Our stellar team is made up of four full-time staff, three part-time staff, a number of affiliated volunteer staff, and four Border Fellow interns. Our leadership is comprised of individuals with varied backgrounds and experience, creating a team that is able to effectively impact our community with their unique giftings.
FULL TIME STAFF
Sami DiPasquale has served as the executive director of Ciudad Nueva for the last 11 years, living with his family in the Ciudad Nueva community (Rio Grande District) in the heart of El Paso, Texas. Born to American parents in the country of Jordan, Sami spent the majority of his childhood and young adult years in the Middle East – living in Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt and India – before completing college in the United States. He holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (International Development) from Wheaton College and an MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso. He has spent the last fifteen years immersed in refugee and immigrant communities in the U.S., working in refugee resettlement with World Relief in the greater Chicago area prior to joining Ciudad Nueva.
Sami serves on the national board of directors of the Christian Community Development Association and the international board of directors of Micah Global – both networks focused on bringing people together who are striving for flourishing communities free from poverty and injustice. He has also helpe*.d form a number of local or regional groups focused on poverty alleviation and bridge-building in the business, community development and church sectors. Sami’s driving motivation is to join others, close and far, in bridging divides and moving toward reconciliation with God, his neighbors and the rest of creation.
Sami loves to learn more about his neighbors and the border region, walk across the border into Ciudad Juarez for tacos, go on backpacking trips into the mountains, visit the small farm that he and his wife are long-distance partners in, dream up new entrepreneurial and job-creation schemes, help lead trips to the Middle East, or discover back alley coffee/tea shops in unfamiliar cities across the world.
Jose Luis “Joe” Gavaldon is the Outreach Director for Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach. Joe was born in Juarez, Mexico and raised right across the Rio Grande River border in the Segundo Barrio of El Paso, Texas. As a young adult he worked with youth and college students through various local churches, become an ordained minister, and worked with Urban Young Life in the same neighborhood.
After 25 years with Young Life he brought his experience working with the kids of the Barrio to Ciudad Nueva, continuing to build relationships with the parents of kids, and seeing churches getting involved in the local community, working together regardless of race. He has received awards from local businesses, and continues to speak locally regarding his work. When not reaching out to families, one will find Joe reading books, fishing, or working on graduate studies in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Bethany Rivera Molinar
Bethany Rivera Molinar is the Youth & Family Programs Director and Grant Writer for Ciudad Nueva. She was born and raised in El Paso and is a graduate of University of Texas at El Paso.
After earning her bachelor of science degree she moved to Waco, Texas to pursue graduate studies at Truett Seminary and the Baylor School of Social Work, where she earned both Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work (with a concentration on Community Development) degrees.
Bethany is passionate about faith based community development and worshipping God with mind, body and spirit. In 2013 Bethany and Adrian returned to El Paso and continue to learn what it means to better love and serve their local community within their hometown.
Bethany’s community development experience includes living in and co-managing an intentionally diverse living community, case management, administration, job training, bridging the local church to their own community, coordinating a statewide faith-based community development conference and faith-based community organizing.
Bethany’s research experience includes understanding and defining social work in congregational settings and learning how to more effectively engage parents with their children’s education through community organizing. When she is not pursuing faith based community development, she enjoys spending time with her family, singing and performing music, travel and pursuing the crafty arts.
PART TIME STAFF
Marianne DiPasquale is the Office Manager for Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach, Inc. She was born in San Antonio, TX and moved to El Paso, TX when she was 6 years old. She graduated from Wheaton College in 1999 with a degree in Spanish. Marianne’s family frequently had people from different cultures living with them during her childhood and that, combined with growing up on the US/Mexico border, developed in her a lifelong interest in cultures and languages. She loves to travel and was lucky as a teenager and young adult to have many opportunities to visit other countries, including studying for a year in Italy.
Marianne initially began volunteering as a bookkeeper for Ciudad Nueva in 2007 which eventually led to her current position as the Office Manager. Prior to working with Ciudad Nueva, Marianne had multiple years of experience as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper. She also co-owns a family farm and an e-commerce business, and is pursuing graduate studies in accounting.
Marianne, her husband Sami and their four children love living in the neighborhood where Ciudad Nueva is located, and have had the privilege to watch many of the kids that they first met as 3rd graders, grow up, graduate from high school and attend college. The relationships with neighbors and with the local kids and their families is what keeps Marianne committed to Ciudad Nueva. In her free time, Marianne mostly likes to spend time with her family, lift weights, garden, and read science fiction novels.
Jen Kaufmann is the Program Coordinator for Launch Pad, a program for elementary school students. Jen was born and raised in Chicago, IL and moved to El Paso in 2005 after graduating from Valparaiso University with a degree in English and Education. Community Development and mission work brought Jen to the El Paso/Juarez area. In Juarez, Jen taught English classes, organized children’s programming, coordinated a teen girls’ home and worked with a variety of mission teams.
Jen’s connection to Ciudad Nueva started soon after her move to El Paso. She was a volunteer for many programs before coming on staff. She volunteered in the middle school art program, the Launch Pad art program, worked the climbing wall for middle schoolers and took high schoolers to Young Life Camp. Jen and her husband, David, moved into the Ciudad Nueva neighborhood in 2009 to be able to get to know neighbors better and invest in the lives of kids.
After teaching 2nd grade for 4 years at a local school Jen stepped into a role coordinating elementary school programs at Ciudad Nueva. As a staff member, Jen has attended a CCDA national conference, a one week intensive community development workshop, and various other small conferences. She also participated in the Border Fellows class.
Yolanda (Yoli) Milliorn is the Border Fellows Director. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, she graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Music Performance.
She has been a member of the Church of St. Clement for 25 years and has taught Christian Education at St. Clement’s Parish School for 18 years. Active in church life she has been on mission trips to Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. She serves on the prayer team, flower guild, and small group ministry. She is married to the Rev. Rick Milliorn, associate pastor and contemporary worship director at the Church of St. Clements. They have 3 grown children: Andrew, Aaron and Laura.
I am excited to be working with Ciudad Nueva and the Border Fellows program.
I am honored to work with a program that serves the needs of our El Paso community.
Gustavo De Los Rios
Gustavo De Los Rios was born and raised in El Paso, TX. He is the current youth program assistant for middle school and high school programs in
Ciudad Nueva. Gustavo has attended all three programs which included Launch Pad (Elementary), Kids Create (Middle School) and then eventually attending Young Life (High School) which have provided him with many great experiences and has helped him gain many qualities you find in a leader. Gustavo has always lived in the neighborhood which has helped him better understand and relate to kids in the neighborhood that attend Kids Create and Young Life. When he attended high school when he started volunteering at Ciudad Nueva in 2013 he did that all the way up to his senior year of high school. In 2015 he got offered an internship that lasted for a year where he would be specifically volunteering at Kids Create (Middle School).
After he graduated he started attending the University of Texas at El Paso in 2016 where he started a degree in social work. After his internship he joined the Ciudad Nueva staff part time and would be assigned to be the youth program assistant for both Kids Create (Middle school) and Young Life (High School) programs.
Simon Lu is a Border Fellow working with middle schoolers for Ciudad Nueva. He also works as a immigration legal assistant for Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services. Simon was born in Los Angeles, and graduated from the George Washington University in 2014 with a degree in International Development. Simon is motivated by his desire to develop friendships with Latino neighbors and reunite families. Simon enjoys writing stories in his free time.
AFFILIATED VOLUNTEER STAFF
Gary does administrative work for Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach. Gary was born in Argentina to Southern Baptist missionaries, living in Argentina for nine years before moving to El Paso, where he graduated from high school. Gary has a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from New Mexico State University, and Masters in Theology and in Education from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Gary is fluent in Spanish. Gary was drawn to Christian community development work because he feels it bridges evangelism (which tends to emphasize the spiritual while neglecting the physical) and social work (which tends to emphasize the physical while neglecting the spiritual). Gary was drawn to Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach for its pursuit of Christian community development. Gary likes to help out in behind the scenes details and logistics. As Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach continues to grow, Gary wants to help navigate the administration that comes from growing a community center. Gary loves to Facebook his experiences at Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach and in the Rio Grande neighborhood and browse news websites during his introvert time. Gary is a member of the Christian Community Development Association family, the Border Southwest CCDA Regional family, the Texas Christian Community Development Network family, and the El Paso CCDA family. Gary loves being part of one-on-one question-filled conversations where a person has been involved in relief work, and is wondering what the next step is.
BORDER FELLOW INTERNS
William King is a Border Fellow and volunteer for Ciudad Nueva. He also works at Jordan Foster Construction as a Special Projects Coordinator. He was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. In 2014, he earned a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Thomas Edison State University. This May he graduated from Reformation Bible College with a Bachelors of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies.
In between colleges he participated in an outdoor leadership development and service semester. In addition to honing orienteering and mountaineering skills, he leveraged his Spanish immersion language training by working with Ecuadorians, teaching English in the Remanso de Armor school and tutoring special needs children in the Casa de Fe orphanage.
He trusts that the Border Fellows Program may be the next step for him specifically so that the work of the Holy Spirit may continue to develop him as a disciple who will make disciples by teaching him to engage in personal and community spiritual practices that draw him near to God, by fueling him to integrate his life to promote justice through service to the most needy in our society, and by moving him to advocate for the disenfranchised, marginalized and needy in his community.
He has really enjoyed working with the kids at Launch Pad. Seeing their energy and excitement when he picks them up in the van drives him forward and lifts his spirits even on the hardest of days. He loves playing all the fun games and activities with the kids because he’s really still a child at heart.
In his spare time, he enjoys all sorts of sports including basketball, fishing, hiking, volleyball, soccer, tennis, and golf.
Emily Lopynski is a part of the 2016-2017 Border Fellows program. She will be working to start an immigration legal ministry at Ciudad Nueva. Emily was born in Herndon, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., and grew up being heavily involved in her church and in her local community. In high school Emily tutored kids from local elementary schools whose parents had recently immigrated to the United States. Emily also initiated and led a tutoring program at a local community center. During this time she traveled to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Costa Rica with service teams from her church. These experiences unleashed her passion for community engagement and for service.
Emily studied at the College of William and Mary and graduated in May 2016 with a degree in Social Justice and Inequality Studies and a minor in Business Management. While at school, Emily was heavily involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Office of Community Engagement, participating in many local and national service projects. Emily co-founded a mentoring program at the local juvenile detention center, called Merrimac Mentors. During her 4 years in college, she spent time in Sierra Leone, Honduras, and a semester in Spain. Both her classwork and her extracurricular experiences strengthened her passion for racial and economic justice and showed her the importance and necessity of cross-cultural relationship building. Emily is excited to bring her passion for justice and her desire to learn to the Ciudad Nueva team.
Keisha Branch is a part of the Border Fellows Class of 2016-2017 and is working at Ciudad Nueva as the Catalyst and Promotora Program coordinator, as well as a grant researcher. She was born and raised in Petersburg, Virginia. Growing up in a low income community, Keisha strived to ensure she would make an impact in the lives of those marginalized and with the same background as her, in hopes that those who believe they cannot reach certain goals because of their circumstances are motivated to try. These experiences encouraged Keisha to pursue an education in Sociology.
Keisha graduated in May 2016 from Marymount University just outside of Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Gender Studies. In college, Keisha spent a summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as part of a Campus Crusade for Christ mission trip. There, she worked at a daycare for low income families and participated in Christian community development and evangelism in inner-city Milwaukee. Two years later, she studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland and interned at a refugee center for over 40 children seeking asylum, from countries such as Syria, Thailand, Romania, the Congo, and Afghanistan. Throughout the rest of her time in college, Keisha led the Campus Crusade for Christ movement at Marymount, mentored other college students, volunteered, and did independent research on gentrification and racial injustice in and around Washington, D.C.
Understanding and studying injustice, inequality and social exclusion, Keisha’s passion for immigration, refugees, and loving those who are marginalized grew. She is excited to work with those populations here in El Paso, and use her experiences while working with the youth, families, and the Ciudad Nueva.
Abby Laymon works as a Marketing Coordinator for Ciudad Nueva. She was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN and is a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a dual-degree in Criminal Justice and Spanish.
During Abby’s four years in college, she volunteered as an Urban Young Life leader. This allowed her to build relationships with high school students in the Chattanooga area. This role led her to see the importance of being involved in the community, and empowering the teens in her area to reach their fullest potential.
Her passion to work with youth and the desire to be immersed into a Latino community is what brought her to El Paso. Abby is excited to be a part of what Ciudad Nueva is doing this year in the Rio Grande District, knowing that the lives of those in the neighbourhood may inspire others to step into a community of beautiful people with beautiful stories.