Spotlight: Celia Medrano, Chief Program Officer

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Celia Medrano has seen firsthand how Cristosal’s work can inspire a ripple effect of positive change. In Celia’s recent work, one young woman stands out. This woman was forcibly displaced from her home, and planned to flee to another country for her safety. However, before she left, she was determined to file an amparo, a Constitutional appeal that can influence the government’s response to human rights violations. (Learn more about amparos here.) The woman did not want to go without leaving a “seed” behind, something that could grow and benefit future Salvadoran citizens. Even though she will not personally benefit from the result of the amparo, the woman hopes her case will spark the creation of more effective in-country assistance and protection programs for future victims of rights violations. Celia knows the impact each case can have, and she has dedicated her career to creating change, one case at a time.

Celia has been committed to human rights for thirty years. She’s worked with both governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the Human Rights Commission, the Salvadoran Human Rights (Ombudsman’s) Office, and the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Central America. Celia has a Journalism and Communication degree from the National University of El Salvador, and she studied Human Rights and Education at the International Organization for the Right to Education (OIDEL) in Geneva, Switzerland. Celia has also worked in Washington, D.C, as the Consul General for El Salvador.

As Cristosal’s Chief Program Officer, Celia works to further Cristosal’s mission in the present and the future. Day to day, she can be found promoting strategic human rights issues. Celia is often interviewed by various media outlets. Recently, she’s discussed forced displacement by violence on the TV talk show Conexiones, been interviewed by Contrapunto TV, and shared her expertise as part of a panel at the World Humanitarian Day in Panama, just to name a few. Through her advocacy, Celia’s goal is to open a dialogue with key government officials that can help strengthen protection and assistance options for victims of human rights violations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

When asked about her vision for the future, Celia is quick to describe Cristosal as an inclusive, innovative organization. She sees Cristosal “as one of the main human rights organizations in Central America… recognized for being effective, transparent, and reliable, with the capacity for advocacy and dialogue in governmental and non-governmental sectors.” Human rights aren’t just something Celia talks about; they’re also an integral part of everyday life within Cristosal. Celia hopes Cristosal will be known as a great place to work, leading by example with fair work environments and practices.

Celia is proud of Cristosal’s past, as well. “In a short time Cristosal has managed to fulfill the goals from our 2015-2017 strategic plan.” She credits the “people with moral strength” who have chosen to work at Cristosal instead of more prestigious government or international organizations. “They know Cristosal is one of the best places in El Salvador to work for the defense of human rights.”

Celia is confident in Cristosal’s ability to do the difficult work of assisting victims of serious human rights violations, a group that many are unable or unwilling to support. She encourages all people who care about making a positive impact in the world to join this cause. “There may be many reasons you cannot live and work in the most violent region of Central America,” Celia says. “But by supporting Cristosal, you are a daily member of this team of committed, professional, and passionate people.”

Join the team today at www.cristosal.org/give

Hannah Rose Nelson