About CEPIA Costa Rica

CEPIA is a costarican nationally accredited non-profit organization that since 2005 promotes culture, educational and labor opportunities, mental and physical health, participation, and social cohesion of children and teenagers and their families from poor backgrounds in the communities of Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

About our Founder

Laetitia Deweer worked as the executive director for 12 years, then as vice-president for 4 years and today she serves as the development director. Laetitia was born in Belgium in 1979 and as a university student, she participated in social projects in Guatemala and Mexico. At age 23 she moved to Costa Rica and worked in a family business on the pacific coast for one year before getting deeply involved as a volunteer with PANI (government child protection agency in Costa Rica). She founded CEPIA in 2005, together with her lifelong friend Lotje De Ridder, who now lives in Belgium.

Laetitia studied Educational Sciences with emphasis on Family Education at the University of Ghent in Belgium and Clinical Psychology at the Universidad Latina in Costa Rica. She also works as a private EMDR psychotherapist and transformational breathwork facilitator. Laetitia speaks Spanish, English, French, and Dutch. She is a fellow of the Central America Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Institute (USA).

Laetitia remembers how she first thought about this project. "It was around 20 years ago when I settled in Costa Rica and was working as a family counselor, that people started to recognize me in the village and ask me how I could help them with their difficult situation. The kids in the village wanted to do sports, learn to use a computer..."

How it all started

"I volunteered at first in the orphanage to really get in touch with the children. They had been abused and neglected for so many years... and I thought:

We should prevent this, we should try to help people when they are in need, at the moment they need the help. Some people were deeply suffering... Children were hanging out in the street all day, not knowing what to do, and really vulnerable to anyone who could take advantage of them or abuse them."

History of CEPIA

"When we started CEPIA with myself and some friends we suddenly had 50 children show up at the center the first week! They wanted to practice arts, they wanted to get to see these new laptops, and they wanted to get support, and some kids started to open up and talk about their dad beating them up, or their step-father abusing them and that's when we knew that this was an important initiative because kids finally had a place to feel safe. Kids needed to do something after school because they only had 4 hours a day school."

"Today you can ask people in any of these villages nearby if they know CEPIA and everyone knows CEPIA is protecting children. This is very important in an area with high rates of domestic violence and family disintegration."

Our founding members (2005) are: Laetitia Deweer, Lotje de Ridder, Caroline Lemaire, Van Salcedo, Gerardo Brenes Alfaro, Isabelle Vandevelde, Juliana Zuñiga Spano, Victor Ruiz Genoves.

Board of directors

Simona Danielle

Simona Danielle


Martin Salerno

Annginette Arroyo

Annginette Arroyo

Vincent Barrabe

Vincent Barrabe

Wenceslao Mendioroz

Wenceslao Mendioroz

Vocal 1
Ana Margarita Elizondo

Ana Margarita Elizondo

Vocal 2
Roberto José Céspedes

Roberto José Céspedes

Vocal 3
Ana Catalina Baltodano

Ana Catalina Baltodano



Maria Jose Cappa

Maria Jose Cappa

Executive Director
Nancy Cespedes

Nancy Cespedes

Cesar Abarca

César Abarca

Laetitia Deweer

Laetitia Deweer

Director of Development & Strategy
Natasha Guerrero Rosales

Natasha Guerrero Rosales

Assistant, Intervention Center
Graciela Gómez Guevara

Graciela Gómez Guevara

Assistant, Intervention Center
Ana Laura Zelaya

Ana Laura Zelaya

Educational Coordinator, I.C.
Priscilla Arias Rodriguez

Priscilla Arias Rodriguez

After School Program & Volunteers
Karen Ruiz Obando

Karen Ruiz Obando

Physical Therapist
Karla Marin Rodríguez

Karla Marin Rodríguez

Youth Group Psychologist
Claudia Angulo

Claudia Angulo

Eleana Cristina Alcocer Ramirez

Eleana Cristina Alcocer Ramirez

Julieth Castañeda Ortiz

Julieth Castañeda Ortiz

English Teacher
Mauricio Juarez

Mauricio Juarez

Bus Driver


Bus Driver
Meilin Arleth Espinoza

Heyling Larios Fonseca

Assistant, Pre-School

Isela Massiel Viales Álvarez

Assistant, Intervention Center
Juan Fonseca

Juan Fonseca

Professional trainings and employment coordinator


More helping hands are always welcome

Cameron Carling

Amandine Marrero

Marissa Floyd

Leonilda Cabalceta Leal

Adam Hosny Spooner

Arelis Rojas

Martha Hayward

Linda Rhines

Adriane Guinn

Ariel Solano

Andrea Diaz

Lindsay Losasso

Alberto Tenorio

Art & Sanae Fellenstern

Mauricio Cruz

Amy Della Rocca

Alexandra Hill

Ashley Javogue

Megan Early

Liseth Valerio Alvarez

Belquis Rosales

Benoit Deweer

Colleen Stacey

Luc Aalmans

Ana Guzman

Camilo Lopez Mairena

Adixa Ramirez Ortiz

Melissa Molina Murillo

Luis Francisco Nunez

Curtis Custer

Carla Rowlings

Michelle Bendicea

Marcela Porras

Cynthia Silva

Carolina Ruiz

Michelle Macluf

Margarita Bonilla

Anthony Luis Delgado Medina

Cathy Maucourant

Miguel Angulo Loria

Maria Fernanda Esquivel

Ariana Karavangelos

Chelsea Lisasius

Natalia Barrantes

Mariel Marmorato

Diana Fuente B

Craig Lewis

Natalia Gallego

Carlos Ugalde

Courtney Borquet

Nathan Lambert

Marilu Caravaca Aguirre

Caroline Durham

Danielle Ahlberg

Nicole Rangel

Nadereh Tadjik

Catalina Rojas

Donna Leung

Nikki Griffith

Nadja Imbert

Cathy Deweer

Debbie Marcos

Mary Byerly

Patricia McCullough

Cindy Moreira Salas

Dialan Rodríguez

Pablo Gutiérrez

Natasha Avrith

Courtney Lambert

Erick Zamora

Patty Mears

Edison Seas Morún

Edwin Campos

Rachel White

Peter Demasi

Fátima Espinoza

Eleonora Zuniga

Rebeca Taylor

Randhy Gonzalez Carla

Diane Chakaipa

Elizabeth Daly

Rita Ashley

Richard (Rick) Ramírez

Ronald Abarca Rojas

Enis & Craig Davis-Lewars

Rocio Villalobos

Ruth González

Sipriano Filimon Berrios Fajardo

Sara Contreras M.

Sheila Hoy

EGDA Karolina Castillo Castro

Ernst van der Poll

Sharon Cole

Shawna Peters

Sophie Menou

Sonia Solís

Sandra Marino

Fátima Karia

Fernando Villalobos


Geneva Garcia-Ellen

Gaby Abarca

Flory Hernández


Geovanny Espinoza

Kristina Ullrich

Gabriela Meza Fonseca

Vanessa Keen

Amy Jacobs

Gill Campos Mora

Veronika Jariabkova

Thais Chaves Porras

Academia de héroes

Lauren Valentino

Victoria Zoch

Stephanie Vílchez

Janis Zloto

Gerardo Brenes

Vivian Fernández

Sue Kallis

Jason Lascarez Jiménez

Gilberth Chavarria

Zeneida Valverde

Tatiana Chavarria

Jerome Daniel Flament

Isabella Guerrero

Andrea Mena

Thais Apuy

Jodi Gallant

Grettel Aisha

Joanne Noel

Keith Timpson

Karla Herrera

Helen Soto

Melannodie Hrycenko

Jutta Heinz

Javier (Hotel Selina)

Eduardo Doty

Lis García

Joseph Valerin

Isabelle Vandevelde

Andrea Pizarro

Andrea Rodríguez

Kristina Hughes

Ivette Giselle

Ana Rodríguez

Yalmar Villafuerte

Janet Goldberg

Ana Cristina Guzmán

Yanela Vallejos

Grupo de Jóvenes

Vincent Barrabe

Martina Trimarchi Daniele

Jonal Santana Zamora

Marian Paniagua Alvarez

Lindsey Lefkow

Karol Trejos

Luciano Leao

Aloys Riascos

Abby Erdmann

Kevin Smith Arcia

Mar Ibarra

Karol Guevara

Abel McClennen

Karen Ortiz Aparicio

María Isabel Zonensain Jurado-Blanco

Kenia Chavez Hernandez

Adriana Bejarano Calvo

Cecile Trudeau

María López

Kerry McClennen

Adriana Porras Q

Claudio Leanza

Kimberly Pamela Bran Calderon

Alejandra Parody

Fátima Espinoza

Marianela Soledad Ibarra

Kirsti Tasala

Alejandro Ugarte


Derek Nelson Marchea

Wendy Abarca