Mara Pineda – Director of Central American Operations
Mara has always described her life decisions like a puzzle. She grabs that one piece that she thinks is the perfect fit for that missing spot. She would call herself a mixture of stubbornness and a fighter which makes her a good worker. Suddenly, just like when a baby starts walking by herself, she says life gave her the piece of the puzzle that fit perfectly – Hope to Walk.
She grew up one hour outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras until the fall of 2014 when her husband began his Master’s Degree program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Being a close family and avid supporters of education, she and her husband decided it would be best for both of them and their son to travel from their home in Honduras to Richmond, VA. This was a challenging move but she knew it would be worth it. In 2016, he applied for his PhD at Virginia Tech and when he was accepted they moved to Blacksburg, VA.
After working 16 years at Metropolitan School, a private bilingual school in Honduras, it was difficult for Mara to become a stay-home mom. Cooking and cleaning did not necessarily make her feel as accomplished as she did leading a bilingual school. She felt like she needed to work, however with her visa restrictions her only option was volunteering.
She sought opportunities to volunteer and was beginning to become frustrated by not finding “the right piece of the puzzle”. Then one day a parent from her son’s taekwondo school started talking to her about Hope to Walk. That same day she contacted Hope to Walk. It was a “too good to be true” opportunity. She said she could help in an administrative way as she would be helping the people of her home country!
The next week she met Michael Mabry (Hope to Walk’s Chairman) on March 09, 2017 and started volunteering that same day! After they met he immediately took her to a pre-arranged meeting where Michael was to speak to a high school class of seniors about Hope To Walk. Mara immediately jumped in and shared the realities of Honduras with the class. Mara says, this was without a doubt the perfect match for her. She says, “My brain started working again! I was helping someone again! I started feeling useful and accomplished again!”
Since then she has been helping Hope To Walk and is now the Director of Central American Operations. She wears many hats and performs all her tasks with excellence. She was the answer to prayer Hope To Walk needed to continue to grow and Hope to Walk was her answer to prayer so she could use her skills to help others – a perfect fit.
Mara, her husband, and son continue to reside in Blacksburg, VA.