A small group of team members in Santiago and a Board of Directors, both in the US and Chile, all work to ensure that VE Global functions smoothly and continues to advance. These dedicated members are the foundation of the organization, which often changes with each new volunteer class from around the world, as volunteers take on roles in the office once their volunteer commitment is complete. VE Global team members advise and guide volunteers, each in their own area and specialty, while forming a cohesive team of support. The US and Chilean Board of Directors serve as governing roles in the organization to ensure the realization of our mission.
VE Global Team Members
Mercedes Henderson, Executive Director
Mercedes is a psychologist trained in Argentina with a specialization in Creative Processes and Expressive Therapies in Buenos Aires and Boston. She has over 9 years experience working in private clinical settings and in nonprofit organizations, focusing her work on program evaluation and impact. In 2012, Mercedes worked in Dominican Republic for the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation as a creativity and arts specialist with underserved kids and families from northern settlements of the island. In 2014, after living for a year in Chicago where she was trained as a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation instructor, she came to Chile with her family. Since then she has been working in alliance with the Chilean Ministry of Women on programs for women in several comunas of Santiago, coordinating volunteer teams and developing program evaluation strategies. She is happy to be a part of VE Global international community as Executive Director and is very excited to continue guiding the organization toward its second decade of collaborative social work in the Chilean community.
Caroline Laman, Volunteer Program Coordinator
Caroline is currently working as the program coordinator with VE. She graduated the University of Michigan with a B.A in Psychology and Spanish and a minor in Community Action and Social Change. She dedicated much of her time in university to working with children from under-resourced areas and developed a passion for social justice work. After graduation Caroline decided to continue her langauge learning by backpacking through South America for 9 months. Once she arrived in Santiago, it quickly captured her heart, and what began as a quick trip became a long adventure in this wonderful new home! Caroline is excited to continue working in the non-profit sector and to be a part of the wonderful programs that VE offers its participants.
Carolina Sanhueza, Life Skills Coordinator
Carolina, after her exchange experience studying in South Africa, was trained as a social worker at the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile specializing in work with children and adolescents at social risk. She has more than 5 years experience in volunteer management, as well as in the development of soft skills and educational support to children and adolescents at social risk. From 2012-2015 Carolina was part of TECHO where she coordinated a camp and led emergency housing construction work, which then led her to volunteer in Paraguay and Argentina and on several occasions to support crisis situations that have arisen after natural disasters in recent years in Chile. In the winter of 2014 she coordinated jobs nationwide in Chile at the Hogar de Cristo. In 2016 as an AISEC volunteer she worked in Brazil developing a social project to support, promote, and strengthen the integral development of children at social risk. Since then, she has joined VE Global to develop research on the work of volunteers and their impact. Currently she is the new Coordinator of the Life Skills Program. She is very happy to be a part of this NGO and hopes to continue to support both the volunteer work and the new opportunities for children at social risk here in the metropolitan region.
VE Global Interns
Paulina Arias, Programs Intern
Paulina is currently working as a Programs Intern in VE Global since September of 2017. She is in her qualification process to obtain the degree of psychologist, in UNIACC. Married, mother of two children (7 and 3 years old). She became interested in study psychology after she had her first son. This is why she felt an enormous sensitivity regarding of the responsibility of raising a child. Her readings and studies have focused on topics such as Attachment Theory and its impact, on Safe Bond work both as a training resource and as a remedial resource and in the tremendously positive effect that the significant figure can generate in child development. She has an international certification in “Positive Discipline in the classroom” from Positive Discipline Association.
Viviana Concha Contreras, Programs Intern
Viviana joined to VE Global in October 2016. She graduated in International Studies and Social Sciences, and has a Diploma in Foreign Policy, Trade and Diplomacy. After living in Thailand, she began working in Chile as a volunteer in an NGO that promotes intercultural education. Her interest in promoting and protecting the Rights of the Child and Women took her to join VE, as a way to contribute to the task of achieving the integral development of children and adolescents at social risk, working as volunteer too in Fundación Acompaña.
Esmée Dijt, DevComms Intern
Esmée is currently studying International Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her area specialisation is Latin America and she has come to Chile to improve her Spanish and experience living abroad. She has always wanted to work in an NGO and has been a volunteer at Amnesty International where she gained experience organising events and fundraising. At VE Global she is part of the Development and Communications team, but she also works as volunteer in one of the residencias. In the Netherlands she has worked as tutor and with children for years and she loves coming up with activities and workshops. Combining interning and volunteering gives her a good insight in the work of the organisation.
Natalie Gravel, Programs Intern
Natalie has been living in Santiago since November 2015 and joined VE Global in May 2016 as a Volunteer and as the Selection Process Coordinator. Natalie is from Canada and has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Lethbridge and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary. Natalie has a passion for social justice and has always had an interest in working with NGO’s. She has come to Chile to pursue that interest and learn more about how she can affect positive change in the world. Natalie is passionate about creating equal opportunities for all and hopes that, with VE Global, she will be able to help create more equal opportunities for the children here in Santiago while improving her Spanish. She works three times a week at Hogar Pléyades and hopes to be able to build strong meaningful connections with the children there while being able to be a support to them.
Jack Harrison, Programs Intern
Jack is a student from the UK, joining VE as a programs intern. Studying Spanish and Russian at Bristol university, he is working with us for four months as a part of his year abroad. Having volunteered with a local primary school in London, he was inspired to look for opportunities further afield, coming to Chile with hopes to improve his Spanish and to greater understand the work of an NGO. He will help to organise and improve workshops and activities from the office, also organising the monthly ‘Liga de Deportes’.
Vera Jensen, Programs Intern
Vera is one of our full-time Program Interns and joined our team in September. She was born in Switzerland and grew up in Germany. After finishing school, she travelled through North- and South America. In that occasion she visited Chile and decided she wanted to come back and hopefully work with children. She studies English and American Studies and Spanish at the University of Freiburg, and is currently doing her internship with VE Global, which gave her the opportunity to combine her wish to return to Chile, work with children and continue developing her professional skills.
Guilherme Monteiro Silveira, DevComms Intern
Guilherme joined VE Global in September 2017. Currently a student of International Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, he joins us for his semester abroad. With a specialization in Latin American politics and economics, and after volunteering with children in the Netherlands, Guilherme was inspired to come to Chile to get a first hand experience in the field of his expertise and understand better the work of NGOs in the country. He will be responsible for the areas of recruiting and international relations.
Giana O’Shaughnessy, DevComms Intern
Giana has joined VE Global as a Development and Communications Intern. She works specifically in development and business partnerships. Giana graduated from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University with a degree in Transnational Women’s Empowerment with a Law, Diversity, and Justice emphasis. Giana has always had a passion for service work and dedicated her studies to gaining the skills she needed for working in the NGO world. As she grew up living abroad and traveling, transitioning to Santiago has been a natural continuation of her globally nomadic life! It is Giana’s goal to work in NGOs across Latin America. Specifically, working with women and children. She hopes to contribute to VE Global’s mission by supporting the creation of a global community that ensures equality of opportunity for all children.
Paulina Tammaro, Programs Intern
Paulina has joined VE Global as a Programs Intern. She has an undergraduate degree in both Spanish and Cultural Communication Studies from James Madison University. During her time at University she was very interested in learning about social justice issues and creating equal opportunities for all. While at school she had to opportunity to study abroad in Spain as well as to volunteer in her local community with children of migrant workers teaching them english and helping them with their studies. Paulina was adopted from Santiago, Chile when she was 18 months old and felt that after graduation she wanted to reconnect with the culture in a meaningful way that combined both her passion for the Spanish language and working with children. Paulina joined the VE team at the first of January and now works three times a week at Hogar la Granja to be able to work one on one with the children and create meaningful relationships with them. She hopes to continue developing her Spanish and professional skills as well as further the current programs VE offers.
Marcella Via, DevComms Intern
Marcella joined VE in September 2017 with the Development & Communications team. Before that, she completed a BA in International Relations & Development Studies at SOAS, University of London. She is passionate about Latin American politics, social justice and she is currently writing for a London-based newspaper called “The Prisma”. She is interested in fostering a communication strategy with a bottom-up approach that goes away from the classic Eurocentric vision adopted by NGOs.
Laura Wolton, Programs Intern
Laura is half English and half Portuguese. She studies Spanish and Portuguese at UCL in London with a specialism in Latin American Studies. She has previously spent time volunteering with various other NGO’s in Latin America, working in disadvantaged communities. Laura enjoys working with children and youth and is looking forward to expanding her experience with NGO’s here at VE.
Looking for an internship opportunity?
VE Global is always looking to hire dedicated interns. We currently offer three intern positions including: an executive assistant, operations and resource development intern. If you are interested in learning more, please check out our internship information on our website here.
VE Global Volunteers
VE Global is proud to have a truly international team of volunteers. Apply now to become a part of this team!
US Board of Directors
Josh lived in Latin America for over eight years since 2001. After studying abroad in Costa Rica and volunteering in Ecuador as an English teacher, Josh arrived to Chile in 2005 as the Field Director for WorldTeach, a Harvard-affiliated NGO working in International Education. Josh has been an active member in the educational and nonprofit communities of Santiago, having served as both an educational consultant to and board member of the Instituto Chileno Norteamericano. Josh studied Political Science and Spanish at North Central College and has an MA in Spanish Literature and Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison .
Brooke has a long history of community service in Chile, having led volunteer trips to northern Chile in high school and studying abroad at the Universidad de Concepción as part of his B.A. degree program in Latin American Studies at Wesleyan University. In 2005, he began collaborating with Luke Winston and the VE Global team in his role as the President of Community Outreach Committee for Business News Americas, where he was working as Product Manager. Subsequently, Brooke became VE’s second Executive Director of VE Global from 2008-2010. In addition to his duties as Executive Director, Brooke volunteered once a week at the children’s home Hogar Pléyades. He graduated from the Darden School of Business with an MBA in 2012 and is now working as a product marketing manager for Microsoft Corporation.
Jonah Berman served as a VE volunteer from December 2005 through April 2006 in the Casa de Guaguas of Hogar Esperanza. He joined the board of directors upon returning back to the U.S. in May of 2006, and served as board president from 2008 through 2012. Jonah has extensive experience in development, program management and leadership training, having worked for a variety of non-profits including Action for Children in Chicago, IL, United Way of Massachusetts Bay in Boston, MA, and the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics at Boston College. Currently, he is a Senior Account Manager in Online Sales in the Cambridge, Massachusetts office of Google, Inc., where he works with large businesses to help them meet their advertising and marketing goals. Jonah holds a bachelor of arts in sociology and a bachelor of music in jazz performance, saxophone, from the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio, and an MBA from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.
Luke was awarded Harvard University’s Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship in 2003, which brought him to Santiago to work and live in the children’s home Hogar Esperanza for one year. Witnessing the need for volunteer support in many of Santiago’s children’s homes beyond Hogar Esperanza, Luke teamed up with six Chileans to create VE Global. Although he originally planned a stay of only 12 months, Luke stayed a total of five years, serving as the founding executive director of VE until he returned to the United States in July of 2008. Hoping to combine his bachelors studies in chemistry & physics with his international experience, Luke transitioned to a career in sustainability. He has since worked with the Environmental Defense Fund on international climate policy and GreenOrder Management Consulting to help Fortune 500 companies develop and implement sustainability strategies. Luke now works as a strategy consultant for Siemens Corporation. Luke holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a Masters in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.
Chilean Board of Directors
An original member of el equipo that founded VE in 2004, Pablo Jorquera remains actively involved in the organization today. Pablo lived at Hogar Esperanza, VE’s first Chilean organizational partner for two years, volunteering by providing hands-on support to the Hogar Esperanza team. Inspired by the collaborative efforts of foreign and Chilean volunteers alike, Pablo helped to create the VE community. With a degree in Mathematics and Education in 2000, Pablo worked for several years at an educational printing company on math curriculum and instruction design. In 2010, Pablo joined the team of Creamás, a nonprofit organization providing educational support to children and youth at risk by means of professional volunteers that give support to underperforming schools in vulnerable neighborhoods throughout Chile. In 2015, Pablo returned to the classroom at Colegio Santa Marta in Santiago. As VE Chile’s Board Vice President, Pablo continues providing active support in organizational administration and management today.
María José has been involved in volunteering and social work activities since high school. Understanding the reality of families living in informal settlements, Mapuche communities in southern Chile and finding ways to join forces with others that are passionate about service, motivated her to study social work. Fundación Pléyades was the first social service organization that opened its doors to María José when she was hired on as social worker and volunteer and project coordinator, where she worked from 2005-2008. At Pléyades, María José became involved with VE Global volunteers and was struck by their enthusiasm. She became involved with VE instantly and actively committed to supporting its work. In 2009, María José began to work at Fundación Coanil, a Chilean social service organization serving children, youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She served as their Volunteer Coordinator for the Metropolitan Region through 2011. Convinced that the support given by VE volunteers can generate real, lifelong change, María José continues to be involved as Treasurer of VE Global Chile today. Currently, María José is teaching yoga in Santiago and is working on nature and environmental-based projects that create spaces for social sharing.
Graduating with a law degree from the Universidad Católica, Alejandro Rojas is a lawyer and currently works as a legal advisor in the Chilean Ministry of the Interior. He became involved with VE Global through his work at the law firm Morales y Besa, Ltda. In 2007, Alejandro was a member of the initial team assigned to provide VE Global with probono legal counsel in Chile. Despite his transition from the law firm into his new role as Legal Advisor in the Chilean Government’s Ministry of the Interior in 2010, Alejandro’s passion for civil service, equality of opportunity and volunteerism convinced him to stay involved with VE. After spending a year in London where he completed his Master’s in Law, Alejandro has returned to work with Morales y Besa, Ltda., law firm that still generously provides probono legal counsel to VE. Alejandro currently serves as VE Chile’s Board Secretary.
Jen Hendlisz served as a VE volunteer from March to August of 2004 at Hogar Esperanza and was involved in establishing the foundation for the creation of VE Global. Since then, she has remained very involved with Chile in a variety of capacities. She has served previously as Treasurer of the Board and is currently Board Vice-President. She advises and supports the board and organization on HR related matters including recruitment and performance management. Jen also returned to Chile in 2006 to collect data on her Masters thesis, which was based on VE Global. Jen holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and an MSc in Human Resources from HEC Montreal. She currently works in Human Resources at Bombardier Aerospace.
Ilana volunteered at Hogar Esperanza in 2004 and was so marked by her experience that she helped in laying the foundations for the creation of VE Global. She has been a member of the US Board of Directors since its inception and remains involved in the volunteer application and selection process. In her spare time, Ilana is a pediatric physical therapist. She earned her BSc in Physical Therapy at McGill University in 2003 and her doctorate of Physical Therapy at New York University in 2006 and is currently working in acute care pediatrics at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.
Mariah grew up in North Yarmouth, Maine, USA, and studied creative writing and photography, graduating from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland in 2007. After college, Mariah volunteered with Safe Passage (Camino Seguro) in Guatemala, where she worked in early childhood education. With her extensive volunteer and leadership experience, Mariah signed on as Director of Volunteer Relations in 2009, after beginning with VE as a volunteer in December 2008. After 5 years of service with VE Global in the field, Mariah returned to the US in 2014 and currently works in Safe Passage’s US office on development initiatives and sponsorships. Mariah continues to contribute to VE through her role on the Advisory Council since 2014.