It’s no secret that we love our team.
We are incredibly honored by each and every one of our hardworking staff members who tirelessly serve and support our community, our team, and the vision of Ciudad Nueva. We are a family united by purpose, faith, and love.
One of our most beloved family and staff members, Sami DiPasquale, is stepping down as Ciudad Nueva’s Executive Director and transitioning leadership to Bethany Rivera Molinar, our current Operations Director, to succeed him in the role.
The passions that have ignited this exciting transition
Though this Executive Director transition is accompanied by the pain of saying goodbye, it’s a beautiful opportunity born out of Sami’s ever-growing heart to come alongside the vulnerable. Over the last few years, the increasing needs of asylum seekers at the El Paso-Mexico border have loomed large in Sami’s heart. Families and individuals that are seeking refuge are continually met with obstacles such as separation, poor living conditions, and broken systems that seem to have little hope of progress.
In response to these needs, more and more individuals from around the nation have reached out for information on what is truly happening at the border and how they can help.
“What started as a response within Ciudad Nueva has grown and become its own entity,” Sami said. “Because Ciudad Nueva is neighborhood-focused, we’re committed to fostering a healthy, whole, and thriving community within specific geographic boundaries. Over the years, we’ve done this through four key areas: empowering youth, supporting families, strengthening community, and equipping leaders. However, because we’re in El Paso and on the border, this is a place of movement and always has been. A few years ago, as asylum seekers started to come to the border in great numbers, we started thinking about how we needed to respond to this.”
Being someone who can personally identify with trying to assimilate to a new culture after moving countries, Sami’s compassion and awareness was ignited as these responses began pouring in. “My parents are both from the United States, but I was born in Jordan and lived there until I was 12.” After his first move to the U.S., Sami lived in a variety of countries including Cyprus, Egypt, and India.
“It was really outside of our (Ciudad Nueva) mission to pursue these requests, though it made sense for us to support this to the degree that it affected our community,” Sami continues. “The needs of asylum seekers and outside interest in helping with the situation kept growing and growing. For myself, I started having a growing feeling too; a burden on my soul and an awareness of our unique opportunity in El Paso kept increasing my desire to be more involved in this more than would make sense under the neighborhood-focused scope of Ciudad Nueva.”
After talking through this desire with Ciudad Nueva’s board of directors, Sami’s passion put him on a path to this Executive Director transition and the creation of Abara, which serves to educate and train people in understanding what’s happening on the border, respond to the most pressing needs in the region, and connect to others on other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, along migrant pathways and in border or conflict zones across the world.
“In order to be involved in some of the regional and global issues that I will be able to engage through Abara,” Sami says, “I thought I would have to move out of the country, and really that had always been my intention since first coming to the U.S. for college. It’s just amazing and beautiful to me that I can be involved in these areas while remaining with my wife, Marianne, and our kids in our same home, embedded in our community, still connected relationally, with Abara working in synergy with Ciudad Nueva. To me, that’s a really incredible gift.”
Sami’s joy at the transition of leadership to Bethany
“I’ve been with Ciudad Nueva for 16 years,” Sami said. “And related to our heartfelt desire (to equip leaders in the community), the ideal has always been to have people from El Paso and from this neighborhood fill as many leadership positions as possible, including the Executive Director role. That’s Bethany,” Sami continued, referencing the upcoming Executive Director transition. “She’s grown up in El Paso, moved into the neighborhood when she returned to El Paso, and has now been at Ciudad Nueva for many years, and through her passion, education and experience there are so many natural fits and alignments for this role and the vision of the organization as a whole.
I would love to continue introducing Bethany to any of our stakeholders who do not yet know her, and there is nothing that would bring me greater joy than continued and increased support for Ciudad Nueva under Bethany’s leadership. Bethany is an incredible gift and tireless advocate for our community, and is boldly moving into leadership during this difficult season overshadowed by the challenges of COVID 19.”
Here’s why Bethany is excited for the role of Executive Director
“The culmination of my upbringing, degree choices, and life experiences have made me passionate about serving those who are marginalized by society,” Bethany said. “Growing up with parents who worked hard and struggled made me realize that God has equipped me with passion and a deep love for my neighbors. God’s also given me the skills to look at things from a different perspective of how systems affect people.”
Bethany’s passion for empowering her community specifically grew when she was finishing her Master’s Degrees in Waco, Texas. “It was really beautiful how I was introduced to Ciudad Nueva. Through Sami and Marianne, I got to see this organization that was alive in my hometown and already actively thinking like this. They were already doing something I was so passionate about. I was excited and grateful that I could work for an organization in whatever capacity who was actively seeking the whole Shalom for their neighbors.”
Bethany’s experience in a variety of leadership roles at Ciudad Nueva, most recently as operations director, has prepared her for this Executive Director transition, and it’s continually encouraged her desire to make a lasting impact in her community through Ciudad Nueva’s unique mission. “Our vision is about fostering empowerment. It’s about walking with our community. It’s about creating an environment where the community members are the ones impacting transformation at every level.”
“Lastly,” Bethany says, “I don’t think I can fully state how well Sami has set us up to do well. His leadership at Ciudad Nueva has always been one that seeks to affirm and support others above himself. I really appreciate the fact that I’ve always been able to push back with Sami in terms of being faithful to the ideals that we (at Ciudad Nueva) hold. It’s a rare thing for somebody in Sami’s position to be so receptive of those things and to change so that we can be better. Our staff is happy for him knowing that this is where God wants him, but we are going to miss him. I can’t stress enough how much our staff and community loves and appreciates him. Even him stepping down is a testament to his desire to continue to push into the mission and vision of Ciudad Nueva.”
Join us as we say goodbye (at least in this role) to our incredible friend and mentor, Sami DiPasquale, and give a heartfelt welcome to our new Executive Director, Bethany Rivera Molinar.
Ciudad Nueva is a community-based nonprofit that exists to advance the renewal and development of central El Paso’s Rio Grande neighborhood through the empowerment and transformation of its residents. Please join us this year! Call us today at 915-521-2951 or contact us online.