The Gender and Development Committee (GAD) is a worldwide Peace Corps working group that focuses on issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment that are relevant in the volunteer’s work context. The GAD Morocco committee consists of peer-elected representatives. The committee meets three times each year to facilitate regional GAD initiatives, to organize Peace Corps-wide thematic activities, and to motivate and educate volunteers through training and outreach efforts.
Sarah Barrett | Chair
More about Sarah
Ahlan! I’m Sarah and I’m currently serving in an Amazigh town nestled between the Middle and High Atlas Mountains. My site has a long Peace Corps history and I’m lucky enough to continue a legacy of female PCVs named Sarah.
I’m from a small town in New Hampshire and I recently graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor’s in Global Studies and Community & International Development. I specialized in refugee and asylum studies through reconnecting with my own refugee roots and interning with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Through this work, I came to view gender and development through the intersection of plural socio-cultural/economic and theological lenses.
Fresh out of four years as a female athlete on co-ed collegiate programs, my passion for gender work leans towards sports and education as mediums for both girls’ empowerment and the recruitment of men and boys as allies. I look forward to working with GAD to develop resources, networks, and support systems to enable PCVs and Moroccans to work together in the global movement for socially just development and gender equity.
Anna LaRocco Massi |Vice-Chair
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Hi my name is Anna like the Moroccan I or me. I live in the Errachidia region and am from Washington D.C. I graduated from the George Washington University with a double major in sociology and political science. My research within my majors focused on politics of sub-Saharan Africa, in particular Zimbabwe and South Africa but with a general focus on how domestic politics and gender play roles in development. Within sociology I focus on the role of gender poverty and race.
During my time at University I interned at the United States Congress for one year and did work on gender in relation to health care and disabilities. I also formerly worked for Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream for their marketing and social mission responsibility team. I have always been very passionate about working with the young minds of the future and am looking forward to taking this to the GAD committee.
Shalom Haileselassie |Coordinating Officer
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My name is Shalom and my community is nestled in the southern foothills of the Atlas Mountains. State-side I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and hold a degree in Cultural Anthropology, with an emphasis on First Nations Rights across the Americas.
Prior to service I worked with refugee and immigrant youth in my Pittsburgh community, as well as serving as editor for an international pan-african platform aimed at uniting Black Diaspora and Continental Africans. I sought involvement with GAD as a means to grow my working knowledge of gender equity and encourage accountability across the Peace Corps Morocco Staj. I am very eager to work with GAD and Moroccan communities in developing resources that are malleable and beneficial to the continual movement towards gender equity!
Kylie Silvestri |Media Officer
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My name is Kylie, and I currently live in a small Amazigh community tucked in the high Atlas Mountains. My community and Moroccan friends call me 3icha. I am from Philadelphia, which I have called home for the last 6 years. Before my time in Peace Corps Morocco, I was working as a Community Health Educator in Burkina Faso, where I found my passion for women’s empowerment and international work.
I got involved with GAD because I want the youth to feel confident and in control of their own futures, and empowerment is one of the first steps in bridging the gap between gender equality. Gender inequity goes deeper than simply male/ female relations, and marginalized groups additionally feel this to greater degrees. Gender equity needs acknowledgement from both men and women alike to break the cycle, and I feel that the best way to teach this is through youth work. This is why making gender resources available for educators is so important to me. Whether it be through education, pay, household duties, sexuality, etc, women and girls are silenced far too often, and educating youth with this in mind helps encourage girls and boys that they can be, and achieve whatever they want if they work hard enough.
Xuan Nguyen | Representative
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Hi all! My name is Xuan, and I’m so so excited to be a new member of GAD Morocco! I grew up in Southeast Asia and have moved a lot all around the States, but I claim Chicago as my home. I graduated from DePaul University with a BS in Neuroscience and minor in International Studies, with a heavy emphasis on international relations through a gender-constructed lens. I chose PC Morocco because of its mission to advocate for education as a form of empowerment, especially girls. My favorite feminist icon, to name a few would probably be Michelle Obama, Amanda Ngoc Nguyen, and Ruths Bader Ginsburg (of course, going down my entire list would take days). My hope being on GAD is not only to contribute to the empowerment movement across borders, but also learn from my peers and my community about what feminism means to different people in different parts of the world. I can’t wait!
Joy Kuhlo | Representative
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Salam! My name is Joy Kuhlo. In Morocco, I am lucky to call a semi-urban town tucked between the Beni Mellal plains and the Atlas mountains home. Stateside however, I am from St. Louis, Missouri. I graduated from college in 2019 and hold dual degrees in International Human Rights and Philosophy with an emphasis in Social Justice and Ethics. Much of my coursework was focused on women’s rights in a international context. I would consider gender work to be both a passion of mine, but also central to sustainable development efforts. To be responsible and ethical Peace Corps volunteers, we are obliged to consider the fight for gender equity and women empowerment.
Being involved with GAD means an opportunity to shift power to the youth and normalize conversations surrounding gender I hope to take a holistic approach to gender work and include both young men and women in these conversations. As well, I think many Moroccan women are deserving of special attention due to the immeasurable contributions they make to their families and their communities through unpaid domestic labor and care. I am excited to be part of a team that is developing resources in response to these ideas!
Gabriela Mills | Representative
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Hi! I’m Gabriela, currently living in a small desert tundra town near with Algerian border. I’m originally from the DC area but have also spent time in Brazil, where my mother’s family lives; Cape Verde, where I volunteered for 18 months; Hawaii, where I got my B.A. in Intercultural Peacebuilding and met my husband; and most recently Arizona, where I worked at a wilderness therapy program.
When I applied for Peace Corps I knew from the get go I wanted to focus on women’s empowerment and gender development, but I didn’t yet know what skills I had to contribute to that sector, and I had no idea a Gender and Development committee would exist at my post. Then a friend and mentor encouraged me to attend a weeklong intensive training in Empowerment Self Defense the month prior to my departure for Peace Corps service, which really fueled my passion for and opened my eyes to the healing power and importance of gender-related work and advocacy. I am thrilled to be a part of this team and hope to both share my experiences as well as dive deeper into learning how we can make the world a more gender equitable and safe space for all.
Fiona Leary| Representative
More about Fiona
My name is Fiona and live in a small village near the coast in Souss-Massa. I am from Albany, New York and I hold a degree in Political Science and Middle East studies with a minor in Classical Arabic from Fordham University. Much of my research at Fordham was illuminated by Muslim feminist authors such as Fatima Mernissi and Mona Eltahawy and I hope to apply the ideas of these women to gender-based development work in GAD.
I have previously worked in a center for immigrants and refugees, the New York State Senate, and I have worked in the Albany and New York City offices of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Before joining the Peace Corps I was a proud employee of the Bronx Olive Garden. I am so enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with GAD and Moroccan counterparts to create resources for gender development that will be beneficial to both volunteers and the communities we serve.
Said Ousaka | Staff Liaison