At Casa Chirilagua, program staff live in the neighborhood and actively participate in community life. Living in Chirilagua enables our relational model; staff can consistently visit families in their homes to discuss program activities, celebrate a birthday, or share a coffee. Every activity and program implemented by Casa Chirilagua starts with listening and conversation in the neighborhood.



Dawnielle Miller

Executive Director and Co-Founder: One of three original community members, Dawnielle has served as Executive Director since the organization’s formation in January 2011. With a BA in business and experience in international economic development, refugee support, after-school care and time spent abroad in Central and South America, Dawnielle provides key guidance and oversight to the organization.

Marissa Salgado

Elementary Programs Director: A California native now on the East Coast, Marissa leads alongside our Local Leaders directing the Kids Club after school program as well as Summer Club. As a  Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, Marissa's time was focused on Maternal and Child health concerns. She holds a bachelors degree in International Affairs with a Public Health concentration from George Washington…

Adriana Schellhaas

Programs Director: A Mexican-American born and raised in the border town of El Paso, Texas, Adriana began volunteering with Casa Chirilagua as an interpreter and mentor in 2011, then joined the staff in 2012. As Programs Director she oversees our programs and helps bridge the gap between our families, students, staff, volunteers and school partners. She holds a Bachelors in Theater Arts.

Local Leaders

Local young adults serve as Assistant Kids Club Directors caring for students, developing program content, directing volunteers and overseeing all of the details that make the program possible each day. As part of the Local Leaders Program they acquire job experience and receive professional development opportunities while participating in professional mentoring and receiving support for continuing education.

Joy Cho

Business Manager: Joy spent countless hours volunteering administrative services prior to joining the staff part-time as Business Manager. With prior experience as a senior auditor and senior accountant, Joy brings solid financial oversight to the organization’s business practices and has a Bachelors degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting.

David Schellhaas

Communications Director: After several years of volunteering as a mentor, Bible study leader, and photographer at Casa events, David joined the staffing team in a part-time capacity to capture stories of hope and tell them well. He lives in the neighborhood and has a bachelors in graphic design.

Liz Wang

Family Programs Director: Liz recently moved to Virginia from Guadalajara, Mexico, and joined Casa Chirilagua in September 2017. She has worked to support human rights internationally, and is now dedicated to promoting positive community and strong social bonds within the local community.

Jose Martinez

Mentoring Director: As a first generation Salvadorean-American, Jose was raised in the Northern Virginia area. He has attended Northern Virginia Community College and transferred to Liberty University to pursue a bachelors degree in Political Science. Being a NOVA native, Jose knows that it takes a village to raise a child and that positive influences help shape perspective. He facilitates this by matching…