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Meet the Team
Kevin Yonkers-Talz, M.Ed., M.S.
Co-Founder and Co-Director, Casa de la Solidaridad
Kevin is immensely proud of his four daughters–Sophia (15), Grace (13), Hannah (10), and Emma (5) and absolutely loves being a father. He is grateful for his work, which allows him to accompany college students from the U.S. as they encounter the realities of life in El Salvador. Kevin's academic interests lie in human development, theology and international and multicultural education. He studied economics and psychology at Fairfield University and received his M.S. in college student personnel services from Miami University. He then studied at Boston College (M.Ed.) and has his doctoral degree in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco.
Trena Yonkers-Talz, M.Ed., M.S.
Co-Founder and Co-Director, Casa de la Solidaridad
Trena loves how working with the Casa program enables her to connect her vocations as a mom and as an educator. She loves being mom to her four daughters (Sophia, Grace, Hannah, and Emma). With the Casa program, she most enjoys spending time in the praxis site communities with the students. In both of her jobs, she is constantly learning about life and love and being reminded how alive God is in our world. Her academic interests lie in college student development theory and liberation/feminist theology. She studied accounting as an undergrad at Grand Valley State University and received her M.S. in college student personnel services from Miami University and an M.Ed. in religious education from Boston College. She also enjoys running, baking cookies, and exploring Central America with her family. Trena also has a strong connection to her roots in Hastings, Michigan, where she grew up on a goat, sheep, and asparagus farm. Trena and Kevin worked with Jesuit Volunteers: International in Belize, Central America for two years prior to their work in El Salvador.
Community Coordinator, Casa Silvia
Sally Ulmer is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She graduated from Santa Clara University in June of 2015 with a major in history and a minor in women's and gender studies. Sally participated in Casa de la Solidaridad in the fall of 2013 and accompanied the community of Mariona with her praxis partner, and fellow cc, Monet. In this one of a kind praxis site they spent time sharing stories and drinking coffee with three families, giving art and English classes to children in the neighborhood, and visiting women's cooperatives in the northern part of El Salvador. Sally is extremely excited to return as a cc, and feels grateful for the opportunity to accompany students and learn from the casa staff and its Salvadoran partners. You will find Sally walking behind Monet as she runs, drinking coffee, and buying earrings from Salvadoran artisans!
Community Coordinator, Casa Romero
Monet Gonnerman, originally from Portland, Oregon, is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University with a major in Sociology and minors in International Business and Mathematics. In the fall of 2013, Monet spent a semester studying abroad with the Casa program, accompanying the community of Mariona. She has returned for another year with the Casa de la Solidaridad program to learn from the stories of the Salvadoran people and accompany Casa students through their experiences in El Salvador. A few facts about Monet - she enjoys running, painting, and drinking coffee!
Originally from San Salvador, Clara graduated from the University of Central America (UCA) in October 2006 with a major in communications. She worked as a journalist for La Prensa Gráfica three years in the area of public health. Clara finished her master's degree from the Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea in Spain during 2009. Now she works with the Casa program but also is writing economics reports from Central America for a Colombian magazine. Clara loves coffee! But she also enjoys writing, reading, traveling (especially with friends), and spending time with her family.
Lidia, Francisca, Rosa, and Guadalupe
Lidia, Francisca, Rosa and Guadalupe comprise one of the most important teams on staff. They serve the Casa students in a variety of ways: as support people, as educators about the lives of average Salvadorans, and as cooks. Lidia has worked as a cook with the Jesuits for over 17 years. Elba Ramos, the housekeeper who was murdered with the Jesuits, taught her how to cook. Each semester, students reflect on the immense importance that these wise women have on their experience. We are grateful they are on staff.
Romero Scholarship Student Program
The Romero Program is a Salvadoran sister program of the Casa de la Solidaridad. It began in August 2004 as a small group of scholarship students who lived with the Casa students, and since has grown to support around 12 Salvadoran university students. Julio and Guadalupe were some of the first Salvadoran students who began the Romero Program, and after much experience with the Casa, they are now working full time with the Romero Program.