Our Team

Arlaine Cervantes, Founder and Executive Director

Niños del Lago was founded by Arlaine Cervantes, a successful business owner and entrepreneur in the fields of real estate development and hospitality. During her years of travel between the United States, Mexico and Guatemala, Arlaine developed a deep respect and affection for the people and culture of Guatemala, and was profoundly moved by the hardships suffered by the women and children she met. Her own painful childhood of abandonment and abuse became the impetus for the foundation of Niños del Lago.

Through a network of business contacts and clients, Arlaine assembled an experienced and dedicated team of professionals to support the planning, development and implementation of Niños del Lago. Arlaine and her team have also launched ancillary organizations to help build awareness of Ninos del Lago, and to help build a self-staining base of support.

Currently, Niños del Lago is overseen and guided by our USA board of experienced and dedicated advisors in the fields of education, social services, communications, arts/cultural relations and hospitality. Niños del Lago is also a registered Guatemalan NGO and the Guatemalan board is comprised of nine dedicated professionals. Staffed with a group of volunteers from Guatemala/Central America, Europe and North America, Niños del Lago is currently almost 100% volunteer run and the majority of proceeds go to completing the camp construction and developing programs.

Niños del Lago is a tax exempt, not-for-profit organization registered in the United States, Guatemala and the Netherlands.We are not affiliated with any religious, political or government group or organization.

Joan Daidone
US Board President and Member of International Board
(Based in New York City and Millerton, New York)

In 2006, Joan joined the volunteer team to help build awareness of the vision and mission of Ninos del Lago. She has worked closely with Arlaine and other Board members and volunteers in the US, Holland and Guatemala in helping build Ninos del Lago from the ground up --- from 6 acres of forest in the Guatemala highlands to a model educational nature-camp and child development organization.

Joan began her career in educational publishing for Random House and Cambridge Book Company, working on collaborative projects with PBS public television network. Prior to Joan's involvement with Ninos del Lago, Joan was a Global Creative Director for over 20 years responsible for brand development and marketing communications for some of the world's largest technology, financial and healthcare corporations, including IBM, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, AT&T, Pfizer and others.

Despite her professional success in the corporate world, Joan moved on to become a communications consultant and passionate advocate for non-profit organizations focused on education, women's rights and youth and community development, and the arts, including work for Covenant House, The International Center of New York, Marketing the End of Hunger, Planned Parenthood, ArtEast Open Studio Tours, International Festival of Women Filmmakers and others. As a college activist and throughout her career, Joan has been driven by a deep connection and commitment to supporting women, children and immigrants in their struggles to survive and overcome poverty, illiteracy, discrimination and alienation.

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