- Katherine Wojtan - Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Executive Director
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.
- Grace Gbolo - Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Grants Program Manager
Grace Gbolo has spent years teaching English abroad and engaging within the communities. On a local level, Grace has been involved in after-school curriculum development and youth and community advocacy work. Her passions in social justice, climate justice, urban agriculture, and community-led change has brought her to Mary's Pence to continue to help spaces that lead change. In her downtime, you might find her reading a book with her dog or having a good laugh with family members or friends.
- Laura Berglund - Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Saint Joseph Worker Volunteer
Laura graduated from Macalester College in the spring of 2020 with an English literature degree before joining Mary’s Pence as a St Joseph Worker. A ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates St. Paul Province, the St Joseph Worker Program supports young women through a year of service and intentional community building. Laura’s college experience was defined by her participation in the Earlham College Border Studies Program in Tucson, Arizona, where she learned about immigration justice from local activists. She has digital communication and publishing industry experience and is passionate about intersectional feminism. Her hobbies include listening to podcasts and aspiring toward Marie Kondo-level tidying skills.
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 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.
- Nadine Sehnert - Saint Paul, Minnesota
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.
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 - Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Office Manager
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 Mechtenberg - Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Development and Communications Manager
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.
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.
- John Cherek - Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Ignatian Volunteer
Retired from a 45-year career working in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which included time as a parish business administrator and Director of The Catholic Cemeteries, John joined Mary's Pence in December 2020 as a part-time volunteer through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC). In addition to his work with the Archdiocese, John is proud of the Ministry of Consolation program he started with his wife Linda to bring comfort to the bereaved, which they created following the sudden death of their oldest daughter in 1993. John holds degrees from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and a master’s degree from Marquette University. He and his wife will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2021 with their 3 surviving children and 5 grandchildren.
- Carol Fendt, PhD - Chicago, Illinois
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.
- Mariana Amescua - Mexico City, Mexico
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 - Washington, D.C.
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.