Our stellar team is made up of 6 Full Time Staff, 7 Part Time Staff, a number of affiliated volunteer staff, and six 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 helped 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 Operations 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.
Keisha Branch is currently the High School Programs Coordinator at Ciudad Nueva. 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. After a year in the Border Fellows Program, Keisha has decided to continue working with Ciudad Nueva and with the St. Clement’s Parish School.
Tamy serves as our first Community Connector. She also coordinates the food co-op groups, ensuring that they run smoothly and also sharing with the neighborhood about the co-ops. Tamy also just started as our Elementary School Program co-Coordinator with Alison.
Tamy is pursuing a BC degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Anthropology. Her children have participated in Ciudad Nueva youth programs for ten years, and she has volunteered her time and talent throughout the years with Ciudad Nueva Programs and special events.
She has lived in the Rio Grande Neighborhood her entire life. Tamy is a strong Christian and provides love and encouragement to those she leads.
PART TIME STAFF
Marianne DiPasquale is the Admin Support 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.
Jen Shinn is the Border Fellows Director.
Jen serves as the Border Fellow Director. She grew up as the daughter of a preacher which instilled in her at a very young age a love of God, the Church and Bible Study. She later went on to marry her high school sweetheart, Mike. They were given the opportunity to travel, on the Army’s dime, to several countries. This gave Jen the ability to understand culture differences up close.
During her years as a Military Wife, she was given to opportunity to hold several positions on the Women’s Ministry Board, ranging from President to Child Care. This experience has given her the ability to learn how to serve a diverse group of people, from various backgrounds. She has taken this experience with her as she has served the Military Community for 30 yrs.
Upon leaving the Military setting, Jen and Mike sought a church home at St. Clements. They are active in the Men & Women’s groups, an Anchor Group, and weekly Bible Study. As she has taken on this new role as Border Fellow Director, Jen is excited to be involved in the shaping and developing of these young adults as they experience the Border Life and how that experience will challenge and grow them in areas they never thought.
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.
Alison Conrad Schulte is the Partnership Development Coordinator and co-director of LaunchPad. She moved with her husband, Spencer to El Paso from Washington state in the summer of 2016.
Alison has a bachelor of arts in education degree from Eastern Washington University. Her background includes working with public library systems, teaching and working as an administrative staff member of her home church in Washington.
She enjoys working with youth of all ages and has been a mentor in Ciudad Nueva’s elementary program, LaunchPad, since arriving in El Paso. Additionally she supports the partnership development at Ciudad Nueva by assisting with donor, volunteer and fundraising needs.
Living in El Paso has provided the opportunity to learn about the borderland and she is hopeful to continue learning about the culture, city and needs of the neighborhood Ciudad Nueva serves.
Claudia Chavez is the Immigration Legal Assistance Program Coordinator for Ciudad Nueva. She is a native of El Paso and grew up in the central part of the city, attending St. Joseph and Loretto Academy.
In order to pursue her degrees, Claudia moved to San Antonio, Texas. She attended St. Mary’s University where she actively participated in Campus Ministry and the President’s Peace Commission. While completing her degree, she volunteered with The Visitation House and Proyecto Hospitalidad, and engaged in an independent study with Patricia Owen, PhD. The Visitation House is a non-profit organization that addresses the needs of vulnerable women and children by helping them achieve self-sufficiency. Proyecto Hospitalidad was an organization led by Laura Sanchez that provided housing, food and legal assistance for immigrants. Claudia’s independent study participation focused on working with students identified as “at risk” due to their family’s economic, or social stressors. She graduated from St. Mary’s with a BA in Psychology and Minor in Art. Between degrees, she worked for a children’s home where she served as a child care worker and later the Therapeutic Art Program Director.
Claudia completed her MS in Counseling Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University. She spent six years with a non-profit organization providing services for children and their families with the goal of helping children to be more successful in school. She also worked with a private practice providing counseling for elders and children. After several years away, Claudia returned to El Paso to care for parents and raise her family with her husband Paul. She worked as a Parental Engagement Leader, then joined the team at Ciudad Nueva.
Claudia has spent her career serving others, working alongside them to help them move toward their best quality of life. In her new position at Ciudad Nueva, she hopes to continue that mission as she works with people who have come to our country in search of a better life for themselves and their families.
Alma serves as our Food Co-op Manager. Alma was born and raised in Juarez her first fourteen years, before moving to El Paso, where she graduated from El Paso High School, and has completed two years of Community College coursework. She was drawn to Ciudad Nueva because she liked the people and the programs, the love and caring she saw exhibited, as she and her family became involved. As Alma became more involved, her ability to organize has demonstrated itself. As our food co-op manager, she loves helping others. Alma loves spending her free time with her kids. Though she claims to be naturally shy, her infectious personality is winsome.
Blanca Castillo graduated from Liberty University in May 2018 with a degree in Government and Western Legal Traditions. She has a passion for serving and working with immigrant and refugee populations which helped lead her to the Border Fellows program in El Paso. She is looking forward to building relationships with the youth and families at Ciudad Nueva. In her free time, Blanca enjoys expressing herself through painting and art.
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.
2019-2020 BORDER FELLOWS INTERNS
Hi, my name is Jennifer Foliaco, but you can call me Jenny! I’m one of the 2019-2020 Border Fellows, and I will be volunteering with LaunchPad at Ciudad Nueva and joining the Abara Frontiers team. I was born and raised outside of Richmond, VA and graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA with a degree in Foreign Affairs and Spanish. I grew up in a Filipino-Colombian-American household and have always been excited about culturally and linguistically immersive experiences. I’m encouraged already by the ways I’ve seen Christ moving in this community and I’m humbled to be part of a team with a mission and vision much, much greater than myself. While in El Paso/Juaréz, I’m looking forward to learning more about the immigration system, exploring the city by way of my bike and running shoes, coaching a squad full of Upward soccer stars, and sharing stories and cups of coffee with community members. Excited to get to know you!
Sophie, from the suburbs of Indianapolis, is a recent graduate of George Mason University, located just outside of Washington D.C. She double majored in History and Government & International Politics, and had the opportunity to study abroad both in Oxford, UK, and Mexico City, Mexico. While in college, Sophie was involved in varying capacities with several on-campus ministries, her church, volunteer work as a family mentor for recently relocated refugee families in the D.C. area, and working at the summer camp that first introduced her to the Gospel when she was in elementary school back in Indiana. She is looking forward to embracing all the new opportunities provided by Ciudad Nueva as a Border Fellow and to exploring beautiful El Paso!
Drew’s bio will be updated soon.