Joe Molinari


Joe Molinari has had the privilege of collaborating with the Highland Support Project in various capacities since 2006.  He was first inspired by a VCU/HSP trip that sparked a growing interest  in community processes of change as well as how outsiders can support indigenous people in respectful and meaningful ways.  Over the years, Joe has served as a guide for teams, and codeveloped mindful processes of acknowledging historical and vicarious trauma experienced by Mayan community organizers.  He was also involved in building the relationship between HSP and the White Mountain Apache community and supporting the first years of team visiting and community organizing. 

Joe is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist and, after spending his early career in public health, is now in private practice where he specializes in supporting people affected from all forms of trauma and in addressing concerns related to sexuality and intimacy.  He continues to be active in his community and interested in bridging healing processes at individual, family, and community levels. 

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Vania Murcia

Vice President

I'm from Richmond, Virginia and graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2017. I attended an HSP trip to Guatemala in 2016 and spent one of the best weeks of my life working, learning, and experiencing the passion and love of each community we visited. I'm happy to be serving as a Board Member for HSP and look forward to working on future trips, fundraising, and projects!


Parisa Tabassian


Parisa Tabassian is from Richmond, VA and is a current law student at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, VA. She earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC, majoring in Culture and Politics with a concentration in Oppressed Peoples and testing proficient in both French and Farsi. She has worked as a corporate immigration paralegal, rule of law research assistant for the United States Institute of Peace, intern for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, intern for the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, and sales associate at Alter-Natives (fair trade store affiliated with the Highland Support Project). She will next work as a legal intern for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Norfolk, VA. She believes passionately in social justice and public service work. She first became acquainted with the Highland Support Project when in high school at St. Catherine's School in Richmond, VA. She went on a service trip with HSP to Guatemala as a high school junior, and returned for another trip as a sophomore in college.


Stephen Tallman

Stephen Tallman is the E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Richmond, where he teaches international business and global strategy. He graduated from the US Military Academy and holds a PhD in international business and strategic management from UCLA. He is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business and of the Strategic Management Society, two major international organizations for business academics. He has held leadership positions in the International Management Division of the Academy of Management and the Global Strategy Interest Group of the SMS. He has been on the editorial teams of several scholarly journals with interests in international strategy and is co-editor of Global Strategy journal. His research interests include global strategic management, geographical clusters, organizational learning and knowledge management, and alliance strategies. He has published four books and a variety of journal articles on these and related topics. His interests in working with organizations, international markets, and the non-profit sector brought him to Highland Support Project, where he has served on the board since 2006. He led student trips from the University of Richmond to Guatemala in 2007 and 2009 and continues to find the mission and methods of HSP and AMA an inspiration.


Mary Jane Winter

Mary Jane Winter is a Presbyterian pastor currently serving the New Hanover church, and for many years was on the staff of Union Presbyterian Seminary, where she developed and led 3-week travel seminars to Central America in the academic program. She is passionate about Guatemala and the Highland Support Project, and has served on the board since its inception, including several terms as president. She first went to Guatemala in 1985 through the Gift of New Eyes initiative of the Presbyterian Church, a deeply formative experience that led to her involvement with HSP. She is a strong advocate of HSP’s approach to development and their commitment to social justice, local empowerment, and transformation, not only of Mayan communities, but of North Americans.


Anita Mays

Anita Mays is the Associate Pastor of Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church in Midlothian, VA. She holds a Master of Arts in Christian Education, Master of Divinity, and Master of Theology degrees from Union Presbyterian Seminary. She previously served on the VA Conference Board of Global Ministries, and is passionate about mission, and particularly social justice. Anita has been involved with the Highland Support Project for 15 years as both a volunteer and a staff member. Anita is excited to continue that relationship by serving on the Board of Directors.


Leah Coates

Leah Coates is an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company, a management and strategy consulting firm, in Boston, Massachusetts. On the side of her normal case work, Leah is involved in Bain’s Global Development Network and has participated in pro-bono consulting cases for international non-profits. Leah first began cultivating an interest in international development as a student at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Global Development Studies with a special focus on Latin America. During her time at UVA, she became involved with Highland Support Project – serving as a volunteer, an intern, a trip leader and later as a Highland Fellow, conducting research in both Guatemala and Peru. As an avid reader and life-long learner, Leah hopes to continue researching indigenous communities and best practices within the international development industry. She aims to use her experiences and skills from the consulting industry to help smaller organizations like HSP survive and thrive in the ever-changing and increasingly competitive non-profit sector.


Danielle Viggiani

Danielle Viggiani began her relationship with HSP as a nursing student of VCU Medical Center when she traveled to Guatemala with the Nursing Students without Borders(NSWB) team. She went on to advocate for the work of HSP by leading NSWB teams to both Guatemala and Arizona through which she helped her fellow classmates and community witness the power of appropriate, patient-focused healthcare. Now a registered nurse in the Progressive Care Medicine Unit, Danielle plans to enter the VCU Family Health Nurse Practitioner Program in the Fall, with a goal of working with Indian Health Services as a nurse practitioner, a dream that was inspired by her HSP trip to Arizona! When she's not out healing the world or running marathons, you can find her hanging out in Richmond with her husband Eric and her two pups, Marley & Ka'ena.


Simone Riddle

Simone, originally from England, joined HSP and AMA team back in 2012. She led HSP Service Learning Teams working as a translator and guide while working supporting marketing and communications for AMA’s social enterprise, Pixan. Simone spent four years in total working with indigenous, marginalized communities in Guatemala. Impressed by HSP’s methodology of development and strong grassroots base, she left Habitat for Humanity Guatemala to join HSP’s mission. Now back in the UK, Simone supports HSP and AMA’s work from afar. Simone currently works to empower local urban communities to access and improve local health service provision. She brings firsthand knowledge of HSP’s work in Guatemala, a great respect and understanding for Mayan culture as well as marketing experience, not forgetting bundles of passion and commitment.


Aruna Anbazhagan

Aruna Anbazhagan first became involved with The Highland Support Project during her years as an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her first trip to Guatemala greatly influenced her career goals and focused her interests in global health care and sustainable medicine in rural areas. Currently she is pursuing a degree in Medicine at VCU School of Medicine. In the future, Aruna hopes to have gained the education, knowledge and resources to bring sustainable models of health care and medicine to rural areas around the world.


Russ Gong

Russ is passionate about developing meaningful strategies and enterprises. He is driven by the pursuit of framework changing ideas and systemic solutions to age-old problems.

Russ’ work experience cuts across private, public, and NGO sectors. In that array, Russ focuses on business strategy, innovation, program optimization, and data analytics and visualization. Russ has led and managed projects in the United States and around the globe. Most recently, he has led and supported a series of operations in Central America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. His current active roles continue his diverse sector interests. At Deloitte, he is the Lead and Founder of the D2international program, Deloitte's social impact fellowship which develops partnerships with international communities. In the non-profit field, Russ serves as a volunteer director for the Global Good Fund, a social enterprise investment group, which he advises around analytics and innovation strategy. Russ also serves on the Board of Directors for the Highland Partners. And lastly, in teaching, Russ is an adjunct lecturer on Design Thinking & Data Visualization at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.