Guatemala Country Director
A strong leader with a deep commitment to Guatemalan culture and livelihood, Rebecca most recently served at the Rainforest Alliance of Guatemala, where she built and led a global team since 2008. As a manager, advocate, and market strategist in sustainable agriculture, she has extensive experience serving NGOs, the private sector, and local farmers’ operations in 40 countries across the globe.
Joining Common Hope | Familias de Esperanza in May, Rebecca will be charged with developing and executing Common Hope’s vision of helping children to graduation and families out of poverty in the Antigua Valley. Her knowledge of international business and human development represents a significant opportunity for Common Hope to make an even greater impact.
Rebecca came to Guatemala to serve in the Peace Corps and stayed. Dedicating her life to her work in Guatemala for the last 17 years, she has built not only a marvelous career serving the people of the country, but she has a family and home here as well. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The position of Country Director allows Rebecca to, as she would say, “work with the most wonderful team,” and make use of her diverse leadership skills for capacity building, training, program analysis and evaluation, and strategic and operational implementation. She looks forward to working together to continue delivering Common Hope’s mission of hope and opportunity to the children, families, and communities we serve.
Jeff came to Common Hope in February 2001 to oversee the construction of New Hope Village, and since July 2003 has served as Director of Strategic Planning. In that capacity he works with staff in both Guatemala and the U.S. to identify goals, opportunities, and the means to achieve them. He also manages special projects, such as construction of the New Hope School and the policy restructuring initiative.
Fittingly, his own arrival in Central America came as the result of a combination of careful planning and a natural disaster. Hurricane Mitch struck during the week he was taking his oral exam for a master’s in Central American economic history and development. Recognizing a hint when he saw it, he moved to Honduras, where he spent a year and half as a volunteer working with a reconstruction and community development project. In a previous life, Jeff was an account manager for an advertising agency.
Pablo arrived at Common Hope as IT director in February 2006. He is responsible for the computer and telephone systems and the cell phones at both Antigua and New Hope sites. Prior to Common Hope, Pablo spent eleven years working in systems with a large non-profit in Guatemala.
Of his work Pablo states that of course he loves working with the technology, but above that he enjoys the opportunity he has at Common Hope to feel connected with the families we serve. From his office at the Family Development Center, he is able to see the work going on all around him as the families arrive daily for social work meetings, medical appointments, support groups or educational clases.
Development and Hospitality Manager
In 2012, Erin joined the Common Hope team as the Grants and Communications Officer. In 2015, she took on her new role overseeing the Vision Team and short-term volunteer staff in Guatemala. Erin is grateful for the opportunity to work with an organization that helps children and families to make long-term change.
Originally from Minnesota, Erin came to Guatemala in 2006 with the Peace Corps. During that time, she facilitated a Healthy Schools program in Tecpan and fell in love with Guatemala.
In 2011, Alma took on the role of coordinator in our new community of San Miguel Milpas Altas, a village about 20 minutes outside the Antigua valley, where about 160 families recently signed up to partner with Common Hope and about 230 students attend school with the help of Common Hope.
Previously, she served as the social work director in Antigua, where she oversaw the staff in her department, assigned families to social workers, and managed the information about the families we serve. She also coordinated the work of the social workers with other Common Hope programs and partner organizations, and she coordinated the involvement of outside professionals who assisted the social workers with difficult family situations.
Alma came to Common Hope in 1995 through an acquaintance who was also a social worker. She has a university degree in school work and lives with her family in Antigua.
Lesbia took on the role of coordinator in the community of San Rafael el Arado in 2011. In this role, she coordinates our work with local community leaders and organizations and also coordinates the social work and sponsorship staff in the village. San Rafael is an indigenous community about 40 minutes from Antigua, where about 150 families partner with Common Hope and 400 children attend school thanks to their Common Hope sponsorship.
Lesbia started working at Common Hope in 2000 as a social worker in Antigua. She then worked in sponsorship in the affiliations department, then as a social worker in San Rafael before being promoted to the coordinator position. Lesbia has a university degree in social work and enjoys working with families. She says, “All of my experiences with the families we work with have made me more human.”
Sandra’s role is to guide social work, health, housing, and education teams to focus on each child’s success, emphasizing to them that their education will open many doors for them in the future and that it will give them more hope. Education will allow them to give their future families opportunities that they never had growing up.
Sandra has a graduate degree in social psychology and political violence. After graduating she worked in a variety of areas focusing on child advocacy before joining Common Hope where she helped her department monitor the mental health of our affiliated children and families, encouraging them to develop confidence, compassion and organizational skills.
Sandra has been at Common Hope since 2002. Working for Common Hope is an honor,” Sandra says. “It fulfills me completely.” Sandra lives in Guatemala City with her three sons and is an immensely proud grandmother.
When Rosalina was young, she was able to attend school because she was affiliated with an international sponsorship program. She came to work with Common Hope in 1991 and in 1994, Rosi traveled to the United States to speak about her experiences working with us in Guatemala.
Though she has worked in many capacities at Common Hope, Rosi is currently in the role of sponsorship director,. Rosalina says, “During my time of working at Common Hope I have grown as a woman and as a professional.” Her dream is to finish her university degree in business administration. She is married and has a family.
Josué has a wide range of responsibilities, including supervision of the construction, kitchen, maintenance, transport, cleaning and security areas at both Antigua and New Hope sites. Prior to joining the Common Hope team in 2004, Josué worked as an engineering assistant on a variety of housing programs. He was able to put some of those skills to good use supervising the construction of the new preschool wing of New Hope School.
Josué says he loves the opportunity his work has given him to learn and apply his knowledge to such a wide variety of areas. As his own home town is amongst the villages served by Common Hope it is also special to him to be able to support his own neighbors. He emphasizes the importance to him that his staff understand their importance and contribution to Common Hope’s mission. Josué has a university degree in architecture.
As program development director, Renato focuses on gathering, prioritizing and setting up special projects to be developed for future or existing programming, such as the Common Hope educational quality initiatives, the launch of future outposts and general program monitoring and evaluation work.
Renato was born in Guatemala and orphaned at age five. He was then adopted by a couple in the United States. After graduating from St. John’s University with a degree in political science, he decided to devote the next stage of his life to Guatemala and its people. In 1996, he returned to Guatemala as a full-time volunteer with Common Hope and worked with home construction, stoves, eyeglasses, and computers.
From 1998 to 2008, Renato served as the director of New Hope, overseeing the construction of the village and primary school, as well as overseeing the development of primary and secondary education and community development. In January 2009, Renato accepted his current position of program development director. Renato lives in Guatemala with his family.
In 2010, Walter accepted the position of clinic manager at Common Hope’s health clinic in Antigua, where he oversees our medical and dental clinic staff and volunteers, our pharmacy, and our community health initiative.
Walter is from Guatemala City, where he received his MD from the University of San Carlos. After finishing medical school, Dr. Estrada completed postgraduate studies in surgery and orthopedic trauma at the Francisco Marroquin University and the University of San Carlos. He then worked for eight years in the Guatemalan Military Health Service, where he served as a trauma surgeon in a mobile surgical hospital and also helped coordinate a variety of military health programs, including nutrition initiatives and chronic disease prevention. Dr. Estrada then became the chief of health services at a large sugar mill, where he was responsible for the implementation and coordination of a variety of curative and preventive health programs for mill workers and their children. Most recently, Dr. Estrada served as a rotating doctor in a health clinic outside of Guatemala City, and providing medical support at a rehabilitation center for the physically disabled.
From 2001 to 2004, Patty worked at Common Hope, initially as a social worker and later as the social work manager. Through the experience of managing staff, Patty recognized her desire to explore the field of human resource management. She left Common Hope for two years, residing in Honduras for part of this time. Interested in continuing her career with Common Hope, she returned in 2007 as the human resources coordinator for New Hope.
Since 2012, Patty has served as director of human resources, and she sees great potential in Common Hope staff members and an endless source of experience and knowledge. Patty firmly believes that this is the greatest resource of the organization.
Nineth started working at Common Hope in 1998 as a receptionist. Since then, she has acquired a university degree in business administration and a master’s degree in analysis and administration of reliability in administrative processes. As Common Hope’s scholarship administration manager, Nineth oversees all the administrative processes necessary for making payments to schools and reimbursing affiliated families for education-related expenses.
Before being promoted to her current position, Nineth worked in Common Hope’s accounting department. Nineth enjoys watching students be able to fulfill their dreams of graduating, and she is proud to have been a part of Common Hope’s family for so many years.
Rigoberto worked at Common Hope from 2000 to 2005, where he was responsible for the formation and coordination of Common Hope’s first youth group programs. He then went on to gain valuable experience coordinating and managing youth programs for over 14,000 youth at Children International.
Passionate about Common Hope’s mission, Rigo recently returned to serve as the manager of youth support programs, where he plans to implement strategies to increase youth participation and give youth the tools and training they need to lead their own group activities.
In 2011, Patty took on the role of social work manager in Antigua, where she oversees the staff in her department, assigns families to social workers, and manages the information about the families we serve. She also coordinates the work of the social workers with other Common Hope programs and partner organizations, and she coordinates the involvement of outside professionals who assist the social workers with difficult family situations.
Patty is originally from Chimaltenango and has been working at Common Hope since 2004. She has a university degree in social work and got her start at Common Hope as an intern working with community groups.
New Hope Leadership
From 2007 to 2010, Elsa taught third through sixth grades at New Hope School. She started her current position as Elementary Education Coordinator in 2011. Before coming to Common Hope, Elsa worked in a private school and studied hard to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy and Educational Administration.
Elsa firmly believes that education allows teachers to influence students and help them to positively transcend their life circumstances. Her life philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: “Educate with love and by example.”
Leslie began working for Common Hope in 2007, supporting extracurricular activities at New Hope. The following year, she began teaching art and later began providing individualized support to students. Now the Educational Support Programs Manager, Leslie oversees programs including family education, psychology, and extracurricular activities. In this role, she works to support affiliates in their efforts towards academic success.
Leslie loves working with children, youth, and families—working in education and mental health are ways she is able to serve those around her. She believes that education is a tool we can give children and youth to promote development and break cycles of poverty.
Youth Development Coordinator
Henry’s connection with Common Hope began at an early age when he and his family moved to the community of New Hope Community in 2001 and has lived there ever since. In 2010, Henry graduated from high school with the support of Common Hope and in 2014 he was hired as the Youth Development Coordinator in New Hope to coordinate the youth programing that he himself was a product of.
In Henry’s current position, he is tasked with helping support the young people of New Hope to become agents of change in their family and community. He does this through coordinating sports activities, arts and crafts, trainings, and spending one-on-one time with students. He works to create and healthy and safe space for youth to be successful in school and to develop their leadership and critical thinking skills.