Our Team

Armando Valladares

Honorary President

Armando Valladares is a Cuban poet, diplomat, and human rights activist. In 1962, he was arrested by the Cuban government for protesting communism, leading Amnesty International to name him a prisoner of conscience. Following his release in 1982, he wrote a book detailing his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Cuban government and was appointed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. President Reagan also honored him with the Presidential “Citizens” Medal, the second-highest award given to a civilian in the U.S. He was also bestowed the Superior Award by the U.S. Department of State. He is an author of “Contra toda Esperanza”; “Cavernas del Silencio”; “El alma de un  poeta”, among others. HONORARY PRESIDENT.

Christopher Hartley

Founding &President

Father Christopher Hartley was born in London in 1959 and soon was admitted in the Seminary of Toledo (Spain). He is a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of Toledo. He holds a Masters in Theology from Saint John’s University (Queens, New York); he is a graduate in Theology and holds a PhD on the same subject by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Father Christopher was ordained by Pope Jean Paul II in Valencia (Spain) in 1982. He has worked closely with Mother Teresa and her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, for more than 30 years. He has been a missionary in the Bronx (New York), Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, and South Sudan where is now based since 20019. 

Miguel Raimond da Silva Amado

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Miguel de Raimond da Silva Amado was born in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1945. He is an agronomist in tropical agriculture; has worked in the Ministeries of Education, Trade and Agriculture of Portugal between 1972 and 1989. He served as an Agricultural adviser in the EU Delegation in Madagascar (1989/1993); as a Chargé d’Affaires in the EU Delegation in Burundi (1993/1997); he was Ambassador of the EU in Guinea-Bissau (1997/2000); Ambassador of the EU in Dominican Republic and Cuba (2000/2004); Head of Unit for Human Rights and ACP affairs (2004/2008) and Ambassador of the EU in Congo Brazzaville (2008/2010). He is retired since March 2010.

Charlotte M. (Charlie) Ponticelli

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Charlotte M. (Charlie) Ponticelli is an international consultant with 23 years of US Government experience, serving most recently as Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor and Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues at the US Department of State.  Previously she served as Senior Advisor for State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration; Director of Human Rights in State’s Bureau for International Organization Affairs; Congressional Liaison for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Director of Congressional Correspondence in the Legislative Affairs Office of the White House. She received her B.A. (Spanish Literature) from Hood College and her M.A. through New York University’s program in Madrid, Spain.

Joana Socias

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Joana Socias is a Spanish writer and journalist. She holds BAs in both Media Studies and Political Science. In 2008, she moved to Nairobi (Kenya) and worked for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo covering political, social and humanitarian events in the Eastern Africa region for three years. Whilst in Africa she also worked for a Danish think tank, The Copenhagen Consensus Center, as a researcher in both Kenya and Ethiopia. In 2013, she published her first book “En el Púlpito de la Miseria”(booktrailer: http://bit.ly/11CznV5), a true story about the plight of Haitians working in the sugar cane plantations in Dominican Republic. The book is for sale in Spain, Dominican Republic and Peru.

Miguel Ángel Gullón Pérez

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Miguel Ángel Gullón Perez, Born in Asturias in 1969. His parents Pilar and Ángel and his sister María Jesús who, together with Alfredo, gave life to Victoria, María and Alfredito, encourage his vocation inspired by the charism of Santo Domingo. He is formed integrally in the school of the Virgen del Camino and the Communities of Caleruega, Valladolid and Salamanca. He shares life and mission in the Babilafuente Community where he begins to look beyond the ocean. In 1999 he joined the Vicariate Pedro de Córdoba in the Dominican Republic as a formator of Dominican students, while also holding the offices of secretary and professor at the Center for Theology. He also animates the parish of Santa Catalina in Santo Domingo by creating a medical dispensary. In 2005 he was assigned to the community of El Seybo whose mission is to accompany the projects of Radio Seybo, Centro de Salud Fr. Luis Oregui and Proyecto de Agricultura Virgen de Covadonga. He values it as a privilege to share life with the peasant communities that are evicted from their homes and lands by the sugar companies that enslave the Haitian braceros in the bateyes where he celebrates faith and the denunciation of injustices. In the Community of Dominicans they are inspired by the first Dominican Community that fought for the dignity of the natives of the island. During this time he joined the boards of ALER (Latin American Association of Education and Radio Communication), UDECA (Dominican Union of Catholic Broadcasters), and the promotion of Justice and Peace of the Dominicans in the region. He also presents the doctoral thesis “Human dignity in the new evangelization, following in the wake of the theological reflection of Gustavo Gutiérrez” directed by Jesús Espeja.

Pepe Álvarez de las Asturias

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Pepe Álvarez de las Asturias is an Advertiser, Writer and Columnist. Contributor at several digital/paper media, TV and Radio programs. Author of the book “Lo que de Verdad Importa” (What really matters) for the LQDVI Foundation. Pepe is also a Creative Director and Content Marketing expert.

Raúl Zecca Castel, PhD

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Raúl Zecca Castel (1985), PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Milan-Bicocca (Italy). Since 2013, he has been dedicated to the study of the Haitian diaspora in the bateyes of the Dominican Republic, where he has carried out several ethnographic investigations. Her work is developed from a gender perspective with a focus on the issue of human, social and labor rights. He is the author of the books: Come schiavi in libertà, Vita e lavoro dei tagliatori di canna da zucchero haitiani in Dominican Republic (Arcoiris, 2015) and Women. Frammenti di vita dal cuore dei Caraibi (Arcoiris, 2020), now in Dominican edition with the title of “Bateyeras. Testimonies from the heart of the Caribbean” (Cielonaranja, 2022). Parallel to his academic research activity, he combines audiovisual and photographic production works, committing himself to the field of dissemination and public awareness.

Gonzalo Aranda

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Gonzalo Aranda Was born in Spain in 1958. He is an economist focused in international trade and startups. He has worked for medium size companies of hardware, automotive auxiliary industry, and electronics and for a group of consultants working for IMF and WB in former Eastern European countries.

Member of the Spanish working group in lighting efficiency for the EU. Cofounder of different startups in real estate, HEMS, and biotechnology in fisheries.

During the last years, he has cooperated closely as a volunteer for Fr. Christopher Hartley and has spent almost one year in the field with local engineers in South Sudan, developing new methods for the follow-up of construction budgets.

He received his post-graduate degrees in international commerce from Deusto University, and in general management from IESE business school, and his MSM through Boston University.

Member of the Spanish working group on lighting efficiency for the EU. Cofounder of different startups in real estate, HEMS, and biotechnology in fisheries.