What is UCDF?
The UPAVIM Community Development Foundation (UCDF) is a 501C3 organization based in the United States. Part of our mission is to raise funds for the programs UPAVIM offers in Guatemala. Additionally, the board of UCDF serves in an advisory role to UPAVIM, when needed.
Beyond working with UPAVIM, the UCDF assists with the processing of donations for other charitable organizations working in Guatemala.
UCDF Board of Directors
Mary Joan Ferrara Marsland
President, Crafts Advisor
Since 1998, Mary Joan Ferrara-Marsland has been the US Marketing and Distribution Director for UPAVIM Crafts. She came to UPAVIM with a B.A. in Fine Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a Production Crafts degree in Weaving and Textiles from Haywood Technical College in North Carolina, and many years of work experience in teaching, weaving, design and textile merchandising.
Five years in Botswana, 3 years of that with Peace Corps, working in a textile workshop with disabled people reinforced her interest in international work, fair trade and ethnic textiles and crafts. Empowering impoverished and challenged peoples though income generation has been a primary focus of her career. UPAVIM is and always will be close to her heart because the women she works with and visits at UPAVIM are her heroes. She is a long time member of WARP – Weave a Real Peace, Fair Trade Federation and Green America. Mary Joan was elected President of the UCDF Board in June 2015.
UPAVIM Advisor and board member Barb Lorraine speaks to the guests at Howard Community College[/caption]Born and raised in Texas, Barb Lorraine graduated from Texas Lutheran in 1957 and enjoyed her first career in Texas as a science teacher. After her move to Howard County, Maryland, in 1974, Barb embarked on career #2 as a successful real estate agent in Columbia. In the 1980’s, as the Sanctuary Movement increased Barb’s awareness of the flood of immigrants entering the U.S. from Mexico and Central America, she decided to do more than shelter eight undocumented immigrants in her home; she decided to move to Central America to learn more first-hand and to work on the problems of poverty at their source. In order to take a useful skill to Central America, Barb entered Howard Community College’s nursing program in 1985.
She graduated in ’87, passed her boards, and at 50 immediately moved to Guatemala for language school and to find a location to apply her nursing skills. Her third and final career (nurse, community organizer, advisor, and friend) began in a clinic at a Catholic Church in La Esperanza. Her work at the clinic brought her close to the women of the community, and in 1988, Barb connected eight mothers from her well-baby clinic with a Sister Parish group from Bemidji, Minnesota. This group of eight, seeing greater community needs, formed the cooperative that eventually became UPAVIM. Barb now splits her life between Texas, near one of her sons and family, and La Esperanza with her larger Guatemalan family. She currently serves in an advisory role at UPAVIM and her work has been instrumental in the continued growth of our crafts division and other projects.
Janessa Landeck is a Registered Nurse with experience in international public health, hospice care and postpartum nursing. She is originally from Wisconsin but currently lives in Colorado. Janessa earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing with a certificate in International Health from Georgetown University in 2005. After college, Janessa traveled to Guatemala to volunteer for a year in UPAVIM’s clinic. While volunteering, she helped start a free prenatal clinic for the community and helped run the Well-Child Program. Accompanying Janessa, were her husband Anders (who volunteered in the tutoring program) and her two-year-old son Auden (who attended Montessori preschool with the children of UPAVIM). Janessa and her husband were also very involved with helping UPAVIM start the first community library in the area.
Living in La Esperanza as a family was an amazing experience and she was excited to visit UPAVIM again in 2014 with her son to reunite with friends.. Janessa joined the UCDF board in 2013 and serves as the board’s treasurer. She also serves as a first contact for prospective volunteers and helps coordinate current volunteers. Janessa was so happy to find a way to support the women of UPAVIM from home and hopes to serve on the board for many years to come
Secretary, Clinic Advisor
After graduating UC Davis in California, Laura traveled to South America, observing and volunteering in medical clinics and hospitals in Ecuador and Boliva. It was then that she fell in love with Latin American culture and public health. From there she obtained her Master’s in public health from Tuft’s and subsequently volunteered as UPAVIM’s preventative health coordinator. Laura recently graduated from medical school at Marshall University and is currently doing her residency at Johns Hopkins.
Ellie Friedland, Ph.D.,
Ellie is Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education and Theatre at Wheelock College in Boston. She teaches courses in integrating drama and movement throughout the curriculum, assessment, professional communication and collaboration, and clowning for social change at Wheelock College, and leads workshops for teens and adults in Theatre of the Oppressed for the Wheelock Family Theatre. Ellie frequently presents at State and National conferences and provides professional development for Early Childhood Education professionals in anti-bias education, learning and teaching through play, drama, and movement, and creating welcoming environments for LGBTQ families and staff and for children with gender expansive behavior. Her publications focus on culturally competent and anti-bias education, learning and teaching through drama and movement, and Theatre of the Oppressed.
Ellie previously served as President of the UCDF Board and currently serves as an Education Advisor. As a board member, Ellie provides professional development and consultation to the teachers of UPAVIM’s school. Ellie also volunteers with the literacy project of the Guatemala Reading Association, working with public school teachers in Guatemala.
Meagan is a former (and future!) UPAVIM volunteer. She spent most of her time at UPAVIM in the after school program, Reforzamiento, and hopes to return for another year of volunteering soon. Meagan has lived and worked in various countries throughout Latin America, and is currently working at a non profit in the Bronx, New York, serving immigrants and families at risk of homelessness, but is about to embark on another Latin American adventure.
As the UCDF advisor to the Becas program, Meagan provides logistical support to UPAVIM in their efforts to provide scholarships and a safe space to the children of the community. She also serves as the first contact for prospective volunteers and helps coordinate current volunteers. Meagan is passionate about creating and sustaining cross-cultural allyship that fosters women’s empowerment.
Linda Billotti is a recent volunteer in the Reforzamiento tutoring program at UPAVIM, having worked there for about a year in 2014-2015. Linda provides first-hand experience to the UCDF Board as a recent volunteer and is currently chairing the Becas fundraising campaign. She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Family Science and a minor in Global Poverty.
Currently, Linda is pursuing a Master’s degree in Global Studies and International Relations with a focus in development in Latin America at Northeastern University. She loved her time at UPAVIM and hopes to be able to give back to the community of La Esperanza as a board member.
Greg Norman first became involved with UPAVIM in 1999 when worked as an UPAVIM volunteer for one year. He continued to work with UPAVIM over the next few years, including a year spent living in Guatemala while doing research for his Master’s thesis, which he earned in Latin American studies from UT Austin in 2004. In 2006, Greg returned to UPAVIM for two years to work on staff as a general program advisor. Since that time, Greg has continued to support UPAVIM as a member of the Foundation Board, as well as working with other marginalized communities in Guatemala through the Guatemala Solidarity Project.
Edward Murphy, Ph. D.,
Edward Murphy is an associate professor of history and global urban studies at Michigan State University. A specialist in Latin America with a PhD in anthropology and history from the University of Michigan, Ed has lived for several years in Chile and Guatemala. He counts his nine months as a volunteer at UPAVIM in 1998 and 1999 as one of the most challenging and inspiring experiences he has had in Latin America. The workers and volunteers at UPAVIM continue to develop impressive forms of solidarity and social well being in the face of tremendous hardship. Ed is thus happy to serve on UPAVIM’s board, which helps to fulfill his commitment to being a socially engaged scholar.
Deborah Osborn is a native of El Paso, Texas and a graduate of Trinity University. She spent two years volunteering at UPAVIM as an English Teacher and later the English Program Coordinator. During her time at UPAVIM she also served as the Volunteer Coordinator, contributed content for the UPAVIM blog and newsletter, and hosted fundraisers and events while visiting family at home in Texas.
Deborah is currently working in the Unaccompanied Minors Program at Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services in El Paso, Texas, where she works to help children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America stay legally in the United States. Deborah is very excited about the opportunity to continue supporting and working for the exceptional women and families of La Esperanza and hopes to further their goals and missions in any way possible.
Jose was born in Mexico City and lived in the Mexican southern state of Oaxaca until the age of 9, where he then immigrated to the United States to be reunited with his mother. Jose holds a BA in Political Science, Spanish Language and Culture with a minor in International Studies. Jose is currently volunteering in Reforz and helping in the school in the afternoons. Both Marlene and Jose are committed to promoting access to higher education and health care to youth in their respective communities.
Marlene Villasenor Chavez
Marlene Villasenor Chavez was born in Fresno California to Mexican immigrant parents. Marlene received her BA in Social Work from Fresno Pacific University. Marlene is teaching in the English program. Both Marlene and Jose have extensive backgrounds in grassroots organizing with the farm working and immigrant communities.