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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

Acting Executive Director and Strategic 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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Nicole Bohrer

Communications Manager


A key driver of Huairou’s work in bringing women’s voice into the sustainable development process, Nicole currently focuses on strategic and creative communications at Huairou, and previously worked on programs and global organizing for Habitat III. Prior to joining Huairou, Nicole served in the Peace Corps in the northern highlands of Guatemala, as an Agricultural Marketing Specialist to small associations of farmers and artisans in collaboration with Save the Children USA. Nicole holds a BA in Economics and Global Studies from Lehigh University and an MA in Economics from The New School for Social Research, where her research focused on increasing investments in women artisans in developing countries.

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Lene Egeli

Global Organizer

Being a firm believer in community development and a partnership approach to spark collective change, Lene is very excited to join the Huairou Commission as Global Organizer. She is passionate about optimizing organizational performance and impact, and has worked as a consultant for various social impact organizations. Lene furthermore has experience in fundraising, project management, and Monitoring and Evaluation focused on various development issues in Thailand, Tanzania, Uganda, Norway, and the United States. Her most recent work in the field was in Kampala, where she worked on participatory governance projects for ACTogether, a local support NGO of Slum Dwellers International (SDI). Lene is from Norway, and graduated from Oslo University College with a BA in International Development. She holds an MA in International Affairs and a post-graduate certificate in Organizational Development from The New School in New York.

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Ana Gabriele Sabancevaite

Network Liaison


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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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

Director of Finance


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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Jonathan Rivera

Finance and Administrative Associate


Jonathan assists the Director of Finance in Huairou Commission’s daily operations, including the maintenance of the organization’s financial system and transferring grant funds to program groups. He came to Huairou with a student mindset and is adapting to our strategic objectives and strong women’s leadership. Jonathan is in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree in Law and Paralegal Studies, with the goal of becoming an attorney that specializes in copyright law. When not crunching numbers, he likes to play the guitar in his down time and enjoy the latest television series. Jonathan hopes to use the invaluable experience at Huairou to become more involved with disaster awareness programs and organizations supporting human rights on the global scale.

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Muriel Vincent

Resilient Community Development and Communications Associate


Muriel joins the Huairou Commission for a one year, J-1 professional enrichment internship.
A Paris native, Muriel recently received a Master’s degree in Environmental Policies and Sustainable Development. She previously interned at a French independent and progressive think tank where she learned how to bring innovative political solutions to the forefront of French and international public affairs. Building on that expertise and being a notorious take-charge person, Muriel sought out a way to further align her career path with issues she feels strongly about. At Huairou, she is eager to help better the living conditions of grassroots women world-wide and reduce their vulnerability to climate and disaster threats. By applying her knowledge and passion on community resilience development, climate change and communication, she is keen to learn how to raise awareness of grassroots women’s issues and how she can strategically support community-led movements on both national and international stages.

Our Advisors and Field Coordinators

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Manuela Pinilla

Regional Organizer for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Community Resilience, Land & Housing


Manuela is the LAC Regional Organizer for Huairou’s Community Resilience and Land & Housing areas of work. Based in Bogotá, Colombia, she focuses on the organizing, planning and implementation of programmatic work in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as enhancing the Community Practitioner’s Platform and the Community Resilience Fund in the region. Previously, Manuela worked in her native country, Colombia, creating strategies of reconstruction of social networks and social inclusion for communities living in disaster-prone areas in Bogotá. These strategies were later utilized in a Resettlement Program that mobilized more than 5,000 families in the city. She holds a BA and MA in Anthropology from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia and an MA in Urban Development with special focus on Economic Development, jointly taught by the University of Technology of Darmstadt, Germany and the University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” Italy.

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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 & Strategist


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.