Headquarters Office

Bill Kruvant is currently the President and Chairman of the Board. He served as the President of Creative Learning from 2005 to 2017 and returned in 2020.  After earning a Doctorate in Economics in International Development from American University, Bill worked in both the private and public sectors, collaborating on foundation-funded research projects in the areas of energy and civil rights.

Previously, he served as chief of economic studies for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in the areas of energy and natural resources and as a Senior Advisor for Creative Associates, consulting on corporate planning and development.

During his tenure at Creative Learning, Bill has worked with his team to establish the America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) and School-2-School programs.  These programs send young people to serve in local NGOs in the Muslim World and match American and foreign schools so that youth in the U.S. and abroad can learn about each other first hand.

When Aid to Artisans (ATA) joined Creative Learning in 2010, Bill became the president of the new combined institution. In collaboration with ATA staff and Creative Learning experts, he is dedicated to making artisans an integral part of international enterprise development, cultural preservation, income and job generation, and economic development.

More recently, Bill has worked with Professors Tahir Shad and Muqtedar Khan to establish the Global Education Initiatives (GEI) at Creative Learning.  GEI runs the Annual Conference on the Muslim World, trains local and provincial level public officials in modern governance practices under the banner of CL’s American Academy of Good Governance, and runs a volunteer program for young people with De La Salle-College of St. Benilde in the Philippines.

Bill is also president of Crea-Learning Mexico, a Mexican not-for-profit group which develops artisans in Mexico, Central, and South America.

When not occupied at Creative Learning, Bill is a farmer, growing lavender commercially at La Paz farm, and is a ceramic artist.

Rachel is a project management professional with 9 years of non-profit organization and program management experience. Since joining Creative Learning in 2014, Rachel specializes in effective knowledge management, monitoring & evaluation capture, and strategic communication to a wide variety of donors. Serving as Project Manager for all programs, Rachel is passionate about empowering vulnerable individuals in the artisan sector, facilitating access to economic opportunities through market linkages, preserving culture and ensuring sustainable impact.

Rachel graduated from Washington College with a BA in International Studies, a minor in Anthropology and French, and a concentration in African Studies and Peace & Conflict.

Lauren Barkume is the Training Director at Creative Learning’s Aid to Artisans division. With over 13 years of experience in international development and artisan programs, Barkume spent nearly 9 years based in South Africa working directly with entrepreneurs, artisans and small businesses in the region, developing community co-created programs, designing and running practical business skills workshops for small business owners, and working in collaboration with artisan communities across Southern Africa. Lauren cares deeply about facilitating responsive, community driven development.

Blake has over two decades of experience in international development working with for-profit and non-profit organizations in project planning and implementation, as well as in operations and security management.  Blake supports Creative Learning in business development and is passionate about the Creative mission to support locally-led initiatives, people-to-people partnerships, protecting human rights, supporting economic and social development, and building peace.

Blake holds a BA in English Literature from Baylor University and a MS in International Relations from Troy University.  He served in the U.S. Army from 2001 – 2006, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan from 2007-2009.  Additionally, he has worked extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, East Africa, and Central America. 

Maud Obe, Director of Aid to Artisans

Since joining Aid to Artisans in 2007, Maud Obe has 14+ years of experience in designing and managing economic empowerment and development projects for the artisan sector in Latin America, Africa, MENA, and Asia. Maud has implemented many programs that have strengthened more than 5000 artisan businesses and linked them to local, regional, and international markets. She has proven success in managing USAID, MCC, The World Bank, Foundations and USG-funded programs. She is an expert in organizing artisan capacity building workshops, one-on-one coaching, tradeshow preparation, export readiness training, and marketing events targeted for expats, tourism, and international markets. She coordinates the representation of artisan entrepreneurs to NY NOW, Las Vegas Market, and market linkages with US buyers.

Born in France, Maud holds a Master’s Degree in International Development and Social Change and a Bachelor in Government and International Relations from Clark University, Worcester, MA. She is fluent in French, English, and Spanish and has travelled extensively in Europe, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. She lives in Williamsburg VA, with her husband and 2 daughters who are 2 years old and 6 month old.

Lauren brings a blend of marketing and project management expertise to the Aid to Artisans’ team. She has a passion for cultural preservation and deep commitment to empowering local artisans within their communities. She has spent over a year in Latin America collaborating directly with artisans, cultivating a profound interest in textiles and pottery. Lauren has a strong appreciation for other cultures and forging meaningful connections, and has documented her journeys abroad through photography. Lauren has a Bachelors of Business Administration, with an emphasis in Marketing and Spanish. She is excited to join the team at Aid to Artisans and drive transformative change in artisan communities worldwide. 

Hannah Klein is the Program Associate at Creative Learning’s Aid to Artisans division. As a former Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji and e-Commerce Manager for a fashion jewelry brand, Hannah has grown an interest in cultural preservation, community development, and helping the expansion of small businesses globally. Hannah has a Master’s in Public Administration, concentrating in International Management at American University, and has a BA in International Business with concentrations in Global Supply Chain Management and Spanish.


Mexico City

He is a great advocate for evidence-based action as a mechanism to improve the efficiency of development programs and amplify their reach.

He has worked for over 12 years to innovate public service from various institutions: public, private, multilateral, and community-based. All through the implementation of data-driven initiatives to enhance the technical capacities of local governments and reduce data gaps in order to inform decision-making processes on pressing challenges.

He has also collaborated with the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) and multiple local government agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean to promote monitoring and evaluation of social programs with projects in diverse sectors such as: housing policy, urban development, climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, transportation, active labor market policies, education, etc. In the year 2024, he joined Creative Learning as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist.

San Cristobal de las Casas – Chiapas

María Eugenia Pineda joined Creative Learning in 2012 as Director of Aid To Artisans Mexico. She founded Mexico’s office and since then she has developed and implemented projects to strengthen the artisan sector, the entrepreneurship of rural women and their financial inclusion in several States of Mexico such as Yucatán, Campeche, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Chiapas. Maria Eugenia also enhances the generation of strategic alliances for territorial development.

Maria Eugenia (Maru) has worked for the National Technical Unit of the Strategic Food Safety Project that belongs to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as National Coordinator of the Community Promoters for Food Safety Program. Also, she was the State Coordinator in Chiapas and Evaluator Coordinator. She is expert in project direction with gender perspective and has coordinated a School of Leadership and Political Participation of Women.

Pineda has more than 25 years of experience in rural development, and she has directed NGOs related to topics regarding gender, women rights, food safety, among others. Maru was born in Mexico City and currently lives in Chiapas. She has studies in financial administration and certifications in rural development, learning processes facilitation and social leadership. She has a son and loves gardening.

Liliana is an administrator in Mexico, a public accountant by profession with experience working with other NGOs. Originally from San Cristóbal de Las Casas Chiapas, Mexico. Her support facilitates transparency and accountability to the different actors with whom ATA collaborates.

Sitalá – Chiapas

She graduated as a Nutritionist in 2012 from the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas (UNICACH).

She began her work as a facilitator in the area of Community Nutrition in 2014 in the Strategic Project for Food Security (PESA) in the municipalities of Chilón, La Trinitaria, and La Independencia in Chiapas. She provided assistance to families in rural areas with very high levels of marginalization in the state, especially focusing on children with malnutrition. She continued her work from 2019 to 2022 with ADR DICADEM S.C. and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in the municipality of Sitalá, conducting training processes for nutrition promoters, cooking workshops, talks on nutrition, deworming campaigns, among others. She also collaborated in the AFASPE program at the Ministry of Health in the “Thousand Days: Healthy Life” project, providing care to pregnant women and children up to 2 years old.

Over the years, she has gained experience in community projects, learning various areas such as income generation, food production, and the backyard. She considers studying Community Nutrition to have been a good choice as it has allowed her to learn about customs and traditions in the municipalities where she has worked as a nutritionist. Her challenge now is to learn the Tseltal language. She considers herself a hardworking, strong, enthusiastic woman, with fears, but also with the desire to overcome those fears and continue discovering new experiences that will help her in her social and professional life. One of her greatest motivations is her son, for whom she strives to give her best every day.

Currently, she works as a facilitator in the area of comprehensive health in the third project of the “Growing Together Alliance” (Alianza Crecer Juntos – Sitalá, ACJS) in rural indigenous communities where Tseltal is spoken.

He graduated from the Intercultural University of Chiapas, majoring in Language and Culture. He was born in Petalcingo, Tila, Chiapas, on October 30, 1990, and is a native speaker of the Tseltal language. He is a sociable, friendly, and committed individual.

He completed his elementary and high school education in his locality. In 2018, he began his adventure in local media communication by working in radio in his community. Later, in Yajalón, a neighboring municipality, he worked at a commercial radio station.

In May 2014, he joined the first licensed community radio station in the region, where he served as coordinator until 2018. He was also commissioned as an interim teacher by the SEP (Secretariat of Public Education) at a bilingual school for a period of two years.

He has collaborated with the Lego Foundation in translating 20 stories about child care and health into Tseltal, as well as with other NGOs. In 2023, he became a fellow of the Mayan Languages Digital Activism program (Rising Voices), dedicated to creating content on digital platforms, a program in which he still participates as a digital activist.

Currently, he is part of the team of the Grow Together Alliance Sitalá project as a facilitator in the area of communication and dissemination.

He was born in Bachajón, Chiapas, and is a native speaker of the Tseltal language. He has a degree in agronomy with a master’s in global marketing, and has over 19 years of experience in rural development in indigenous communities in Chiapas.

He has primarily collaborated with civil society organizations, serving as a facilitator at CONIDER in the municipality of Sitalá and as coordinator of the Special Program for Food Security (PESA) at AMBIO, which belongs to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Additionally, he has been the coordinator of the Organic Products Regulation and Promotion Program. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and engaging in activism through Jlumaltik, a territorial collective in his municipality.

He joined the Grow Together Alliance for Sitalá (ACJS) in 2019 as a facilitator for the strategic objective of income generation to strengthen coffee, honey, and handicraft-producing organizations, community savings groups, and the creation of a collective brand for the commercialization of local products in the second project. In this third project of the ACJS, he once again joins to monitor and strengthen activities such as the solidarity market, managing in the short, medium, and long term.

She holds a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); she also has a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies (IPN) and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (UNAM).

To date, she has 18 years of professional and academic experience in areas such as poverty, environment, public policies, indigenous territories, agroecology, and climate change. Additionally, she has 8 years of experience in monitoring and evaluating the impact of social projects by NGOs in the States of Mexico and Chiapas, as well as in evaluating environmental conservation policies implemented by the federal government in the Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas.

He is an environmental engineer graduated from the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas, with a master’s degree in science teaching, specializing in biological sciences, from the Technological University of the Selva. He has undertaken various studies in food and nutritional security by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), dialogical communication by the Health, Food, and Nutrition Alliance (ASAN), as well as in project management and direction in water, sanitation, and community water management.

He has collaborated with different civil society organizations in the coordination, design, and execution of projects focusing on community water and sanitation management, advocacy in natural resource management, biodiversity, water, watershed management, and climate change. Additionally, he has been involved in processes of promotion, awareness-raising, strengthening, and support of community managers in water, sanitation, and forest resource management in the territories of indigenous peoples and communities.

San Juan Cancuc – Chiapas

César Martín Velázquez Hernández holds a Master’s degree of Sciences in Sustainable Rural Development and serves as the Legal Representative of CONIDER S.C., where he has accumulated over 15 years of experience in community processes, social organization, leadership training, and various aspects related to agricultural production such as coffee, vegetables, and poultry, among others.

This experience has enabled him to generate and implement projects of various kinds related to rural development in marginalized areas, such as the PESA (Program for Sustainable Rural Development) and projects with various donors including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, National Social Investment Monte de Piedad, TIDES Foundation, Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation, Rotoplas Foundation, and Walmart Foundation.

He also has experience in the private, social, and public sectors in environmental issues, having served as director in Chiapas for CONABIO (National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity), where he worked with social organizations of coffee and honey producers.

Currently, he specializes in the formation and implementation of territorial alliances, leading the management of two municipal projects in Chiapas with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, involving 10 civil society organizations.

Ignacio Mazariegos Gómez is originally from Guaquitepec in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas. He is a speaker of the Tzeltal language, a facilitator in Agroecology, Appropriate Technologies, and Community Communication.

He has 9 years of experience in agro-technological work, accompanying communities in the municipalities of San Juan Cancuc, Sitala, and Chilón. Since 2009, he has taken courses and received diplomas in Communication Sciences, focusing on Audiovisual Communication, Graphic Design, Communication, and Photography.

Currently, he collaborates with the Komon A’tel Alliance, consisting of 8 Civil Society organizations based in the Municipality of San Juan Cancuc, Chiapas, Mexico. He is responsible for the Communication area in the “Constructing Dialogue Spaces” Project in San Juan Cancuc, Chiapas.

Virgilio Cruz, originally from a community in the Municipality of Tila, Chiapas, Mexico, is an indigenous speaker of the Tzeltal language. He is an agriculturist and has a degree in Business Administration, with over 10 years of experience in the labor field in his home state. He serves as a facilitator in the development and establishment of Community Savings Funds, and has received training and diplomas in Financial Education. He has worked as a change agent in the Strategic Food Security Project, a program created by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Currently, he is involved in the Komon Atel Alliance, comprised of eight organizations in the Municipality of San Juan Cancuc, Chiapas, Mexico, focusing on Income Generation. He facilitates processes for financial inclusion within households, contributing to development in the area.

Victorio Ortiz Gómez is originally from the community of Miguel Utrilla Los Chorros, Municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, and is an indigenous speaker of the Tsotsil language. He completed his studies in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, attending a worker’s secondary school, the upper secondary level at the National College of Professional Technical Education in Community Health, and the University of Intercultural Chiapas UNICH, obtaining a degree in Sustainable Development.

In terms of work experience, he worked as a collaborator for a civil organization since 2007 at the Forum for Sustainable Development, AC, focusing on youth issues such as violence prevention and advocacy for rights. From 2008 to 2022, he collaborated on the Risk Management Program within the United Nations Development Program in Chiapas (UNDP), providing additional training facilitation at the labor department with groups of men and women in Chenalhó and Larrainzar. Additionally, he collaborated with the Moisés Foundation from 2019 to 2022 on food and water security issues in the municipality of Chenalhó. Currently, he is a collaborator and facilitator at Komon A’tel in San Juan Cancuc, focusing on health and water issues.

Lorenzo García was born in the State of Mexico on December 3, 1961. He completed his high school studies in the State of Hidalgo and later pursued studies in Philosophy and Theology at Universidad Intercontinental in Mexico City as part of a training program oriented towards religious life. Subsequently, he specialized in Human Development at the Gestalt Institute of Humanistic Psychotherapy in Mexico City. He worked in foundations and civil society organizations focused on the educational sector and promoting productive projects in indigenous communities in the state of Chiapas. He also conducted personal work as a humanistic psychotherapist focused on the individual, and conducted workshops on self-esteem, communication, conflict resolution, leadership, gender, human rights, and teamwork for teachers, parents, and governmental and civil society organizations and groups. He participated in a training program for peace and positive conflict transformation in Guatemala City, CA, and was in charge of the Committee for Unity and Community Reconciliation within a religious community with missions in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Currently, he resides in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, and works part-time at the Komon Atel Alliance, formed by eight civil society organizations, focusing on a culture of peace in the municipality of San Juan Cancuc.

Merida – Yucatán

Burkina Faso

Abdul Fatahou is a Burkinabe national and has been a resident of Burkina Faso since 1992. He completed his primary and secondary education in Ouagadougou from 1996 to 2011. He pursued his higher education in Koudougou (2011-2015) and Ouagadougou (2019-2021). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Environment and a master’s degree in Project Management.

With eight years of professional experience in rural development in Burkina Faso, Abdul Fatahou has worked on various projects financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) such as Programme d’appui du Secteur Privé Rural (PASPRU), Assurance Transport Betail avec Indemnité Contractuelle (ATBIC) and the Bus Project. He has collaborated with many national organizations like Fédération Nationale des Femmes Rurales du Burkina, as well as international organizations including Confédération des Fédération Nationales de la Filière Bétail et Viande en Afrique de L’Ouest (COFENABVIE-AO), Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA), and the German development agency GIZ. In addition to project management, he is a certified trainer in agricultural entrepreneurship and a master trainer in the Cashew Value Chain.


Djènèba Kéïta – Project Coordinator

Born in Mali in December 1954, with both her parents being educators, Djènèba basked in nationalist and feminist speeches during her childhood. She sewed my first button when she was 4 years old, wore men’s jacket at 14 and designed her own outfits aged 16 years.

She hold a Master’s degree in English and has spent the majority of her professional career in international organizations (USAID, African Remote Sensing Council, African Association for Cartography and Remote Sensing, Permanent Inter States Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Mérieux Foundation, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), and more.

From 2007 to 2013, she finally brought her dream to life by coordinating the activities of 16 crafts businesses in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad. “I  simply love craftsmanship’s beauty, whatever form it takes and wherever it may come from.” – Djènèba Kéïta