Daphne Espinoza
Program Manager

Daphne is a young professional Nicaraguan born in Managua and has a Bachelor's Degree from the American University of Nicaragua (UAM) in Diplomacy and International Relations focused on studies in social development, conflict resolution and public policy. Daphne firmly believes that true social change can only be created by ensuring all citizens have equal access to high-quality education no matter what their economic status.

Daphne envisions a society dedicated to social development where all Nicaraguan children have the same educational opportunities that she has been lucky enough to have. Daphne is inspired and motivated by her two-year-old daughter Kamila to do everything she can to create a better future for Nicaraguan youth. "Investing in educational access not only improves their quality of life but raises them to be active proponents of social change," Daphne says. She believes in the power of educational projects for children from low-income families which link the vision and objectives of professional motivation with the power of individual significance. Daphne aims to achieve positive social development for Nicaragua by helping BPP become an educational model with a curriculum that can be implemented and expanded to reach the majority of children in San Juan del Sur and eventually throughout all of Nicaragua.

Dyani Makous 
Founder, Executive Director 

Renée LeVangie grew up in a rural community in Nova Scotia, Canada. After graduating with a Commerce Degree in 2010, she set off to South Korea, teaching English as a Second Language for two years. Wanting to explore commerce in the international development context, Renée spent a year in West Africa facilitating entrepreneurial workshops and expanding a micro-finance program. Teaching English had sparked a genuine interest in Renée, and she quickly initiated a fundraising project that involved several schools and day cares. After returning to Canada, Renée completed a course in asset-based community development and started volunteering with a social enterprise, managing the student ambassadors. Renée first came to San Juan del Sur in September 2014, eager to learn Spanish and get involved with some community projects. In 2015 she was the Program Manager with Barrio Planta Project, and in 2016 she became the Director of Development. Renée is able to continue her commitment in the development field by focusing on education, youth empowerment and volunteering. 

Damaris Obando
Director of Administration and Finance

Denis studied Education and Art at Ricardo Morales Avilez University in Jonotepe. He has been the Director of Art and Culture for the Association for Cultural Promotion (APC), the owner of BPP’s building, for 22 years. Denis has been working with BPP since 2009, as both a liaison to the APC and as BPP’s Director of Art and Culture. In addition Denis has 29 years experience dancing with Youth Dance Groups that specialize in Traditional Nicaraguan Folklore Music. He recently formed his own group, Renacimiento del Sol, in which BPP students participate. Denis has represented San Juan del Sur through participation in various dance competitions, workshops and groups all over Nicaragua and globally. He is passionate about the visual arts and preserving Nicaraguan culture through teaching Folklore Dance.

Denis Calderon
Director of Art and Culture

 Meet the Staff of Barrio Planta Project 

Dyani Makous was born in New York City and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She attended public schools and was always very active in social service. She volunteered for the Philadelphia Student Union, a student-run organization created to build the power of youth and demand high-quality education for 6 years and went on to work for them in Public Relations during her senior year of high school. She also worked as a Peer Educator and "Know Your Rights" activist for the ACLU, and in 2002 won the “Youth Activist of the Year” award. She went on to earn a B.F.A. in Writing, Literature and Publishing with a minor in Photography from Emerson College in 2006 and spent two semesters abroad, one in The Netherlands, and one in Granada, Spain, where she learned Spanish in a four month Intensive Language & Culture Program. The following year, she worked as a Team leader for an after-school program called Citizen Schools, from which she drew a lot of the inspiration for the Barrio Planta Project. In 2008, Dyani went to Nicaragua to pursue a career in travel writing, but left that path and founded the Barrio Planta Project. She has been able to combine all of her life experiences, passions and skills, as well as her beliefs in the value of high-quality education and the power of the arts in order to consistently maintain the Barrio Planta Project as it continues to grow and thrive.

​​Renée LeVangie
Director of Development

A San Juan del Sur native, Damaris is happy to work for the betterment of the community she grew up in. Due to the booming tourism industry in San Juan del Sur, Damaris began her professional career by working in hospitality. In July 2010, Damaris left that path and started working for the Barrio Planta Project as a secretary, before there was even an office. Through hard work, dedication, reliability and adaptability Damaris created an office environment and worked her way up to Administrative Director. She now handles all of the  data entry, human resources, translations and organization of files and serves as a liaison for professional legal and accounting services. Additionally, Damaris teaches Fitness classes to BPP students and leads all community-based initiative. Damaris firmly believes in the importance of education and is happy to work hard with the rest of the team to offer opportunities to children and adults that enable them to accomplish their goals and enhance their futures.

​​​​​OUR TEAM