Meet Our Teachers and Staff!

hp header sun
jessica headshot
Founder, GoGo Español
Co-Director, Portland Early Learning Project

Jessica Swartz Amezcua, MA
(she/her)

I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and have lived in seven different cities (two of which were in Mexico!).

I spent the most magical, life-changing trimester in Cuautla, Mexico back in college. I made a pact with a friend not to speak a single word of English -- and both of us came out speaking with near-native fluency! It took me five years, but I found a way to make my way back to (my beloved) Mexico by working as a lab tech at the University of Mexico for two years. That single trimester in my second year of college set me on an incredible (albeit circuitous) path to where I am today - an owner of an amazing Spanish program where I get to share my passion for Spanish language and cultures through singing, reading, and playing. 

raquel amezcua
JR. Video Editor

Raquel Aurelia Amezcua (she/her)

   Raquel Aurelia Amezcua has been involved with PELP since she was three! First as a student in our preschool classes, then as a camper, and later as a volunteer counselor. If she didn’t have school and other obligations – she could almost teach our classes! (She certainly knows all the songs!) 

Raquel's current role at PELP is to create promotional videos for our Spanish programs, and help our teachers with their GoGo Espanol videos.  

image1
Content Creator & Researcher

Amanda Isabelle Amezcua (She/Her)

   A. Isabelle Amezcua is a voracious bookhound who constantly seeks new books, poems, writers, and other prose to consume.  Born in Washington D.C., raised in California, and educated in Oregon, she is now back on the East Coast.

   She got her B.A. in Philosophy and History at the University of Oregon, where she was one of the founders of Ex Animo, the first undergraduate philosophy journal at the University of Oregon, and is in progress to further her literary education via  Academic Librarianship. She's enjoyed researching and creating content for Gogo Español, and Portland Early Learning Project.

Richelle S Staff Photo
Instructor

Richelle Sandoval (She/Her)

Richelle was born and raised in Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in Education from Texas State University in San Marcos, TX in 2011. Following graduation Richelle was an English Language Assistant in a Spanish primary (elementary) school in Murcia, España. She then taught Spanish 1 in eighth grade before taking a break from working to have children. She worked in bilingual customer service at a government call center before returning to the world of Spanish education with us. 

It is Richelle’s bucket list to visit every Spanish speaking country in the world. So far she’s been to Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica. She also loves to ride her bike, spend time with her family, garden and go out to eat. She lives in SE Portland with her husband and two young children Gael and Sylvano. 

Carolina J Staff Photo
Instructor

Carolina Jimenez (She/Her)

Carolina was born and raised in Colombia, South America. She moved to Portland, Oregon in her late teens to learn English and to earn her Bachelor's Degree in Theology at Portland Bible College. Carolina has worked for various nonprofit organizations in administrative positions but has always loved working with kids, and has been a volunteer teacher at her church for more than 13 years.

Carolina loves spending time with her husband and two children, Daniel & Olivia, who she enjoys teaching the most.

Eileen P Staff Photo
Site Maintenance

Eileen Peterson (She/Her)

Eileen grew up in San Diego, so she's no stranger to seeing and hearing Spanish around her. She’s lived in Portland, Oregon for five years now, and she's currently studying Spanish herself at Portland Community College.

In her free time, Eileen enjoys reading, sketching, and playing the piano.

marcela
Instructor

Marcela Rodas Bautista (she/her)

Marcela is originally from Guatemala City. She moved to Portland, Oregon in 2016.

She started teaching Spanish as a second language in Turin, Italy where she obtained her Bachelor's in International Relations.

When she returned to Guatemala she continued to teach Spanish to children and adults. She is also a circus performer and a movement arts coach for people of all ages.

Thomas B Staff Photo
Instructor

Thomas Bryne (he/him)

Thomas was born in Virginia into a bilingual household. Most of his childhood was spent living in La Paz, Bolivia before attending university in the United States. He graduated with a degree in Economics and later returned to South America to teach English as a second language in higher education.

He has experience working with language learners of all ages and believes that learning another language helps connect us to the greater global community.

As a new transplant to Oregon, he is looking forward to cycling the bridges, checking out the Pacific Coast, and hiking the Cascades.

IMG-20201201-WA0003
instructor
SR. Video Editor

Pablo Usunoff (he/him)

Pablo Usunoff was born in Arizona, and was raised and lived most of his life in Argentina. He took a break from teaching Spanish for us so he could bike across Mexico (from Cancun to Tijuana), and then From San Diego to Rhode island. We're so happy to have him back! He's been instrumental in our big pivot to going virtual. He has put his film studies and musical talents to use by editing and creating videos for GoGo Español. His passion for music and cinematography really shines through in our videos! He also worked as an audiovisual translator for many years, as well as taught English classes to children.

When he's not working or riding his bicycle, Pablo loves to play with his pelota!

kister bio p hoto
Registration & Administrative Assistant

Kathi Kister (she/her)

Kathi has lived in Portland for the last 20 years after making a home in Pennsylvania (twice), Illinois (twice) and Southern California. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a business minor from the University of Southern California and a Master’s in Educational Counseling from The Pennsylvania State University.

After working in admissions and financial for several years, Kathi became a stay at home mom to her two children. She has volunteered extensively in her children’s schools, music competitions, and soccer
teams. She is finishing her 10th year at Westview High School as an ASPIRE mentor, which helps juniors and seniors navigate the post high school process.

Kathi lives in the Bethany area with her husband and trying to get used to her empty nest although the children seem to like to test that quite a bit! She loves reading, volunteering, and traveling with her family.

Alejandra head shot
Instructor

Alejandra Landis

I have lived in Oregon since I was 8 so I consider myself an Oregonian!  Spanish was spoken in my house with many family and friends. I attended a bilingual school. Traveling to Mexico is awesome because I can use my Spanish all day, every day. I have been working with and around young children for the past 6 years as a teaching assistant and many other roles. 

I enjoy a good ol’ hammock and listening to audiobooks and podcasts. The coast is my Zen space and I love to explore new viewpoints and hikes all along the Washington, Oregon, and California’s coasts. Road trips are a must and the East Coast is on my bucket list.