Staff

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Laura Gehring

Laura Gehring

Executive Director

Floridalma Pérez Sicay

Production Manager

Marisol Morales Calel

Programs Coordinator

Isabel Chalcú

Artisan Development Program Coordinator

Oseas Chiquirin Aju

Groundskeeper, Office & Garden Assistant

Elisiana Diaz-Martin

Product Development & Sales Manager

Dina Salpor

Ethical Tourism Coordinator

Edyn Chalcú

Financial and Administrative Manager

Board

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Paula Milano

Alison Wandschneider

Armando Alfonzo

Marta Lynd-Altan

Dana Geffner

Murray Mintz

Claire Serizay

Erin Kökdil

Carly Burson

Jenn Miller Scarnato

Laura GehringLaura Gehring

Executive Director

As the Director of Maya Traditions, Laura is responsible for advancing the mission and vision of Maya Traditions. Laura first came to Guatemala to intern at a small organization in August of 2010, shortly after Hurricane Agatha had ravaged the Western Highlands. Inspired by the resilience of the indigenous people, she has interned and worked in various capacities at different institutions around Lake Atitlan ever since. Notably, she served as Coordinator of a Student Sponsorship Program and Director of Organizational Development at a non-profit organization in Panajachel for 3 years. Originally from Virginia, she holds Bachelor's degrees in Spanish Languauge and Geographic Science and a Graduate Certificate in International NGO Management from James Madison University. Through her experience in non-profits and her commitment to working towards the mission of Maya Traditions, Laura works to ensure sustainability of the foundation, realizing the vision of founder Jane Mintz.

Floridalma Pérez Sicay

Production Manager

Flory has worked with Maya Traditions since 2005 in a variety of roles including Accounting, Office Administrator, National Sales Representative, and currently as Production Manager. Flory is from the community of San Antonio Palopó and speaks Kaqchikel, Spanish, and is an avid English student. She graduated from high school with a certificate in Bookkeeping & Computer Science. Before joining the Maya Traditions’ team, Flory worked as a Secretary and Accountant with schools in San Antonio and Santa Cruz, as well as a volunteer with a local judge, translating Kaqchikel to Spanish. Flory has been a valuable member of the Maya Traditions team and is currently responsible for national sales, coordinating orders with the weaving groups and sewers, maintaining a high level of quality control on finished products, and office administration.

Marisol Morales Calel

Programs Coordinator

Marisol is responsible for the Youth Education and the Community Health Programs with Maya Traditions Foundation. She is from the village of Panimatzalam, San Andrés Semetabaj and speaks four languages: K'iche, Kaqchikel, Spanish, and English. In 2010, she spent two years at Modesto Junior College in the United States on a scholarship from Georgetown University to earn a diploma in Agrobusiness. Upon her return from the US, she volunteered with Maya Traditions, translating documents from English to Spanish and assisting with monitoring and evaluation activities in the medicinal plant garden. Marisol started as the Community Health Program Coordinator in August 2012 and her position was expanded to include Youth Education in January of 2013. She collaborates closely with the Atitlán Ajq'omanela’ Association, Maya healers, towards the promotion of indigenous Maya medicine and the development of their roles as health advocates in their local communities. She also works with the students of our artisans, organizing workshops throughout the year, distributing scholarships monthly, and providing consistent support.

Isabel Chalcú

Artisan Development Program Coordinator

Isabel is originally from Panajachel, Sololá, where Maya Traditions Foundation is based. She is currently attending the Universidad Del Valle de Guatemala in Sololá, studying Specialized Bilingual Intercultural Education. As she enters her third semester, her goal is to become completely fluent in reading and writing in Kaqchikel. From 2012 to 2013, Isabel served as the 'Indigenous Queen of Panajachel,' representing the Maya Kaqchikel town in a wide range of activities. With this experience, Isabel was able to travel throughout Guatemala, meet many new people, and learned how to confidently speak in front of large groups in her native language of Kaqchikel. As the Artisan Development Coordinator, Isabel represents the link between the Foundation and the weaving cooperatives. She is responsible for traveling to the communities, ensuring that we are best representing the artisans with whom we work, and coordinating workshops with them based on their needs.

Oseas Chiquirin Aju

Groundskeeper, Office & Garden Assistant

Oseas first began working with Maya Traditions in 2001 as the groundskeeper with founder Jane Mintz. He is originally from Panajachel and speaks Spanish and Kaqchikel. Through support from Maya Traditions, Oseas has had the opportunity to continue his studies. He will graduate from high school in late 2015 with a degree in Accounting. Through his time with the Foundation, Oseas has worked in the areas of maintenance, custodial, gardening, finance, production of medicinal plant products, and currently as the sales manager of the products made in our garden. Oseas is an integral part of the Maya Traditions´ team and has witnessed the growth of the Foundation in the past decade. He is most excited about working with the dynamic team of Maya Traditions and collaborating with volunteers.

Elisiana Diaz-Martin

Product Development & Sales Manager

Being half Salvadoran, Elisiana traveled regularly to Central America to visit family and was raised surrounded by Guatemalan textiles. She received her B.A. in Photography from Columbia College Chicago and, after managing design spaces in Chicago and New York City, she decided to work for a NGO in South Africa. There she realized she wanted to continue to work with a purpose. She brings 14 years of sales experience and business management skills to Maya Traditions Foundation, and is looking forward to contributing its success in the global market while providing social and economical empowerment to the artisan cooperatives. She is excited to showcase the beauty and complexity of Guatemalan textiles with our new wholesale catalog, and is looking forward to continue and grow our retail and design partnerships.

Dina Salpor

Since the age of 17, Dina Salpor has been working within the tourism industry in the Lake Atitlan area. She first gained experience working with a tourism company handling the front desk, office management, and customer service. She then became Volunteer Coordinator for an international nonprofit in the area.  She also was teacher’s assistant and later became an English teacher for a local preschool.  Dina worked as a freelance guide, providing tours around the lake area until 2015, when she began working full time for a local tour company guiding tours as well as part of the operations team. She joined the Maya Traditions family as Ethical Tourism Coordinator in October 2017. Dina has the honor of bringing visitors out into the field to see Maya Traditions’ Programs and artisan partners in action, as well as educating visitors about the stunning traditional Maya art form of backstrap weaving.

Edyn Chalcú

Edyn Chalcú is Maya Traditions’ Financial and Administrative Manager, originally from the capital of Sololá Department, the city of Sololá. His native languages are Kaqchikel and Spanish and is currently studying English. Edyn graduated from Mariano Galvez University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Accounting and Auditing. Currently, he is responsible for Maya Tradition’s accounting in both the US and Guatemala, documenting all financial transactions. Edyn has a lot of experience handling the finances of nonprofit organizations, including at local NGOs as an Accountant, Financial Supervisor, and a manager. Edyn is very involved with his local community, serving as President of his neighborhood committee which is dedicated to improving basic services and the community as a whole through development projects.  

Paula Milano

Paula is currently a business consultant focused on helping small companies and international NGOs develop effective business processes. Over the past six years, Paula has worked in various countries with organizations, like Maya Traditions, to support their efforts in helping the women in their community. Paula became a consultant after retiring from her 29-year career in the technology industry. As an owner of software technology companies during her career, Paula developed and implemented business strategy, developed strategic alliances, and built marketing & sales teams. She also worked with manufacturing and distribution companies to develop effective internal business operations, as an implementation supplier of Enterprise Resource Planning systems. Her goal, on retiring, is to leverage her experience to help other women around the world to become self-sustainable. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in economics and a Masters degree in business from UCI. She shares her time between California and Montana.

Alison Wandschneider

Alison is originally from St. Paul, MN but currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Alison has extensive experience in the non-profit sector, mostly with organizations that support the Latino community. Through this work, she became passionate about finding creative ways for non-profit organizations to work towards financial sustainability through transitioning to a social enterprise model. Alison holds a BA in International Affairs from Lewis and Clark College and an MBA with a focus in environmental sustainability and social justice from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle, Washington. After working with Maya Traditions from 2014-2015 in Guatemala, Alison is excited to continue to support our mission in the United States in the areas of development and marketing.

Armando Alfonzo

Armando brings a wealth of experience with over 30 years working in development with indigenous peoples and communities in Mexico and Central America. Formerly the Executive Director of Maya Educational Foundation and Plumstock Mesoamerican studies, Armando currently works as an Independent Consultant. He provides support to the Maya Traditions team in terms of program development.

Marta Lynd-Altan

Martha first met Jane Mintz when she was an anthropology major and weaver for a US market for weaving groups. Martha conducted a needs assessment in the communities in 1996 and was instrumental in initiating the Foundations’ health and education projects. She is also the author of, The International Craft Market: A Double-Edged Sword for Guatemalan Maya Women, featured in Artisans and Cooperatives: Developing Alternative Trade for the Global Economy (2000). A long term resident of Panajachel, Martha now resides in San Marcos La Laguna with her family. She remains committed to the vision that she and Jane first developed.

Dana Geffner

Dana Geffner has been working in the Fair Trade movement for nearly two decades. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Fair World Project (FWP) an NGO which started in order to promote a just economy, insist on integrity in Fair Trade and cultivate a holistic approach to global economics. She is editor of For A Better World, a magazine that discusses challenging issues that face our global economy focusing on a just food system that supports small-scale farmers, protects worker’s rights and encourages trade policy transformation.  She is on the board of the pioneer fair trade organizations Equal Exchange and co-founder of Grow Ahead, a crowdfunding platform that supports small-scale family farmers as they address the challenges of climate change in their communities. Her passion is to engage consumers so they can participate in creating a more just economy through the market and in transforming policy. She focuses on educating consumers and retailers about mission-driven brands that put people and the planet before profits.

Murray Mintz

Originally from Buffalo NY, Murray spent all of his adult life in California, before moving to Guatemala in 2010. He graduated from film school in 1968 and worked in the film industry as a writer and director for the next 40 years. He currently is a member of The Director’s Guild of American and The Writer’s Guild of America. He was married to Jane Stiller Mintz from 1971 until 1984, but remained best friends with her until her passing in November 2009. After Jane died, his primary goal has been to keep the foundation sustainable and to preserve the memory of Jane’s work benefiting the artisans and their families, whom she knew and loved. His goal for the next few years is to help raise funds to assure that the Foundation continues on a path of growth and sustainability.

Claire Serizay 

Originally from France, Claire received her MA in International Tourism Management from the University of Queensland in Australia. In the past ten years, she has worked as a project manager in marketing and local development in French tourism institutions. Most recently, she served as an advisor to an NGO based in Burkina Faso working towards the economic empowerment of women. Driven to explore the intersection between tourism and community development and benefit, Claire previously served as Maya Traditions Community Tourism Coordinator.

Erin Kökdil

Erin is a storyteller interested in expanding, enhancing consciousness, and inciting social change through the power of film. She graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Latin American Studies and Spanish. In 2012, Erin moved to Guatemala where she worked and volunteered with a wide variety of non-governmental organizations. She served as Executive Director of Maya Traditions from 2013-2016. She is currently pursuing a Master's of Fine Arts in Documentary Film & Video at Stanford University.

Carly Burson

Carly, the Founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Tribe Alive, has extensive experience working in the fashion industry and spent most of her career focusing on store and visual design for some of the industries leading brands. Tribe Alive was born from Carly’s decision to utilize her years of experience in the fashion industry as a platform to alleviate poverty among women in the developing world. By promoting the development of artisanal traditions and connecting women to the global marketplace, she has seen her outreach grow rapidly in a year’s time: from a small group of artisans in Honduras to the development of partnerships in five additional countries, the Tribe is alive and well. Carly believes that ethical fashion has the power to change lives, and it is her hope that Tribe Alive’s artisans will be empowered with the means to care for their families.

Jenn Miller Scarnato

Jenn Miller Scarnato is an instructor, researcher, and doctoral student at Tulane University in New Orleans. Jenn’s academic work iscommunity-engaged, focusing on social entrepreneurship/social innovation, community media for social change, and narrative therapy. Currently, Jenn is working on a media advocacy project with a Latinx youth coalition at Puentes, a local non-profit. Jenn is a social worker with more than ten years of non-profit experience working in solidarity with Latinx and indigenous peoples, primarily women and children. She has expertise in program design and evaluation. Jenn lived in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala from 2014-2016, working with numerous non profit organizations in the area, including Maya Traditions. Jenn holds a Master of Arts in Women's Studies & Gender Studies and a Master of Social Work with a focus on immigration and migration, and is working toward an interdisciplinary PhD in Social Work, Sociology, and Urban Studies.