Our Story

Alarmed by the high rates of child malnutrition and hunger, and the low rates of primary school completion she found during several volunteer sabbaticals at a school for child workers in Panajachel, Sololá, Margaret Blood was determined to help.  Community leaders told her that if she wanted to help, she should feed the children. Margaret raised funds to launch a breakfast program for the 160 children at the school and based on the impact of that effort, founded Mil Milagros in 2007 with the pro-bono assistance of the Goulston and Storrs law firm in Boston.

The organization was named “Mil Milagros” (A Thousand Miracles) with “Mil” representing alignment with the  United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and “Milagros” meaning “miracles” – often essential to achieving big visions. The goals of Mil Milagros are aligned with several of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and universal primary education. In 2008, Mil Milagros launched its pilot nutrition program serving 200 children in two schools. Since then, Mil Milagros has served more than 3,600 children.

Mil Milagros builds the capacity of mothers, grandmothers, and teachers to implement and sustain changes in their children’s schools and in their communities. To further leverage its impact, Mil Milagros forms strategic partnerships with other organizations to address other pressing needs in its partner communities including health and dental care, water, and housing and school construction.

Why Guatemala

“The effects of malnutrition on child development are like a ‘life sentence’ because it compromises (children’s) health, their ability to learn, and their growth.” – UNICEF

Guatemala, which means “country of many trees,” is the most populous country in Central America with an estimated population of 15.47 million. A combination of historical and contextual factors has profoundly influenced Guatemala’s performance in key human development areas such as education, health, and nutrition. The effects of the civil war that lasted nearly four decades (1960-1996) continue to be felt today.

Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic child malnutrition in the world – and the highest rate in Latin America and the Caribbean – with 50% of the children chronically malnourished. The rate of chronic malnutrition among Maya children in rural communities is 72.3%. Guatemala also has the highest birthrate in Latin America with nearly four births per woman. In the department of Sololá, 96% of the population is Maya and 94% of the population lives on less than $3.00 per day.

Guatemala has the lowest primary school completion rate in Central America, and education indicators continue to lag far behind nearly every other country in the hemisphere. Only 66% of children graduate from primary school – and the percentages are estimated to be much lower in rural communities like those where Mil Milagros works. The average number of years of schooling completed is just four.

Our Approach

Mothers and grandmothers are the key to Mil Milagros’ success. We work with our partner schools to organize Boards of Mother and Grandmother leaders in each community. We train these leaders, and they, in turn, train their peers. The mothers and grandmothers take turns to prepare nourishing meals each school day, and also help with hygiene interventions including the application of fluoride varnish and lice shampoo. The children bring their own dishes and utensils to school, along with firewood for the stoves.

Our Team

Margaret Blood
Founder and Executive Director
Margaret is Mil Milagros founder and serves as the organization’s Executive Director. She is the founder, past President, and current Board member of Strategies for Children, an award-winning children’s policy and advocacy organization. Margaret holds a Master in Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and business from Skidmore College.
Lucy Aj
Program Director
Lucy oversees Mil Milagros programs and manages the program coordinators. She is a bilingual (Spanish/K’iche) college educated health promoter from Santa Lucía Utatlán. She has extensive experience working in health, hygiene, and nutrition programs in indigenous Maya communities.
Edgar Chalcú
Driver/Program Assistant
Edgar supports the successful implementation of Mil Milagros programs by managing the organization’s transportation needs and assisting with administrative tasks. Edgar is from Panajachel, where Mil Milagros’ office is located.
Isabel Chávez
Health and Hygiene Coordinator
Isabel is an educator who coordinates the health and hygiene program. She trains student councils and mother leaders to instill healthy hygiene habits at school and at home. Isabel, who is bilingual in K’iche’ and Spanish, is pursuing her degree in Education.
Carolyn Daly
In-Country Director
Carolyn is responsible for managing day-to-day operations in Guatemala, including strategic alliances with other organizations. Before joining Mil Milagros, Carolyn was a Peace Corps volunteer in Sololá. Fluent in Spanish and conversant in Kaqchikel (a local Maya language), she is a graduate of Colgate University.
Dora Martínez- Accountant and Administrative Assistant
Dora Martínez
Accountant and Administrative Assistant
Dora is the accountant and administrative assistant in Guatemala. She manages the bookkeeping, oversees the purchase of food and supplies, and manages administrative tasks. Dora has a degree in Public Accounting and Auditing and has experience working with other nonprofits in Sololá.
Kristie Simonó
Director of Boston Operations
Kristie is the director of operations for the Boston office. She supports fundraising and communications efforts, and is responsible for managing administrative and financial functions. She is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross where she majored in Psychology and Spanish.
Cristina Vicente
Early Childhood Development Coordinator
Cristina is an educator who coordinates Mil Milagros early childhood development program. She coordinates Mil Milagros services for pregnant women and children through the age of five. Christina, who is bilingual in Spanish and Kaqchikel, is pursuing her degree in Special Education.
Estefani Xingo
Nutrition Coordinator
Estefaní is an educator who coordinates the nutrition program. She provides training and support to mother leaders in the nutrition program. Estefaní is pursuing her degree in Special Education.

Board of Directors

Rob Hoyt
Chair
Rob serves as Chair of the Mil Milagros Board and is the founder of Excelar LLC, a firm focused on developing and implementing innovative models in the health care industry. Prior to founding Excelar, Rob was a Senior Executive with health care start up Accretive Health, and a Partner with Accenture, a global management consulting firm. Rob received his MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and his undergraduate degree from Harvard College. Rob and his wife Molly, a Mil Milagros volunteer leader, are the proud parents of a daughter born in Guatemala.
Steve Cadwell
Vice Chair
Steve, Vice Chair of the the Mil Milagros Board, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Boston. He has degrees from Amherst College and the University of Texas at Austin and earned his Ph.D. in clinical social work at the Smith College School for Social Work. He teaches group therapy at Boston University and Harvard. Steve is also an accomplished performance artist. He and his husband are the proud parents of a son born in Guatemala.
Heidi Spear
Treasurer
Heidi has served as the Chair of the Mil Milagros Board and is the current Treasurer. She is Director of Sales for Axonify, Inc., a Waterloo, Ontario-based technology start up. She is also Board Chair for Fayston Elementary School in Vermont and a graduate of Middlebury College. Heidi has helped launch a series of technology companies in the Boston area over the course of her career. She and her husband are the proud parents of a son from Kazakhstan and a daughter from Guatemala.
Barbara Doe
Clerk
Barbara is a retired social worker who earned her master’s degree in social work at Boston University. She is an active Mil Milagros volunteer leader and the proud mother of a son and daughter both born in Guatemala.
Tim Bancroft
Member
Tim is a corporate attorney at Goulston & Storrs, an international law firm which has provided Mil Milagros with pro-bono legal services since its inception. Tim, who speaks fluent Spanish and spent part of his childhood in Latin America, has been providing pro-bono legal services to unaccompanied minors from Central America, and understands first hand the important work Mil Milagros does in rural Guatemala.
Juan Antonio Gil
Member
Juan Antonio is a retired bilingual teacher and Spanish literacy specialist who was born in Guatemala and taught in the public schools there before coming to the U.S. where he had a distinguished career as a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, and did postgraduate work in special education at Cambridge College. Juan has actively worked to engage the Guatemalan immigrant community in support of Mil Milagros. Juan is also an award-winning painter.
Elvis Jocol
Member
Elvis is an experienced marketing professional who serves as Director of Digital Media, Special Partnerships and Business Development at El Mundo Media. He is also the Founder and President of Casa Guatemala, a cultural and educational non-profit organization serving the Latino community in Waltham, MA. He earned his undergraduate degree at Boston College and has worked to mobilize members of the Guatemalan immigrant community in support of Mil Milagros.
Carolyn Lyons
Member
Carolyn is a founding member of the Mil Milagros Board, and has served as Vice Chair and Treasurer. She works as a consultant to non-profits and previously served as President & CEO of Strategies for Children, an award-winning child policy and advocacy organization. She earned her MBA at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia and her undergraduate degree at St. Joseph’s University.
Tom O’Brien
Member
Tom and his wife, Patricia, serve as co-chairs of MM’s annual fundraising event. Tom is the Managing Director of the HYM Investment Group, LLC, which owns, develops, and manages mixed use commercial real estate projects. Tom is a graduate of Brown Universitty and Suffolk University Law School, and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. He and Patricia are the proud parents of five children, two of whom were born in Guatemala.
Margaret Blood
Founder and Executive Director

Corporate Partners

Organizational Partners