Staff & Board - Mary's Pence


Staff & Board


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 and Minnesota International NGO Network.

Mabel has more than 15 years of experience at international cooperation organizations in advisory roles and coordination of gender programs and projects, especially programs for the political, social and economic empowerment of women in Honduras and Latin America. Mabel is committed and linked to the struggles for social justice in Latin America. Mabel has a degree in Legal Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Honduras. She is convinced that changes towards freedom, equity and justice are urgent and possible.

Erin Williams Rodriguez (she/her) is excited to join the Mary's Pence team as Grants Program Manager and to use her skills and education in service to and solidarity with women across the Americas. Previously, Erin was the Corporate & Foundation Relations Officer at the Minnesota Zoo Foundation and she has worked for nonprofit organizations across the U.S. She holds a BFA in Theatre, summa cum laude, from Sam Houston State University and MA in Performing Arts Administration from New York University. Erin loves connecting with people over food, music, storytelling, celebrations and remembrances.

Anna graduated with a BA in History from Luther College in 2019 where she was the Managing Director of a student run theater company, SPIN Theater, and a member of the student interfaith association. She has directed plays professionally and worked for several years in organic agriculture while living in an intentional community. She was drawn to Mary’s Pence through her values of equity, community building, and access; and currently serves as secretary on the board of directors at Philadelphia Community Farm.

Clara has previously lived and volunteered in Suchitoto, El Salvador and now assists the ESPERA Program team with translating and administrative tasks. She has instructed photography, English, violin, and watercolor workshops to communities surrounding Suchitoto. Her passion lies with building strong, interpersonal relationships and creating a better world through education and the arts. In her free time, you can find her hanging in a hammock and tending to her garden.

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.

Emma is a third-year student at St. Catherine University majoring in Public Health and Public Policy. She is excited to join Mary’s Pence as an intern for the Spring semester. She has received a well-rounded education on social justice, health policies, and community health outcomes, which has fostered her passion for social change and equity. Emma hopes to develop her communication and collaboration skills further within the field of public health and observe women-led social justice efforts in a real-world context.

Brianna is coming to Mary's Pence after being a Montessori Preschool teacher for 8 years. She has two bachelor's degrees, from Augsburg University in 2013 and St. Catherine's University in 2022. She is also a field organizer, storyteller and a fierce advocate for children and teachers. She was interested in joining the Mary's Pence team after learning about their mission to fund women-led nonprofits with a strong lens of social justice.

Natalia has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Social Communication from the University of Santiago de Chile and a Diploma in Ethics of Communication from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. She has worked for more than ten years in corporate communication and corporate social responsibility for several companies in Latin America. There she became familiar with the struggles of the communities she served and the need for a more just, empathetic, and equitable society.

Brenda graduated with an Agroindustrial Engineering degree from the University of El Salvador. The most important pillars in her life are her parents. She worked for four years with the Suchitoto Women's Concertation, in which she coordinated and executed different projects for the empowerment and economic autonomy of women. Brenda is committed to continuing the fight to defend women's rights. She is happy to be part of Mary's Pence and that with her work she can continue contributing to and strengthening the women of the ESPERA program in El Salvador.

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.


  • Nancy Silva - Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Chair

Nancy is a program analyst with the State of Minnesota in the medical supply chain. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health from St. Catherine University. Nancy’s passion for economic social justice and empowering women has led her to work with many non-profit organizations. She also serves on the board for Minnesota International NGO Network. In her free time Nancy likes to travel, explore different cuisines, and practice yoga.

  • Mary Zerjav - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Treasurer

Mary has worked in the brokerage and banking industry for over 30 years. She currently works as a banking consultant. A Chicago native, she settled in Pittsburgh over 30 years ago with her husband and has three adult children. She is a long-time animal lover and is a long-time feminist and advocate of the advancement of women. Mary began her journey with Mary’s Pence as a volunteer to reallocate investments and redesign policies to mirror Mary’s Pence’s core values. She is delighted with the opportunity to serve on the board and affect vital community change.

  • Sister LaKesha Church - Redlands, California
  • Secretary

Sister LaKesha Church, C.PP.S, is a Sister of the Precious Blood (Dayton, OH). She ministers as an elementary teacher in Southern, California. She serves the local community as a member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver women’s auxillary as well as serving on the board of the National Black Sisters’ Conference. She hopes to serve Mary’s Pence through her previous Peace Corps experience, by helping individuals at the grassroots level. Sister LaKesha holds a master’s in theology and in education. In her free time she enjoys cross-stitching and reading great stories.

  • Nohely Álvarez - Hyattsville, Maryland

Nohely is a doctoral candidate in Urban and Regional Planning and Design at the School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning at the University of Maryland. With her dissertation, Contextualizing Marginalized Economies: Narratives of Cultural and Economic Practices in Langley Park, MD, she hopes her findings will assist policymakers and planners in understanding and adopting better practices for engaging with immigrant communities more inclusively. Aside from that she works at the Small Business Anti-Displacement Network (SBAN) at the University of Maryland and has worked in nonprofits prior to starting her doctoral degree.

  • Halima Hamud - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Halima Hamud is a passionate advocate and community organizer with a strong commitment to empowering refugee and immigrant communities. Born and raised in the largest camp in Kenya, Dadaab, she witnessed the challenges faced by women in her community. For the past six years, Halima has been engaged in advocating for refugee political inclusion and has collaborated with the Boise Mayor's Office as a Community Engagement Intern, fostering social cohesion between marginalized communities and local government. She also founded Circle of Excellence, an online community that provides resources and support for highly skilled refugee and immigrant professionals, assisting them in navigating the workforce.

  • Amparo Martinez Ruiz - Mexico City, Mexico

Amparo presently serves as Chief Legal Counsel at Grupo Jumex, where she has corporate-wide responsibility for legal, regulatory, and compliance matters. Her educational background includes a Certificate in Financial Analysis and Valuation for Lawyers by Harvard Business School Online and postgraduate studies in Negotiation and M&A at Stanford University. She possesses exceptional corporate acumen to consider non-legal factors in decision-making, such as long-term market ramifications, reputational risk, and internal business culture.

Meg Olson
  • 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.

  • Amy Parker - Saint Paul, Minnesota

Amy earned a Master’s degree in Community Psychology at Metropolitan State University. Amy has worked in higher education managing National Institutes of Health research grants and at a community-led nonprofit, securing grants. Amy is a Community Action Grant Manager in the Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). At OEO, Amy supports Community Action Agencies and Tribal Nations implementing federal and state funds to build economic self-sufficiency among those living in poverty. Amy has a passion for social justice and believes strongly in the power of grassroots work. In her free time, Amy enjoys time with her two daughters, relaxing in nature and releasing stress at the kickboxing gym.

  • Natasha N. Piñeiros - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Natasha (she/her/ella) is a dynamic and innovative educator with experience working with minoritized college students that have been historically underrepresented and underserved in higher education. Born and raised in Ecuador, Natasha is a proud first-generation immigrant and first-generation professional passionate about finding ways to incorporate technology, education, and wellness. She began her college career in community college, earned her B.A. in Communications and Spanish, and her M.Ed. in Higher Education/Student Affairs. Outside of work, Natasha strives to elevate her health and the boundaries she sets to be able to integrate her personal and professional life in sustainable ways.

  • Emma Tacke - Washington, D.C.

Emma Tacke was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Gender Studies from the College of Saint Benedict in 2015, Emma moved to Seattle, Washington for a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest. Upon completing her year with JVC Northwest, Emma spent several years living in Washington D.C. working for social justice through various faith-based national organizations. Currently, Emma serves as the Senior Manager of Advocacy and Policy for the D.C. Charter School Alliance.

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