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 since 1980. 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 was born and raised in Guatemala and has a deep passion for working with communities in need. He has been working in the development field in Guatemala since 2012.

Julio has been a part of the HRI team since 2012 overseeing the administration of HRI’s Guatemala office while also managing field operations and mission team projects. Julio has been integral to the expansion of HRI’s programs and partnerships in Guatemala.

Julio holds a degree in Information Technology and Business Administration and is currently working on post-graduate studies in Rengineering and Insurance Technology at Universidad Galileo in Guatemala City. He lives in Guatemala City with his wife and son.

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.

Steve Whetstone
Chief Financial Officer

Steve Whetstone has dedicated a nearly 40 year career to serving low income and vulnerable families through nonprofits. He began working with small businesses to create jobs for low income households.

The Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce recruited Steve and he quickly found himself in management, including VP Finance & Operations, laying the foundation for a career in nonprofit and association management. Over 10 years he developed experience in non-profit accounting, legal, board development and strategic planning.

Steve served the next 15 years in management at Feed The Children. As special assistant to the President, he directed logistics & distribution, partner development, special projects and events, disaster response, communications & media and fundraising. Finally settling into the role of Sr. VP, International Operations for nearly 10 years, he realigned and restructured the organization’s international projects into a single consistent program model, demonstrating great success in developing self-sufficient communities in rural and urban areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Steve has now begun to share a lifetime of experience and knowledge with non-profits, building their capacity to operate more effectively through strategic planning, board development, budgeting and program alignment.

Jennifer Jones
Director, Donor Relations and Communications

Jennifer has worked in international development and organization management since 2003. As Information Specialist of Youth America, she helped develop a nation-wide Youth Pastor Mentor Program and co-directed many volunteer-led camps and conferences. During her leadership as Special Projects Supervisor at Feed The Children, they saw massive increases in program support as she supervised more than 1,500 service projects nation-wide in under two years benefiting local and international programs, taking FTC from the 27th largest US-based NGO to 3rd largest. After her promotion to FTC International Services Manager, she renovated the Child Sponsorship and International Volunteer Programs to bring them up to modern standards. She also created a Customer Response Matrix to more efficiently meet client needs. Jennifer most recently served as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Crisis Aid International for nearly 10 years. She managed donor development, grants & outcomes reporting, communications, program development & mission trips on multiple continents, and more. She helped grow CAI revenue more than 3.5 times over the course of her 10 years of service.

Over 13.5 million meals to date. And counting.

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