Santa Clara University

Casa de la Solidaridad

Meet the Team

Kevin Yonkers-Talz, M.Ed., M.S.

Co-Founder and Co-Director, Casa de la Solidaridad

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Kevin is immensely proud of his four daughters–Sophia (14), Grace (12), Hannah (9), and Emma (4) and absolutely loves being a father. He is grateful for his work, which allows him to accompany college students from the U.S. as they encounter the realities of life in El Salvador. Kevin's academic interests lie in human development, theology and international and multicultural education. He studied economics and psychology at Fairfield University and received his M.S. in college student personnel services from Miami University. He then studied at Boston College (M.Ed.) and has his doctoral degree in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco.


Trena Yonkers-Talz, M.Ed., M.S.

Co-Founder and Co-Director, Casa de la Solidaridad

Trena loves how working with the Casa program enables her to connect her vocations as a mom and as an educator. She loves being mom to her four daughters (Sophia, Grace, Hannah, and Emma). With the Casa program, she most enjoys spending time in the praxis site communities with the students. In both of her jobs, she is constantly learning about life and love and being reminded how alive God is in our world. Her academic interests lie in college student development theory and liberation/feminist theology. She studied accounting as an undergrad at Grand Valley State University and received her M.S. in college student personnel services from Miami University and an M.Ed. in religious education from Boston College. She also enjoys running, baking cookies, and exploring Central America with her family. Trena also has a strong connection to her roots in Hastings, Michigan, where she grew up on a goat, sheep, and asparagus farm. Trena and Kevin worked with Jesuit Volunteers: International in Belize, Central America for two years prior to their work in El Salvador.

Jake Dillabaugh

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Community Coordinator, Casa Romero

Jake or (Jacobo) is from Cleveland, Ohio and is so excited to be back working with La Casa de la Solidaridad as a Community Coordinator. He recently graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he majored in Sociology, with minors in Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Faith Justice Studies. He hopes to put all of those to great use in helping form the experiences of the new Casa students this year. Jake spent a semester with Casa in the fall of 2012. While with the Casa he accompanied the communities of La Valencia and Plan del Coco, where he learned about the deep love and compassion that exists within the Salvadoran people. Jake is so excited to share this beautiful country, all the amazing sights, sounds, tastes, love and friendship it has to offer with new wonderful students. In his free time Jake loves to play guitar, sing, fish, sail, and generally be around loving and diverse people. Although Jake is very present to his time in El Salvador, he is also looking towards a future of graduate school. Although he doesn’t know what exactly lies ahead, he is sure that this year will be an amazing one!

Jennifer K. Monsalve

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Community Coordinator, Casa Romero

Jennifer was born on the sixth of September in Teaneck, NJ to wonderful Colombian parents. She graduated from Fordham University (Rose Hill) in May 2014 with a double major in International Political Economy and Theology with a Concentration in American Catholic Studies. Jennifer participated in the Casa de la Solidaridad program in the fall of 2012 and studied abroad in Pretoria, South Africa in the spring of 2013. She is so overjoyed to return to a community she cares for so dearly. With a humble and grateful heart she looks forward to learning so much from the students, Salvadorans and the Casa staff. Weather permitting, you’ll probably find this lady soaking up some rays somewhere outdoors. Jennifer is completely in love with her family, her dogs, naps on hammocks, tea, strolls, driving, Spanish music, smiling, traveling, and biking.

Megan Donovan

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Community Coordinator, Casa Silvia

Megan is very humbled and excited to begin her time as a community coordinator with the Casa program. She is originally from Ellicott City, Maryland, and is a recent graduate of Fordham University in New York City. There, Megan studied sociology and social work, and she plans to return to graduate school to gain her master’s in social work after this upcoming year in El Salvador. In her spare time, Megan enjoys reading & writing, running, playing guitar, and hanging with humans. Megan was a student of the Casa program in the Spring 2013 semester, and it was undoubtedly one of the most life-giving and transformative experiences of her life. She feels blessed to be able to return to the sacred spaces that Casa has to offer, and to have the opportunity to accompany the students while being accompanied herself by the vibrant and loving Salvadoran community.

Lidia, Francisca, Lupita, Zarita, and Rosa

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Casa Cooks

Lupita, Rosa, Frani, Lidia and Zarita comprise one of the most important teams on staff. They serve the Casa students in a variety of ways: as support people, as educators about the lives of average Salvadorans, and as cooks. Lidia has worked as a cook with the Jesuits for over 17 years. Elba Ramos, the housekeeper who was murdered with the Jesuits, taught her how to cook. Each semester, students reflect on the immense importance that these wise women have on their experience. We are grateful they are on staff.

Clara Villatoro

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Coordinator for Communications

Originally from San Salvador, Clara graduated from the University of Central America (UCA) in October 2006 with a major in communications. She worked as a journalist for La Prensa Gráfica three years in the area of public health. Clara finished her master's degree from the Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea in Spain during 2009. Now she works with the Casa program but also is writing economics reports from Central America for a Colombian magazine. Clara loves coffee! But she also enjoys writing, reading, traveling (especially with friends), and spending time with her family.

Romero Scholarship Student Program

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The Romero Program is a Salvadoran sister program of the Casa de la Solidaridad. It began in August 2004 as a small group of scholarship students who lived with the Casa students, and since has grown to support more than 25 Salvadoran university students. Griselda and Julio were some of the first Salvadoran students who began the Romero Program, and after much experience with the Casa, they are now working full time as co-coordinators of the Romero Program.

Julio Perez

Director, Romero Program

Julio has worked with the Romero Program since 2004. He graduated from the University of Central America with a major in accounting. He is originally from Los Sitios, Jayaque in La Libertad. He loves telling jokes, dancing, and peaches. He also enjoys spending time with his family, especially his young nieces and nephews.

Griselda Reyes

Formation Coordinator, Romero Program

Griselda has worked with the Romero Program since 2004. She graduated with a major in business administration from the University of Central America and studied for one semester at Santa Clara University in an exchange program. Gris is originally from Mariona, a town near San Salvador. She loves spending time with her family, especially her husband, Nelson, and her five-years-old son, Davisito, and Ariana Abigail, one year-old.

Guadalupe Orellana

Accompaniment Coordinator, Romero Program

Guadalupe joined to the Romero Program in January 2013. She graduated from the University of Central America (UCA) with a major in Social Comunication in 2009. She also was one of the first ‘becarias’ of the Romero Program when it started in 2004. She is originally from Carasque, Nueva Trinidad, Chalatemango. Guadalupe likes spending time with her family and her husband.