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Secretariat Staff

Our Team

Based in Brooklyn, NY, our team is passionately committed to building grassroots women’s leadership around the world.

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Sandra (Sandy) Schilen

Executive Director An experienced community organizer, Sandy’s life and work reflect the rare capacity to bridge the divide between grassroots realities and global policies, between academic and activist, and between values and practice. Sandy is the Strategic Director of the Huairou Commission and Global Facilitator of GROOTS International, a global network of grassroots women’s organizations. For over 20 years, Sandy has worked to enable grassroots women’s groups to replicate and mainstream their community development approaches and governance interventions. Her work with GROOTS International and the National Congress of Neighborhood Women has supported peer-to-peer learning exchanges and local, national, regional and global advocacy for grassroots women.

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Glenn Dolcemascolo

Director of Program Glenn Dolcemascolo assumed the key position of Director of Programs and brings twenty years of experience working on issues such as community-led development, environment and climate change. Glenn’s nine years with UNISDR, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, spanned the critical period in which the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were negotiated and adopted. A founding member of the Global Community Practitioner’s Platform Advisory Board, he has collaborated with the Huairou Commission over the past seven years and has a deep understanding of our work and organization. Glenn’s skills run the gamut from strategic guidance and high-level advocacy to managing a global education and training institute. Glenn has particular interest in partnerships-building and stakeholder engagement. As newly appointed Director of Programs, Glenn leads the strategic development and implementation of global programs and advocacy.

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Tatiana Fazio

Program Associate Tatiana joined Huairou’s Secretariat as Program Associate in January 2017. She was born and raised in a bi-cultural home in San Francisco, California, her father being Italian and her mother Samoan. Tatiana received her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside, with a focus on Cultural Anthropology. Throughout high school and college, she danced and volunteered with the Pacific Islander groups on campus. Tatiana is a recent transplant to New York and currently lives in Brooklyn. She is enthusiastic and passionate about her new role within the Huairou Team.

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Riley Jones-Cohen

Financial Officer Seamlessly combining the arts and an expertise in finance, Riley is a playwright, actor and Huairou’s Director of Finance. Heavily involved with the WorkShop Theater, an off-off Broadway company where she was Executive Director for 7 years, Riley is currently working on rewrites of her newest play. In her theater career, Riley was also Production Manager and Stage Manager at HB Studios, and Wardrobe Supervisor at The Public Theater. Riley’s financial experience began in a small accounting practice and public accounting before she became an accounting specialist for Lever Brothers, finally transitioning into the non-profit sector. Originally working with arts programs at the Franklin Furnace Archives, The Kitchen and Comprehensive Development, Inc, the Huairou Commission is Riley’s first international non-profit. In her free time, Riley volunteers at the Emergency Room at the Manhattan VA. Riley holds degrees in English and Accounting, and has attended Hunter College, Johns Hopkins Nursing School and Salisbury State.

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Juanita Orengo

Office Administrator and Bookkeeper Juanita’s work is informed by her passion to encourage young women to be community leaders. She has been a community activist in Brooklyn for 28 years, and is a member of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, the Neighborhood Women of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission. As a community organizer, she has worked to better NYC school systems by serving as Principal and Executive Director of the YouCan Community School for 10 years, and through collective action, including the Eastern District High School Boycott. She has received several awards from city council members and other government officials for her dedication to improving NYC’s public school system. Juanita graduated from the National Congress of Neighborhood Women College Program through Long Island University and received an AA in Social Work, BA in Education and MA in Public Administration. She also earned a degree in Fashion Design from Manhattan 7th Ave and was trained as a hair stylist in Puerto Rico — two passions she continues with today.

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Olga Pistina

Graduate Development Professional Olga Pistina joined Huairou Commission in June 2018 on a J-1 exchange program to learn about movement building and community empowerment, as well as bring her skills and knowledge back to her home country – Russia. Having acquired a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs in Moscow, Olga continued her education in Singapore, graduating with a Master’s in Public Policy. This diverse background assisted Olga during her internship in international organization such as UNESCO and APEC. During her work at Huairou Commission, Olga is assisting the Secretariat by providing research and analytical documentations for Huairou’s members, as well as social media outreach to the external community.

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Noelia Romero

Bookkeeper Noelia joined Huairou Commission in June 2018 as a part-time Bookkeeper. Noelia was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Growing up in a patriarchal country where women are expected to behave a certain way, she has always believed that people should be treated with equal respect regardless of gender. In addition to being a full time student, Noelia is a mother of three wonderful girls, as well as a community organizer who helps single mothers around her neighborhood pursue their careers, identify short and long terms goals, and most importantly provides emotional support. Noelia is eager to provide limitless support to single mothers who struggle every day to raise their children. She believes that working at Huairou will be a great support system to help achieve her goals and she is passionate about being a part of an organization that helps women be heard.

Our Advisors and Field Coordinators

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Ana Gabriele Sabancevaite

Network Liaiso A skeptic of neoliberal development models that define grassroots constituencies as clients rather than as equal partners of development, Ana Gabriele joins the Huairou Commission with a dedication to empowering grassroots women to be agents of change in their own communities. As Network Liaison, Ana Gabriele supports the organization during its internal transition process towards a grassroots-led governance structure, with the aim of extending grassroots women’s leadership from local to global development processes. Ana Gabriele is from Lithuania, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and Law from the University of Amsterdam and a Master’s in Politics and Sociology from New York University.

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Lilian Llegunas-Pimentel

Regional Coordinator for Asia Lilian Llegunas Pimentel is a long-time trainer of community organizers starting with Philippine Ecumenical Council for Community Organizing in the 70s, and later on with the Community Organizers Multiversity from the mid-90s to 2005. As a CO practitioner, Lilian took the challenge of mainstreaming women empowerment and gender equality in community organizing. She authored a hand book on the topic, “Mainstreaming Gender in Community Organizing” in 2006 on the occasion of the World Urban Forum held in Vancouver that year. Lilian joined the Filipino government in 2013 and served as the Program Manager of the Bottom-Up Budgeting Program under the Department of Interior  and Local Government. She coordinated the national Filipino program where grassroots organizations, mostly women led, participated in choosing and prioritizing community initiatives for budget allocation. Prior to joining Huairou Commission, Lilian was the National Training Specialist of Kalahi-Cidds National Community Driven Development Program as well as the Department of Social Work Development, another government program promoting people’s participation in responding to communities priority issues. Lilian hopes to contribute to the Hurairou Commission’s work by partaking in the strengthening of grassroots women’s leadership in bottom-up community development, reinforcing grassroots women-led constituencies and networks and creating opportunities for women to influence Public policies and processes.

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Mino Ramaroson

Regional Coordinator – Africa & Global Land Specialist A development economist by training, Mino is a rural development expert and activist from Madagascar. Prior to joining Huairou as Africa Regional Coordinator, she spent nine years working for national and civil society organizations as well as an international coalition. Mino draws from deep experience on issues as varied as microfinance, education, rural development and land, also with a national and regional advocacy focus. She has facilitated gender projects as Africa Regional Coordinator for the International Land Coalition, served as a national expert for UNESCO and other agencies, undertaken an independent consultancy with FAO to translate the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure into Malagasy, and has additionally supported the Malagasy Rural Women Federation (FVTM) in Madagascar. Mino is fluent in English and French, and is based out of Madagascar.

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Sri H. Sofjan

Senior Program Administrator & Strategis For 20 years, Sri has worked in the fields of human settlements, gender equality and new information technologies, and was formally trained in economics, political science and public administration. In 2012, she became the first CEO of Penang Women’s Development Corporation, established to engender public and private sector policies and programs, and work towards gender and social justice. Prior to joining PWDC, Sri served as a Senior Fellow for Program Coordination and Development at Huairou. She was also the Program Manager of the United Nations Women’s Development Fund, now known as UN Women, in Aceh, Indonesia, leading an initiative that promoted women’s legal rights during reconstruction after the 2004 tsunami and the signing of the Peace Agreement. She served as Program Officer for the Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI), where she facilitated the introduction of the Good Governance Report Card on Gender and Governance, as well as the Local-to-Local Dialogue that led to the inclusion of poor urban women and their communities in local governance processes. From 1993 to 1998, Sri was Program Officer at two United Nations Development Program regional projects and the Urban Management Program for Asia and the Pacific. Sri is currently a member of the Advisory Group on Gender Issues of UN-Habitat and of the UNDP’s Local Governance and Local Development global working group.

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Suranjana Gupta

Advisor on Community Resilience Suranjana Gupta is a part-time, India-based Advisor on Community Resilience. From 2002 to 2015 she worked full time with GROOTS International and Huairou Commission, dividing her time between Mumbai and New York. Suranjana has closely involved in the development of Huairou’s Community Resilience Fund and Community Practitioners Platform. Over the years, Suranjana has worked on a wide variety of areas with Huairou, including policy advocacy, fund-raising, strategic planning, facilitating learning exchanges and documenting grassroots women’s accomplishments. Prior to working with Huairou, Suranjana worked for five years for Swayam Shikshan Prayog in India. She was also adjunct faculty at the New School University’s Graduate Program for International Affairs from 2002-2004. She has an M.Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Mumbai.

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Veronica Tobar

Latin America Regional Coordinator  Veronica has more than 15 years of experience working on projects that promote the defense of women’s human rights. She has designed and participated in training processes for the empowerment and development of rural women, especially in the areas of ​​gender issues and food security. Veronica has coordinated social research teams with a gender focus and has integrated multidisciplinary teams for the study and attention of risks and disasters, food insecurity, and migration in the Central American region. She believes that it is the strength of the community that produces social change; therefore her main commitment is to contribute to the creation of a global civil society, based on the principles of equal opportunities. She supports the idea that the right to food, education, and development must be considered as fundamental human rights of all people. Veronica identifies herself as an eco-feminist and pacifist. She thinks that human development is possible if people, especially women and girls, have the same opportunities, that they are safe in their homes, have sufficient livelihoods, and that their natural environments are protected. With that thought, she sees a great opportunity to contribute to creating a better world working for the Huairou Commission.