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Board of Directors

Our Board

The Huairou Commission is structured as a coalition of six Member Networks. Huairou’s Board of Directors serves as our main governing structure and representatives of our Member Networks and of our four geographical areas sit on the council. The Board is a key space for planning, debating and coordinating efforts among the Networks, guiding the overall work of the Huairou Commission.

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Jan Peterson

Chair of the Board, Huairou Commission, New York, USA


A visionary and pioneer in community development, Jan is the founder of numerous national, global and local organizations. A champion of grassroots women around the globe, Jan is the creator of a Leadership Support Process to facilitate grassroots women’s leadership. Supporting the knowledge and contributions of grassroots women, Jan led the national Institute for Women and Community Development and the Neighborhood Women College Program. Nationally, she founded the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, and globally, she played a founding role in GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission. She has taught at the Adelphi University School of Social Work, Pratt Institute, LaGuardia Community College and the New School. Under the Carter administration, she worked as the Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Liaison, as well as the Office of Policy and Planning and Action with Peace Corps and Vista. In 2009, Jan was awarded the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor for four decades of commitment to improving grassroots women’s lives globally. In addition to raising more than USD 4 million for work with grassroots women, Jan has supported highly innovative initiatives, such as the Grassroots Academies, held at each World Urban Forum, and the Local to Local Dialogue Process.

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Maria Teresa (Maite) Rodriguez

Co-Chair of the Board

Director, Women and Peace Network, Guatemala


For 18 years, Maite has worked with grassroots women’s movements struggling for land rights, women’s rights, community resilience and safer cities. Maite is Program Coordinator of Fundación Guatemala and leads the Women and Peace Network in Central America, in coordination with the Arias Foundation of Costa Rica. She is the Coordinator for the Gender and Feminist Studies Program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which has trained women in governmental institutions, international cooperations and civil society organizations for 17 years. She also coordinates the Leadership School for Grassroots Women for Community Resilience and DRR with CEEICH-UNAM. Maite led the coordination of  the “Certification for Grassroots Women as Development Agents for DRR” with CONRED, which is now a regional policy training for grassroots women adopted by the CEPREDENAC. Maite joined Huairou Commission in 2000, representing the Women and Peace Network, and has represented women’s organizations at the CSW in UN since 1998.

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Maria Fides Bagasao

Member of the Executive Committee

Executive Director, Leaders and Organizers of Community-Based Organizations in Asia (LOCOA), South Korea


Maria has worked as a community organizer and activist for 30 years. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Leaders and Organizers of Community-Based Organizations in Asia (LOCOA) in South Korea, after many years serving as the Executive Director of Community Organizers Multiversity, a capacity building institution for marginalized communities in the Philippines. Named the 2005 Outstanding Citizen of Nueva Ecija for Community Organizing, Maria began her work at the Philippine Ecumenical Council for Community Organization in 1976. She has also been a facilitator and consultant in a variety of global events, including the Grassroots Women International Academy in 2004 and Ubuntu Village: International Workshop on Best Practices in 2002. Maria currently serves on the board of Asian NGO Center, Community Organization of the Philippines, and Leaders and Community Organizers of Asia. She has a MA in Sociology from University of the Philippines and a BS in Social Work, also from University of the Philippines.

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Analucy Bengochea

Coordinator, Community Practitioner Platform on Resilience, Honduras


Analucy is a leader in bringing the voice of grassroots women and indigenous peoples to the global stage. She has 15 years of experience as a community organizer within Garifuna communities, empowering women through income-generating projects and other community development activities. She is a member of GROOTS International, and part of the Huairou Commission, through which she has worked with other organizations worldwide in disaster preparedness and response, has participated in Peer Exchanges with other grassroots groups, spoken at numerous UN conferences, and played a leadership role within both networks at the global level. She has also participated in various global conferences as a result of winning the UNDP Equator Initiative Prize Finalist in 2004.

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Olenka Ochoa Berreteaga

Council Board Member, Federation of Women Municipalists – Latin America and the Caribbean (FEMUM-ALC), Peru


Olenka has been an activist in the women’s movement, human rights and political affairs for over 30 years. She serves as the Vice-Director of the Interamerican Centre for Governance, as a member of the experts council of Indigenous Commission of National Parliament and as a member and the Gender Secretariat of Cooperation Table of AMPE (National Association of Mayors and Municipalities of Peru). Over the last 10 years, Olenka has held different charges in the National and Municipal Government and promoted public policies, trainings and good practices. Her project “Peacekeepers” with youth in gangs was awarded the National Contest of the World Bank in 2001. She has authored several publications, is an international speaker and a consultant to different NGOs and Cooperation Entities for training and strategic planning. She has carried out strategic planning and developed training programs with police, members of the armed forces, public services teams and grassroots women’s networks.

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Josephine (Jhocas) Castillo

Damanyan ng Maralitang Piipinong Api Inc. (DAMPA), Philippines


Since 1996, Jhocas has been an organizer and founding leader of Damayan ng Maralitang Pilipinong Api (DAMPA), a federation of 235 women-led CBOs across the Philippines. Since her selection in 2003, Jhocas has also served on the Board of Directors of Asian Bridge and on the project management committee of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DRRNET). Jhocas began her career in her hometown of barangay, where she was elected as a Youth Council Head during the 1972 election. In 1988, she led efforts to save her community on Luzon Avenue in Quezon City, when it was threatened to be demolished. She served as the chair of the board of NAMALU Home Owner’s Association, where her first fight on security of tenure lasted seven years; consequently, 421 families were awarded three hectares of land, and Jhocas has lived in the area for the last 30 years. She is a member of the Philippines’ Presidential Commission of Women and a member of the UN Women’s Global Civil Society Advisory Group. She holds a BS in Criminology and was trained as a community organizer and leader by the COPE Foundation.

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Lana Louise Finikin

Member of the Executive Committee

Executive Director, Sistren Theatre Collective, Jamaica


Through a powerful combination of creative arts and advocacy, Lana has led the Sistren Theatre Collective for over 20 years. Sistren has used street theater to promote discussion about community safety since 1977, highlighting programs on gender-based violence, crime prevention and HIV/AIDS. As a trailblazer in gender relations training, the Collective has responded to the diverse demand-led needs within communities across Jamaica, particularly in Kingston, consistently using the creative arts as a tool of social change. Lana has also served as a project coordinator, co-trainer and facilitator for GROOTS/Huairou Jamaica, emphasizing safety in cities and communities through Local to Local Dialogues and implementing safety audits. In 2012, Lana was appointed to the Caribbean Civil Society Organisations and Networks Committee and received the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre from the Castillo Theatre in New York.

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Emmy Galama

Representative, International Council of Women, Netherlands


Emmy has been a champion of equitable and sustainable housing policies for over 25 years. In 1996, she joined the International Council of Women (ICW) while preparing its “OUR Best Practice” display for the UN-Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, where she presented in the ICW’s workshop, “The future of the next generation.” Since then, Emmy has shared her expertise as Permanent Representative of ICW to UN-HABITAT (Nairobi) and UNECE-EHLM (Geneva). Educated in the biochemical medical sector, Emmy focuses on sustainable housing and a healthy and safe living environment for women, men and their families. Emmy has also worked with the Women’s Advisory Committee for Housing and the Environment (VAC), a Dutch volunteer organization for housing and the living environment, and is chair of the Provincial Board of VAC Zeeland. At the local and provincial level, Emmy is active in social housing, and is initiator and chair of self-help-groups. She is also a volunteer for the Netherlands Red Cross.

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Limota Goroso Giwa

Executive Director, International Women Communication Center (IWCC), Nigeria


A prolific writer, feminist and renowned activist for women’s human rights and peace, Limota serves as the Executive Director of the International Women Communication Center (IWCC), a women’s human rights NGO committed to promoting and protecting the rights of women, girls and vulnerable groups in Nigeria. Limota is also the vice chair of the transition monitoring group in Nigeria, coordinating over 450 civil societies, and sits on the Board of WAEON, representing TMG Nigeria in sub-regional grouping. In 1994, she served as West Africa Countries Coordinator of Pan African Women’s Liberation Organization (PAWLO) in Kampala, Uganda, before returning to Nigeria to focus changing policies interfering with gender issues and development. As a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, Limota recently completed her PhD research at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Human and Health Science (United Kingdom), with a focus on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in polygamist Muslim society. In 2005, she was among the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, for women who have contributed immensely to global peace and sustainable development.

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Lily Hutjes

Member of the Executive Committee

International Council of Women, Netherlands


Lily has been a volunteer and advocate for grassroots women’s activities for over 30 years. She is a founder (and still a member) of a local “Women’s Advisory Committee (VAC)” on housing and the living environment, that assess the livability aspects of social housing, including safety in neighborhoods. Currently Lily is involved in gender and development politics at the local, national and international level, and her work focuses on awareness-raising on gender issues, enforcing an inclusive bottom-up approach in decision-making processes and bringing the voices of grassroots women into governmental decision-making processes. Lily has been involved in meetings and conferences with UN-Habitat for many years.

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Rut Kolínská

Founder, Czech Network of Mother Centers, Czech Republic


Rut is a pioneer in supporting mothers and young families throughout the Czech Republic, and is the founder of the first mother center and of the Network of Mother Centers in the Czech Republic. Today, there is a nation-wide network of over 300 Mother Centers in the Czech Republic that meet the practical needs of families with young children, while collectively working on a broader set of values that demonstrate why and how Czech society must become more family friendly. Rut sees the maternity centers’ greatest benefit in their function as “real schools of civic life.” Members are demonstrating how childcare and motherhood, traditionally considered part of the private domain, can be brought into the public sphere to create recognition of women’s contributions to the social fabric of society. Rut was awarded the title of Woman of Europe in 2003 and named a Social Entrepreneur of Schwab Foundation in 2006.

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Olga Segovia Marín

Coordinator, Women and Habitat Network, Chile   Olga is a researcher, author and advocate with decades of experience. She is a researcher at SUR Corporation of Social Studies and Education, Chile and has authored projects on public space, development, housing, participation, citizen safety and gender. In Chile, she has consulted and researched for the National Science and Technology Research Fund, the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. At an international level, she has worked for the European Union, UNDP, UNICEF and ECLAC. Until 2009, Olga served as Coordinator for the UNIFEM Regional Program, “Cities without violence against women, safe cities for everyone,” supported by AECID and implemented by the Women and Habitat Network. Olga belongs to the Associated Network of Experts on Gender Practice and Citizen Safety at the UNDP Regional Service Center for Latin America and the Caribbean, and teaches several courses in Chile and Latin America. Olga holds a degree in architecture from Universidad de Chile and completed graduate studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Architecture School.

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Violet Shivutse

Founder and Coordinator, Shibuye Community Health Workers, Kenya


For over 10 years, Violet has worked a community health worker and home-based caregiver in the Shibuye sub-region of the Shinyalu constituency, Kenya. She provides direct care and support to hundreds of HIV-positive community members, including orphans, elderly and the critically ill. She is the Founder and Coordinator of Shibuye Community Health Workers and a regional watchdog group, which works with local authorities to enforce land and inheritance rights of women and orphans. She works to build community resilience and combat climate change, and negotiates with authorities for gender-responsive policy. She trains women and local authorities in Local- to-Local dialogues to ensure equitable implementation of development policies. Violet has represented the Huairou Commission in policy fora all over the world, continuously pushing for rural and grassroots women’s inclusion at higher levels of dialogue. She is a grassroots representative on UN Women’s Global Civil Society Advisory Board.

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Kathryn Travers

Women In Cities International, Canada


Kathryn has been working for Women in Cities International (WICI) since 2008. In addition to coordinating projects in Canada and internationally, she has contributed to the development of research reports published by WICI, including Gender and Essential Services in Low-Income Communities (2011) and Women’s Safety Audits: What Works and Where? (2008). She was also a co-organizer of the 3rd International Conference on Women’s Safety. Before joining WICI, Kathryn worked as Analyst and Project Officer for the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime, where she contributed to the elaboration of a Compendium of Practices and Policies on Women’s Safety (2008) and a Compendium of Promising Strategies and Programmes from around the World on Urban Crime Prevention and Youth at Risk (2005). She pursued her MA in International Peace Studies with a Specialization in Conflict Resolution from the University for Peace and has an honors BA in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Ottawa.