HOLY CROSS MINISTRIES STAFF
Emmie is a passionate, mission-driven leader with a 30-year history working in healthcare in a variety of clinical and administrative roles including mental health, cancer care, and senior services. She is a licensed clinical social worker, earning her MSW from the University of Utah along with a graduate certification in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Emmie is skilled in non-profit organizations serving on several local not-for-profit organization boards, enjoys advocacy and public speaking, and promotes staff development and team building.
Andy Cier is Director of Development and Communications for HCM; the previous five years he was Director of Marketing / Strategy & Engagement for University of Utah Alumni Relations. Andy was graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where he volunteered for several organizations through the Center for Social Concerns. Upon graduating, Andy was a volunteer for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, assisting with Refugee Resettlement, Refugee Foster Care, and Adoption Services for CCS, and with the Office of Communication for the diocese.
Following a long career in the ad agency world, Andy switched focus to higher education marketing and communications. His love for documentaries led him to a decade-long service on the Utah Advisory Board for the Sundance Institute. He also served multiple terms on the St. Mary’s (Park City) Pastoral Council, taught religious education, and taught English to new Americans. Andy, and his wife, Lynn, live in Park City, where he enjoys trail building, farming, photography, hiking, biking, and skiing.
Lauren joined HCM as the Communications Specialist in August 2019. Prior to that, she spent several years as a writer, content manager, and digital marketer at Deseret News and Utah Humanities. Lauren earned an MA in English from Brigham Young University in 2016 and taught freshman composition courses during her graduate program. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, running, and knitting.
Jessica is Holy Cross Ministries’ Finance Specialist. She has been involved with Holy Cross Ministries since 2003 when she volunteered at People’s Health Center and Afterschool Program. From 2010 to 2012, she was part of Holy Cross Ministries’ Mission and Planning Committee and the Board of Trustees representing the Hispanic community. Her passion for Holy Cross Ministries’ services inspired her in such a way that she joined their team in 2012 as Client Support Specialist and soon after as a paralegal in the Legal Immigration Program. Jessica earned an associate’s degree and is attending Utah Valley University majoring in business management. She loves coming to work and being part of the great impact Holy Cross Ministries has in our communities.
Citlali was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of seven. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in communications and a minor in economics. Prior to HCM, Citlali worked as a pharmacy representative at Molina Healthcare and has had the opportunity to intern at Make-A-Wish Utah. During her free time, Citlali enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. She likes to fish, hike, camp, paint, and draw.
Ivonne specializes in trauma treatment and has experience working with child and adult survivors of domestic abuse and other types of trauma. She earned both a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Utah. Ivonne started college with plans to become a high school math teacher. But during her first student teaching assignment, she realized she was much more interested in helping her students improve their mental health, so she decided to pursue social work. Ivonne is from Chile originally and immigrated to the United States at age 29. She loves being able to draw on her own experience as an immigrant while helping clients and appreciates that Holy Cross Ministries offers wraparound services to assist clients with a wide variety of basic needs. In her free time, Ivonne enjoys spending time in nature, especially near lakes, rivers and oceans.
Sister Veronica A. Fajardo, CSC-LCSW
Sister Veronica A. Fajardo
Sister Veronica is a Sister of the Holy Cross and a bilingual/bi-cultural counselor. She has worked with survivors of trauma, families and with non-violent parenting and support groups. Sister Veronica has ministered in Utah, Ghana, California and North Carolina. Prior to being a counselor, Sister Veronica was an educator for twelve years and has experience working with children who have exceptional needs.
Liza was born and raised in Escondido, CA, and moved to South Bend, Indiana, to attend @saintmaryscollege. After spending nine years at South Bend, Liza decided to move to Utah and join the HCM family! Liza has an undergraduate degree in Social Work and Spanish and a Master's in Social Work from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in both Utah and Indiana and enjoys working with all ages.
Liza loves running, hiking, the beach, and playing soccer (she played for Saint Mary's College) or any competitive sport. She interned for HCM during the summer of 2016 in the Summer School Program and was always in awe of the compassion and diligence that HCM employees had to live out its organization's mission. When asked to join the team, there was no hesitation that Liza wanted to be part of an amazing group.
Rubi’s family is from Ecuador, and she was born and raised in New Jersey. She is a first-generation college and graduate student in her family. Rubi graduated from Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in social work. She is a Certified Social Worker and enjoys working with individuals of all ages wanting to heal from trauma.
She pursued the field of mental health therapy to help the Latino/Hispanic community through a wide array of challenges they may face and provide hope and alleviation through their distress. She has a deep admiration for HCM’s mission to help a vulnerable population meet their needs and provide them with equal opportunities to thrive. Rubi says she is honored to be part of an amazing team of professionals that share the same goals and values as she does to help individuals succeed.
Rubi loves the beach, lifting heavy weights, eating food from different countries, spending time with her husband, friends, and family, as well as cuddling with her dog.
Carlos is the father of two beautiful daughters. He has been working at Holy Cross Ministries for two years and is a Community Health Worker/Promotor. Carlos is also a first-generation college student working towards his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Utah. He has a passion for helping those that need help.
Esperanza Arias joined Holy Cross Ministries in April 1999. As a Promotora she helps people in the community by giving them information and referring them to the different services in the community.
Esperanza recently won the Familes Conexion award. As a Promotora Esperanza also teaches regular prenatal health classes and provides case management, support group, health access, and referral services through Holy Cross Ministries’ partnership at South Main Clinic. She also conducts home visits for seniors – giving them emotional and spiritual support.
Esperanza is the main facilitator of the program “NEFF- Niños Especiales Familias Fuertes” giving support to families with children with special needs. Esperanza was assigned to work at the South Main Clinic where she develops this program and strong relationship with parents and clinic staff.
Esperanza loves to dance, walk and spend time with her friends to talk and taste a delicious Colombia Coffee!
Jakelinne has been involved with the Sisters of the Holy Cross as a member of the Holy Cross Associates of Salt Lake City since 2015 and is currently part of their leadership group. She is an active laywoman and has engaged in different volunteer programs at the Diocese of Salt Lake City and the Cathedral of the Madeleine since 2007. She participated as a member of the Pastoral Plan Steering Committee at the diocese and as a member of the V Encuentro process, contributing to training the delegates of V Encuentro and aiding in the processes of evangelization, consultation and mission in parishes throughout Utah.
Jakelinne studied hotel administration and specialized in small business management at Externado de Colombia University in Colombia. She also has an associate degree in humanities from Salt Lake Community College. Jakelinne enjoys studying and taking courses to expand her knowledge as well as traveling to visit new places. She is also committed to promoting women to important leadership roles and supporting them as entrepreneurs.
Yeniffer is a proud Hispanic who works hard to spread knowledge and proper resources for those in need. She is passionate about getting to the root cause of problems and being able to provide healing and self-development education. Yeniffer is humbled to be a part of HCM and to be able to provide exceptional resources and care to the community.
HCM has been part of Estefania’s family for many years and she is excited to have joined the team and give back to the community in her own way. She is ready to connect with clients and learn more about the community because she is passionate about assisting those without access to the necessary resources. In her free time, Estefania loves spending time with her friends and family, traveling, and watching movies.
The Utah Department of Health certified Carmen as a Community Health Worker. She comes to HCM with over 20 years of experience working with families in school districts and early childhood education with parents and children. She believes in assisting families in working toward a higher quality of life and in achieving self-sufficiency goals. Carmen is a family advocate who is passionate about connecting families to community resources because she believes that everyone has the right to an education and emergency medical health services.
Carmen says that working with HCM will allow her to continue guiding families through the process of applying for assistance and locating community resources that are currently available. "I have been placed in a position to help make a difference in people's lives, and for me this is a blessing which I am truly grateful for.
Small Business Coordinator
Sergio is from Alicante, Spain but emigrated to the United States back in 1993. He considers himself extremely fortunate to have worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors throughout his career, providing him with a diverse range of work experiences. Sergio volunteered and served as a community advisor whenever he could, whether as a trainer, activist, or simply a participant. Living in Asia, the Middle East, the United States, and Europe has given him the opportunity to learn about humanity. Humankind, he claims, is ONE amazing and diverse race. Sergio enjoys languages and food because both allow him to communicate with others. Sergio considers himself a daydreamer who believes that everyone can achieve their life's purpose.
Sergio believes in the mission statement of Holy Cross Ministries, and that through that vision, everyone can empower fellow community members to turn obstacles into positive outcomes and improve their quality of life.
Sister Mary Ann Pajakowski, CSC
Sister Mary Ann Pajakowski, CSC
Sister Mary Ann Pajakowski CSC hails from South Bend, Indiana. Sister met the Sisters of the Holy Cross while attending St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame IN, Sister taught social studies courses in Catholic high schools in Illinois and Indiana for 24 years and received Masters Degrees in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and in administration for non profits from the University of Notre Dame. While teaching at St. Joseph’s HS in South Bend, Sister Mary Ann began to volunteer in the summers to teach religion in the migrant camps in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. As migrants began to “settle out” Sister Mary Ann began to work with Latino youth new to South Bend schools and city life. She and Sister Suzanne Brennan CSC moved to live above La Casa de Amistad, a youth center founded by the Holy Cross priests and community leaders in South Bend and continued working with youth and their parents with Girls Scouts, religious ed, community organizing and also hosted lay volunteers from the Sisters of the Holy Cross Associates program who lived with her at La Casa, along with a refugee family from Cambodia and graduate students from the University of Notre Dame. When Holy Cross Ministries was started in Utah, Sister left South Bend for Utah, working with the education departments at Holy Cross Ministries and later for Catholic Community Services at the Wiegand Center in Salt Lake providing programs for homeless preschoolers in shelter and transitional housing. Sister returned to Holy Cross Ministries to resume education work in afterschool, summer, school readiness and Parents as Teachers programming. Sister Mary Ann grew up in South Bend with her parents, John and Irene, older brother Bill and younger sister Margy. Dad and Bill have died; mom is 98 and doing well at St. Paul’s Retirement Center in South Bend and Margy lives in Chicago. Nieces and nephews and their families are in and around South Bend. Sister Mary Ann enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, skiing, camping, and anything outside. Dog Bro shares the house and last year Sister Mary Ann started a beehive in the back yard to support pollination and the bee population. Sister serves on the Sisters of the Holy Cross Congregational Justice Committee and is a member of the Saint Mary’s College Notre Dame IN Board of Trustees. She is a member of St. Mary’s Parish in Park City.
Miriam began working for Holy Cross Ministries in 2007 as part of the After School Program team. Shortly thereafter she undertook the preschool project now known as the School Readiness Program that takes place at St. Mary’s Church in Park City. After overseeing HCM’s preschool classroom as the School Readiness Program Coordinator, she transitioned as the Parents as Teachers Coordinator in 2021. She has always had a great passion for working in early childhood education and enjoys working with the community of Park City and serving the children and their families. She was born and raised in Mexico City; she graduated in Early Childhood Education from the National Autonomous University of Mexico “UNAM.” She lives in Salt Lake City with her daughter.
Hilda joined Holy Cross Ministries in 2012, working in the After-School Program. By 2013 she was coordinating parent outreach in the School Readiness Program where she developed a love for the families in the program. Her role included giving parents the resources that they needed in health and recreation as well as overseeing program registrations. In 2016 she had the opportunity to become Holy Cross Ministries’ first Parent Educator and is currently working with 20 parents and their children (ages 0-3 years old). To Hilda, working with these families is a passion, as she said: “I think I can make a difference, even if it is just a small one, I know that it is huge to these families. I can already see the difference.”
Maria Elena Huyck
Maria Elena Huyck
Maria Elena Huyck was born in Rio Negro Colombia, South America. As a young aspiring professional, Maria studied in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Maria worked and lived in Colombia until marrying Charles Huyck in 2012, at which time she moved to Miami, Florida.
In 2016, Maria became Vice President of a Non-profit organization, Sons of God Ministries (SOG), focused on ministering to the Colombian Police and Military, as well as convicted criminals in the prisons of Colombia, and to the poor and less fortunate.
Maria loves the outdoors, paddle boarding, exercising, and has a special heart for animals. Maria currently has 2 German Shepherds, 1 Schnauzer, and 3 cats! Maria loves watching the wildlife (Moose, Deer, Badgers, Chipmunks, Ground Squirrels, Hummingbirds and others) that frequently visit her home in the mountains near Heber City where she lives. Maria is also an avid maker of jewelry and enjoys teaching others this art!
Maria has a heart and passion for God, family, children, the poor and less fortunate and desires to help those in need.
Karina is the School Readiness Program Manager. She was born in Mexico City. She is the second child of three and moved to Utah at the age of 13. Karina is a first-generation college student who graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Family Consumer Studies with an Early Childhood emphasis in 2011. While at the U of U she volunteered at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church as a teen leader, at the cathedral of the Madeleine as Youth Group Coordinator. She did internship at Rose Park Elementary teaching English classes to adults, at Mountain View Elementary she did observations, Neighborhood House as and assistant and finished at Salt Lake Community College being a tutor. Ms. Palestina first joined Holy Cross Ministries in 2012 as the School Readiness Lead Teacher. Ms. Palestina got PAT certified in yr 2015. In 2016, she started coordinating the After-School Program in three of the elementary schools in Park City, Jeremy Ranch, Parleys and McPolin. After six years, she left Holy Cross Ministries and worked for Utah Community Action-Head Start. She taught for two school years in different classroom types serving half of the time as Family Advocate and then took leadership by becoming a Program Specialist. Ms. Palestina oversaw 15 teachers, assistants, and subs in more than six classrooms all over the Salt Lake Valley. While at UCA she became certified in CLASS measurement tool, proficient in TSG and ADP. After serving as a Program Specialist for three years, Karina returned to Holy Cross ministries in 2021. Her passion is supporting others to be the best they can be and loves being a resource that creates other professions by being an educator. Ms. Palestina is an individual who is always looking to grow. Karina is a passionate, caring, fun, positive person to be around with. She enjoys nature walks, decorating, listening to music, spending time with her daughter and volunteering in organizations like Tree Utah. Ms. Palestina is CPR certified and holds Food Handlers Permit.
Ivoone began teaching at HCM’s School Readiness Program in October of 2017. Bertha Ivoone Chapa (she goes by Ivoone) is originally from Peru, where she attended and graduated from the National University of Trujillo with a Bachelor’s in Education. Ms. Chapa’s studies also included English and German languages. Ivoone loves working with children and had over 3 years of experience working with kids from ages 3 to 12 before she joined Holy Cross’ education team. She is fully dedicated to her students and feels as if she is the learning from them on the daily basis. In her spare time, Ivoone enjoys reading, watching movies, spending time with her friends and dancing (she has taught traditional Peruvian dance.)
Mrs. Gonzalez has more than 20 years of experience in the area of education. Mrs. Gonzalez has a bachelors degree in Phsychology and in Preschool Education from Universidad Pedagógica Nacional de la CDMX, She also has a degree on Teología por la Fudacion AO Internacional. Mrs. Gonzalez has over 10 year experience as supervisor. She has her own Kindergarten School in Mexico. Her focus of work has been with kindergarten ages, and we feel very fortunate to have her on our team. Mrs. Gonzalez is married and a mother of two. She enjoys spending time with her family, drinking coffee, and loves living in a place surrounded by snow.
Margarita Nino Orea
Margarita is originally from Mexico, and like many of us, she came to this country in search of a better future.
Margarita is a classroom aide in HCM's School Readiness Program. She assists with classroom supervision, meals, naps, cleaning, and organization. Margarita is responsible and understands how to work well with others. She enjoys learning and is always eager to serve and help others in the program.
Lorina is the Director of Immigration Programs, Senior Attorney for Holy Cross Ministries. She is an accomplished attorney with 20 years of experience in U.S. immigration law, beginning with the recruitment and retention of foreign national employees, to the implementation of immigration strategies and policies, all the way through U.S. Department of Homeland Security compliance investigations.
In 2003, Lorina moved to Utah from a law firm in New York City to join a prominent university and national research institution. In her position as Associate General Counsel, she centralized and managed all immigration and compliance matters for the university and affiliated medical school. Lorina established her own law firm in 2010 where she focused on business immigration, including temporary employment authorization visas, employment-based green cards and matters involving F-1 international students and J-1 researchers and scholars. Lorina also has expertise with marriage-based green cards, affirmative asylum and citizenship and naturalization applications.
As an active Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Lorina has been elected Chapter Chair and served on the AILA Board of Governors. She has also served on AILA’s Verification & Documentation Liaison Committee and the AILA / U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Nebraska Service Center Liaison Committee. Lorina frequently engages in pro bono legal services and community engagement. She is excited about shifting to nonprofit work where she will support the mission of Holy Cross Ministries.
Maribel began working at Holy Cross Ministries in April of 1998 as a Promotora based in the Holy Cross Ministries office of Midvale, UT. In December of 1998, she was transferred to the South Main Clinic in Salt Lake City to initiate HCM’s Promotora Program within a clinical setting; this was a pilot program under the partnership of Karen Buchi, MD, the University of Utah Pediatrics Program and the Salt Lake County Health Department Prenatal Program. Maribel transitioned to the Director of the Promotora Program in January of 2004, as well as becoming a Legal Assistance in the Immigration Department of HCM working alongside attorney Sister Sharlet Wagner with the commencement of the U Visa program. Maribel became a BIA Accredited Legal Representative, under the sponsorship of HCM, in March of 2010 allowing her to file and legally represent clients, thus ensuring the continuation of the U Visa program at HCM.
Ingrid joined Holy Cross Ministries as a Legal Representative in January 2020 with previous experience working as a domestic violence victim advocate for West Valley City and as a paralegal with the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake. She has a degree in paralegal studies from Salt Lake Community College and has been living in the Salt Lake area since 1990, although she is from Guatemala originally.
Ingrid came to Holy Cross Ministries because she was very interested in the broad range of services HCM offers clients and loves working with women committed to empowering other women. In her free time, Ingrid enjoys making jewelry, meditating, gardening and going on nature walks with her dog.
Lorena is currently a student in Salt Lake Community College’s Legal Studies Program, where she is studying to become a paralegal. Lorena has lived in Utah since age 11, but she is from Mexico originally and immigrated to Arizona when she was five years old.
Lorena’s first interaction with Holy Cross Ministries was as a client receiving legal immigration assistance. Once Lorena received her visa and learned of a job opening in HCM’s Legal Immigration Program, she was eager to share her knowledge and draw on her own experience to help others with the immigration process. She understands firsthand the feelings of confusion and frustration immigrant families can face, and she is happy to be in a position where she can help and empower these clients. When she isn’t working or studying, Lorena is kept very busy by her three-year-old son, who loves watching movies and going to the park.
Luzmila began working for Holy Cross Ministries in March 2005, starting as a legal assistant. She worked especially with immigrant clients, assisting with their immigration challenges or giving them appropriate referrals. In 2010, Luzmila became a BIA Legal Representative. As a BIA, Luzmila started to represent clients before the U. S. Department of Homeland Security/USCIS. Later, she became a Department of Justice (DOJ) representative for Holy Cross Ministries. In 2019, Luzmila moved to California where she had the opportunity to continue working as a DOJ for Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego. In 2021, Luzmila returned to Holy Cross Ministries. Serving the community with justice and equality is her calling. Luzmila is always grateful for the opportunity to serve others with the dignity and compassion that they deserve. The solid principles and experience she gained as an attorney in Peru have carried over to her career in the United States as she continues to work with issues related to the protection of victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. She maintains the same level of dedication and commitment here in the United States.
Teresa began working for Holy Cross Ministries in 2001, helping individuals navigate the health care system as a Promotora and also providing legal immigration assistance. As of September 2019, she works solely with the Legal Immigration Program as a legal representative. In both areas, Teresa has had the pleasure of serving families by informing them of the resources they have access to in the community or by assisting them with the immigration process. She feels blessed to have contributed to HCM’s mission in this way, helping individuals and families achieve independence and total participation in the community.
Teresa was born in El Salvador. As a teenager, she migrated to Costa Rica as a refugee, where she formed her family. She graduated with a degree in social work from the University of Costa Rica. Teresa loves Utah and enjoys dancing, reading and spending time with friends.