United Methodist Women Delegates for the 59th Annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Read the biographies of the United Methodist Women delegates:
Dr. Catherine Mudime Akale: Cameroon
Catherine Mudime Akale, a native of Cameroon, is a United Methodist Women Regional Missionary assigned to work with women in select African Countries, including Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Angola, as well as ecumenically. Akale works closely with United Methodist Women partners in these communities to address the social and economic effects of HIV/AIDS and poverty, delivers training programs on leadership development, gender based violence and maternal health, initiates projects to overcome social justice challenges, and shares learning to promote access to rights and equal opportunity, thereby influencing policy on different areas of women’s life in the church.
She has conducted and participated in numerous thematic seminars, workshops and conferences. She acted as parliamentarian for the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women in two World Assemblies, and sits on the United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group.
Akale obtained a bachelor of education and an M.A. in gender and development from the University of Sussex, and her doctoral degree in political sociology from Oxford Brookes University.
Yuleida Patricia Alvarez Espejo: Colombia
Yuleida Patricia Alvarez Espejo is a native of Colombia currently coordinating the ministry of health of the Colombian Methodist Church at the national level, along with the activities of the Clinton Rabb Clinic. The clinic is a secure space for women who have been abused and marginalized by paramilitary groups. It provides access to health services as well as education on sexual and reproductive rights and maternal health.
Espejo also develops training and education on specific topics such as conflict and non-violence, gender, and peacebuilding. She participated in the national strategic plan of the Methodist Colombian Church, where international agencies are invited annually to take part in a national congress.
Paola Cyment Fiedotin: Argentina
Paoloa Cyment Fiedotin works as a project officer for the Comisión de Apoyo a Refugiados y Migrantes (CAREF), where she participates in projects in the areas of human rights, migration, women and children rights, development and gender violence. She is also a researcher for the Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Nacional de Lanús (UNLa), where she participated in projects such as the “Rights of Children, Migration, Development and Human Rights” and “UNICEF Policy and Practice Division.”
Fiedotin attended Colombia University and graduated in 2002. While at Colombia University, she acquired a masters degree in international affairs and Latin American studies.
Justine Kwachu Ngum Kumche: Cameroon
Justine Kwachu Kumche is the executive director of Women in Alternative Action (WAA) in Cameroon whose mission is to enhance the promotion of socio-cultural, political and economic rights of women and youth in Cameroon. Kumche has worked as a field trainer for the Ecumenical Service for Peace and is a consultant trainer with the Peace and Security Support Programme of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
Additionally, she is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms-IANSA where she participated in negotiations leading to the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the UN General Assembly in April 2013.
Kumche holds a master of science degree in anthropology of development from the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon. She is a fellow of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP-Paris) and International Human Rights Training Programme (IHTP-Equitas).
Kyo Rye (Kelly) Lee: Korea
Kyo Rye Lee is on staff as a program manager at Scranton Women’s Leadership Center in Seoul, South Korea, where she coordinates, facilitates and designs programs for the center. She is also the main coordinator for the Asian Young Women's Leadership Development Program and the Peace Seminar in Korea. From August 2012 to December 2013, Lee served as contemporary worship pastor and liturgist at Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul, South Korea.
Lee has held various other positions including research assistant for President Jong Chung Park at the Methodist Theological University President’s Office, youth pastor at the Arcola Korean United Methodist Church, program coordinator at Omega Summer School, and children’s English ministry coordinator at Sung Eun Korean Methodist Church.
Lee attended Drew Theological School in Madison, N.J., where she received a master of divinity and a bachelor of arts in behavioral science with a minor in religious studies.
Nino Maisuradze: Georgia
Nino Maisuradze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. She graduated from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) through the faculty of Journalism and Media Management in 2009. As a journalist she has been working at National Georgian Television/Radio, raising awareness and advancing women’s input into local development policies that address the social, cultural and economic rights of women.
Since 2009 Maisuradze has worked in radio for the “Voice of Abkhazia” and in 2014 began working at “Media Holding Palitra” as a news editor/announcer. She is currently organizing a program on women's and girl's rights for national radio in Georgia.
Jennifer Ferariza Meneses: Philippines
Jennifer Ferariza Meneses is the executive secretary and officer in charge at the Board of Women’s Work, United Methodist Church, Philippines. She holds a master’s of science in pastoral sociology and a bachelor of arts in English, along with a minor in mass communications.
Meneses has participated in seminars throughout Asia, including the East Asia Area Seminar, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, Asian Women’s Facilitators’ Training & Writers’ Workshop, Asian Christian Women’s Leadership Training & Dialogue, and the Seminar on Mission and Youth in the Context of Globalization. She was a principal delegate to the 2004 Philippines Central Conference Session.
Meneses was co-adviser to the National United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines and president of United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines – West Middle Philippines Annual Conference. She is a recipient of the graduate scholarship program of United Methodist Women.
Fidelina Esperanza Cardona Mercado: Honduras
Esperanza Cardona Mercado is the coordinator of the National Women’s Commission of La Via Campesina in Honduras. She is a peasant women leader from the Olancho region of Honduras and has been helping organize rural women and men in their efforts to reclaim land rights that have been denied or taken away from them.
Since 1980, she has been working in the Gender Secretariat of the National Peasant Association of Honduras, advocating for women rights, gender balance in leadership positions, and greater political participation by women.
Mercado has been leading the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Peasant Women in Honduras and has helped women form self-help groups to promote the elimination of violence against peasant women and advance women’s economic rights in Honduras.
Geneviève Michel: Haiti
Geneviève Michel studied law at the Facultè des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques of Universitè Quisqueya (Port-au-Prince, Haiti). She was a legal practitioner at the law firm Cabinet Hudicourt-Woolley, and legal and regulatory affairs manager at Unigestion Holding S.A-Digicel, the largest private corporation in Haiti. She is currently the legal advisor at ProFin, an advisory firm for companies operating on the local market, where she is in charge of the revision of legal and regulatory issues.
Michel is a board member of several Haitian non-profit organizations, such as the Digicel Haiti Foundation and the YWCA-HAITI and AHTIC (the Haitian Association for ICT Development).
Juliet Nabukalu: Uganda
Juliet Nabukalu is currently the chair person of the Africa Central Conference Youth Network (AFFCCYN). She previously worked with the AFCCYN creating a platform for women’s voices on issues such as HIV/Aids and gender violence. Nabukalu develops links between the network and its partners at national and international levels, conducts leadership training for young women, and trains girls and young women how to use available local resources for sustainable income generating projects.
Nabukalu graduated from Namasagali University in Kamuli, Uganda, in 2003 and is certified in fields such as effective representation, global health, ministry for the poor, leadership development, crisis communication, and communication strategy.
Catherine Djilan Nyenawo: Liberia
Catherine Djilan Nyenawo is the director for Young Women’s Works, Liberia Annual Conference and associate director for the department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. She is also a staff member of the United Methodist Human Rights Monitor/Peace with Justice Program, Liberia Annual Conference. She provides leadership for over 10,000 young women, youths and young adults to carry out advocacy, awareness, training and social justice for all.
Nyenawo graduated from United Methodist University in 2011 with a bachelor of arts in sociology and is currently acquiring a masters in public health with emphasis on health care policy and management at Cuttington University Graduate School in Liberia.
Andrea Reily Rocha: Brazil
Andrea Reily Rocha is a provisional pastor of The Methodist Church in Brazil. She is the pastor-in-charge of the youth ministry in the district and a writer for the Methodist Youth Sunday School Curriculum. This year, she was appointed by the Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church in Brazil to be a member of the Board of the National Department of Volunteers in Mission.
Rocha graduated from Emory and Henry College in Virginia with a double major in religion and Spanish and cultural studies and a minor in psychology; she also has a bachelor of theology degree from the Methodist University of São Paulo.
In 2010, she obtained a master’s of divinity from Boston University School of Theology with a specialized track in mission studies. She has had extensive training from Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Mission Society, World Methodist Evangelism as well as in conflict resolution.
Keiko Saito: Japan
Keiko Saito works with the Japan Christian Women’s Organization to protect women and children’s human rights and welfare. Through the organization she lectures on sexual violence and abuse in addition to the dangers of the sexual exploitation of children.
From 2009 to 2011 Saito worked for the “Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People” campaign launched by The Body Shop and ECPAT. During the campaign she advocated against the online exploitation of children and elaborated on the psychological affect it has on youth. Additionally, she worked to implement the code of conduct for the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, while also working with the Japan committee for UNICEF. Saito is also the manager of the Peace Program in Kyofukai, Japan.
Mariko Yamaoka: Japan
Mariko Yamaoka is a graduate of International Christian University. After translating the book Not For Sale into Japanese, she was recruited as the director of the organization’s Japan branch. Not For Sale Japan was launched in July 2011.
Today, Not For Sale Japan (NFSJ) raises awareness about human trafficking and slavery with film screenings, lectures, presentations, exhibits, fundraising events and digital and print media.
NFSJ belongs to the Japan Network Against Trafficking In Persons (JNATIP), which is the only networking organization in Japan that fights human trafficking. JNATIP advocates for vigorous law enforcement against traffickers and more protective measures for victims.
Carol Burnett: U.S.A.
Carol Burnett is executive director of Moore Community House, a United Methodist Women National Mission Institution serving low-income families in Biloxi, Mississippi. She is also founder and executive director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child-Care Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to strengthen Mississippi’s child care delivery system for low-income working families. Previously, Burnett served as director of the Office for Children and Youth in the Mississippi State Department of Human Services, where she worked to expand the supply of child care services for low income single mothers.
Burnett attended the White House Summit on Working Families, and she is currently on the Advisory Committee to the Status of MS Women Report of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. She is a member of the Center for American Progress 2014 Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute.
Burnett is an ordained elder in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. She holds a B.A. from the University of Southern Mississippi and an M. Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Doris Bassfield Nicholson: U.S.A.
Doris Bassfield Nicholson has served in various positions with United Methodist Women and has participated at the local conference level.
Nicholson is very active in her community. She is a member of the Hillside Lion's Club, League of Women Voters, The New Jersey State Federation of CW Clubs, Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Club, NAACP, Urban League of Essex County, Church Women United of Essex County, and others. She has volunteered with the NJPAC in Newark and the Hillside Community Food Bank.
Nicholson founded and has chaired the Hillside Senior Black History Program, and this year chaired the memorial ceremony for Dr. King.
Helen Park: U.S.A.
Helen Park is originally from South Korea but has been living in the U.S. for the past 43 years. She received a degree in history and German literature. After spending a short time teaching secondary school, she decided to go into international banking.
Park’s volunteer work includes serving on the board of a Korean Community Center in Oakland for three years, where she offered services to new immigrants and advocated for victims of domestic violence. Six years ago she joined the district board of United Methodist Women and served as education and interpretation coordinator for two years. She then joined the board of the Conference United Methodist Women to serve on the Committee on Nominations, to which she was elected chair. She is the second vice president for the Corporation of United Methodist Women of the CA-NV Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
LaNella Smith: U.S.A.
LaNella Smith currently serves on the board of Durham Congregations in Action, a multi-faith group that seeks to care for the most vulnerable and forgotten in her community.
Over the last two years she has been an active participant in the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. The movement addresses issues that impact women and children while also providing a platform for women’s voices as they hold leadership positions.
Rosemary Uebel: U.S.A.
Rosemary Uebel serves as social action liaison for the Florida Conference United Methodist Women and as board chair of United Methodist Cooperative Ministries. She also serves on the Global Justice Committee of the Florida Conference United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women National Task Force Against Human Trafficking.
Uebel received her bachelor of science degree and a teacher’s certificate from East Texas State University, now Texas A & M Commerce. She has worked with many agencies, including the Department of Interior and the National Dairy Council, to improve the lives of children and families. She is an advocate for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Alliance, teaches workshops about human trafficking, and is a volunteer tutor.
Nichea Beverly Ver Veer Guy: U.S.A.
Nichea Ver Veer Guy is serving her seventh year as a member of the Board of Directors of United Methodist Women. She is currently the chair of finance on the Executive Committee and represents United Methodist Women on the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Ver Veer Guy has also represented United Methodist Women on international delegations concerning the UN and Migration in Geneva, grassroots environmental initiatives concerning women and the environment, as well as serving general denomination as a delegate to General Conference 2012 and 2016.
Additionally, Ver Veer Guy has served on the board of directors for the General Board of Global Ministries from 2008-2012 and continues to work in that area on the West Michigan Conference level. She is a director of children and family ministries at Grand Rapids Trinity United Methodist Church.
Ver Veer Guy is currently involved in the Kaufman Institute’s Interfaith Year of Service 2015, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Partners for a Racism Free Community, and Act of Reconciliation Task Force West Michigan Conference as the chair of the Annual Conference Program Committee.
Sonnya Minhee Yoo: U.S.A.
Sonnya Yoo is a senior at the University of Delaware with a major in international relations and a minor in economics, with a focus on social and economic development in East Asia.
Yoo has worked as an American Global Fellow for The English Language Institute, was a program assistant for the Haiti Missionary Initiative at the Delaware Korean United Methodist Church, and was a member of the leadership council for the Relying on Christ Christian Campus Ministry.
In the summer of 2014, Yoo interned at the Scranton Women’s Leadership Center, where she assisted in planning for women’s leadership development programs. She was particularly involved in the 2014 Young Women’s Leadership Peace Seminar, where young women from around the world come together to learn how to be effective peacemakers in their communities.