|SOA Watch Staff|
Fr. Roy Bourgeois - SOA Watch Founder
Born in Lutcher, Louisiana, Fr. Roy served as a Naval Officer for two years before entering the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Order. Ordained a Catholic priest in 1972, Roy went on to work with the poor of Bolivia for five years before being arrested and forced to leave the country, then under the repressive rule of dictator and SOA grad General Hugo Banzer.
Hendrik Voss - National Organizer
Born in Germany, Hendrik started his political activism as part of the antifascist movement against the resurgence of nationalism and racist violence following the reunification of Germany in 1990. In order to avoid the military draft in his home country, he moved to the United States and started to work in the DC office of SOA Watch in 1999. Hendrik and his partner, Gail Taylor, spent seven months living in Guatemala and working with Puente de Paz, a mental health and human rights group that works with survivors of political and domestic violence. Puente de Paz works to empower women in indigenous communities as they reweave the social fabric torn apart during Guatemala's 36-year internal armed conflict.
Brigitte Gynther has spent the past year in Honduras, first as a human rights accompanier with PROAH and subsequently as coordinator of SOA Watch's Stories of Honduras project. She has accompanied human rights organizations, social movements, and others standing up for justice in post-coup Honduras, where social movements, journalists, members of the LGBTQ community, and members of the new LIBRE political party formed out of the resistance movement to the 2009 SOA-graduate led coup face targeted repression, assassinations, death threats, and surveillance. SOA graduates and US-funded militarization continue to wreak havoc on Honduras, which has become the most violent country in the world. Invite Brigitte to your community to share about the human rights situation in Honduras in the lead-up to Honduras' November elections. She is available during the month of October. Brigitte is a 2004 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the 2009 recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Pablo Ruiz Espinoza - Latin America Coordinator
Pablo is a Chilean human rights activist and journalist who lives in Santiago, Chile. During the 1990´s he worked in Chile with the Committee Against Impunity, seeking to bring to trial military who had committed human rights abuses during the dictatorship of General Pinochet. In 1999 he joined the Kamarikun Human Rights Committee and in 2002 became a member of the Human Rights Education Team of the Chilean branch of Amnesty International.
Arturo J. Viscarra - Advocacy Coordinator
Arturo was born in El Salvador, but was forced to leave during the the country's civil war. His family lived in Guatemala and Colombia before permanently resettling in the U.S. He studied International Relations at the University of Delaware before obtaining a Master's in International Relations and a Juris Doctor from Boston University. He has practiced immigration law since 2007, which has allowed him to better understand the root causes that make Central Americans emigrate to the U.S. - principally disastrous US-supported military, economic, and immigration policies. The SOA graduate-led Honduran coup of 2009 and the repression it unleashed led Arturo to realize that he needed to not only be an advocate for individuals' rights, but an organizer to help build greater solidarity with the immigrant diaspora, those in Latin America, and everyone else that struggles against exploitation and militarization.
Katherine Henao - Development and Operations Coordinator
Joining our Washington, D.C. office from Los Angeles is Katherine Henao. With over seven years experience in the non-profit sector, she has demonstrated her commitment to the Latino community through her social justice work. Katherine is a Colombian immigrant with deep ties to the Movement. She graduated from the Political Science Master's program at California State University with an emphasis on Latin American and human rights. She is excited to work with you as the D & O Coordinator in the future!
María Luisa Rosal - Field Organizer
Born in Guatemala during the worst intensification of the internal armed conflict, she and her family fled into exile to the United States, where they received political asylum. Her father was disappeared by the Guatemalan state on August 12, 1983.
Prior to joining the national office as the movement's Field Organizer, María Luisa has worked on issues ranging from HIV prevention programs and positive youth development programs among Latino youth, to broader issues like torture, enforced and involuntary disappearances, historical memory, and human rights in Guatemala.
María Luisa holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and a Master's Degree in Human Rights and Democratization in Latin Amercia and the Caribbean from the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Under the conviction that without truth, there is no justice, she is enthusiastically committed to contributing to the growth and mobilization of this continental movement!
Karolina Babic - Activante
Karolina was born in Germany and joined the SOA Watch collective at the national office in Washington, DC after having graduated in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies from the University at Albany in New York. She has spent time in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile, where she worked with the Association of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Santiago. Now she is excited to put her energies into being part of the collective efforts to close the School of the Americas.
Jenne Ristau - Legislative Strategist
Jenne Ristau joined SOA Watch in August 2014 to continue resistinig the US's role in the continued repression of human and environmental rights activists locally and internationally. Her commitment to supporting sexual violence survivors led to her involvement in the movement for labor rights farmworkers and household workers. Most recently Jenne was a Human Rights Observer in Guatemala with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). She continues her commitment to NISGUA as a member of Partners for Arlington and Guatemala.
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