Mercado Global Team

Board of Directors

Jennifer Ali, Investor Relations, Financial Services Industry
Ruth Álvarez-DeGolia, Executive Director at Mercado Global
Marta Bezoari, Executive Vice President, Head of Administration and Office Services, Americas at PIMCO
Maria Geenen, Director Of Annual Giving at The Fit Kids Foundation
Melody Hart, Board Treasurer
Karae Lisle, Board Chair, Nonprofit CEO
Mark Swedlund, Marketing Consultant
Jacqueline Varela, Managing Director - Private Equity at KPMG US

Board Committee Members

Jennifer Ali, Investor Relations, Financial Services Industry
Aimee Armsby, Attorney
Denise Baca, Luxury Executive, Santoni - Americas
Marta Bezoari, Executive Vice President, Head of Administration and Office Services, Americas at PIMCO
Nikki Breeland, Counsel at Sorare
Cori Cunningham, Organizational Strategist & Facilitator at C. Cunningham Advising
Amelie Derosne, Emerging Markets Fixed income repo trader at Société Générale
Mark Donatiello, Director of Lead Generation, CRM/Data Management/Client Experience at Chu Baldwin
Maria Geenen, Director Of Annual Giving at The Fit Kids Foundation (FIT KIDS)
Melody Hart, Treasury Executive
Elisa Hay, EVP Sales and Operations at Patio 3 Group/ Allancia
Natalie Karpov Palmer, Senior Vice President - Client Relationship Manager at PIMCO
Chloe Ko, PR & Marketing Professional in Luxury Retail
Alison Long Poetsch, Fundraising Professional
Gustavo Marroquin, Audit Director at KPMG Guatemala
Claudia Montufar, Director of Omni Channel Experience at John Hardy
Mark Swedlund, Marketing Consultant
TJ Toce, Vice President Go-To-Market/Business Transformation
Jacqueline Varela, Managing Director - Private Equity at KPMG US

Strategic Advisory Board

José Antonio Ortega Carrero, CEO & COO at Prisa Brand Solutions
Michael Arkes, Founder of HHPLIFT
Sindy Benavides, Chief Executive Officer at League of United Latin American Citizens
Claudia Blanch, International Operations Manager at Fortescue Future Industries
Romit Dey, Partner at PwC Consulting
Kate Hogan, Senior Managing Director and Chief Internal Auditor at Blackstone
Luciana Jabur, Founder of (Hand)Made to Market
Luis Morales Valle, Business Development Manager at KPMG
Kyle Muñoz, Philanthropist & Activist
Amanda North, Founder, CEO at Plan C Advisors
Helen Onbright, CEO at MAP Marketing Research
Carmen Sanchez, Country Manager at Visa
Isabel Serra Paiz, CEO at Cygnus Funds (USA)
Jagtej Singh, Vice President Of Product Management at Walmart Global Tech
Awinash Sinha, Vice President, IT (Business Applications) at VMware
Thy Tran, Vice President of DRAM Process Integration, Micron Technology
Miguel Zepeda, Managing Director at Brink's

Fashion Advisory Board

Carmen Artigas,  Circular Fashion Designer and Consultant
Denise Baca, Luxury Executive, Santoni - Americas
Lisa Bannister, Vice President of North America Home Digital at Ralph Lauren
Trish Barillas, Life Coach, Author of “A Face of Anxiety”, Founder of 3GS Charity in Guatemala
Joni Breschel, Sourcing & Materials Manager Teton Outfitters
Alyssa Burgos, Accessories Buyer at Quince
Mark Donatiello, Director of Lead Generation, CRM/Data Management/Client Experience at Chu Baldwin
Muni Fry, Entrepreneur
Jennifer Gootman, Global Head of Sustainability & ESG Strategy at Tory Burch
Jordana Guimarães, Co-Founder at FASHINNOVATION
Marilyn Harrison, Retail Marketing Director at Helpers Community Inc.
Elisa Hay, EVP Sales and Operations at Patio 3 Group/ Allancia
Luisa Herrera-Garcia, SVP of Production for Alexander Wang
Xitlalt Herrera-Saltazar, CEO & Founder X Level Inc
Karl Holzwarth, Director Affiliate Marketing
Julia Kisla, CEO at The Lions Management
Julie Koch-Beinke, Partner and Co-Founder of Alternatives
Bonnie Mackay, Creative Advisor to Startups and Corporate Businesses Book Author
Marie Mamone, Director of Business Development for Ars Sutoria
Emily Mann, Vice President, P/Kaufmann Contract
Kelly McCormick, Director Global Sourcing at Aritzia
Diane O'Brien-Kumi, Vice President Planning/Beauty at Belk
Alan Spalter, President at Retail Assistance Corporation
Lisa Staprans, Owner of Staprans Design
Mark Swedlund, Marketing Consultant
Kelly Talamas, Co-Founder at LATINNESS
Megan Collins Koch, Principal Designer at Manzanita Home
Carla Vazquez Jones, Director Of Communications for North America at Etro
Julie Verdugo, Director of Sustainability + Social Impact at URBN
Ann Watson, Co-Founder of Vaquera Group

Community Photographers

Diana Alvarado, Fall 2022
Rodrigo Saravia Lino,
Fall 2022
Anna Watts
, Spring 2018
Kim Paul Nguyen, No Frontiers Media, Fall 2017
Ali Campbell, Fall 2016


Ruth Álvarez-DeGolia - Executive Director
Ruth Álvarez-DeGolia

Executive Director

As Mercado Global's Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ruth Álvarez-DeGolia has overseen Mercado Global's growth from a small non-profit working with a dozen artisans in Guatemala's highlands to its recognition as an innovator in social enterprise, partnering with hundreds of artisans and a number of major international specialty retail chains and catalogs.

Ruth has been recognized for her role in founding and supporting a variety of programs and organizations related to international development and poverty alleviation. She has also received honors for her academic work on the impact of globalization on political and economic development in Latin America, including the William H. Orrick prize at Yale University. In May 2004, she was named among the “World’s Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs” by the Echoing Green Foundation. In July 2006, she was selected as one of the “15 People Who Make America Great” by Newsweek magazine and was featured on the magazine’s cover along with Brad Pitt and Soledad O’Brien of CNN.

Access a full bio and a list of speaking engagementshere.

Lidia Garcia - Guatemala Operations Director
Lidia Garcia

Guatemala Director

Lidia started working with Mercado Global on May 2007 as a member of one of the organization’s partner jewelry cooperatives. Now as Guatemala Director, Lidia oversees the organization’s work with dozens of cooperatives in Guatemala, including providing technical and business trainings in communities across the highlands. Through her work, Lidia is supporting women in similar communities as hers and has achieved what is denied to most women in Guatemala. Last year Lidia completed her undergraduate studies and earned a degree in Business Administration.

Maria Murphy - Sales Director
Maria Murphy

Sales Director

Maria has been a fashion industry executive throughout her professional life. Her positions included Senior Director of Sales at The Kasper Group and Vice President of Sales & Merchandising at The Jones Group and Tahari ASL. Ten years ago, while working full time, she founded her fairtrade business Lei-Lei which empowers female artisans from impoverished countries around the globe. Maria is excited to blend her extensive sales knowledge with her passion for ethical and sustainable fashion in her new Sales Director role at Mercado Global starting March 2022. She is acum laudegraduate of FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) with her Bachelor's degree in Marketing. She lives in NJ with her husband, four children and her rescue dog Kahlua.

Becky Chrisman - Operations Director
Becky Chrisman

Operations Director

Becky joined Mercado Global in April 2013. As Mercado Global's Operations Director, Becky leads the organization's operations and logistics across both the NYC and Guatemala offices. With a specialty in project management, she supports the sales, production and fundraising teams, while simultaneously running the HR department. Originally from Connecticut, Becky graduated from The College of Wooster and brings with her management experience in both retail and wholesale sales. She is passionate about ethical fashion, artisan craft and women's empowerment.

Fernanda Jung Thomé - Design Director
Fernanda Jung Thomé

Design Director

Fernanda leads Mercado Global’s design team based in our offices in rural Guatemala. Originally from Brazil, Fernanda is passionate about sustainable development in the fashion industry as well as innovation within social development. Approaching design as a co-creation tool to support and encourage the awareness of each communities socio-biodiversity, she has led and assisted programs in the Amazon Forest, Mexico, Argentina and Berlin, with H&M Foundation. At Mercado Global, Fernanda leads the design of our seasonal accessory collections and brand collaborations, working across teams to support the brands mission and values.

Ryan Lavigne - Development Manager
Ryan Lavigne

Development Director

Based out of Mexico City, Ryan has a legal background and has spent his career doing rights focused work. As a lawyer, he worked with freedom of expression non-profits, a law firm that represents unions, and the City of New York combating source of income discrimination in housing. Before joining Mercado Global in February 2022, Ryan was a Development Officer with PSYDEH, a non-profit that works with Indigenous women in Hidalgo, Mexico. He is motivated by work that provides people the opportunities necessary to drive their own development.

Rina Padron - Designer
Rina Padron


Rina is a designer from Ecuador who is passionate about fashion, textiles and working together with artisans to create products that reflect the beauty and meaning of their culture. Rina studied design at Parsons in NYC which allowed her to have direct contact with the fashion industry and worked for brands like DKNY. She also has worked with non profit organizations in her country and has always been an advocate for women empowerment and sustainable fashion.

Cristina Sic - Accountant
Cristina Sic


As an accountant for Mercado Global, Cristina is responsible for managing finances for donations, training modules for the artisan groups, and inventories. She is studying to achieve a Bachelor's degree in auditing and public accounting from the University of Mariano Gálvez in Guatemala and has worked on finance projects with the Spanish Cooperation AECID and the Guatemalan Foundation Fundasistemas. She joined the team in September 2013.

Brenda Elizabeth Vasquez Saloj - Accountant
Brenda Elizabeth Vasquez Saloj


Brenda Vasquez lives with her family in San José Chacayá, Sololá. With an Associates degree in Accounting, she is also currently finalizing a Bachelor's Degree in Public Accounting and Auditing. Having worked in both public and nonprofit organizations, she joined Mercado Global in July 2022 and is excited about the opportunity for growth and professional development within a team that firmly supports and believes in the development and empowerment of local rural women.

Andrea López Ixtacuy - Head of Production
Andrea López Ixtacuy

Head of Production

Andrea has been working with Mercado Global since February 2015. Having started working in the production room where she would attach detailing and hangtags to MG products, she gradually gained knowledge about the production processes and the relationships with weaving groups. Andrea is now the Head of Production in the Panajachel office, taking charge of fabric cutting and all quality control processes.

Juana Elizabeth Perez Cholotío - Community Development Manager
Juana Elizabeth Perez Cholotío

Community Development Manager

Elizabeth Pérez is Mayan Tzutujil. She has a degree in Tourism Business Administration and a Master's degree in Community Counseling from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Altiplano Campus. She has experience executing, managing and leading programs in the areas of education, economic development, health and nutrition for different non-profits. She is excited to have the opportunity to continue contributing to the economic empowerment of women to generate a more equitable society and managing development together with the communities. She joined Mercado Global in March 2022.

Irma Ben Julajuj - Inventory Manager
Irma Ben Julajuj

Inventory Manager

With a background in office administration, Irma is always eager to learn new things and has a strong will to succeed. As Inventory Manager, she is the head of managing Mercado Global's inventory in Guatemala. She joined the team in June 2017

Marcos Peñéñory - Graphic Designer & Site Manager
Marcos Peñéñory

Graphic Designer & Site Manager

Marcos is from Córdoba, Argentina. He has worked for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for several non-profts and cultural organizations. He has also taken some courses in sociology and is currently doing a Masters on Communications and Contemporary Culture. Travelling, he says, has made him appreciate the diversity of life: there are several ways to understand the world and each of us know just one. He believes design should not work just as a way to impose aesthetics, but to change the world and promote the well-being by all respecting the differences of others.

Alia Suleman - Marketing Manager
Alia Suleman

Marketing Manager

Based out of Antigua, Guatemala, Alia leads all marketing initiatives across our fundraising and product teams, developing and executing collection campaigns and connecting our donorbase with our artisans. Previously, Alia worked in marketing and strategy for London-based fashion brands but her passion for women's empowerment, social innovation, and ethical fashion led her to seek out a role dedicated to redefining fashion industry standards.

Grace Cantu - Development Manager
Grace Cantu

Development Manager

Grace is from Eagle Pass, Texas, a small border town to Mexico. After receiving her Master's in Public Service and Administration from Texas A&M University, she pursued the Peace Corps. This position led to her work in Guatemala. Her focus was predominantly on youth education and community development. She now resides in Panajachel, Solola, and is motivated to be part of a team that values sustainable community development and sees the pivotal role of women in society.

Yessica Vega - Financial Manager
Yessica Vega

Financial Manager

Yessica Siomara Vega Hernández is a Certified Public Accountant and Auditor with over 14 years of experience in accounting, finance, treasury, internal and external auditing. Throughout my career, she has successfully planned and organized teams, implemented process improvements in various sectors, including commercial, construction, agriculture, banking, government, and education. As t Finantial Manager at Mercado Global she is responsible for implementing accounting and financial policies and procedures to ensure timely financial, accounting, and tax information. She assesses internal controls and proposes continuous improvements. She also support the community development team in providing training to artisans on tax-related topics and other areas that benefit the communities.

Aurora Matzar - Community-Based Education Training Facilitator
Aurora Matzar

Community-Based Education Training Facilitator

As a member of the Community-Based Education team, Aurora coordinates educational programs and technical trainings for artisans in their communities for subjects such as health, nutrition, leadership, finance and self-esteem. She also provides services to help artisans get set up with micro loans. Before joining the Mercado Global team in March 2015, Aurora worked for an organization that trains teachers on the Guatemalan Civil War, Pacific Coexistence and Mixing Cultures.

Hilda Elizabeth - Community-Based Education Training Facilitator
Hilda Elizabeth

Community-Based Education Training Facilitator

Hilda Elizabeth is from San Pedro La Laguna in Sololá, Guatemala. She is a Training Facilitator at Mercado Global since June 2018. She graduated as a Bilingual Education Teacher. She enjoys reading, and is passionate about her work supporting artisans through technical and educational activities.

Nataly Byrne - Development Associate
Nataly Byrne

Development Associate

Born and raised in Guatemala, Nataly is fluent in Spanish, English, and basic French, and is motivated by knowing that her work can create an impact on someone's life. Prior to joining Mercado Global in October 2021, Nataly worked for two years at a nonprofit based in Antigua, ONG Niños de Guatemala. There, she focused on fundraising communications and visual content creation, which drove her passion for working in the nonprofit sector. With a background in hospitality and photography, she has a Bachelor's degree in Hotel Management, Tourism, and Gastronomy from the Mariano Gálvez University of Guatemala.

Katherine Radford - Development Associate
Katherine Radford

Development Associate

Originally from Ohio, and with a background in copywriting, - Katherine came to Guatemala to teach English. She decided to stay long-term as she fell in love with the country and its people. Now she is based in Antigua Guatemala where she received her TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Second Language). Giving back to the community, traveling, learning new languages, playing music, and taking care of her dogs are just a few of her many passions. Her desire to empower women and build connections are what brought her to Mercado Global.

Virginia Milanese - Assistant Designer
Virginia Milanese

Assistant Designer

Originally from Italy, Virginia's background in International Cooperation and Local Development combined with a strong passion for craftsmanship led her to complete an internship at Mercado Global in our Guatemala office. Inspired by our goals to further sustainability and innovation in the fashion industry, she stayed on as our Assistant Designer where she now supports our design and production team across projects including trend forecasting, product development, and sustainability initiatives.

Marta Julia - Coordinator of Leather Processes and Pattern Making
Marta Julia

Coordinator of Leather Processes and Pattern Making

Marta Julia has been with us since February 2010 out as a jewelry artisan, later moving into handbags, and eventually working her way to being an artisan instructor. Several years ago she resumed her studies and graduated as an Accountant. Since 2020 she has been the Coordinator of Leather Processes and Pattern Making taking a more active and creative role in the design of all of the intricate details needed to create our bags and products!

Claudia Mucun - Community Production Coordinator
Claudia Mucun

Community Production Coordinator

Claudia Mucun has been working for us since January 2017 and is native to Panajachel, where our Guatemala-based office is located. As a multitalented lady, she has a degree in nursing from the Panamericana University of Guatemala and also works as an accountant, heading up our financial reviews whilst supporting both production and quality control. She loves to spend her free time learning new things, sharing experiences with her family, and drawing. As an empathetic person, she strongly believes in the boundless potential of our artisans and admires the effect they have on their families and communities as well as their value to us at Mercado Global!

Kimberly Celada - Production Assistant
Kimberly Celada

Production Assistant

Kimberly has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and is currently studying a Master's degree in Business Administration, at Galileo University. Has experience in non-profit organizations profit, leading multidisciplinary projects and teams that support the communities of Guatemala in economic issues, entrepreneurship, agriculture and community health. He is passionate about the topic of business and women's empowerment, hopes to merge her knowledge, passion and experience to support the development and growth of the country's families and communities, creating more and better opportunities for women.

Zahra Boxill - Sales Fellow
Zahra Boxill

Sales Fellow

Zahra, originally from Kingston, Jamaica, pursued her passion for serving others by earning a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the West Indies in Barbados. She later moved to London to further her education in Marketing and Management. During her studies, Zahra gained valuable experience working on NARS Cosmetics' public relations team and also contributed her skills to the nonprofit organization, the Institute for Small Islands, focusing on Indigenous Peoples' rights in the Caribbean, environmental issues, and sustainability. This journey deepened her knowledge and passion for sustainable fashion, cultural preservation, and empowering vulnerable groups in society.