Geraldine (Gery) Paredes Vasquez is an Intercultural & Social Justice Educator as well as a Racial Justice Facilitator with 12 years of experience. This is not the first time that Gery is joining the YWCA Madison, between 2013 and 2016 she co-authored the Creating Equitable Organizations program with former director Colleen Butler as part of the Racial Justice Department. This time she is coming back to Madison and our organization after two years of collaborating with UWC Costa Rica in the development of the Tuanis Co-curricular Program and Agents of Change Curricula for youth between 16 and 19 years old and in six competency areas: diversity,inclusion and equity; conflict transformation; healthy lifestyles; leadership; social entrepreneurship and sustainability.
When asked about her return to YWCA Madison, Gery says “I am both honored and humbled to come back to the YWCA Madison this time in the role of Race and Gender Equity Director, I am re-connecting with a YWCA further emerging as a multiracial and gender diverse organization as it keeps pursuing the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism. As I keep on allowing this new role to emerge in me, I remind myself to pause and reflect on what does it mean for our organization and my leadership as a Latinx woman to center our work on race and gender equity in these critical times. It is clear to me that we need to go beyond the realization of how racism and other forms of oppression sprout from and impact white and communities of color as well as folks from diverse gender identities. I am certain of the need to dive into the transformational practice of authentic relationship as the only way to make of equity and inclusion a lived experience and not just an aspiration. I know by experience that embracing equity and inclusion as a practice and not just as conceptual knowledge is challenging because it makes one aware of the presence of conflict with each other. I believe this is the path for the co-liberation of humanity – share a vulnerability to embrace the presence of conflict as an invitation to transform precisely what is challenging each other into an opportunity for our personal and collective growth. In my life, I have found this process to be profoundly healing and believe that it is needed today more than ever in our world. And so, from our YWCA Madison and now as their Race and Gender Equity Director I am thrilled to partner and collaborate with people, community organizations and institutions willing to commit to the practice of authentic relationship to further heal and liberate each other from the multiple harms of oppression and racism. It is so long overdue and the thriving of our shared humanity it’s so worth it!”
Gery has a thorough understanding of the holistic nature of authentic learning and dedicates her life to the practice of deep facilitation, program development, and visionary planning from an experiential, holistic and restorative framework focused on creating space for relational healing for both personal and collective liberation. She has developed her work experience in both in English and Spanish, with diverse youth and adult constituencies as well as public and private organizations in the context of the United States, her country of birth Bolivia as well as in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Swaziland, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Italy. Most recently and together with her husband the painter Richie Morales she co-founded Cultura Corazon, a social enterprise that organizes intercultural and outdoor experiences in Guatemala. She currently also presides on the board of directors of the international organization, Association for Experiential Education.