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Meet Our Newest Staff Members

#News and Press Releases
March 2024

Grassroots International

The Grassroots International team has expanded not only in number but also in amazingness since welcoming Maryel Cardenas as Program Associate, Josephine Chu as Donor Engagement Manager, Boaventura Monjane as Solidarity Program Officer for West Africa and Haiti, and Juan Reardon as Solidarity Program Officer for Latin America.

Maryel, Josephine, Boa, and Juan bring a wealth of experience working with and in social movements, with backgrounds spanning progressive media, academia, grassroots organizing, and more. Hear from each of them directly about what brings them to Grassroots International and what they are excited to contribute in their new roles.

Maryel Cardenas

“I’m really looking forward to working with an organization that’s aligned with my values, my politics, and my hope for what the world can look like.”

From her bio

Maryel Cardenas is Program Associate at Grassroots International. She is thrilled to be a part of the Program team and contribute to Grassroots International’s mission of supporting social movements in the Global South. As a first-generation Latina whose parents immigrated from Ecuador to the United States, she is incredibly passionate about Latin American history and social movements. 

Before joining Grassroots International, Maryel worked at the intersection of education and journalism. Maryel was an Education Assistant at The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, promoting youth engagement with global issues. She also spent a year supporting the Education Department at Democracy Now!, an independent news organization, in New York City. 

She holds a BA in Peace and Justice Studies and Political Science from Pace University.

Josephine Chu

“I’m super excited to build community with donors, so that we can journey together towards collective liberation.”

From her bio

Josephine Chu joined Grassroots International as the Donor Engagement Manager in 2023. She is thrilled to bring her life-long advocacy work in food, climate, and social justice to mobilize resources to support social movements globally and support donors in their political education and organizing journeys. As a Chinese American with parents immigrating from Vietnam and Hong Kong, her equity lens was shaped from a young age from her lived experience.

Josephine is passionate about food, community, and bringing people together over a shared meal. She previously managed operations, fundraising, communications, programs, and staff in her 8+ years at Common Good City Farm, a non-profit farm in Washington, DC with a mission to cultivate a more equitable community through food. She co-founded and co-led Zenful Bites from 2012 to 2020, a women-of-color-owned social enterprise that provided plant-based eco-catering services and food education programming to foster a sustainable and fair food system in the DC metro region. She has also worked with the communications teams of Change Elemental and the Environmental Protection Agency and as an environmental educator.

Boaventura Monjane

“Working with Grassroots International allows me to continue supporting grassroots movements that challenge exploitation and oppression, build alternatives, and reclaim people’s power.”

From his bio

Boaventura Monjane (Boa) is the Solidarity Officer for West Africa and Haiti at Grassroots International. He aims to strengthen relationships with partners, bring a pan-African perspective to Grassroots International’s work in these regions, and introduce new ideas to expand impact.

Boa is from Mozambique. He has been involved in agrarian social movements both locally in and internationally, working with the Mozambique’s National Union of Peasants (UNAC) and the International Secretariat of La Via Campesina. His areas of interest (activism and research) include agrarian movements, rural politics, food sovereignty, climate justice, and corporate accountability. Boa holds a PhD on Postcolonialisms and Global Citizenship (Sociology) from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Coimbra.

Prior to joining Grassroots International, Boaventura was coordinator of the Southern Africa Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power at the Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC) in Cape Town, South Africa, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at University of the Western Cape. He is co-founder of the Africa-wide No REDD in Africa Network and Alternactiva – Acção Pela Emancipação Social in Mozambique.

Juan Reardon

“I’m very excited about joining the Grassroots team and… finding new ways to encourage and motivate the exchange of knowledge and the exchange of struggles between movements in Latin America and the rest of the world.”

From his bio

Juan Reardon is the Solidarity Program Officer for Latin America at Grassroots International. He is firmly committed to cultivating the organization’s longstanding praxis of solidarity with movement partners across the Americas while contributing creatively to the internationalism of Grassroots International.

Juan was born in Argentina and raised in Northern California. The child of exiles forced abroad by a US-backed military junta, he has accompanied Latin American social movements in frontline struggles for food sovereignty that include efforts aimed at consolidating popular integral agrarian reform, peasant-to-peasant learning processes and local to global efforts for climate and environmental justice. His support for these movements has included service as National Coordinator of the US-based Friends of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (FMST), participatory action research alongside Cuba’s National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), the facilitation of formation processes for the Latin American Coordination of Rural Movements (CLOC) at its “Paulo Freire” Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA) and the development of popular education materials with and for La Via Campesina in Venezuela.

Prior to joining Grassroots International, Juan served in La Via Campesina’s International Operative Secretariat (IOS) for nine profoundly formative years (2015-2023). During that time he provided direct support to LVC’s International Coordination Committee, its International Working Collective on Climate and Environmental Justice, its International Working Collective on Agroecology, Seeds and Biodiversity, and the Palestinian-led process to articulate LVC in the Arab Region and North Africa, among other efforts. Juan holds a MsC in Sustainable Agriculture from Cuba’s Universidad Central “Marta Abreu” de las Villas (UCLV) and a BA in Environmental Studies with a focus in Agroecology from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC).

He is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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