Meet the CATH Team

Margaret Meade, a beloved cultural anthropologist, once said,


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

The Children Are The Hope (CATH) team is a group of thoughtful and committed educators, scientists, biologists, researchers, academics, parents, naturalists, artists, and environmentally-mindful human beings who are dedicated to bringing the world’s cultures and peoples together in meaningful and colorful ways. Each member of the CATH team is passionate about children, teaching, and sharing the adventures of life with others. We hope you will join our team… let’s change the world!

Meet the CATH Team!


Korie Klink – CATH Founder and Executive Director

“Children Are The Hope is my passion… it brings meaning to my life.”

Born and raised in Bemidji, Minnesota, Korie migrated to Wisconsin in 1992 to study biology and writing on the shores of Lake Superior at Northland College in Ashland.  After completing her undergraduate degree, she spent two years as a naturalist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island. In 1997, Korie joined the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and worked there for 12 years. For 11 years of that time, she was the Project Director for an environmental education project in Cuba focused on the endangered Cuban Sandhill Crane.In 2009, Korie refocused the project into an independent venture, partnering with the University of Havana and the Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna in Cuba. She’s travelled to Cuba nearly 20 times during the course of the project history, and has had the wonderful opportunity to engage with children across the United States and Cuba for the project, which includes an international crane- and nature-based art exchange. Korie named the project Children Are The Hope to honor the remarkable insight of the great Cuban poet and national hero, José Martí, who once said, “In the children is the hope of the world.” This special perspective has become the mantra of Children Are The Hope, and continues to inspire its work and mission.

In August of 2012, Korie completed her graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where she earned an MS Degree in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Environmental Education and Interpretation. Her research evaluated and measured the impact of the Children Are The Hope program on the environmental literacy, environmental sensitivity and responsible environmental behavior of 4th – 6th grade students in Wisconsin and the Gran Humedal del Norte region of central Cuba. Results of Korie’s work will guide CATH into the future.

Korie is also a Certified Interpretive Trainer and Certified Interpretive Guide and has worked with training both classroom and pre-service teachers in internationally recognized environmental programs. she is also an active member of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Education Committee and has received a certificate of post-graduate study from the Jose Marti Instituto Superior Pedagogico in Camaguey, Cuba for leading an environmental education workshop.



Marcia Elena Rodríguez Quintana – National Environmental Education Program Coordinator – Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna

Marcia completed her bachelor’s degree studies in History and Social Sciences at the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical Institute in Havana in 1989. She has worked with the Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna as a Specialist in Protected Areas and Environmental Education since 1994. In 2000, Marcia was appointed the National Environmental Education Program Coordinator and is now responsible for coordinating and delivering workshops, meetings, gatherings, festivals, and campaigns in partnership with the staff of Cuba’s protected areas, such as the Grand Wetland of the North. She has participated in numerous national and international events, presenting papers on Cuba’s protected natural areas and environmental education. She has also participated in numerous training courses both in Cuba and abroad on natural protected areas, biodiversity, and wetland management. Marcia also works with international teams in topics related to these topics, in addition to eco-tourism, planning, and management for protected areas.


Dulce Maria Cruz Simon – Environmental Educator – Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna

Dulce completed her 12th grade studies and holds a Technician Degree in Agronomy. She has worked with the Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna since 2004. For three years, Dulce worked as a Conservation Specialist at Laguna de la Leche near Moron City in Ciego de Avila province. In 2007, she began work as an Environmental Promoter in the environmental education project involving CATH. Since January 2008, Dulce has also worked as an Integral Forestry Technician and is the head of the environmental education efforts in the Grand Wetland of the North region.


Maritza Laza Gomez – Environmental Educator – Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna

Maritza completed her 12th grade studies and received a Technician Degree in Accounting and Finance from the Alvaro Reinoso Training School of MINAZ in 2004. Since 2008, Maritza has worked with the Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna as a Conservation and Wildlife Protection Worker in the El Venero Wildlife Refuge in Ciego de Avila, as well as a technician in the environmental education project partnering with CATH.


Jenny Jimenez Paez- Environmental Educator – Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna

Jenny completed her 12th grade studies and began her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Literature. In 2004, she began working with the Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna in the Ana Maria Keys Wildlife Refuge, Municipality of Jucaro, in Ciego de Avila province as Conservation Specialist. Just two months later, Jenny started to work with the environmental education project as an Environmental Promoter, and continues to be an integral connection to the children and environment of Cuba’s remarkable coastal region.




MSc. Tomas A. Ramirez Andujar – Children Are The Hope Interpreter and Technical Advisor

Tommie completed his graduate studies in English language and literature at the José Martí Pedagogical University of Camagüey and earned his two master’s degrees in Contemporary English and Educational Technology, focusing on distance learning, computer assisted instruction, and free software. He has taught courses on English language and literature, educational technology and advanced operating systems, and has collaborated with the Children are the Hope Project since 2004. Tommie has worked as the design team leader for Center of Studies for Instructive Games and Software and also coordinates educational and environmental activities in the communities of central Cuba. He also served as a research assistant for Korie’s graduate studies program, and currently is a primary coordinator for program logistics.


Dr. Dennis Denis Avila – University of Havana Faculty

Dennis completed his undergraduate degree in Biology in 1996 and then focused his studies on the reproductive biology of wetland birds in Cuba. He obtained his PhD from the University of Havana, where he is a currently a faculty member and Assistant Professor in the Biology Department. He teaches courses in Ecology, Biostatistics and Ornithology, among others. Dennis has published more than 25 scientific articles and has given over 52 professional presentations at more than 30 scientific events throughout Cuba. Dr. Denis has received various University and national awards for teaching and investigative excellence.






Photo courtesy of Bilkent schools.

Oya Kerman

The Ankara team will be led by Mrs. Oya Kerman, Principal of I.D.F Private Bilkent Primary & Middle Schools. Mrs. Kerman studied German at Hacettepe University in Ankara. After completing her BA degree, she worked as a German language teacher at various schools in Turkey and as a teacher trainer at the Teacher Training Institution for 21 years. She also worked as a curriculum specialist with the Ministry of Education’s project that developed German textbooks, teacher handbooks and CD’s for use in state schools nationwide. Mrs. Kerman has been the Principal of Bilkent Primary and Middle Schools since 1998. The school became an IB World School in 2012 that offers PYP, MYP and IB Diploma education integrated to the national curriculum. She currently leads two Comenius projects with a team of teachers in European countries and started an Erasmus Plus project in the 2016-2017 school year. She has been a board member of the Turkish-German Cultural Events Council since 1990. In 2012, she attended a Fullbright Administrative Exchange Program for 6 weeks in Enfield, Connecticut, U.S.A. She is very excited about this art project which she believes will immensely contribute to Bilkent’s educational opportunities and school culture.


Nil Çelik

The Bilkent team will also include Mrs. Nil Çelik, Art Teacher at I.D.F Private Bilkent Middle School in Ankara, Turkey. Mrs. Çelik began her art education in Ankara in fashion design, traditional handicrafts and graphic design. In 2001, she completed her BA in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Mersin. She has been teaching at Bilkent Middle School and has taken part in numerous local and international festivals, projects, symposiums and activities as participant and advisor. Mrs. Çelik continues her work as an educator who has always internalized positive attitude and innovations not only to herself but to her students as well, and believes this project embodies both.

Sandra Imperial Orbay

Mrs. Sandra Imperial Orbay, English Teacher at I.D.F. Private Bilkent Middle School, Ankara, Turkey, is a key leader, participant and liaison for CATH’s work in Turkey, particularly related to language studies and translation. Mrs. Orbay completed her bachelor’s degree studies in Development Communication at the Ateneo de Naga University in the Philippines in 1994. She has also earned her TEFL Certificate and Young Learners Program Endorsement. Mrs. Orbay has also undergone IB training for teaching Language Acquisition through the MYP programs. She has been living in Turkey since 1998 and has been teaching English as a Foreign Language for 13 years. She is currently teaching middle school students at Bilkent. She also mentored middle school students in the Junior Model United Nations at Bilkent in the 2011-2012 school year. Mrs. Orbay has been actively involved with the school’s Eco-School team for the past three years. She was introduced to the CATH project in 2014 and has been inspired by the enthusiasm and passion of the wonderful team behind it since then. By using English as the medium of instruction, she aims to raise and promote environmental awareness to her students and further guide them to be responsible citizens of the world. Mrs. Orbay was also a co-leader in the Girl Scouts of America Ankara for two years.

Carlos Lopez Santaqmaria

Mr. Carlos Lopez Santamaria- English and Spanish Teacher at I.D.F. Private Middle School Ankara, Turkey, is a language and programming specialist. Mr. Lopez completed his 5-year degree in English Philology at the Complutense University in Madrid in 2002. He has a PGCE Certificate, a CELTA certificate from Cambridge University, SFLT Certificate from Barcelona University, and has attended several teacher training seminars for overseas teachers both in Madrid (Spain) and in Bristol, London, Dunfermline and Oxford (UK) through the Grundtvig and Comenius European Educational Programmes. He has also received IB training in Turkey for teaching Language Acquisition through the MYP program. Mr. Lopez has been a Foreign Language Teacher for 14 years.  He has worked in Spain as an EFL teacher both in Delaware Language School and in the Official Schools of Languages. He has worked in the UK as SFL teacher and conversation assistant for Sixth Form students in Hayesfield Secondary School (Bath, UK) and in Whitchurch Primary School (Bristol, UK). Mr. Lopez has been living in Turkey since 2014 and he is currently teaching Middle School and Primary School students both English and Spanish as Foreign Languages.  He has mentored 8th grade students in the Junior Model United Nations program and an e-pal program between Delaware Language School and Bilkent Middle School, and is currently involved in mentoring and supervising students in community projects, following the guidelines of the MYP program for International Baccalaureate. Mr. Lopez was introduced to the CATH project in 2016 and is enthusiastic about taking part in this international exchange program. He is interested in the project as it is an opportunity for students to communicate with peers around the world and raise awareness of the importance of preserving the environment. He also wants to be involved in the artistic aspect of the project, as he is very much interested in artwork and wants to collaborate painting a mural with teachers and students.


The CATH Board of Directors

Pat Falk

Pat is a BaltimoreP1250388 native who proudly graduated 4th in her class from Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City, MD in 1974. She married her high school sweetheart, Brian (also a CATH fan!), in 1977, and graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1978 with a B.S. in Education earning certification in Elementary Ed, grades 1-6/Middle School and Special Ed/LD grades K-12. Pat taught at Northfield Elementary in Ellicott City, MD Fall 1978-June 1981 with teaching assignments on a Math Team, in a 2nd-3rd grade-combined classroom as well as a 4th-5th grade- combined classroom.  Pat then spent 15 years at home raising four children before returning to teaching as a substitute/replacement teacher for five years in the Mukwonago Area School District in Wisconsin. Pat began teaching sixth grade at Rolling Hills Elementary in Mukwonago in September 2000, when she first met Korie. In addition to caring for her students, Pat is currently raising three grandchildren (and is an amazing baker of cookies!). Her primary goal for 6th grade is to instill in her students a passion for life-long learning! Through “Children Are the Hope”, she hopes her 6th graders are able to expand their horizons, explore, collaborate and connect with global peers.

Dolly Ledin

Photo by and courtesy of David Backes

Dolly works to engage scientists in reaching out to the community and to engage youth and adults in the process of science. She has worked as outreach coordinator for the University of Wisconsin –Madison Center for Biology Education for the past 22 years. Dolly has worked as an elementary and middle school teacher, an environmental educator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and as an adjunct faculty with UW Stevens Point. Most of Dolly’s work has focused on the Madison community, but she has also led environmental science courses for teachers in Puerto Rico and spent a year as the environmental education coordinator at the Cloud Forest School in Monteverde, Costa Rica. She has a Master’s Degree in Land Resources from UW Madison Institute for Environmental Studies (now the Nelson Inst.).

Chuck Pils

Chuck Pils is a Chicago native who received  a B.S. in  Zoology from the U of Illinois  in 1963 and an M.S. in Zoology from Southern Illinois University. He worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources  for 33 years as a wildlife research biologist (13 years), furbearer biologist (9 years), wildlife management administrator (3 years) and Director of the Bureau of Endangered Resources (8 years) before retiring. He has authored several wildlife publications and travels extensively with the UW-Friends of The Arboretum and other groups, as well as family.  His travels have taken Chuck to Norway, Cuba, Africa and Europe, among others.


Alan Stenstrup








Joan Garland

Joan Garland is a professional environmental educator, public relations specialist and events coordinator whose expertise has helped conservation efforts ranging from saving endangered crane species around the world to nesting sea turtle programs on the Gulf Coast of Texas.  She has engaged scientists and education professionals from Russia to China, Nepal to Texas.  Her love for children has helped to build, support and develop environmental education projects impacting important community decision-making and partner-building processes.  Joan is passionate about travel, and brings an important knowledge of international issues and considerations to the CATH Board.  Currently residing in Port Aransas, Texas, Joan is sharing her joyful spirit and endless energy with Hurricane Harvey relief.  She brings to CATH a deep understanding of global conservation, a passion for environmental issues and children around the world, and her remarkable sense of creativity.  And adventure.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling