Maria Lucia heads the strategic direction of the Ethics Education for Children initiative and oversees its operations, partnerships, and budget. She is responsible for strategy, positioning and resource mobilization to grow the organization’s impact, influence and reach. Maria Lucia is also in charge of Arigatou International’s engagement in child rights initiatives with UN agencies and mechanisms, and child rights-focused NGOs in Geneva.
Prior to her appointment, Maria Lucia was the Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator for Education and Fragility for the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and served as Program Officer for Arigatou International Geneva.
She convenes the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence, and the Working Group on Children and Violence of Child Rights Connect. Maria Lucia is currently a member of the Executive Committee of Child Rights Connect.
Maria Lucia believes in the power that children and young people have to transform their societies and the critical role that education can play in their empowerment and in creating more inclusive and peaceful societies.
Maria Lucia holds a Master's in Peace and Conflict Transformation, a specialization in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Finance.
Maria Lucia is from Colombia and lives in France. She speaks Spanish, English and French.
Vera Leal is in charge of the programs department of Arigatou International Geneva, which includes ethics education and child engagement programs and activities. She is supporting the programmatic management decisions and strategic management processes in close collaboration with the Executive Director.
She has over fifteen years of international experience and expertise in education and child participation.
Prior to her engagement with Arigatou International, Vera was Secretary-General of the International Catholic Movement for Children and worked with various organizations in training in citizenship education and positive parenting.
Vera is moved by the passion to create better, safer and empowering experiences and spaces for and with children, where they can thrive and reach their fullest potential. She is a strong advocate for quality education.
Vera holds a degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources with a Specialization in Training Management.
Vera is from Portugal and speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.
Paula leads the communications strategy of Arigatou International Geneva, ensuring consistency, coherence, and a better impact and reach. She is responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s external and internal communication strategies, including media/public relations, marketing, general communications and program-focused communications.
Paula is from Chile. She speaks Spanish and English and has good knowledge of French. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Humanities with a specialization in History and a minor in Social Communications. She also holds a Diploma in Business Administration.
Before her engagement with Arigatou International, she founded and managed her own social entrepreneurship to help women in Chile to overcome poverty. She has been a volunteer teaching children and adolescents for many years.
Paula is convinced that education is our most powerful tool for building peaceful and inclusive societies, and she trusts in the efficiency of effective communications to inspire deep reflections and spark positive social change.
Sandra is responsible for overseeing the engagement of children across all ethics education programs; this includes ensuring that children are reached out in meaningful, respectful, and child-friendly ways and that programs create opportunities for children to actively participate, lead collective actions, and be connected across borders. Sandra also coordinates the Children’s Solution Lab, a program that provides support and small funding to child-led projects in different parts of the world.
Sandra believes that actions towards ensuring the wellbeing of children can attain long-term impact only when children are taken into account and empowered to take the lead. Sandra is deeply committed to listening to children with an open heart and respect, and to working on their suggestions, requests, and needs.
Sandra joined Arigatou International in 2016, before her engagement she served as a staff and volunteer at non-profits in Japan and Latin America. She also worked as a reporter and editor for printed and online media, covering current affairs on a wide range of topics. Sandra holds a master’s degree in Cultural Studies with a major in Communications and a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Communications.
Sandra is based in Brazil. She is originally from Ecuador and speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese, and French, and has knowledge of Japanese.
Bethany is responsible for managing and coordinating ethics education programs to promote the holistic development of children and to advance their well-being. She is the global coordinator of the Toolkit to Nurture the Spiritual Development of Children in the Early Years, developed by the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood, comprised of over 22 diverse partners. Bethany provides technical support to the training area and implementation of other ethics education programs, contributes to their design and development, and ensures their quality through follow-up evaluations and monitoring.
Bethany is originally from the UK and speaks English and intermediate Spanish and Portuguese. She holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Utrecht University, Netherlands, and a bachelor’s degree in History from Cardiff University, UK.
Prior to joining Arigatou International, Bethany worked as an Early Years educator in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and in Lisbon, Portugal focusing on inclusive practices through play- and project-based education. She published her first children’s book, Suzie The 8 Legged Painter, in March 2021, which aims to encourage conversations with children aged 3-6 on social issues. Bethany is also an associate of RINGS, the international network of institutions of advanced gender studies, which connects leading research institutions from the global North with the global South.
Vedika is responsible for the advocacy and external relations for Arigatou International Geneva, in which she maintains and seeks out potential partners and advocacy opportunities. She also supports the Executive Director in her responsibilities for resource mobilization.
Vedika holds a master’s degree in Children’s Rights from the University of Geneva. Before that, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Education. Additionally, she has a certificate in International Law and UN mechanisms.
She has always wanted to work in helping children create a more peaceful world and she believes that through the power of education, it is possible.
Vedika has Indian origins, and she is from Switzerland. She speaks proficient French, English, and Marathi, and has knowledge of Italian.
Emma is responsible for supporting the GNRC (Global Network of Religions for Children) Children´s Committee, which includes developing and implementing a learning program, liaising their global participation and overall facilitating empowerment spaces. She is also responsible for developing a child engagement strategy for Arigatou International, liaise children's participation in Arigatou International activities in collaboration with the different initiatives, and supporting safeguarding training opportunities.
She is especially committed to the promotion of participation, as a fundamental means to nourish the well-being of children and youth. She is thoroughly engaged and passionate about inclusion and diversity, and highly values multiculturalism as a pathway to achieve significant results in any domain.
Prior to joining Arigatou International, Emma worked in Bolivia with different organizations ranging from grassroots, to non-governmental organizations, local governments and intergovernmental organizations, in the field of childhood, adolescence and youth. She has also worked for Tik Tok, moderating emotionally triggering content, putting her on the front line of ongoing social media interaction. This has heightened her quest to advocate for mental health and well-being for this segment of the population.
Emma holds an MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology, a Specialisation in Psychosocial Community Intervention, and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She is from Bolivia, currently based in Portugal. She speaks Spanish and English and is proficient in Portuguese.
Sanjanee Ambegoda is from Sri Lanka and is based in Colombo. She is the Coordinator of the Ethics Education Fellowship Programme. She is responsible for coordinating the Fellows, Partners and other stakeholders.
Sanjanee has a bachelor’s degree in Law and in Social Work, as well as a master’s degree in Sociology. She is a visiting lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, Sri Lanka Branch, teaching Society and Culture.
She has worked as a consultant on media issues, gender equality and social inclusion, as well as with several organizations on projects related to disability, sexual violence, youth advocacy and democracy. She has also worked with the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Sanjanee is a Trainer of Arigatou International’s Learning to Live Together program and has been a Facilitator of ethics education and peacebuilding training programs in Sri Lanka.
As the coordinator of the implementation of the Toolkit: Nurturing the Spiritual Development of Children in Early Childhood in Mexico, Silvia works closely with implementing partners to support capacity-building activities and collect evidence from the field.
Silvia firmly believes that nurturing children's spirituality in their early years is essential for building resilience, overcoming violence, and promoting peace. She is committed to leveraging her expertise to help safeguard the well-being of children and believes that her work can make a significant difference in children’s lives.
Silvia is also supporting the implementation of the PREVENIR project for the Child Protection Alliance in Central America and Mexico. She holds a degree in International Cooperation, a master's in Education, and a second master's in Theology and Contemporary World. As a trained psychologist, Silvia has worked with various faith-based organizations and networks, gaining invaluable experience in promoting social justice and advancing human rights.
Silvia is Mexican and resides in Oaxaca. She is fluent in English and a native Spanish speaker, and is currently studying French.
Dorel is originally from Romania, and has lived in Switzerland for 14 years. With more than 17 years of experience, he is an expert in tailored accounting and advising SMEs and NGOs in administrative and accounting processes.
Dorel graduated from Electronics Engineering and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in IT from the University of Iasi; he also holds a specialization in the field of Educational Technology from the University of Geneva and a Diploma in Accounting. Dorel speaks Romanian, French, English, and German.