Maestral International is a team of leading global experts supporting the development, strengthening and coordination of child protection and social welfare systems that meet the needs of children in adversity. We work to strengthen community-based and nationally-owned systems for preventing and responding to harm and supporting children at risk.
Maestral provides cutting-edge, relevant and effective technical expertise that helps communities and nations to protect children from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, while ensuring that all of their children are cared for in safe and appropriate family or alternative care settings.
Here’s our capabilities statement, learn more about our team members and projects.
Maestral has collaborated closely with an array of organizations, including ASD Group, Better Care Network, Boston College School of Social Work, The Columbia Group for Children in Adversity, Cornerstone Economic Research, Catholic Relief Services, Family for Every Child, Global Alliance for Children, IATT, IntraHealth International, Inc., MANNET, REPSSI, Save the Children, UNICEF, US-Aid and World Bank Group.
Our advisors possess a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds drawn from every region of the world. They are trusted advisors to governments, development agencies, donors, community leaders and non-governmental organizations. Each member of Maestral’s team is driven by our organizational mission to secure a better life for children—bringing experience, passion and integrity to the work of our clients with a laser focus on results.
Philip is Founder and President of Maestral International, a team of leading global experts supporting the development, strengthening and coordination of child welfare and protection systems that meet the needs of children in adversity. A passionate advocate for children, Philip has decades of experience in designing, negotiating and implementing comprehensive human development programs for the World Bank, UNICEF and global foundations, and covering the social and child welfare, health and education sectors.Read More
He frequently speaks on these issues at global, regional and national conferences and before government agencies. Philip was a member of the Publications Committee for the U.S. Evidence Summit on Children Outside of Family Care, and in 2013 he facilitated the preparation of a Joint Interagency Statement on Child Protection Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa that was endorsed by a wide range of multilateral and non-governmental organizations. Philip managed development and completion of a comprehensive global toolkit for mapping and assessing child protection systems, and has been supporting related programming in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. He most recently assisted the Government of Myanmar and its development partners to prepare the country’s first national Social Protection Strategy which launched late 2014. Philip has extensive current and past board and philanthropic experience, including the Global Alliance for Children, the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, the Better Way Foundation, Court Appointed Special Advocates (D.C.), the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, the Advisory Board of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Progress Valley, the Sieben Foundation and the International Leadership Institute.
Kelley is an international child protection and social welfare consultant. Kelley has more than twenty-five years of experience working and living in East Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. She has worked with a wide range of actors including international organizations, private foundations, government ministries, USAID and UNICEF. Her work is focused on systems strengthening and child protection, with particular emphasis on supporting the expansion of the social welfare workforce, developing child-rights based policy frameworks and strategies and strengthening alternative care programming for children outside of family care.Read More
Her most recent work has been supporting the 4Children- a five-year global Orphans and Vulnerable Children project as the Technical Director for Child Protection and Social Welfare Systems. She also continues to consult with a variety of institutions and organizations to strengthen the child protection system, identify and promote linkages between child protection HIV, expand the social service workforce and document and support child care reform. She has a Master’s degree in Child Rights and is a regular contributor to articles and books covering intercountry adoption and international child welfare. Kelley is an advisor for the Better Care Network, Faith to Action Initiative and Global Health Promise. She is fluent in Spanish and Romanian. Ms. Bunkers currently resides in Nairobi.
Since 1985, Cassie has worked with UNICEF and other international agencies to promote policies and programs in support of young children and their families. Over the past 20 years, she has provided technical assistance and support to child development programs in over 60 countries throughout Southern Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. A primary focus of her work has been the design and evaluation of programs to support parents and families in their role as primary caregivers.Read More
Cassie has been involved in the design and evaluation of several multi-country school readiness initiatives for high risk children and families. In collaboration with the Open Society Foundations, Dr. Landers has designed a Master degree program in Early Childhood Development, BRAC University, Bangladesh and is a visiting professor at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Studies. Additional international activities include the development of educational strategies for children in emergencies and a tool for mapping and assessment child protection systems. An early literacy initiative in collaboration with Head Start National Literacy Center brings her international expertise to at risk children and families throughout the United States. Cassie has a Doctorate in Education, as well as a Master’s in Public Health, both from Harvard University. She is currently on the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and teaches courses in global child development.
David Tobis is the former Executive Director of the Fund for Social Change, which he founded in 2002. The Fund administered collaborations between governments, service providers, communities and foundations. Beginning in 1991, he worked as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank to prevent children, the disabled and the elderly from being placed in long-term residential institutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His monograph, published by the World Bank, Moving from Residential Institutions to Community-Based Services in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union became the basis for the World Bank’s strategy in the area.Read More
More recently he worked with UNICEF to develop the child protection Toolkit; with the state government of Tabasco, Mexico to develop the first government-run foster care program in that country; in Lebanon with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNICEF to develop the country’s four-year plan for protecting women and children, and with various foundations to strengthen child protection systems throughout the world. David was one of the national leaders of the Family Preservation movement to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement in the child welfare and juvenile justice fields. He was previously Director of Human Services for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy and led that office’s successful efforts to reform New York’s foster care system. He was a Fulbright scholar to Guatemala and co-edited a book, Guatemala: And So Victory is Born, Even in the Bitterest Hour. David’s recent book, From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and Their Allies Changed New York City’s Child Welfare System (Oxford University Press, 2013) is being used to promote parent participation in several countries. He was a Revson Fellow at Columbia University, awarded for work that improves life in New York City. David graduated from Williams College and received a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University. David is fluent in Spanish. He will be teaching a course at the University of Central Lancashire in the fall of 2018 on Reforming Child Protection Systems Internationally.
Carlos Alviar has more than 20 years of experience working directly with development country governments on poverty reduction and social protection programming, research, and policy. He was Cash Transfer and Social Protection Specialist for UNICEF in Kenya and Ghana for 7 years. For the last six years, he has been consultant on health, social protection and social welfare for the Latin American Region, the Eastern Caribbean Area, Mexico, Panama and Haiti, working with UNICEF, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and FAO. He has extensive experience as team leader, manager and advisor for the implementation of high scale demand, supply, human capital and community-based interventions in 14 Latin American, Caribbean, Asian and African countries, ensuring adequate dialogue between stakeholders and partners and guaranteeing the development of policies, interventions and evaluations, according with their design and scheduled plans.Read More
As a consultant and an international organization staff member, Mr. Alviar has led the design, operationalization and implementation of a wide range of innovative social protection interventions, especially cash transfer programs to promote household investment in human capital and the protection of its members, livelihoods and assets. He has undertaken complex capacity needs assessments and developed business and costed action plans to improve: i) the effectiveness of the operational and institutional arrangements; ii) the quantity and quality of the human resources; and iii) the financial and fiduciary systems and budgets supporting government structures working on poverty reduction and social protection. He has managed program expansions (from pilot phase to full national scale), assessments and evaluations in various countries with different and complex institutional capacities and contexts, including during emergencies and crisis. He has extensive experience designing monitoring and evaluation systems and in the supervision of teams conducting quantitative and qualitative evaluations and research schemes for national scale interventions. Mr. Alviar is fluent in Spanish, English and French. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Los Andes in Bogota and an M.A. in Applied Political Studies from the Fundación Iberoamericana de Gobierno y Políticas Publicas in Madrid. Carlos is co-author of various international publications and research papers.
Beth Bradford is an international child protection consultant with over twenty years of experience. She is the Senior Technical Advisor for Family Strengthening with 4Children. Her work with both government and non-government partners has focused on systems development and includes case management, social work practice, deinstitutionalization and alternative care for children outside of parental care, and development of prevention / family strengthening programs. Beth has experience in qualitative research and evaluation, and program/project design, utilizing participatory approaches.
Examples of her most recent work include analysis of funding streams for children’s care with Elevate Children Funders Group, development of a case management package for reintegration of children from residential care to family care in Uganda, development of the Faith to Action manual on transitioning children’s care, working with the Maestral team on development of Guidelines for Foster Care, Kinship Care and Supported Independent Living in Liberia, and drafting of the working paper on the role of social service workforce development in care reform for Better Care Network and the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Past work has included child protection, care reform and work force development in the CEE/CIS Region and Sub-Saharan Africa. Bradford worked as the family support program director for an American community-based organization for twelve years prior to joining Maestral. She brings this practical experience to her consultancies. In addition, to consulting she advises global practice students in the graduate school of social work at Boston College. She has a graduate degree in Sustainable Development / Management from SIT and an undergraduate degree in child development. Bradford is a native English speaker and is fluent in Romanian.
Tessa, a Dutch national currently residing in Yangon, Myanmar, is a qualified social worker with a specialty in child protection policies and systems. She has over 20 years of experience with 14 in Asia. Tessa was retained as the lead advisor on a UNICEF Myanmar alternative care project in 2013 and 2014, and was involved with Maestral in developing the country’s first case management system (with a focus on child protection). As the International Social Work Advisor for Friends International, Tessa developed child protection policies and social work training manuals. She has trained local governments and NGOs on case management and social work in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Myanmar. She has also developed case management systems, led social work trainings and facilitated the strengthening of child protection policies, and has managed and implemented several child protection projects in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia.Read More
Recently Tessa established the first medical social work department at Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia, which now employs 15 social workers and functions as a national training institute. She has worked for UNICEF, OXFAM, Terre des Hommes and Friends International, as well as many others. Aside of her work in child protection, Tessa runs a philanthropic advisory company, advising family foundations, companies and schools on their giving. She speaks English, Dutch, German and French.
Isabel de Bruin Cardoso is a human rights advocate with over ten years experience working on child protection, care and support for children and families in the context of HIV, and systems strengthening for vulnerable children. A creative and pragmatic thinker, she has led the development of results based strategic and operational plans, facilitated the design and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs, and influenced the design of national and program monitoring frameworks. She is an experienced and dynamic team player with solid communication skills, having worked alongside government, international organisations, donors, private foundations, faith-based groups, civil society, networks, academia and beneficiaries in different countries and cultures in Africa and Latin America.Read More
Her recent work has focused on violence against children and alternative care for children outside of parental care, including conducting research on violence and different care settings in Africa, leading the development of a multi-year program to combat violence against children in Catholic sponsored schools and communities in Kenya, providing quality assurance and capacity building support to a government regulated and Catholic run temporary rescue home for survivors of sexual abuse in Kenya, and identifying promising practices on referral mechanisms for vulnerable children and youth in Mozambique. Isabel has a Master’s in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University and a Bachelor Degree in International Relations from Universiteit Utrecht. A Dutch national, she can communicate fluently in English and Portuguese, and has a working knowledge of French. She currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya.
Severine works in the field of child protection, care and support and systems strengthening in emergency, early recovery, refugee and development settings. Her policy and programming work at country and global levels includes child protection and welfare systems strengthening; case management; family tracing and reunification and other child protection programs for unaccompanied, separated children and other vulnerable children in emergency and refugee settings; alternative care; prevention and response against violence against children; and monitoring, reporting and responding to violations against children affected by armed conflict. Severine has worked closely with Governments, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations across Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Severine is currently seconded to the 4Children project as the Senior Technical Advisor in Child Protection and Welfare Systems where she provides technical assistance in strengthening child protection and welfare systems; case management. And prevention and response to violence against children.Read More
Severine previously led the Better Care Network, a network which facilitates active collaboration on the issue of children without adequate family care and advocates for technically sound policy and programmatic action on global, regional, and national levels. Severine was also with UNICEF Haiti, initially within the emergency response in the aftermath of the January 12th 2010 earthquake, and then supporting the Haitian Government on alternative care and birth registration. Previously, and under the guidance of UNICEF, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee’s Steering Committee, Severine oversaw the development, implementation and coordination of the Inter-Agency Child Protection Information Management System and related tools to support child protection programs in over 10 countries in particular for unaccompanied and separated children and other vulnerable children in emergency and refugee settings. Severine is French-American, bilingual in French and English and currently resides in New York, USA.
Gillian has spent more than 20 years working in the fields of children’s rights, child development and protection, humanitarian assistance and conflict management. She has worked on programs and policies to effect real change for the world’s most vulnerable children, often bringing together diverse constituents in order to do so. Her earlier field-based work has greatly influenced her policy and advocacy work with the U.S. government and the United Nations. Prior to joining Maestral, Gillian was asked to establish the U.S. office of J.K. Rowling’s international child rights organization, Lumos, which she did from 2014-2015. Before that, Gillian served as the Senior Child Development and Protection Technical Advisor with USAID’s Center for Children in Adversity, where she worked with a team responsible for coordinating all forms of U.S. Government assistance to highly vulnerable children in developing countries. In that role, she facilitated an international evidence summit on protecting children outside of family care and coordinated the development of the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity, the U.S. government’s first-ever strategic guidance for international assistance to children.Read More
Earlier professional experiences include work with the United Nations as well as with NGOs and academic institutions in six countries in Africa, the former Soviet Union, Western Europe and the United States. Gillian worked as a UN humanitarian affairs officer in Angola during the last three years of the civil war and has designed conflict resolution and child rights programs with Search for Common Ground and Save the Children. Gillian has taught courses in assistance for children in emergency settings (George Washington University), field research, and cross-cultural communication (World Learning’s School for International Training in Russia) and has been involved in a working group on psychosocial support in crisis settings. Gillian has a BA from Bard College and an MA from the University of Amsterdam. She has received additional training in emergency response, humanitarian coordination, mediation and negotiation. She received the 2009 Brimstone Award with Laura Simms from the National Storytelling Network for her work using story telling with children in conflict and crisis settings.
Shar Kurtishi is a public finance specialist with 13 years’ experience in the design, administration and management of PFM systems and within the last seven years, direct involvement in social protection and child protection strategies, policies and programs. Shar’s core expertise is in the analysis of human development and the interface with public financial management, budget preparation and medium term expenditure planning, and fiscal and administrative decentralization. He has worked extensively in Kosovo, UK, Slovenia, Albania and Nigeria. He has provided effective management to programs, policies and strategies on PFM, designed toolkits for education decision making, developed intergovernmental financing mechanism and written strategies for social protection for a variety of organizations including the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, the European Commission [EC], USAID [US] and the United Nations Children Fund [UNICEF].Read More
Shar was contracted – as a directly contracted consultant – by UNICEF’s Kosovo (2012) where he was responsible for analysing and advising on the social scheme and relationship with the public financial management systems and the interface with social policy (education, health, social protection and child protection). He is currently involved as PFM consultant in Child Protection Mapping and Assessment for six states in Nigeria on a joint UNICEF/USAID co-founded project and UNICEF Nigeria on Economic Assessment on Unit Cost of Social Services for Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. Furthermore Shar has strong IT experience in development, deployment and evaluation of Management information System. Shar is fluent in Albanian, English, Serbian and German.
Siân Long has been a Senior Associate with Maestral International since 2010, and is the 4Children Senior Technical Advisor on Violence Against Children (VAC) supporting the project with 50% of her time through Maestral. Siân has worked on child protection and issues impacting children affected by HIV and AIDS for over 20 years, and is an expert in policy and programming, child rights, national and global strategy design, child protection systems strengthening, and programme evaluation. She has expertise in participatory research and assessment approaches with children, working with families and service providers and on developing strategy, policy and programming tools for use by a wide range of policy makers and practitioners.Read More
Siân has worked and written extensively on strengthening linkages between child protection and HIV programming, HIV sensitive child protection system strengthening, and referral mechanisms and case management for vulnerable children in eastern and southern Africa. Siân lives in the UK and speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French.
Atieno has extensive experience in international development both at country and regional levels. She has worked with direct service delivery focusing on gender-based violence against women and children, people with disabilities, the elderly, refugee rights and integration; as well as provided technical assistance to strategic planning for national and sub-national level ministries on issues around HIV, care and support for children in the context of HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights, child protection, human rights and sports and development. She has experience in results based strategic and operational planning, human rights based approaches, partnership development, organizational strengthening, programme and project design and management, and resource mobilization.Read More
She has worked with a range of partners, managed strategic partnerships, facilitated capacity development and technical assistance for and with UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral development partners, regional and country level civil society organizations, regional economic communities and parliamentary bodies. As a creative, she also strives to support to creative industry in East Africa. Atieno is currently based in Nairobi and speaks English, Swedish, Portuguese and has good working knowledge of Spanish and French. Atieno has a MSc in Social policy and planning in developing countries, with a focus on gender and on urban planning, from London School of Economics.
Bill is a Child Protection, Global Health, and ICT Systems strategist and lawyer with over 22 years experiences in HIV and AIDS, child protection, systems strengthening and integrated programming to improve the well-being of children. His global experience, which began in Rwanda and at CARE USA, first as manager of vulnerable children programmes, and later as Director of HIV and AIDS, includes working with diverse vulnerable populations, focusing on vulnerable children.Read More
His experience includes child protection case management in Eastern Africa, designing and managing integrated programming for vulnerable children, gender mainstreaming, the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, systems strengthening, law and policy, and livelihoods/economic strengthening interventions. He has analysed how child-focused programmes are adapted for fragile state contexts. As a lawyer, he is familiar with, and understands how to analyse justice systems. Recent projects include strategising around the collection, management and use of quality data for informing policies and making programmatic decisions. His career also includes a focus on integrated early childhood development (ECD), and he served as co-lead for CARE USA in the interagency development of the ECD HIV Essential Package. He has worked on consultancies for UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation, CARE, UNHCR, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Save the Children.
Viktoria Perschler is an international consultant with over 20 years of experience in child protection and almost 10 years in gender based violence. She is a strategic thinker who has demonstrated capability to work at national and community level to effectively design, monitor and evaluate programs and projects. Her experience includes working with governments and other stakeholders to create inclusive national child protection strategies. She is also an experienced trainer and has carried out numerous assessments, reviews and evaluations.Read More
Viktoria has been living and working in Southern, East and West Africa since 1994. In addition, she has worked in Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Armenia especially in the areas of emergency preparedness, gender based violence and alternative care. Previously a staff member of UNICEF, she has been a consultant since 2007 for UNICEF, the World Bank, the Government of Angola, various international NGOs and consulting groups. An Austrian national, she communicates fluently in English, French and German and has a working knowledge of Portuguese and Spanish.
Mark is a child protection and social welfare consultant. Mark has been living in East Africa for 7 years working on child welfare reforms. He has worked with a wide range of actors including international organizations, private foundations, foreign embassies and government ministries. His work is focused on systems strengthening and child protection, with particular emphasis on alternative care and alternative care related programming for children outside of family care and family strengthening. Mark authored the Uganda National Alternative Care Framework and undertook the 2012 study on institutional care in Uganda which prompted a significant emphasis and investment to address the high levels of children in institutional care in Uganda.Read More
Mark currently works with Maestral International on family strengthening programmes on the 4Children project across a number of countries and for Hope and Homes for Children on a Deinstitutionalisation project in Jharkhand state, India. Mark currently resides in Kampala. Before moving to Uganda in 2010 worked for over 15 years with the Welsh Assembly Government delivering both public and private consultancy and project management programmes.
Anna Nordenmark Severinsson is an international advisor on child protection policy and system reform with 20 years of international professional experience. She has been a team leader on different USAID, SIDA, EU, UN and civil society projects. The focus of Anna’s work has been on strengthening the policies and implementation of policies for better fulfilment of child protection rights and human rights, most often focusing on sectors such as the welfare and social protection and their coordination with health, education and justice sectors. One of Anna’s specialties is in child protection system governance and capacity building with a focus on whole sector reform. In the context of advising governments on such reforms, she has led and carried out several ministry-, and department functional assessments, capacity assessments, governance assessments and sector performance reviews and provided advice to governments to recommend optimal organization of services, the strengthening of core functions and competencies in child protection in order to improve the performance of protection systems.Read More
Anna has furthermore supported, facilitated and lead the articulation of many legislative reviews, sectorial reform strategies and ministerial and government action plans. Another focus of Anna’s work has been the use of monitoring and evaluation techniques to strengthen the protection sector and social policies more broadly. Over the years she has been involved in supervising large household surveys (MICS and DHS); she has facilitated and designed training programmes for government stakeholders and UNICEF-staff on results based management and human rights based approaches to programming, programme excellence, monitoring and evaluation; she has designed, led and overseen a number of qualitative and mixed methods multi-country studies and evaluations in the fields of juvenile justice, child welfare/care reform and violence against children and on the social inclusion of children with disabilities.
Anna is used to working with a large variety of stakeholders, including policy level stakeholders at national, regional and local levels, professionals involved in child protection, vulnerable families and children themselves, often the most vulnerable and at risk: children in prisons, living in residential care, and victims of violence. She has often been called on as a child protection expert in various international fora to support development of standards and programme excellence frameworks on child protection and welfare. A Swedish/Swiss national currently based in Switzerland, Anna has lived and operated from a number of countries and performed shorter and longer professional missions to close to 30 countries across the larger Europe, Africa and Asia.
Francesca Stuer has sixteen years of international social and health development work providing a depth of experience, reaching across global, regional and country level policy, strategy and program development. Her specialist experience and expertise includes social welfare, child protection and alternative childcare. Other areas of expertise include vulnerability assessment and resilience building, women and girls empowerment, household economic strengthening, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights with a particular focus on adolescents, and strategic behavioral communication. Francesca has worked at a senior level to support and build capacity of host governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs). Skilled in strategic analysis and planning, monitoring and evaluation, and capacity building, she always uses the best evidence available to inform her work.Read More
Across these areas, she brings her valuable strengths in leadership, coordination, partnership building and influencing to bring people together to address shared issues. An accomplished manager, she has led large multicultural teams to implement diversified programs with annual budgets of up to USD 13 million.
Addishiwot is a consultant with over 13 years of experience in child protection, policy and programing, program evaluation and strategy development. As an independent consultant, Addishiwot has been engaged in research, advocacy, health communication and education work. Her work with non-governmental development and civil society organizations focuses on promoting child rights and the welfare of children and the under privileged. She managed the implementation of several HIV, OVC, education and health programs at Save the Children, Right to Play and Handicap International. Addishiwot also has experience working with communities for the social welfare of vulnerable children. She has experience building the capacities of civil society organizations in program implementation and management.Read More
In her recent work, Addishiwot supported the mapping and assessment of child protection systems and the development of child protection strategies and strengthening of community capacities in response to psychosocial support needs of the most vulnerable children in Nigeria. She has lived and worked in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigeria and is fluent in Amharic. Addishiwot has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from National University of Rwanda and a B.A. in Sociology and Social Administration from Addis Ababa University. Addishiwot currently lives in Abuja, Nigeria.
Nicole Williams graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. Her teaching led her to develop a strong interest in working at the international level. Nicole took a position with an adventure travel organization and her experiences abroad inspired her to deepen her knowledge of children’s and human rights issues. She enrolled in the Heller School for Social Policy & Management, at Brandeis University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Sustainable International Development. During her tenure at Brandeis, Nicole spent nine months in Moshi, Tanzania, undertaking a practicum for her thesis working with an organization supporting children at risk in the region. As a research assistant with the organization, Nicole conducted a school baseline study on truancy, drop-out rates, literacy and numeracy in Moshi and Arusha primary schools. Prior to joining Maestral, Nicole worked as an International Program Assistant with the American Refugee Committee.
Joanna Ison has a Master of Science in Justice, Law and Society from the American University School of Public Affairs, along with a B.A. in Communication, Law, Economics and Government. She also received a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from University of Illinois in Chicago. After graduation, Joanna joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Barskoon, Kyrgzystan, where she taught English at a local school and completed several community development projects. Upon her return to the US, Joanna worked as a Program Officer for Projects and Partnerships at the American Library Association, where among other things she worked on public awareness campaigns, advocacy, and diversity efforts. Prior to joining the Maestral team, Joanna was a Grants Writer for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.
Marsha received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Her heart for hurting people has led her in many directions over the years. Before becoming a mother, she was the Office Manager of a Crisis Center. For many years she was a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled her three children, who are now all successful adults working to change the world for the better. For nearly twenty years she was the Worship Pastor at her church where she was responsible for recruiting, training, developing, and leading multiple teams of volunteer musicians and technicians. In 2007, Marsha started her own small business, Wilder Piano Studio, where she currently teaches 30+ piano students. Marsha also enjoys her role as the Administrative Assistant for Hope Station – a non-profit in Chengdu, China founded and directed by her daughter who is an advocate for orphans. Marsha and her husband enjoy visiting her in China. They also enjoy family activities, traveling, camping, biking and hosting international guests in their home.
“We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them. We are not expenses; we are investments.”
—Gabriela Azurduy Arrieta (age 13 from Bolivia)
and Audrey Cheynut (age 17 from Monaco).
Delivered to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children.