WFPSE Board of Directors and Regional Organizer
Our work would not be possible without the support and guidance of our Board of Directors and Regional Organizer. We are indebted to their time and commitment. Thank you!!!
Emily Rhyne grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina before moving to Asheville to attend school at UNCA where she obtained a BA with a focus on Post-Colonial Studies. In Western NC, she found her home in immigrant rights organizing sparking her interest in Latin America and movements against racism and imperialism. After completing her degree, she moved to Ecuador to learn Spanish and worked as an English teacher. She went on to work in Guatemala as a human rights monitor with the US-based organization NISGUA, accompanying Guatemalan human rights defenders at risk of persecution for their political work. Cases she accompanied include indigenous resistance to mega-development projects and survivors demanding justice for past war crimes committed by the Guatemalan State. Since returning to North Carolina, she has worked at local nonprofits as a Spanish interpreter, specializing healthcare education and outreach to immigrants and refugees.
Genesis Torres is a senior at North Carolina State University where she is majoring in Psychology. She is of Mexican and Honduran descent which has propelled her interest in immigrant and Latinx activism. Currently, she is working on a research project regarding immigrant womxn’s work experiences in the United States. She is also president of the student organization, Students for Immigrant Rights, at NC State. She is invested in learning more about the relations and history behind the United States and each Latin American country
Niccolo Roditti was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador but grew up living in Charlotte, NC. Niccolo’s family immigrated when he was two years old and his experiences as an immigrant in America is what made him interested in foreign policy, human and immigration rights. Last semester he studied abroad in Paris, France and was an intern for Benenova, a humanitarian non-profit. Niccolo’s interests in equity for all people in particular the disenfranchised are what lead him to apply for Witness for Peace Southeast and he is really eager to begin collaborating with the team.
Chelsey is an anthropologist with a passion for Colombia, human rights, and social justice. She received her Master’s of Anthropology from George Mason University. She is currently an anthropology PhD student at Vanderbilt University. Her research centers on how gender, racial, and national intersections influence US-Colombia solidarity work. Chelsey has been on several Colombia WfP delegations. Each trip spurred her growing interest in the dynamics of US-Colombia solidarity work.
Desmera Gatewood graduated with an English and Writing Composition degree from North Carolina Central Universty in 2013. As an undergraduate student Desmera began her work with Witness for Peace by participating in a delegation to Oaxaca, Mexico. Since, Desmera has done social justice work with NC NAACP as a Moral Freedom Summer organizer and the Southern Vision Alliance. In 2015, Desmera traveled with Witness for Peace on a delegation Cali, Colombia. Desmera is passionate about community development and coalition building. In addition to her work with Witness for Peace, Desmera also serves on the board of Durham Cares. In addition to community organizing, Desmera enjoys spending time with her daughter and indulging in local art scenes.
Bekah is a North Carolina native committing her life to social and ecological justice through all means. Bekah has been working in the food industry and social movement arena since she was twelve years old. She first began to understand the relationship between the US state and farmers, workers, marginalized communities through an interest in fair trade and coffee farming across the Americas and African diaspora. Bekah has had the privilege to travel and learn from comrades across much of the world including India, Central America, Botswana and South Africa. She hopes to hold her communities of privilege accountable to themselves and others through critical education, action and reflection. Bekah also sustains a passion for animals, biodiversity, rock climbing, artistic creation, and board games.
Ariana E. Vigil is an assistant professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Born in Ohio to parents of Jewish and Mexican ancestry, she has lived in New York, Texas, Nebraska, and Mexico. She moved to Carrboro, NC in 2011. Ariana’s academic and personal interests are deeply tied to the work of Witness for Peace SE. While completing her PhD at Cornell University, she wrote a dissertation exploring the role of U.S. Latina/o artists and activists who worked in solidarity with Central American peoples during the U.S.-backed civil wars of the 1980s. That work was later expanded into a book, War Echoes: Gender and Militarization in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production, published by Rutgers University Press in 2014. She has traveled throughout Central America – including Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama – to conduct research and regularly spends time in Mexico City
Gail Phares is one of the co-founders of Witness for Peace and a long-time leader in the Southeast region. For thirty years, Gail has devoted her life to activism and social justice. She lived and worked in Nicaragua and Guatemala as a Maryknoll Sister. She has led 60 delegations to Latin America over the past thirty years. She holds a MA in Latin American Studies from the American University in Washington, DC.