Vilma Balmaceda, PhD
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Dr. Vilma “Nina” Balmaceda is a scholar-practitioner whose work focuses on education and civic leadership development for justice, peace, and reconciliation. She 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 of PHI.
Roberto W. Chia, MA, LPC
In addition to working for PHI, Roberto W. Chia is a certified mental health counselor by the National Board of Clinical Counselors, and the State of New York. 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 Nyack College’s School of Human Services, 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 helping international volunteers coordinate with the Paz y Esperanza offices in Latin America, Ann is busy raising two young daughters. While Ann holds a degree in Elementary Education, she has found her passion in providing opportunities for bridge-making 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 is an educator with degrees in political science and theology. After ten years of directing housing advocacy and a global experiential learning program, he is currently a doctoral student at Duke University studying the intersection of religion, environment, politics, and ethics in the Americas. Ryan interned with Paz y Esperanza in Peru in 2004, 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 professional within the financial services industry. For the past six years he has served the public by conducting regulatory audits of financial institutions with the purpose of preventing fraud and ensuring stability within the marketplace. Gregory received a J.D. from The John Marshall Law School, a BA in Psychology and 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 one son and live in Chicago, Illinois.
Based in Medellín, Colombia, Drew Jennings-Grisham is the founder and assistant director of Memoria Indígena, a project 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.
Katherine Rife, M.M.
From her location in Nyack, New York, Katherine Rife developed her interest in Paz y Esperanza through experiencing the passion that CEO Nina Balmaceda brings to her work at PHI. Katherine is Canadian and holds a B. Mus. and M. Mus. from the Universities of Toronto and Michigan respectively, a B Ed. degree from the University of Western Ontario, and pre-doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin. Having strong interests in both grassroots hunger organizations as well as social justice, Ms. Rife formed a local soup kitchen, Soup Angels, with two other women 14 years ago and now serves as its director. Following years as a music educator and professional musician in Canada and the United States, Katherine is committed to PHI , seeking ways to promote and enhance its vital work. Her husband, Joseph Alessi, is principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic and teaches at The Juilliard School. They have two children. Additionally, Katherine has serves as a Deacon, Clerk and Elder for their church.
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.