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.
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.
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.
Since joining Creative Learning in 2020 as Program Coordinator, Edgar Mutta has specialized in project coordination and management. As Project Coordinator for Creative Learning’s International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI) division, Edgar specializes in supporting the planning and coordination of IPSI projects and their activities; handling project-related financial administration and building positive relations between the team and external parties.
Born in Tanzania, Edgar holds a Master’s degree in International Law, Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham (UK) and a Bachelor’s degree in political science and Public Administration from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Mexico Field Offices
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.
Andrea Calderonni is a Mexican fashion designer who graduated from Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Italy. She has worked directly with native peoples in Mexico through collaboration with civil society organizations in order to promote design areas. She currently works at Aid to Artisans Mexico as coordinator in the design and production area for the Manos Vivas project, collaborating with artisans from Yucatan and Chiapas developing artisan products.
Marbella Silvano, is an indigenous Mayan Tseltal, originally from Bachajon, Chiapas, Mexico and has a degree in public accounting and finance. Marbella is a specialist in textiles, a technique learned since she was a child; technically trains groups of artisans in product design and development, in addition to advising and facilitating human development processes in the Highlands of Chiapas since 2016 within ATA. Marbella is a leading woman who motivates the artisans to organize and improve themselves through example, collaboration and leadership in territorial alliances.
Reyna Jiménez López, is a Tsotsil-Tseltal Mayan indigenous, resident of the municipality of Tenejapa, Chiapas. Reyna is a specialist in textiles, developing the technique since she was a child; technically trains groups of artisans in product design and development, in addition to advising and facilitating human development processes in the Highlands of Chiapas since 2015 within ATA. Reyna is an artisan who has become a professional within ATA to share her knowledge with the groups with which she collaborates. Her work has inspired several women to continue developing products with the highest quality standards and to develop as people.
Tania Gómez, is a Tsotsil Mayan indigenous woman, originally from Chenalhó, Chiapas, Mexico and has a degree in social work. Tania is a specialist in textiles, a technique she learned as a child; technically trains groups of artisans in product design and development, in addition to advising and facilitating human development processes in the Highlands of Chiapas since 2015 within ATA. Her work has inspired several women to continue developing products with the highest quality standards and to develop as people. Tania started as an artisan and her professionalism and leadership has been notable within the groups that she now advises within ATA
Elena Gómez, is an indigenous speaker of the Tseltal and Tsotsil Mayan languages, originally from Huixtán, Chiapas, Mexico. She has a degree in educational psychology specializing in Human Development, community leadership, conflict mediation and Mayan psycho-spiritual companion. She coordinates the operational team of the Manos Vivas project in Chiapas, contributes to the enrichment of exchanges of experiences and knowledge with the team in Yucatan, in addition to advising on savings and entrepreneurship methodology. She has been part of the team since 2017.
Guillermo Jester is originally from Mexico City, a fashion designer specializing in marketing, he has been collaborating with artisans in different states of the country for around 11 years. He is in charge of commercial relations with national and international clients, as well as continuously generating marketing strategies for positioning and generating new orders and collaborations. He has been part of the ATA team since 2013.
She is currently Director of the Design and Production Area of the Manos Vivas project of Aid to Artisans México . She is a Textile designer graduated from the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla. She has worked for more than 8 years in the artisan sector with different brands, workshops, designers and organizations in the product development and implementation of production strategies, design, and collaboration. She has worked with artisans from different states of the Republic, among which are: Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Yucatan. Shee has been part of the team since 2015.
Adela is a Social Anthropologist and a specialist in Gender and Women’s Development. She recognizes herself as a feminist and has worked against all forms of violence against women as well as for their human rights and sexual and reproductive health. She works as an advisor and trainer for the team in Mexico and evaluates the impact on the lives of the women with whom ATA Mexico collaborates. Adela has accompanied the team since 2015.
Anastacia Díaz Gómez, is a Tseltal Mayan indigenous woman, originally from Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas, Mexico and is an industrial engineer. Anastacia has been a specialist in pottery and textiles since she was a child; technically trains groups of artisans in product design and development, in addition to advising and facilitating human development and financial inclusion processes in the Highlands of Chiapas since 2018 within ATA. Her work has inspired several women to continue developing products with the highest quality standards and to develop as people.
Sofia Montaño is originally from Mexico City. With a degree in Textile Design and a specialist in sales and marketing, she is in charge of communicating the achievements, projects, collaborations and vision of Aid to Artisans México with the community that we create day by day, as well as generating new business opportunities and leads that allow the organization and the participants of each project continue to grow.
Pedro is a Tseltal indigenous native of Sitalá, Chiapas. Textile craftsman, who found in ATA, the complement for his training process of his Bachelor studies. He is currently an artisan promoter, he supports the training of artisans in Sitalá in the cross-stitch embroidery technique and its production and design processes.
Cesar Martin Velazquez Hernandez - Coordinator of Alianza Crecer Juntos Sitala and Alianza Komon A'tel
César Martín Velázquez Hernández is a Master of Science in Sustainable Rural Development and Legal Representative of CONIDER S.C. where for more than 15 years he has developed experience in community processes, social organization, leadership training and, in general, aspects related to productive aspects in coffee, vegetables and birds, among others, which has allowed him to generate and implement various types of projects related to rural development in marginalized areas such as the PESA (Strategic Project for Food Security) and projects with various donors such as the WK Kellogg Foundation, Monte de Piedad , TIDES, Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation and Rotoplas.
He has experience in the private sector, as well as in the social and public sectors regarding environmental issues as Director of CONABIO in Chiapas, accompanying social organizations of coffee and honey producers. He has currently specialized in the formation and implementation of territorial alliances, for which he has led the management of two municipal projects in Chiapas with the WK Kellogg Foundation, in which 10 civil society organizations participate.
Jeremías Gutiérrez Cruz is 34 years old, a speaker of the Tseltal language, originally from Chilón, Chiapas, Mexico. He graduated has a B.S. in Communication for Social Development from the Ayuuk Intercultural Higher Institute, Intercultural University of the State of Oaxaca. In 2012, he began his collaboration in the Bachajón Mission with the formation of a Community Radio.
Jeremias has also collaborated in promoting the defense of land and territory in the Chontales communities of Sierra Sur in the State of Oaxaca. As part of the Tequio Juridical and Civil Association, which accompanies the communities in the defense of their territories and natural resources by promoting and raising awareness on the same issues.
He currently collaborates in the Crecer Juntos Sitalá Alliance, coordinating the Communication area and working on issues of awareness for the communities. Emphasizing Health, Healthy Eating and water care, seeking the integration of Men and Women. He also accompanies the Strategic Objectives and the Allied Organizations that make up the Alliance, generating content and materials that are of interest and use to the communities of the municipality of Sitalá.
Juan Carlos Aguilar Gómez began collaborating with Creative Learning in 2018 as a savings promoter and in 2020 as a field facilitator for the strategic objective of generating income in the Komon A’tel Alliance project. His experience is focused on community development from two perspectives: the awareness of the population in equal rights and the participation of women. He has designed participatory eco-technologies in the area of water and sanitation.
Juan Carlos belongs to the Tseltal ethnic group and has completed an academic training in Sustainable Development. In the last 10 years, he has developed his knowledge in various civil society organizations and government agencies. During his free time, he is dedicated to agriculture and household activities.
Pauliño Montejo Córdova joined Creative Learning in June 2019 as a facilitator of the Water and Territory Strategic Objective of Alianza Crecer Juntos Sitalá. Since then, he has coordinated and followed up actions related to community water management, accompanying the Association of Water Boards for the Municipality of Sitalá (APAMS), the Space for Culture and Community Water Management (ECyGCA), the monitoring of water quality and the recognition of community water boards in 32 localities of Sitalá.
Pauliño has worked for three rural development agencies in the Strategic Food Security Project (PESA), as a facilitator in the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil and Water (COUSSA) project in the municipalities of Maravilla Tenejapa and Marqués de Comillas, Chiapas. In addition, he was a facilitator of the educational process of Sustainable Agriculture and field coordinator in the municipality of Acala, Chiapas.
José Alfredo Moreno Díaz was born in Bachajón, Chiapas, his mother tongue is Tseltal and he has studies in agronomy with a master’s degree in global marketing and joined the Alianza Crecer Juntos in 2019 as a facilitator of the strategic objective of generating income to strengthen the productive organizations of coffee, honey and handicrafts, community savings groups and the generation of a collective brand for the commercialization of local products.
José Alfredo has also worked as coordinator of the Special Food Security Program (PESA) that belongs to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He has also been coordinator of the program for the regulation and promotion of organic products. Moreno has more than 17 years of experience in rural development in indigenous communities in Chiapas.
Graduated in Public Health from the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (UMSNH) Morelia, Michoacán. She has experience in primary health care for the educational process of the individual, family and community. She has collaborated in private and public sectors, in the areas of administration, quality management and coordination of government spaces (such is the case of the Municipal Health Directorate of San Cristóbal de Las Casas) nd she has diplomas and certificates on maternal and child health, community health and environmental health. She is currently a facilitator of the Alianza Crecer Juntos por Sitalá as part of the objective of Health and Nutrition.
María del Carmen Guzmán Silvano joined the Komon At’el Alliance in 2019 as part of the technical team for the facilitation of topics in the Strategic Objective of Self-management and Empowerment. She provides accompaniment to men, women and young people who have decided to participate in this process of reflection and analysis through conversations. She is currently carrying out a training process on Rights, Personal Development and Health for leaders, women leaders, water boards, and health promoters.
María del Carmen has worked as a promoter in the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples, National Coordinator of the Infrastructure Table In the National Consultative Council of Indigenous Peoples, Municipal Coordinator of the program for single mothers from Heart to Heart, she has collaborated as a psychologist at the San Carlos Altamirano Hospital for the care of the different municipalities of the Ts’eltal area and as a Facilitator on gender issues in the Sitala communities.
María del Carmen is from Bachajón in the municipality of Chilón Chiapas, a Tseltal indigenous woman who has been collaborating in the different municipalities of Chiapas since 2011. She has studied General Psychology, Master’s Degree in Gestalt Psychotherapy; she is Certified in Relational Therapy and her objective in the communities is to achieve recognition and respect among men, women, young people and boys and girls and thus move towards equality, equity to have a life in harmony, a dignified life.
Juan Julián Cruz Cruz, is a Tseltal Mayan from Petalcingo, Tila, Chiapas, facilitator in the Strategic Objective of Dialogue of Knowledge, part of Alianza Creer Juntos por Sitala in June 2019. Julián, within the Alliance has developed processes and actions community initiatives related to the theme of revitalizing and strengthening the knowledge and practices of Tseltal men and women, revolving around Tseltal principles and concepts, from a perspective of ich’el ta muk’ (taking us very big) and lekil ayinel (a good to live).
Juan Julián has skills related to art and culture, he is a Tseltal indigenous writer, he has directed stage plays, social research, he is a cultural promoter and currently his potential is to generate processes for the lives of men and women of the Sitala communities. He has recieved several courses, certifications and seminars and has been co-director of Chapita, a documentary that reflects racism and discrimination against young indigenous Tseltal migrants from Chiapas, towards tourist areas.
Petrona Guzmán García joined the Komon A’tel Alliance (AKA) in 2020 as a field facilitator in the Strategic Objective of “Health and Water”. Her main function is to sensitize the population to generate awareness that leads to improvement of the quality of life of families in the municipality of San Juan Cancuc, Chiapas Mexico.
Petrona Guzmán García has a 22-year track record with NGOs in strategic “community health and development” projects in the states of Chiapas, Campeche and Quintana Roo in rural communities. Petrona Guzmán belongs to the Tzeltal ethnic group from the municipality of San Juan Cancuc, she migrated to the city of San Cristóbal when she was 10 years old as a consequence of gender violence and the cultural context of the region. She has had a training process through certifications and served as field officer, translator and interpreter in the Tzeltal and Tsotsil languages during the armed conflict of the EZLN in Chiapas. She has completed a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She has 3 children and she is very proud of her interior designing, gardening and being at home.
Eloisa Jiménez Morales, is an Agricultural Engineer by profession; In June 2019, she joined the Alianza Crecer Juntos por Sitalá and currently serves as facilitator of the Strategic Objective of Food Systems.
Eloisa has dedicated herself mainly to collaborating with civil society organizations, she has served as operational coordinator in highly marginalized municipalities, in the states of Chiapas and Quintana Roo, of Food Security and sustainable maize field projects through CSOs, the latter with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). She has been Certified in Food Safety Methodology, as well as Community Promotion.
She has more than 10 years of experience in Rural Development, in implementation, start-up, monitoring and development of agricultural projects. A native of the Municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, speaker of the Mayan-Tseltal indigenous language, mother of two children and she is a nature lover.
Francisco was born in Mexico City but has lived most of his life in the Yucatan Peninsula. Thanks to his training as a Social Communicator and Master of Science in Rural Development, he joined ATA in 2019 to strengthen the local team in Human Development as well as in strategic coordination to achieve the project’s objectives in the region.
Originally from Nunkini, Campeche, María del Rosario Cohuo Huchin joined the ATA Mexico team in November 2019. Rosario is a promoter within the food pilot project in addition to being in charge of the activities and monitoring of the area, accompanying the groups for the preparation of recipes, quality control and complying with all the necessary regulations for export and national sale. Always passionate about her work and the enthusiasm she sees in the groups she works with, Rosario is a key member of our team. Engineer in Food Industries and Master of Science in Food Biochemistry
Carmela Peraza Poot began as one of the leading artisans in the hammock weaving technique, always demonstrating a great ability to teach and motivate her co-workers, which led her to become an ATA promoter in 2020. Originally from the municipality of Tixméhuac located in the southern part of the state, Carmela is responsible for several groups of hammock weavers. Passionate about sharing her knowledge, teaching and learning new stitches and finishes, Carmela has earned the love and respect of the groups she works with with her energy and perseverance.
Didier Jesús Ramírez Caballero began his history at ATA Mexico in February 2021 as an assistant promoter of the Manos Vivas project within the Yucatan team; supporting training, accompaniment and monitoring of savings banks, financial inclusion issues and cultural animation processes. With vast experience in the design, execution and evaluation of community transformation projects, full of contagious energy and with an insatiable passion for gender, indigenous cultures and development issues. Didier has a degree in Cultural Management and has studies in Social Anthropology.
Blanca Itza May, originally from Chumayel and inhabitant of Teabo, Yucatán, has been part of our team since January 2020. She comes from a family of artisans, which has made her work as a textile promoter easier, helping to improve the quality of knitting techniques, cross stitch and machine embroidery and crochet, as well as giving workshops on fine finishes, decoration, joining and innovation of techniques and materials, and following up with groups in the region of the Peninsula. For Blanca, her work is described as “the love of her roots”.
Carlos Ponce de León began his history at ATA Mexico in November 2019. Born in Mexico City, he joined the organization to lead the pilot food project in the Peninsula and provide support to the Yucatan team in the area of marketing and sales. Something that Carlos highlights from his experience at ATA Mexico is the trust he has received from the organization to contribute his knowledge and experience developing gourmet products and implementing them in the creation of the New Food Division. Carlos has a degree in International Business.
Raquela Chuc Cuxim, better known as Raquel, is from the Tixcacaltuyub community, in Yaxcaba, Yucatán, and joined our team in 2019 as a Promoter of groups of textile artisans in Yaxcabá. A proud artisan expert in the Cross Stitch technique, Raquel is a great promoter, always motivated and full of energy. Her desire to excel and share the heritage of Yucatan in Mexico and the world is contagious.
Ericka Novelo Pérez, originally from Mérida, Yucatán, joined the ATA Mexico team at the beginning of the Manos Vivas project in 2018. With previous experience working with groups of artisans, giving different workshops on issues of design, quality, empowerment and development human, Ericka has been able to continue developing her skills and those of the women we have worked with in recent years. A proud participant in this organization, hard-working and cheerful, she highlights the importance of her work in achieving a positive impact on the self-esteem and social recognition of the women with whom she works. Ericka has a degree in Production Systems Engineering.
India Field Office
Javeed Dar – Project Coordinator
Javeed joined Aid to Artisans in 2020 as Project Coordinator for the “Art-X Kashmir – Export Linkage for Four Artisan Clusters in Jammu & Kashmir” project in India. An expert in artisanal craft, Javeed holds a Master’s Degree in Craft Management and Entrepreneurship from the Craft Development Institute in Srinagar India. Prior to joining ATA Javeed was a Production, Design, and Project Coordinator with Commitment to Kashmir Delhi” (Ctok) –Design organization and a Junior Research Project Fellow at the Design Innovation Centre, Central University of Kashmir.
Mali Field Office
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
Uganda Field Office
Richard Mujuni – M&E Coordinator
Javeed joined Creative Learning in 2020 as the M&E Coordinator for the “Strengthening Resilience against Violent Extremism in Uganda’s Masaka, Lwengo, Kalungu, and Mpigi Districts” project in Uganda. A member of Uganda Evaluation Association, Richard has over ten(10) years of professional, practical and international experience in project management, monitoring and evaluation for community development and systems strengthening programs including strengthening smallholder farmer initiatives, rural agribusiness enterprises, strengthening agro-input networks and agricultural marketing and nutrition programs in Africa,sexual reproductive health, malaria, HIV/AIDS, Livelihood & nutrition, WASH and health financing. With experience of both national and international agencies, he is highly competent in strategic and performance management, policy assessments, quality improvement, development of study protocols, and assessment methods and able to establish and maintain functional M&E systems for large programs with management information systems/data management and communication competencies. He is competent in approaches of mobilization, liaison, partnerships and linkages to foster participation and ownership. He is skilled in research methodologies including operations research, LQAS and data management applications like, GIS, Epinfo and SPSS. He has experience and knowledge of systems change approaches and evaluation of systems change initiatives. He is well versed with national and international development agenda with depth knowledge of sustainable development goals and targets. Richard is a holder of Bachelor degree in Social Science from Makerere University, Post Graduate Diploma in Monitoring&Evaluationfrom Uganda Management Institute, Certificate in Market research for product development and in final stages of completing a Masters in Management studies(Monitoring and Evaluation)at Uganda Management Institute.