Meet the Admin Team


Meet the Admin Team

Purpose Statement

The Admin Team is the senior leadership team of the school, and our purpose is to lead the school towards fulfillment of the mission, the strategic plan and the core values of the school. The leadership team functions in accordance with best practices, as well as our accrediting bodies and local government regulations; and is responsible for the design and implementation of both the strategic and the operational functions of the school.


Rob Van der Eyken


Robert van der Eyken is the Director of Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador. Robert joined Academia Cotopaxi after a career in international schools around the world. He was inspired to become an educator after attempting to bicycle and motorcycle around the world and returned to Canada where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and a Bachelors of Education from Nipissing University. He was a teacher in Namibia in southern Africa, a teacher at a remote First Nation community in northwestern Ontario, Canada,  a teacher then Vice Principal at John F. Kennedy American School in Queretaro, Mexico, a Middle School Principal at American School Foundation of Monterrey, a Middle School Principal at Euroamerican School of Monterrey, the Head of School at Hangzhou International School in China, the Director of Casablanca American School in Morocco and most recently a consultant and teacher in the Republic of Macedonia. He has also obtained a Masters in Education from Framingham University in Massachusetts and a certification in Early Childhood Education in Mexico. With Robert's vast experience of more than a quarter of a century in international schools, he believes that a school is a reflection of the future we desire for our children and the world. With the innovative and talented teachers at Academia Cotopaxi, IMAGINE and the ONE Institute, he is honored to lead a school that strives to forge a better world and is proud to support the school's mission and be part of a very special learning community. You can contact him at


Todd Hollett

Director of Technology

Todd Hollett holds an M.A in Educational Organization and Leadership from Columbia Teachers College and a B.A. in International Relations with a focus on Community Development form the University of Georgia. He has worked in Educational Technology since 2004 in the United States, Brazil, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Hong Kong. He holds certifications in Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, Middle Grades Social Studies, and PK-12 ESOL.

Todd believes that technology, both in and outside the classroom, is a tool that we use in balance with all other aspects of our lives. Please feel free to reach out to him with any of your questions at


Karen Lavender

High School Principal, IBDP Coordinator 

Karen Lavender was born in England and grew up in British Columbia, Canada where she got her BA in English at the University of British Columbia. She went on to get her Masters in Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. She started teaching in 1993 as a Middle School and High School English, Social Studies and PE teacher.  Karen has been a principal of school for 18 years and has developed international student programs, career skill programs, sport academy programs, and blended learning programs in the schools she has worked in.  Her career has been in both public and private schools and in national and international settings. Karen also has taught and mentored in teacher education programs for 2 universities in Canada. She most recently joined us from Bulgaria where she was the Director of Teaching and Learning.  Karen has a teaching husband, Bernie Hofmann and two children.  Mattias currently attends university in the UK and Emilia at the University of Toronto. Karen loves the outdoors and especially enjoys mountain biking, hiking and skiing.  She is very excited about joining the AC community and exploring everything Ecuador has to offer. You can email Karen at


Charlie Schlegel

Elementary School Principal

Dr. Schlegel (“Charlie”) is joining Academia Cotopaxi after leading a consulting business, educators and leading strategic planning initiatives in several Indiana Schools. Charlie’s career in education, however, started with teaching children in grades 4-8. In 2004, Charlie became principal of a Boston-area middle school. Next, Charlie was principal at Avondale Meadows Academy (AMA), a struggling school serving a high poverty area of Indianapolis, Indiana. Charlie then started Vision Academy, which, today, serves 550 students (K-8). He also assumed responsibility for improving two struggling high schools. Charlie has led four schools with nearly 150 staff members, serving 1,200 students. Charlie has a Doctorate from Harvard University, a Master’s Degree from Stanford and a Bachelor’s in history from the University of Michigan. He and his wife, Mindy, are the proud parents of three daughters, ages 15, 13 and 10, who keep their parents challenged, busy and fully invested in the importance of great schools. Please contact him at


Gina Del Hierro

Director of Human Resources

Gina is Ecuadorian and passionate about cultures around the world. She returned to Quito in 2015 after a six-year experience abroad in Mexico and Dubai. Gina holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and has worked in variety of areas - Finance, Strategy, HR and Talent Management - with multinational companies. She embraces a spirit of leading change and of generating high impacts that come with positive change both in business and people. Gina dreams big and believes in continuous improvement. Gina is pleased to be part of the educational world at AC and is inspired by our community that continue to grow, learn and contribute. Her email is


Mauricio Mera

Director of Business and Finance

Mauricio holds a business administration degree from the Universidad Católica de Quito and an MBA from the University of Dallas (USA) with a focus in Corporate Finance. He is Ecuadorian and married with three children. He has worked at AC since 1997 as Director of Finance. His previous experience includes: banking, financial analysis, external audit and insurance. His email is