Raquel joins Cristosal after being with World Vision for nine years where she worked as purchasing manager, accounting assistant, and then as financial analyst. She received her Bachelor’s her degree in Public Accounting from the Technological University of El Salvador (UTEC). In addition Raquel has worked as the treasurer for a social microfinancing organization, responsible for giving out loans to Salvadoran communities. Excited by the challenge of working for a human rights organization, she sees her role as integral to Cristosal’s mission. “I’ve always thought that everyone deserves just, dignified treatment, that we all matter equally. We are all important. It feels good to work for people who are often ignored.”
Director, Center for Research and Learning in Human Rights
Jeanne began her human rights career abroad serving as a missionary in Liberia before moving to El Salvador in ______. She worked 12 years working as the Delegations Coordinator and eventually Executive Director at Christians for Peace, followed by seven years as ________ with the Foundation for the Study and Application of Law (FESPAD). “I try to challenge the ’innocent perspective’ here,” Jeanne says of her research on youth and crime. “This duality of good and bad, that we should only identify with the suffering of ‘good people.’ All victims are victims regardless of what they are involved in.” Now as the Director for Cristosal’s Center for Research and Learning, Jeanne guides the Center’s research agenda using a participatory-action methodology, which emphasizes collaboration over direct observation with the ultimate goal of facilitating transformative processes in communities.
Community Development Director
Mauricio began his career in the private sector teaching business classes at the University of Central America José Simeon Cañas (UCA) in El Salvador for nearly a decade. He was then drawn into working in the social sector through a university project creating business opportunities in marginalized communities. He then spent two years working for the Salvadoran Ministry of Labor in La Libertad, and earned his Master’s in the Management and Promotion of Local Development in Spain. “Each time we work together it is inspiring,” Mauricio reflects on his work with Cristosal’s Citizen Formation School. “People have the power to change your personality. To make you more kind and feel more joy.”
Graciela earned her Bachelor’s in Economics from the National University of El Salvador (UES). From 1987 to 1994 Graciela worked in collaboration with the non-governmental Salvadoran Commission for Human Rights (CDHES) working in their Projects and Statistics Departments to document cases of human rights violations during the Civil War, including disappearances, homicides, and captures. She then worked for seven years with the Ombudsman’s Office for Human Rights in El Salvador (PDDH) as the Accounting Assistant for project coordination and execution. “Since I was a student at the University, I felt this social obligation,” Graciela reflects, “that given the situation that we lived in, and are living in now, it gives one the desire to contribute – directly or indirectly – to impact the causes of violence in our country.”
Armando De Paz
Armando is a licensed lawyer in El Salvador, with a degree in jurisprudence and social sciences from José Matías Delgado University, and a Master’s degree in diplomacy from the Specialized Institute for High Education in Diplomatic Formation (IEESFORD). He is a career diplomat as Third Secretary with eight years of professional experience in human rights and migration with the Ministry of Foreign Relations in El Salvador, and with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) working as part of the legal department of the organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Administration & Finance Coordinator
Erick earned his Bachelor’s in Accounting from the National University of El Salvador (UES) and his Master’s degree in Financial Administration from the University Francisco Gavídia. He spent several years working in finance for the private sector, including the food products company Unilever and the telephone company Tigo. Erick then decided to move to the non-profit sector, hoping to do work that directly benefitted individuals. He then spent five years as Project Accountant with the global non-profit World Vision before joining Cristosal. As Cristosal’s Administrative Coordinator, Erick enjoys the daily challenge that comes with working in human rights. “What I like the most,” he says, “is that every day is different. Because of the nature of the work, we find ourselves in situations that require us to analyze and respond to challenges in different ways. Solving problems like this, you learn a great deal.”
Bilingual Program Assistant
Alex graduated from Skidmore College in Anthropology and recently received her Master’s in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford, for which she conducted a study on constructed sexual identities though queer spaces in San José, Costa Rica. Joining Cristosal’s Center for Research and Learning, Alex is now excited to contribute to research on LGBTI rights and other communities.
Julio César Sibrian Elias
General Services and Administration Assistant
César graduated from Reverendo Juan Bueno Christian High School focusing on chemistry and biology. He has worked in various areas, including private businesses and his own private business ventures. He began working with Cristosal in 2014, facilitating in processes of administration, security, and management, and has since graduated from the Citizen Formation School through Cristosal’s Community Development Program.
Assistant for Humanitarian Protection
Vladimir began his technical career as the accounting technician in his High School, the Instituto Técnico Ricaldone. Since then he has worked over the past four years in data services for Tigo, and in administration and accounting as part of his own graphic design business. Vladimir began with Cristosal in 2015 as part of the Victim Protection and Legal Assistance program. Vladimir says he loves the unique challenges of working now in the non-profit sector. “I like that I can apply all that I know now to the field of human rights. I see it as a piece, more than anything as a tool to raise awareness about the human rights issues we have here in this country.”
Bessie de Torres
Bessie began working at Cristosal in 2011 while she was studying law Francisco Gavidia University. Since then, she has worked as the Administrative Assistant, Finance Manager, and now in her current role as Program Assistant for Cristosal’s three rights-based programs. “When interviewing people with cases you have to be strong and not falter. It is hard to see everything they have to tell and their tears and be strong for them. It is worth it though when we help people not be isolated and obtain a better life.”
Noah first came to El Salvador as a human rights intern for Cristosal in 2005 after graduating from the University of Montana in Peace & Conflict Studies. That first year has now evolved into a decade of crafting human rights-based programs to address problems from hurricane disaster relief to community development. In 2007, Noah became the Community Development Program Director, and then the Executive Director in 2010, while also earning a post-graduate certificate in Local Development from the University of Central America José Simeón Cañas (UCA). He sees at the heart of Cristosal’s mission the challenge to redefine human rights mechanisms and state responses according to today’s manifestation of violations. “Human rights were taught to me as a historical process and every generation has to be able to understand human rights and violations in their own time. Our moment has changed significantly from when these frameworks were established, so we are challenged now to find ways to apply these same principles in programming to address our moment’s greatest challenges of displacement by violence, poverty, and inequality.”
“I was always interested in the way people thought,” Giovani begins explaining the origins of his degree in Psychology. EDUCATION. Beginning his work in the Ministry of Justice, Giovanni worked as ________, coordinating a violence prevention program for at-risk youth where he attended to over 6,000 children and adolescents. He was then called to Cristosal where he sees an inherent connection between people’s psychological well-being and their ability to resolve other needs. “I see the right to mental health as a fundamental right derived from our right to physical health and well-being. We need to look at someone and the challenges they face through a holistic lens, or we can’t do our jobs.”
Hannah graduated from Columbia University in Environmental Science and Sustainable Development. She has prior experience in geochemistry and environmental consulting, as well as having worked in communications, research, and policy with the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in Washington D.C, among others. Hannah served for two years in El Salvador with Cristosal as an Episcopal Missionary from the Diocese of Olympia, and now works as Cristosal’s Development Director. “There is a powerful disparity between spouting statistics and playing soccer or laughing with the very kids we refer to as ‘displaced minors’ or ‘families with international protection needs,” Hannah says. “I feel grateful that my job forces me to confront that distinction every day, and to create avenues for others to do the same.”
Jim Lochhead/Jaime Lochhead
Resource Development Coordinator
“This country got a hold of me and never let me go,” Jim says talking about his experience studying abroad in El Salvador in 2008. After graduating with his Master’s Degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University in 2016, including an internship researching the impacts of large scale sugarcane production on the Salvadoran coast, Jim was drawn to Cristosal for their human rights focus and methodology for interacting with people in the community. “I see human rights as the practical action plan, the blueprint for how we try to give people what they deserve, or the values we use to decide how to build a program in response to a conflict.”
Global School Coordinator
Rachel graduated with her Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Women’s Studies from St. Catherine University, where she spent a semester studying abroad in El Salvador with the Casa de la Solidaridad. At St. Catherine’s she completed a self-directed research study on multicultural/multinational education, which has since led her to her work coordinating Cristosal’s Global School program. “I was excited by the freedom I had to take this idea,” she explains, “and create a program where Salvadorans and North Americans come together in a mutual learning space; to try and take into account power and structural differences, and create real usable knowledge that each person can take back to do work in their communities.”
Chief Program Officer
Celia served as spokesperson and director of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission in El Salvador between 1987 and 1997, and later in the Ombudsman’s Office for Human Rights (PDDH) and General Coordinator for the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Central America (CODEHUCA). She graduated from the National University of El Salvador with a focus in Journalism and Communications, as well as the International Organization for the Right to Education (OIDEL) in Geneva, Switzerland with a focus in Human Rights and education. She also has an Administration Management degree from the Specialized Institute for Higher Education in Diplomatic Formation (IEESFORD). Celia has served as a member of the Advisory Council for the Central American Integration System (CC-SICA) and was the Central American representative for the Latin American Platform for Conflict Prevention. In recent years she has worked as Consul General for El Salvador in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and as Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Management at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in El Salvador. She joined Cristosal in 2014, working on the design, oversight and execution of Cristosal’s three programs in El Salvador.