Team

Rachel Zelon
President & CEO

Rachel Zelon is a founding member of HRI and has been working in the field of humanitarian assistance and development for 30 years. She started her career as a Peace Corps volunteer in the jungles of Ecuador and then went on to work for the Joint Distribution Committee and HIAS, Inc. (The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), both based in NYC. Ms. Zelon worked at HIAS for 15 years in the field of refugee assistance, protection, and resettlement. During her tenure there she served as Vice President for U.S. and International Operations. She later served as Vice President of International Programs for Feed The Children, based in Oklahoma City. Rachel is particularly known for her work in Iraq in 2003 when she lead the evacuation of many of the remaining members of the world’s oldest Jewish community from Baghdad to Israel. Her work was featured on CNN’s Newsnight with Aaron Brown in October 2004. Rachel holds an MSW from Hunter College in New York City.

Jodel Pierre
Country Representative, Haiti

Jodel Pierre is a Haitian Senior Development Leader with more than 12 years of diverse experience in the development sector working with NGOs, local organizations as well as government entities. Jodel brings to HRI a strong passion, vision, and breadth of knowledge pertaining to local and international development work. He has special expertise in the design and implementation of Education, OVC and Child Protection projects as well as the management of large, complex development programs and partnerships. Prior to joining HRI, Jodel held positions and consultancies at the UN, USAID, Global Funds, Salvation Army, AmeriCares, Chemonics, and Tearfund.

Jodel holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Guyana and the West Indies University and an Undergraduate Degree in Social Work from the State University of Haiti. He also holds various continuing education certificates including: Program and Project Management Methodologies from Public Research Centre Henri Tudor, Luxembourg; Social Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development: Sustainable Development Courses through Duke University Continuing Studies; Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations from the Academy for Educational Development (AED); and Design, Partnering, Management and Innovation (DPMI) in International Development and Social Change from Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.

Julio Mendoza
Country Representative, Guatemala

Julio is a young professional who was born and raised in Guatemala. He has over 8 years of experience working in the development field in Guatemala. Since 2012, Julio has been a part of HRI’s work largely in an administrative capacity while also supporting field operations, specifically with mission teams and projects. Currently, Julio is focusing his efforts on overseeing and expanding HRI’s work in the communities as well as the integration of local professionals into programs. Julio holds a degree in Business Administration from Universidad Galileo in Guatemala City.

Kimberly Lagomarsino
Director of Programs, Latin America

Kimberly has spent her academic and professional career committed to improving outcomes for resource-limited children, families, and communities. She began living abroad in Latin America at age 18 working in rural communities and schools. She later completed a B.S. in Family Studies at the University of Maryland where she concentrated on issues affecting immigrant families. She went on to work in Early Childhood policy for 4 years at ZERO TO THREE in Washington, DC. During this time she completed an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. She focused her graduate studies on conflict in Latin America and community conflict, but did her culminating Master’s research on refugee policy in Turkey. She later moved back to Latin America, spending time in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. In coastal Ecuador she managed an intern program and community education center along with various development projects. Her experiences both domestic and abroad have given her a diverse understanding of program strategy, implementation, management, and sustainability.

Ken Patterson
Senior Program Manager

Ken has been developing and directing international development projects since 1997. For ten years of his career, Ken worked with the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), designing and developing projects in South Asia, West and Central Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. Much of his work has focused on creating projects that respond to refugee and forced migration crises caused by war or internal political strife, such as Legal Protection and Refugee Camp Management. Ken also designed and directed several Business Development and Micro Finance projects, as well as the IARS Project, the first comprehensive anti-trafficking project in the Balkans. He wrapped up his time with ICMC as Director of Global Operations in the Geneva Headquarters.

Since then, he has served as Chairperson for KEP, a major micro finance institution in Kosovo, as well as Team Leader for development of the Balkan Investment Fund. In addition, Ken has recently finalized a formal MOU between the cities of Fayetteville, Arkansas and Korce, Albania for the transfer of agriculture technologies and agri-business development. Ken received his Jurist Doctorate from the University of Arkansas in 1993.

Over 10.8 million meals to date. And counting.

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