced the following nominees: 

Below is a bio for each candidate and a short video in which each candidate describes their background and their reason for wanting to join the Board. Please familiarize yourself with these candidates who will have the responsibility of being Trustees of our School.


Dominic Board Elections 3.jpg

Dominic Straessle

Hello, my name is Dominic Straessle, I have a degree in International Hospitality Management from the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland and have focalized my career on the Food and Beverage Industry. I began working at a local restaurant chain with I managed until 2014 when it was sold. Since then I've focused my efforts on convenience foods and beverages sold at a retail level, and on facilities management. I currently supervise a company that is dedicated to the production of Fruit Pulp, and I manage a Commercial Real - Estate Company. Because of the diverse business I have worked in, I have acquired skills in persona management, financial management, marketing and general business practices. 

My relation with Academia Cotopaxi started in 1990, when I moved from Colegio Alemán, I completed middle and high school and graduated from our school in 1998. My two children, who are now 15 and 17, have been at Cotopaxi since pre - kindergarten. I have served on the Board of Trustees of our school for 9 years, in the capacity of Parent Member, Vice-Presidente, and President. I strongly believe that continuity is the key to success in Governance, which is why I look forward to continuing to collaborate actively with our school.


Board Elections 2019 3.jpg

Tanya Espinosa de Durán-Ballén

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


Leigh Murrell Still 3.jpg

Leigh Murrell

Hi, My name is  Leigh Murrell. I am from San Diego, California. I started my career as a Spanish teacher in San Diego Unified School District. I have taught all levels of Spanish in Middle and High School. After I got my Masters in Educational Technology, I transitioned to work at our District office as an Instructional Technology Coach. I worked with a team of teachers to support the 200 schools in the district. Leaving the classroom was hard as I love teaching and working with kids, but I embraced the opportunity to impact more students through working with teachers and getting to be in more than just my classroom. I left San Diego Unified to work at the San Diego County Office of Education as an Educational Technology Specialist. In this job I had two roles:  

  • to support all 43 school districts with technology integration via with online and face to face professional development and 
  • coordinate the countywide student film festival. 

Next, I worked at the International School of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. I was Manager of IT Integration and taught a grade 10 MYP Design class. I joined Academia Cotopaxi in August. I teach Computer Science and am the Instructional Coach for the High School. 

Academia Cotopaxi is a special place. I wanted to come work here because it is an inclusive school. I got into Educational Technology to help teachers provide access to all students. Our small class size and home to school connection facilitates the connections I can make with my students, coworkers and families. I feel a partnership with the community that helps the students learn and grow. 

Academia Cotopaxi is unique in that it has teachers serve on the board of trustees. This shows it’s commitment to education and that it values the voice of the whole community in shaping the direction and vision of the school. I bring with me over 15 years experience in Education as a teacher and administrator to the board. While at San Diego Unified I served on a committee whose purpose was plan and support technology and device implementation in the District. The committee included programmers, tech support, customer service, the Chief Technology Officer. My job was to advocate for and share the experience of teachers and students. I hope to help shape the direction and sustainability of Academia Cotopaxi so that the school is here and thriving for our children’s children. 

You can find me on Twitter @leighmurrell or visit my professional portfolio at

Thank you for your consideration.


Caridad Still 3.jpg

Caridad Ribadeneira 

At the beginning of my career, I worked in the technology sector. First at IBM del Ecuador for two years as a channel specialist and then as an ERP consultant for GRUPOMAS installing ERP for important companies in Quito. Then I decided it was better to work in our family projects. For 6 years I was General manager and project manager of Inmobiliaria Metrohabitat, company that built 3 residential buildings. 

After, we relocated to São Paulo, Brazil for 4.5 years. I was not allowed to work but I studied Portuguese and Interior design courses. I became a member of the board International Dual Career Network, which is a joint project of big multinationals to help expat spouses to find work in the new country and more importantly I was raising my kids.  

Since 2015 we have been back in Quito, and I joined our family office and started managing assets, insurance, taxes, local and international investments. 

The skills I feel I can bring to the board are: I was an expat. So, I know what it means to be a new family at a new school, making me understand the importance of having a community at the school that brings kids and families together. In addition, I have a finance background inclined in accounting and business process. I would like to work with other members of the board to help and find efficiency and plan for the future.   

I will like to serve on the board so I can get involved in creating a better community; but more importantly I will like to be a part of the strategic planning to oversee how Academia Cotopaxi can continue to have a positive effect on the Ecuadorian society by following the school values and creating policies that include all. I have been a room parent for my daughter in 4th grade, I actively participate in events, PTSA coffees, and other events. I hope my experience and skills can contribute Academia Cotopaxi so it can keep generating a positive impact on our society.


Ed Still 3.jpg

Edward P. Luchessi 

My name is Ed Luchessi, and I am running to join the Board of Trustees as a parent representative.  My wife Megan, our first-grade son Sam, and I joined the Academia Cotopaxi community in August 2017.  I have enjoyed watching him and his classmates grow and thrive in and out of the classroom. I also have volunteered as a tee-ball coach for the Quito Little League hosted on Cotopaxi’s upper field the past two seasons.  Like many in our community, we have lived all over the world, including Mexico, Japan, Iraq, Guyana and Washington, in our case as diplomats.  In each place I have appreciated the importance of a diverse, globally-minded school to the international community, and this is what motivates me to serve on the Board.  Academia Cotopaxi prides itself on being a “school in motion”, and we will see plenty of movement in the next few years as we welcome a new Director, evaluate proposals to relocate the campus, and develop the next five-year strategic plan. As the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S government’s mission in Ecuador, I am very familiar with the heavy responsibilities of having fiduciary accountability for an institution.  With your support and guidance, I hope to apply my strong background in strategic planning and resource management gained during a career as an administrator in the diplomatic corps to help guide Academia Cotopaxi into its next exciting chapter.