William Dent, Jr. 

Program Director

Mr. Dent is a native of Washington, DC. After attending the University of Maryland, where he earned a Bachelors in history, he served in the Peace Corps in Chile. Upon his return, he did graduate work at the University of Chicago, earning a Masters degree in education and an MBA in finance. With the support of the Ford Foundation, Mr. Dent moved to Brazil to serve as a consultant to BNDES, the National Development Bank of Brazil, where he sensed the need for better business training and assisted Roberto Lima Netto in founding SEBRAE, Brazil's Small Business Administration, today the country's most important business school for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Mr. Dent then served as project manager at the Inter-American Development Bank putting together a number of innovative projects in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras and Costa Rica, involving investments in excess of $2 billion. During the 1990's, Mr. Dent founded and was CEO of CD-ROM International, pioneering the introduction of U.S. and European bibliographic databases (e.g., Medline) and related IT services at some 200 institutions throughout Brazil.

In early 2003, Mr. Dent founded Natural Partners, with the help of Flavio Pinheiro, Adam Tomasek and Ann McClellan, and currently serves as its Executive Director.

From October 2003 to December 2005, Mr. Dent also served as the Executive Director of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), spearheading the turn-around of the leading professional association of environmental educators across North America.

During his tenor, NAAEE was moved from a home office in the NW corner of the State of Georgia to its present headquarter location in downtown Washington, DC. At the same time, under Mr. Dent’s leadership NAAEE more than doubled its revenue and began to rebuild its membership base.

Returning to Natural Partners on a full-time basis, Mr. Dent began work with the World Wildlife Fund - Mexico to design a plan to expand WWF’s work with local indigenous and ‘ejido’ communities own and live on the lands of Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Sensing the importance of educating the ‘younger generation’, this led to Mr. Dent’s decision to create a program to involve school children of Mexico and the United Sates in the challenging of restoring habitat for the declining population of the Monarch Butterfly in a cross-border collaboration.

Jesus Arriaga Vazquez

Program Coordinator, Mexico

Jesus is a resident of Zitacuaro in the state of Michoacan, Mexico. Jesus became involved with Monarch Sister Schools in 2011 after meeting William Dent during a visit to Michoacan. Jesus graduated from Universidad Virtual CNCI de Mexico with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Marketing.

Following graduation Jesus became involved in multiple groups around the community to focus on continuing his education. The majority of his accomplishments involve helping the local youth in his community. From 2006-2014 Jesus worked for the Santiago Tuxpan Community Association where he was a mentor for Adolescents and Young Adults. During that time he was also training with Reforestamos México to be Youth Leader and Advisor, as part of the Youth Leadership Network.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Jesus is also very active in Folk arts, promoting culture and education through dance. Jesus participates in many dance groups including“Butoh Ritual Mexicano” Dance Center, Ballet Folclorico del Estado de Michoacan, and has even received a Diploma in Mexican Folk Dance granted by the Michoacán State Secretary of Education.

Jesus is an integral part of our team, bringing pollinator gardens and Oyamel fir tree nurseries to schools in his community of Zitacuaro. Jesus has given students, who have never witnessed the magic of the monarch migration despite living minutes from the reserve, the opportunity to travel to the biosphere reserve. He has been awarded a State Youth Merit prize for his Environmental Protection work throughout Michoacan. Jesus continues to educate students at our Sister Schools about not only the importance of protecting the monarch butterfly but all species on our planet.

Kelly Lawhorn

Program Coordinator, United States

Kelly grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and moved to Baltimore in 2008 to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she earned a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on Environmental Education.

Following graduation Kelly spent time in the Peruvian Amazon at Chontachaka Ecological Reserve doing jungle conservation work, including reestablishing and conserving the local ecosystem through the use of native plant species.

Upon return to the states Kelly began working with the Humane Society of the United States on their Farm Animal Protection Campaign. During her time with HSUS she conducted research for new legislation throughout the east coast.

Kelly became involved with MSSP in 2013 through an Americorps service program called Volunteer Maryland. She served one year as the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with MSSP where she created more of a structure for our volunteer program. During this service year Kelly also received her Volunteer Management Certification from Carroll Community College. Following her service year Kelly was officially hired as our Program Coordinator. She now manages our program at over 30 schools in Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, and California.


Chris Mahon

Graphic Designer

Chris got involved with Monarch Sister Schools during the summer of 2010. He has been helping MSSP transition to their new web site. Chris is a Senior Graphic Designer with TGD Communications in Alexandria, VA. He specializes in publication design, branding, advertising, interactive media and web design. He produces projects for a range of TGD Communications' client industries including health care, consulting, and financial services. Chris received his Bachelor of Arts from Virginia Tech in 2003 and has been working as a designer in the Washington, D.C. area since then.

Chris Richards

Volunteer Web Assistant

Chris is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA where he earned a BA in International Business and Management as well as a minor in East Asian Studies and Mandarin Chinese. During his senior year, he became very involved with campus sustainability and student outreach, working as an intern with Dickinson's Center for Sustainability Education. After graduation, he was fortunate to be hired by a small research firm, Washington Research & Analysis, LLC ( In his position as Research Associate, he covers a variety of topics, ranging from international trade to Congressional legislation. Chris gained exposure to the fundamentals of web design with his job as well, designing, updating, and maintaining the firm's own website. He became involved with the Monarch Sister Schools Program following the passing of his sister, Natalie Richards, in August 2010. She was a great supporter of the program and its goals to inspire children.