About

Staff & Board

Staff

Katherine came to Mary’s Pence with a background in strategic planning, project management and training/facilitation, mostly in a corporate setting. She has facilitated retreats on nonviolence, was a founding member of Conversation with Other (cross-cultural conflict facilitation), has volunteered for Nonviolent Peaceforce, and served as a core team member founding the Minnesota Peace Team which was created to provide a nonpartisan presence during the Republic National Convention. She currently serves on the board of Ignatian Volunteer Corps.

  • Kaye Cassidy - Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Ignatian Volunteer

A retired Director of Faith Formation and Liturgy at a Catholic parish, Kaye now volunteers two days a week in the Mary’s Pence office through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC). IVC is a national program that provides social justice volunteer opportunities for mature men and women. Kaye studied Theology at the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota where they put an emphasis on adhering to an ethic of love rather than an ethic of obligation. Kaye believes firmly that an ethic of obligation has limits, while an ethic of love knows no boundaries.

  • Gilda Larios - Mexico City, Mexico
  • ESPERA Team Lead

In the 1980s and 1990s, Gilda was very deeply involved in the refugee and migration issues caused by armed conflicts in Central America. She is a social worker and co-founded Women’s Income Generation and Empowerment, a three-time Mary’s Pence Grant recipient. Gilda served on the Mary’s Pence board and was involved in the strategic planning work that created the ESPERA program in 2008 and served as its founding staff, helping us define and grow the ESPERA program.

  • Eva Martinez - Suchitoto, El Salvador
  • ESPERA Promoter

Eva Martinez Menjivar supports ESPERA Funds in El Salvador and Honduras. She is from Suchitoto, and is a member of Concertación de Mujeres de Suchitoto, the first women’s network to participate in an ESPERA Fund. Eva was elected by the women of the Concertación to be the first coordinator of the ESPERA Fund in Suchitoto. Eva is a survivor of the armed conflict of 1980-1991 and a trained nurse.

After many years working in the corporate world, Nadine made a change and has worked in several local non-profit organizations in program, finance and management positions. She volunteers at her local parish, St. Albert the Great and is on the board of the Woman's Club of Minneapolis. She and her husband also manage the Twin Cities Board Games Meetup group which advocates for building community through playing board games.

Photo of Brenda
  • Brenda Valladares Escobar - Suchitoto, El Salvador
  • ESPERA Business Facilitator

Brenda has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of Francisco Gavidia and a Master's degree in Gender Studies from the National University of Mexico. She also completed a course in Solidarity Economics at the University of Central America. Brenda has experience developing business workshops for women, as well as identifying and tracking indicators of success. She previously worked as a business specialist with Mary's Pence ESPERA partner Red Unión de Mujeres and also developed a marketing study for the Concertación de Mujeres, another ESPERA partner organization.

Christine Lian Headshot

Christine came to Mary's Pence with a passion for women's issues and an eagerness to learn about nonprofits. She has worked in a research laboratory to promote social equity in STEM fields, as well as written for a women's center blog. She is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, with a Bachelor's of Science in Biology. In her free time Christine likes listening to podcasts and spending time with her cat.

Sarah M
  • Sarah Mechtenberg - Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Development and Communications Manager
  • sarah@maryspence.org

Sarah joined Mary’s Pence after living and working in South America for 15 years. Her background has primarily focused on grantwriting and nonprofit marketing and communication for organizations dedicated to empowering the lives of marginalized populations. Sarah has also worked on program development and implementation in a variety of areas in international development, including: education, water and sanitation, public health, and volunteer management. Sarah enjoys hiking and travel and appreciates a good cup of coffee and the local library.

Kiyomi Kishaba

Kiyomi is excited to be a part of the Mary's Pence team for the summer, and to gain experience working in the nonprofit field. She is an incoming senior at Pacific Lutheran University with a double major in English Writing and Communication, and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Alongside her studies, she is a member of the university swim team, an editor for the school newspaper, and a sports information consultant for the athletics department. In her free time, Kiyomi enjoys hiking, swing dancing, and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.

Board

  • Carol Fendt, PhD - Chicago, Illinois
  • Chair

Carol R. Fendt, PhD, is a founding director of The PRAIRIE Group, a research group that is associated with University of Illinois at Chicago. The organization bases its work in educational research and evaluation that promotes justice, grassroots empowerment through education and social change. While much of her work is in the area of public education in Chicago, she has a deep commitment to applying principles of change through facilitating educational projects in Nigeria and Kenya which included the promotion of women in education and social leadership. Her dedication to women and education at the grassroots level is the gift she brings to Mary's Pence.

  • Amanda Steepleton - Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Associate Chair

Amanda has worked in non-profits and higher education for the past ten years. She currently works in communications and fund development at Our Saviour's Community Services, a local nonprofit that serves immigrants and refugees and folks struggling with homelessness. Amanda is especially passionate about immigration, having worked on the US-Mexico border in a hospitality house for undocumented immigrants. She holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota and is pursuing a Masters of Organizational Leadership at St. Catherine University.

Headshot of Mariana Amescua
  • Mariana Amescua - Mexico City, Mexico
  • Treasurer

Mariana has expertise in project management, business development, evaluation, language learning and cultural norms. She manages her own consulting business in Mexico City. She also likes to start things and create things – she is a founding partner in Ediciones Urdimbre, a bookstore, and in Urdimbre Social, a nonprofit working in the area of human rights, rural finances, access to and processing of information, and environmental awareness. She has a degree in Latin American Studies from National Autonomous University of Mexico. Mariana has great compassion for the struggles of the women of Mexico and Central America. And she is adventurous – she loves riding her motorcycle around Mexico City.

Meg Olson
  • Meg Olson - Washington, D.C.
  • Secretary

Meg is the Grassroots Mobilization Manager at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in Washington D.C., where she helps NETWORK’s members and supporters become stronger and more effective advocates for social, economic, and racial justice. Meg has been an activist since her 20’s working on a variety of social justice issues including education policy, immigration reform, and ending mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Before coming to NETWORK, she worked in the Advocacy Department at Catholic Charities in St. Louis where she spent time lobbying state lawmakers and directing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Meg has a B.A. in Music and an M.A. in English.

  • Sister Barbara Battista, SP - Terre Haute, Indiana

Barbara is a physician assistant (PA-C) with an Occupational Medicine practice in Terre Haute, Indiana. Additionally she teaches an undergraduate course in Bioethics at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Barbara has undergraduate degrees in pharmacy and medicine and a Master’s in Education. Promoting gender equity and equality across social and church systems is Barbara’s most passionate concern. She is a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

  • Sister Julie Fertsch, SSJ - Los Angeles, California

Julie Fertsch, SSJ, a Sister of Saint Joseph, is currently serving as the Director of the St. Joseph Worker Program in Los Angeles. She holds a master’s degree in Theology from St. Michael’s College and has experience in education, foreign mission work, counseling/social work, retreat work, and spiritual direction. Sister Julie loves working with all people—and especially young adults! She sees and believes in their great potential!

  • Rita Lampe - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Rita is a licensed clinical social worker who has been in the mental health field for over 30 years. She has also worked in domestic and international adoption for the past 15 years. Rita’s interest in social justice started while volunteering at the Catholic Worker House in St. Louis, Missouri during college. She believes her values were very much shaped by Catholic Social Teaching. She considers herself a feminist and has always been particularly interested in working to improve the lives of women and children. Rita speaks Spanish fluently and loves traveling abroad.

Sign up for eNews

Subscribe

Donate

Make a donation today to fund women and change lives.

Give Today