After long hard-worked months of searching for a new Coordinator to replace Val Liveoak, the PLA committee has happily hired Mónica Maher!
Originally from the United States, Mónica is a bilingual AVP facilitator who lives and works in Quito, Ecuador. With over five years of AVP experience, she has co-facilitated workshops in New York, Ecuador, Honduras and Argentina within prison as well as with Colombian refugees, indigenous communities and women´s groups. She attended the AVP International Gathering in Guatemala where she participated in the training workshop in trauma healing.
“I have been profoundly moved by the AVP facilitators I have met in Central America and Colombia, as well as by the sincerity, openness and growth in participants living within contexts of extreme violence and often life-time trauma. These experiences have led to my own growth and to a deepening thirst to be more involved with AVP in the region. The position of Coordinator represents an awaited opportunity to bring together my professional experiences in service of a program which I know has a lasting impact on individuals and communities in conflict,” stated Mónica.
Mónica holds a PhD in Christian Social Ethics and has taught at Harvard Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary. Currently, she serves as Visiting Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Quito. She has received two Fulbright fellowships for research in Latin America and is currently an International Rotary Peace Fellow. In 2014, Mónica was ordained as Community Minister for Latin America of First Church Cambridge, Boston Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ.
She has decades of experience in community service, human rights and solidarity work in Latin America, including with Pastors for Peace in El Salvador, Concern America in Honduras and Catholic Relief Services in the Dominican Republic. Mónica has led dozens of church delegations to Honduras as well as taught many academic immersion courses in both Central and South America.
“My natural temperament is listening, encouraging, and motivating. My style in leadership is to focus on supporting and promoting other people’s leadership. I am a visionary in many ways. I can see where a group may be wanting to go and I can articulate that and further people into a broader vision. I like to encourage skills that people may not think they have. It is very rewarding to see people blossom,” stated Mónica during her interview.
Administratively, Mónica’s experience has included designing and supervising new initiatives, writing and reviewing proposals, drafting and managing project budgets, and implementing and evaluating programs. In terms of grass-roots fundraising, Mónica has been involved in raising tens of thousands of dollars for community projects in Honduras for over 20 years through the Honduras Companion Communities Project that she founded at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City after Hurricane Mitch. None of the money has come from formal grants but all individual donations.
In her words: “AVP has been central to my calling as a Community Minister in Latin America, offering a concrete and profound way to build community, transform conflicts and build peace in contexts of extreme violence. I have deep respect for all that Val Liveoak has been able to build in the region, having witnessed her work first-hand in Honduras, Guatemala and Ecuador. It is therefore with much humility and great delight that I join Friends Peace Teams as the new Initiative Coordinator of Peacebuilding en las Américas.”
PLA welcomes Mónica with open arms, eager to use her passionate energy, experience, and integrity to facilitate new visions for Peacebuilidng en Las Americas.