Vilma Balmaceda, PhD
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Vilma “Nina” Balmaceda is a scholar-practitioner whose work focuses on education and civic leadership development for justice, peace, and reconciliation. Nina holds a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru; master’s degrees in International Peace Studies, and in Government; and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame du Lac. In addition to leading PHI, Nina serves as the associate director of the Center for Reconciliation and associate consulting professor of the practice of reconciliation at Duke University’s Divinity School. Nina and her family live in Creedmoor, North Carolina.
Kim Nguyen grew up in Lancaster, PA. She later moved to Philadelphia to study at Temple University where she got her bachelor’s degree. After graduating, she moved to Nyack, NY to get her Masters in Divinity at the Alliance Theological Seminary. She currently lives in the Bronx working with the youth in her church. Kim looks forward to continue working with Peace and Hope International and its efforts for justice to communities in South America.
Pablo Emil Garcia Ruiz
Pablo was born in the beautiful province of Loreto, Peru and grew up in Lima. At 17 years old, he moved to the US to study at Nyack College. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science and later received his Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary. He currently works as a full time Youth Pastor at the Chinese Alliance Church in Port Chester, NY. Pablo loves watching movies, spending time with friends, and traveling around the world. He is passionate about helping those in need, and is excited to be a part of the team at PHI.
Roberto W. Chia, MA, LPC
Roberto is a certified mental health counselor by the National Board of Clinical Counselors, and the State of New York. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Roberto now lives in Durham, NC where through his professional practice he serves families and individuals of all ages as they struggle with mental, emotional and relational issues. He holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from the School of Human Services at Nyack College, and a Master of Divinity from the Alliance Theological Seminary, New York. Roberto is also a faculty member of CETI Continental in the area of mental health and family resilience.
Ann and her family live in Medellín, Colombia and have worked with Paz y Esperanza since 2011. Prior to her current role, Ann served as Office Administrator of the Santa Cruz, Bolivia office. Aside from coordinating international volunteers and interns with Paz y Esperanza offices in Latin America, Ann is busy raising two young daughters. Ann holds a degree in Elementary Education, and has found her passion in providing opportunities for bridge-making and mutual learning between cultures and people.
Vanessa Rodriguez, J.D.
K. Vanessa Rodriguez is in her last semester at Wesley Theological Seminary pursuing a Masters in Divinity (May 2021 candidate), while maintaining her practice as an immigration attorney in the D.C. metropolitan area. Vanessa obtained a B.S. in Business Administration at the American University in D.C. and subsequently a Juris Doctorate at the Washington College of Law. In addition to serving her immediate community in the legal realm Vanessa is also passionate about serving her community as an on-call hospital Chaplain. Now, there is a greater call to serve on an international scale with Peace and Hope International.
Board of Directors
Loramy Gerstbauer, PhD
Loramy “Mimi” Gerstbauer is Professor of Political Science and the Raymond and Florence Sponberg Endowed Professor of Ethics at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended Wheaton College and the University of Notre Dame du Lac. She teaches courses in International Relations, Latin American Politics, and Peace Studies and researches peacebuilding NGOs and post-war reconciliation and forgiveness in politics. In 2017 she published US Foreign Policy and the Politics of Apology (Routledge). In Spring 2020 she was a visiting faculty member at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan and in 2014-2015 she taught at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland as a U.S. Fulbright scholar. Mimi serves as an AWANA Ministries Director at her church and lives in St. Peter, MN with her husband, Fabian, and their three sons.
Ryan Juskus, PhD
Ryan Juskus is a whole-person educator with a Ph.D. in religion and ethics from Duke University, where he researched faith-based environmental justice ministries. He has worked in the areas of urban affordable housing, international experiential education for justice and flourishing, environmental justice, and cultivating ethical environmental leaders. While interning with Paz y Esperanza in Peru in 2004, Ryan began to discover his life’s calling. Since then, he has recruited and sent many volunteers to the Andemos program. Ryan is married to Kendra and lives with their two energetic sons in Durham, North Carolina.
James G. Huff Jr., PhD
James “Jamie” G. Huff Jr. is Associate Professor of Human Needs and Global Resources and Anthropology at Wheaton College. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Human Needs and Global Resources Program. His scholarship explores themes related to rural community development, religion in Latin America, faith-rooted social movements and non-government organizations, as well as comprehensive community initiatives. For the past fifteen years, he has regularly conducted ethnographic fieldwork in El Salvador, documenting the involvement of Pentecostal churches in community-based development projects. Since 2008, he has worked collaboratively with the staff of a Christian non-profit (ENLACE) to implement evaluation studies that assess the impact of local development initiatives on the social, economic, and physical well-being of rural communities across El Salvador. Jamie and his family live in Wheaton, Illinois.
Gregory Sabarese, J.D.
Gregory Sabarese is a compliance/audit professional within the financial services industry. Throughout his career he has served the public by conducting regulatory and assurance audits of financial institutions with the purpose of preventing fraud and ensuring safety and soundness within the marketplace. Currently, Gregory is a Senior Project Manager within Fifth Third Bank’s Internal Audit Department with a focus on Capital Markets. Gregory received a J.D. from UIC Chicago, a BA in Psychology & Theology from Wheaton College and an Accounting & Finance Certificate from the University of Chicago. He also has an MA from the University of Pennsylvania where he researched inequality in the United States. Gregory and his wife Rachel have two children (Elijah & Rosemary) and live in Chicago, Illinois.
Melissa is a small business owner in Durham, North Carolina. After graduating from Campbell University, she officially became a Northern transplant living in the South. Melissa has served in church ministry leadership since 2007. She helped establish a non-profit, No Longer Orphans, after spending time in India in 2008. In 2014, she and her husband Shaun planted a church in Washington, DC and returned to North Carolina in 2020. They have 3 children.
Holly Gabry is a certified public accountant working at Elliott Davis, PLLC, CPA firm in Raleigh, NC. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business with a concentration in accounting and a minor in studio art from Campbell University and her Master of Accounting from NC State University. Holly lives near Raleigh, NC and started her career as a CPA 3 years ago as a tax accountant. She has a strong faith in Christ and enjoys her role as a small group co-leader. She has a passion for traveling and for giving voice and support to the marginalized.
Based in Medellín, Colombia, Drew Jennings-Grisham is the founder and assistant director of Memoria Indígena, a component of Paz y Esperanza engaging indigenous leaders and churches. He graduated from Wheaton College with a BA in Spanish and Anthropology, and has graduate degrees in Agroecology from the Universidad Mayor de San Simon and Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife grew up in Chattanooga, TN, and previously worked with Paz y Esperanza in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Joy Nissen Beitzel, J.D.
Joy Beitzel is an attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her practice emphasizes serving low-income victims of domestic abuse in family court actions. Joy graduated from Wheaton College in 2010 with a BA in International Relations and Spanish, and she received her J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2014. Joy enjoys spending time on the North Shore of Lake Superior with her husband and two young daughters.
Brian Swarts, MPA
Brian is the Director of Pepperdine University’s Washington, D.C. Program in Global Leadership. He is passionate about developing the next generation of changemakers. Prior to his current role, he spent a decade working on global development and humanitarian assistance. Most recently, Brian oversaw global strategy and partnership for The Salvation Army’s global development office and its operations in over 67 countries worldwide. Earlier in his career, Brian worked in rural Honduras working on women’s rights and served as a teacher, in rural Mississippi, with the Teach for America. Brian lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife and two young boys. The family loves the outdoors, especially in Oregon (Brian’s home state), and traveling in Asia (his wife is from Japan).
Alfonso Wieland is a human rights lawyer and author in Lima, Peru. Alfonso is one of the co-founders of Paz y Esperanza and currently serves as National Director of Paz y Esperanza Peru. Prior to his work with Paz y Esperanza, Mr. Wieland served for over 9 years as a member of the legal team for the National Evangelical Council of Peru, working in the area of human rights. In addition to his law degree, Mr. Wieland has graduate degrees in sociology and theology. Alfonso has published several books including In Love with His Justice (2003), reflecting on the work of Paz y Esperanza during and in the aftermath of Peru´s internal armed conflict. He co-authored Seeking Justice for All (2006), a practical guide introducing Christians to topics of human rights and advocacy. He lives in Lima, Peru, with his wife and two children.