About Us/Quienes Somos

Hannah Whalen, Program Director
IMG_9429A proud graduate of The University of Dayton, Hannah Whalen believes she has the best job in Dayton. Hannah grew up in a diverse neighborhood in West Carrollton and expressed an interest in different languages and Latino culture at an early age. She enjoyed tutoring a friend from Honduras in English as he tutored her in Spanish. Hannah has travelled to Guatemala to teach English to classrooms full of 6th grade boys, and she is well aware that her Spanish has a Guatemalan accent. Obtaining a degree in World Language Education with a Spanish Major as well as TESOL Certification brought Hannah into the El Puente family with a plethora of knowledge and experience. After former Program Director Alyssa Torres spoke in one of her college classes, Hannah was driven to begin tutoring at El Puente in late 2016 in addition to tutoring with Project READ. While tutoring, Hannah developed a strong connection to the students and families that she saw on a daily basis. She may only be in her first year as Program Director at El Puente, but Hannah’s positive attitude and strong work ethic have inspired us all. She loves seeing the older kids help the younger ones and pass on their knowledge. Viva El Puente!

Imelda Ayala, Parent Advocate
ImeldaWe’re excited to have Imelda working with the parents of our students, incorporating entire families into the fold. She has truly become an indispensable part of El Puente and the community that surrounds us. Imelda is known for her positive and dynamic personality and has been working incredibly hard within the Latino community for over eleven years, teaching Sunday school, teaching leadership classes to Latino teenagers, and teaching the parents of these children. Imelda also leads the Milagro de la Mujer (Miracle Women) program every Friday evening. This program is open to all women and focuses on physical, educational and psychological empowerment. She also coordinates the Orgullo Mexicano (Mexican Pride) dance group for children and teenagers, teaching them to keep their culture alive and to cherish their heritage. Both children and adults quickly connect to her warm presence, and they rise to the high standards that she sets. Imelda sets an example of service and selflessness that all around her aspire to equal.

Board of Trustees/Comíte directiva
Tony Ortiz, President (Diversity Liaison, Office of the Ohio Attorney General)
Teresa Troyer, Vice President (ESL Teacher, Dayton Public Schools)
Ryan Rushing, Treasurer (Finance Director, Village of Carlisle, Ohio & City Councilman, Beavercreek, Ohio)
Kristofer Poland, Secretary (Adjunct Professor, Department of Teacher Education, College of Education & Human Services, Wright State University)
Rosa Ashworth (League of United Latin American Citizens)
Mary Alice Ordonez (Assistant Director, Hispanic Ministry Dayton & North, Archdiocese of Cincinnati)
Mark Suazo (Associate Professor, Department of Management and International Business, Raj Soin College of Business, Wright State University)

Our Community/Nuestra comunidad
El Puente’s families trace their heritage to a variety of Latin American nations ranging from Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica and beyond. Our students vary widely in English literacy aptitude, as many of them are taught English at school but primarily speak Spanish at home. All children who attend El Puente come to us from either Dayton Public Schools or local Catholic schools. El Puente aims to strengthen our community by offering services that aid our families and assisting them as they reach out to benefit others in their neighborhood. 

Our wonderful volunteers aid in our mission by tutoring/mentoring students and donating their time in countless other ways. Most of whom participate come to us from local high schools and universities, but all community members are welcome to join us. A majority of our volunteers tutor students ranging in grade level from kindergarten through sixth grade. No previous experience with children is required to volunteer. All adults wishing to tutor our children must first pass a BCI background check. Our partner the Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County offers free background checks for all individuals wishing to work with us at El Puente.