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 Durham, North Carolina.
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.
Jon works to support local leaders in Latin America and the international growth of Peace and Hope. With a degree from Nyack College in Intercultural Studies and International Relief & Development, Jon gained experience as a practitioner in his hometown, Chambersburg, PA. For 12 years he ran a community initiative, bringing people together across socio-economic barriers, walking alongside people in poverty working to build long term stability. This led to opportunities to provide leadership for local coalitions and healthcare, as well as advocacy work on a state and federal level, including an appointment in 2019 to the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Jon brings to the PHI team his experience in community organizing, public speaking and organizational development. He is passionate about the power of relationship, being present in the margins of society, peace and grace. Jon lives with his wife and five daughters in Huánuco, Peru.
Vanessa Rodriguez, J.D.
K. Vanessa Rodriguez is pursuing a PhD in Social Ethics at Drew University, 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 and her Masters in Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary. 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 and serving on an international scale with PHI.
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.
Based in Medellín, Colombia, Drew Jennings-Grisham is the founder and assistant director of Memoria Indígena, engaging indigenous leaders and churches throughout Latin America. 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 prior to moving to Colombia they worked with Paz y Esperanza in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
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.
Joy Nissen Beitzel, J.D.
Joy Beitzel is an attorney at the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault in Duluth, Minnesota. Her practice emphasizes serving victim-survivors of sexual and domestic violence in civil 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 three young children.
Ryan Smedes is an international development program design and evaluation specialist. His previous roles include learning and evaluation, resource and program development, food security and as a national director. Ryan lived and worked in Latin America for over a decade. Currently, Ryan is a Sr. Director for Program Design at Compassion International where he leads a global team to support the design and implementation of evidence-based programs implemented in 8,000 local churches throughout the world. Ryan has bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Religion from the Pacific Lutheran University and a master’s degree in Public Administration, from the University of Washington. Ryan lives outside of Seattle, Washington, with his wife and three children.
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).
Dr. 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 International Justice Mission for Peru. Prior to his work with Paz y Esperanza, Alfonso 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, Alfonso 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.