Casa Milagro Foundation is a nonprofit charity which exists to provide compassionate and holistic care to children in Costa Rica who are at risk of, or who have been rescued from, human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. 

The majority of the children we work with have been sold into prostitution by their own families. We have thousands of such victims here. They have been severely abused physically, emotionally, and sexually.

Since 2015, Casa Milagro has been delivering food, clothes, blankets and toiletries to some of our thousands of homeless children, while concurrently working toward building a safe house for boys. 

In early 2017 Casa Milagro opened a drop-in center where these children receive another level of care. Here the youth are able to take a hot shower, receive professional therapy and legal assistance, mentorship and education, as well as being connected to detox, reahab, and other important services and technical training.

The organization’s model of care is based on a holistic approach, focusing simultaneously on the areas of Personal Development, Education, Health and Community.

We hold in our hearts the vision of a world free of sexual exploitation, where children are nurtured, inspired and loved.

USA Board of Directors

Scott Pralinsky
Founder / Board President
Scott Pralinsky grew up in the United States where he served in the US Air Force Chaplain Service for 13 years. He worked... W3.CSS
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Scott Pralinsky grew up in the United States where he served in the US Air Force Chaplain Service for 13 years. He worked as well for the Mayor of Boston with drug dealers and gang members in the streets of Mattapan for two years, and in Romania for several months with orphans after President Ceausescu and his wife were assassinated. Scott moved to Costa Rica in 2003 and founded the Casa Milagro Foundation in 2005, which focused for 10 years on bringing in volunteer support to help orphans, the indigenous, rural communities, sea turtles and federal conservations efforts. After working as Director of Operations for the now defunct, and previously only existing safe house in Costa Rica, for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, he changed his focus to help those victims who now have no support at all. Scott completed his graduate work in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica in 2005. He holds dual US/CR citizenship.

Kate Hayes
Secretary
Kate Hayes is a Director at Echoing Green, whose mission is to unleash next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest... W3.CSS
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Kate Hayes is a Director at Echoing Green, whose mission is to unleash next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems. She is currently leading Echoing Green’s newest program, Direct Impact, which is designed to prepare high-potential young corporate leaders for nonprofit board service through an experiential four-month leadership program. Prior to joining Echoing Green, Kate worked in the national office of Minds Matter, an academic mentoring organization whose mission is to prepare high-potential youth from low-income families for college success. Kate graduated with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University.Kate is currently the Chair of the Young Alumni Committee and a member of the Executive Committee at the Northfield Mount Hermon School. She works to develop meaningful, lifelong connections for young alumni through activities, events, and networking experiences.

Danyelle Kara Smith
Treasurer
Is from Boone, North Carolina, a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. She graduated from Appalachian... W3.CSS
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Is from Boone, North Carolina, a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies: Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights in 2013. During her studies she worked for the non-profit Liberty in North Korea as a traveling representative and studied abroad in Costa Rica at Universidad Veritas. It was during those years that she learned about modern day human trafficking. As I learned about the commercial sexual exploitation of children she was appalled that so many children are exploited and began to focus her studies on the issue as her passion grew. Since graduating, she has worked in different sectors including a group home for children which further taught her that there is a lot of change needed in the way our society addresses children’s rights issues. Danyelle is currently working in the insurance industry as a business management consultant and plans to pursue a Master’s in Social Work in the Fall of 2017. Her goal is to have a career in fighting CSEC. Outside of work, she enjoys all things outdoors. Whenever possible she enjoys rock climbing, cycling, backpacking and traveling.

Lamia Sadek
Studied business management and information technology and has a Masters in Training and Development from North Carolina... W3.CSS
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Studied business management and information technology and has a Masters in Training and Development from North Carolina State University. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership. Lamia started her career in business development and finance, but after working as a regional finance manager for a large for-profit corporation, she decided to pursue her true passion and work in the nonprofit sector. She has worked throughout the United States, Middle East, Australia, and Europe on issues ranging from economic development to gender equity and youth empowerment. Lamia served as Managing Director with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and previously worked with Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), Pepsi and IBM. In 2010, Lamia was among an international humanitarian delegation to Gaza. She spoke at the United Nation's CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) on challenges facing leadership of marginalized groups and indigenous women.

Marian Hanna
Was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Marian graduated from the University of California, San Diego with... W3.CSS
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Was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Marian graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience and Behavior, as well as a minor in Biological Anthropology. She is currently attending graduate school at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to obtain her Master of Public Health in Disaster Management this May of 2017. Due to Marian’s mission-driven spirit and commitment to offering support to others, she hopes to combine her knowledge of public health and medicine towards becoming a physician. Marian has over a decade of experience in charitable efforts and a powerful desire to promote humanitarian causes that positively influence the lives of individuals in need. In her free time, Marian loves yoga, traveling, hiking, surfing, and scuba diving.

Lorna Bastos
Was born and raised in Costa Rica. She has worked as a psychologist in two large, non-governmental orphanages, providing care... W3.CSS
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Was born and raised in Costa Rica. She has worked as a psychologist in two large, non-governmental orphanages, providing care to orphans who were victims of sexual abuse - some of whom were also drug addicts. Lorna has also worked in a dual role as the Director of Operations & Psychologist for two years at the only previously existing safe house for sexually exploited children in Costa Rica. Lorna is now just a few months short of her law degree. Helping these children is her passion.

Matt Paquette
From New Hampshire, is in his last year of his MBA with a concentration in Marketing. Matt and his girlfriend, Ashlyn, came to... W3.CSS
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From New Hampshire, is in his last year of his MBA with a concentration in Marketing. Matt and his girlfriend, Ashlyn, came to volunteer with Casa Milagro a few years ago. Since then, Matt has returned a couple of times to continue to help. He also helps supervise and lead our marketing interns.

Gabrielle Thompson
Gabrielle believes that empowered women, create revolutions. At a young age, her heart was drawn towards women in developing... W3.CSS
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Gabrielle believes that empowered women, create revolutions. At a young age, her heart was drawn towards women in developing countries. Once she knew how to place that into action, she pursued avenues to engage in helping and empowering women in developing countries. Gabrielle currently serves as Executive Director/CEO of Free for Life International, an international non-profit committee to “the identification, assistance and restoration of human trafficking victims and survivors”. Gabrielle’s previous jobs have included work in with international non-governmental organizations, and gender policy development in Istanbul Turkey, and Costa Rica, as well as independently managing a business tutoring Saudi Arabians in higher education. Gabrielle is a member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide Women, and is frequently asked to speak about human trafficking. She holds a Masters of International Affairs, with a specialization in International Gender Development from Middle Tennessee State University. Gabrielle’s published master’s thesis is titled, “Perceptions in Development: Costa Rican Policy Initiatives and Pathways to Socioeconomic Accessibility” available here. Gabrielle has a love for adventure, which has taken her to over 20 countries – and when she is not fighting human trafficking you can find her lost in nature, cycling or rock climbing.

Costa Rica Board of Directors

Scott Pralinsky
Founder / Board President
Scott Pralinsky grew up in the United States where he served in the US Air Force Chaplain Service for 13 years. He worked... W3.CSS
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Scott Pralinsky grew up in the United States where he served in the US Air Force Chaplain Service for 13 years. He worked as well for the Mayor of Boston with drug dealers and gang members in the streets of Mattapan for two years, and in Romania for several months with orphans after President Ceausescu and his wife were assassinated. Scott moved to Costa Rica in 2003 and founded the Casa Milagro Foundation in 2005, which focused for 10 years on bringing in volunteer support to help orphans, the indigenous, rural communities, sea turtles and federal conservations efforts. After working as Director of Operations for the now defunct, and previously only existing safe house in Costa Rica, for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, he changed his focus to help those victims who now have no support at all. Scott completed his graduate work in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica in 2005. He holds dual US/CR citizenship.

Dr. Gioconda Batres Méndez
Vice President
Graduated as Medical Surgeon at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a psychiatrist at the University of... W3.CSS
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Graduated as Medical Surgeon at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a psychiatrist at the University of Costa Rica. Since 1991 she has been Director of the Regional Program against Domestic Violence of the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, where she developed and published her theories on sexual abuse and gender violence. Dr. Batres is a guest professor at Latin American universities and a lecturer in numerous forums and in congresses. She has published seven books and a large number of articles in magazines. (Her most recent book is about the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.) She is one of the most recognized Latin American experts in the treatment of sexual abuse and its perpetrators. She has been a member of multiple commissions that advise governments on issues of sexual violence, gender violence and legislation. Dr. Batres is an International Consultant for PAHO / WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, European Union, and a Dutch Cooperation. Since 1978 she has been in private practice.

Victor Raudez
Treasurer
Is the owner of Raudez & Associates, an accounting firm in the Province of Cartago. Victor has many years experience as... W3.CSS
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Is the owner of Raudez & Associates, an accounting firm in the Province of Cartago. Victor has many years experience as a financial expert, and is very active in his church community.

Rachel Fiske
Secretary
Is a wellness professional with extensive experience in one on one consultations, menu and supplementation programs, and... W3.CSS
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Is a wellness professional with extensive experience in one on one consultations, menu and supplementation programs, and lifestyle changes. She specializes in areas such as weight management, adrenal health, immune support, GI problems, and hormonal balance. Rachel conducts individual and group consultation/education sessions via phone and skype. She also has years of experience as a professional health writer, and produces articles, eBooks, and meal plans. Contact her directly for writing samples, and to discuss the details of your project. Additionally, Rachel works in the field of nonprofit public health, and this is where her real passion lies. She strives to bridge the gap between integrative medicine and class, and strongly believes that natural medicine should be available to everybody.

Kaitlyn Bagnato Statile
Controller
Was born and raised in Mississippi. She moved to Georgia before high school and thereafter attended The University of Georgia where... W3.CSS
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Was born and raised in Mississippi. She moved to Georgia before high school and thereafter attended The University of Georgia where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Sociology. She then moved to Tallahassee, Florida where she attended Florida State University College of Law. After law school she and her now husband traveled around the world for 6 months. Upon return back to the U.S., she accepted a job as an Assistant State Attorney in Pinellas County, Florida where she served for almost 4 years. She worked with victims and handled specialized cases of child and sexual abuse. She transitioned into civil litigation as an attorney at Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick, LLP. Kaitlyn and her husband Joe welcomed their first daughter, Luciana in September of 2015. In 2016, her husband's career brought their family to Costa Rica.

Rina Jimenez Vargas
Has experience sitting on and working with many boards of directors in Costa Rica. In addition to helping us at Casa Milagro... W3.CSS
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Has experience sitting on and working with many boards of directors in Costa Rica. In addition to helping us at Casa Milagro, Rina also sits on the board of Aldeas SOS, which works for the rights of children and adolescents and runs 3 orphanages in Costa Rica. Rina also works at the Tree of Life School in Santa Ana.

Emma Lees
Is originally from the UK where she graduated in History and Politics and subsequently worked for Shelter (the housing... W3.CSS
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Is originally from the UK where she graduated in History and Politics and subsequently worked for Shelter (the housing/homelessness charity) The Prince's Trust (working with disadvantaged young people), and volunteered in a rural school in Northern India. She then went on to work for The Labour Party where she became Regional Director of the North of England and also Campaign Manager for the North West of England. Following this her husband decided to travel for a year around the world and subsequently lived in Brisbane, Australia where they had their 2 children. In Australia Emma became a volunteer for Beyond Blue (mental health Charity) and The Australian Cancer Council and opened her own online jewellery business. In 2015 they moved to Costa Rica due to her husband's work where Emma was considering starting her own not for profit, until she came across the issues that Casa Milagro highlight and the scale of the problem here.

Manuel Acuña
Has a background in accounting, but has worked in tourism and as a taxi driver for more than 20 years. He has always... W3.CSS
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Has a background in accounting, but has worked in tourism and as a taxi driver for more than 20 years. He has always been involved with volunteering, community work, and advocating for those who can’t speak for their own rights.

Laura Virginia Vega Guzmán
Originally from Nicaragua, is a homemaker who cares deeply about our vulnerable children.
Sofia Mora Guzmán
Also hailing from Nicaragua, is a full-time student.

Advisors

Steven Procopio
ACSW, LICSW
Is a trainer and consultant for males with complex trauma. His expertise is in the area of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault... W3.CSS
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Is a trainer and consultant for males with complex trauma. His expertise is in the area of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and commercial sexual exploitation. Steven brings extensive experience in public health, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, homelessness and youth services. His present professional work is with boys, adolescent males and men with a trauma history, with a focus on childhood sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. He is the founder of the first free standing program to serve commercially sexually exploited boys, adolescent males and trans youth in the United States. He is a trainer/consultant with the Department of Justice - Office of Victims of Crime, working with OVC grantees on the issue of male victimization over the lifespan. A graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, Steven is an adjunct instructor at the Boston University School of Social Work.

Mo Vear
Was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Mo traveled east to attend Notre Dame College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she majored... W3.CSS
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Was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Mo traveled east to attend Notre Dame College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she majored in marketing and minored in music. Upon graduating, she traveled to the West coast to begin her professional career in Merchandising and Licensing at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood, California. After working for several years on the corporate side of entertainment, Mo transitioned into television and film production and eventually segued into feature film development where she worked with talent and literary agents to acquire screenplay and manuscript materials and collaborate with writers to develop them into feature films. Discovering her own passion for writing, editing and developing, she moved back to Chicago where she attended graduate school at DePaul University. After receiving her Masters Degree in Writing, she worked on independent writing projects and on developing a greater sense of humor - a requirement for marriage and the raising of small creatures: two boys who inspired her to launch her web site: www.humormewithmo.com. Humor, after all, is the weapon against all absurdity and the road to sanity.

Julie Stanley
Is a devoted advocate for children’s social emotional, physical and academic development. She was born in 1969, in... W3.CSS
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Is a devoted advocate for children’s social emotional, physical and academic development. She was born in 1969, in North Central Massachusetts, and has remained in this area her entire life. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and began her career as an Early Childhood Coordinator, connecting young children and their families to early care and education community and public school services. In 1995 she completed her Masters Degree with Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in Curriculum Theory and Development. In 1996, after spending time raising her own children at home, she returned to public school teaching, obtaining her Massachusetts State Teaching Licenses in the areas of Elementary Education 1-6, Early Childhood Education PreK-2, and Moderate Special Needs N-9. Throughout her years teaching, she consistently worked with a high-risk population of students identified by poverty, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction and physical and sexual abuse. In 2014 she completed a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Behavior Analysis and became a national Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has supported children's growth through nurturing her own children, fostering children through the Department of Children and Families of Massachusetts, and hosting international exchange students in her home. Julie's passion is to support children’s growth while scaffolding families with necessary skills and resources to offer children the richest environment possible in which to grow. She firmly believes all children do well when they can and deserve the best possible circumstances to live, grow and learn. She enjoys being outside, connecting with nature through swimming, kayaking, biking and walking in the woods.

Mark Fister
Advisor
Mark worked contracts during the first 10 years of his career, where he was a professional consultant for 12 public, private... W3.CSS
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Mark worked contracts during the first 10 years of his career, where he was a professional consultant for 12 public, private, and government organizations like Dell, Tivoli Systems (an IBM company), Deja News, and the State of Texas General Land Office. While working for Deja News in 1999, Mark joined the eBay family via acquisition. Over nearly 18 years, Mark built a career within the eBay Inc. companies Half.com, eBay, and PayPal. This tenure makes Mark one of the most loyal employees the corporation has ever had. Mark has enjoyed roles as diverse as systems and network administration, software engineering, software verification engineering, and management, but what Mark really loves (regardless of title or hat) is seeing (then delivering!) technical and social North Stars that others don't see.