Hey, Jess “Malak” Wamala here! I live in a city one hour from Fes. I arrived in Morocco on the heels of finishing my research masters (Mphil) in Modern Middle Eastern Studies as a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford and hold a second masters (M.A.) in Political Science from my undergraduate alma mater Villanova University. As a global citizen, I have lived in or travelled to 33 other countries for educational opportunities, business, academic conferences, research, immersive learning and cultural exchange. Passionate about gender empowerment, systems change, and diversity and inclusion, I have advanced these issues for the U.S. State Department in various capacities and published work on diversity in international affairs.
I bring a very energetic attitude and goal-oriented vision to my position as Chairperson of GAD, and I am excited to make GAD resources more accessible and inclusive for both PCVs and Moroccans alike. I suspect this group of hardworking women will surpass any expectations of professionalism, approachability, and friendliness and I want everyone to know we are open to feedback, collaboration, and innovation.
YOUNG KWON, VIce-Chair
Hello! My name is Young! I live and serve in a small town an hour from Marrakesh. I recently graduated from the University of Missouri with B.J. in strategic communication and B.A. in international peace studies. Through working with various marginalized communities throughout my college years, I have learned to constantly challenge my thoughts and beliefs.
As a Korean American woman who grew up both in the states and in Korea, exploring gender dynamics in different spaces and women's empowerment have been a big part of my own identity development. That is why I am excited to be a member of GAD committee.
Katie bercegeay, coordinating officer
Greetings! I'm Katie Bercegeay, originally from the Cajun heartland in south Louisiana by way of central Virginia. I'm now serving in a small, charming mountain town an hour from Fes.
I have a Bachelor's degree in English as well as a Master's in International Studies with a concentration on humanitarianism. Prior to Peace Corps, I worked in stateside refugee resettlement coordinating volunteers, donations, and external relations. I also have experience teaching English to international students at the pre-university level. For much of my life, I have been inspired by women and men alike who have done incredible GAD work in both large-scale and everyday capacities. Now as a member of the Peace Corps Morocco GAD committee, I am constantly inspired by the GAD work being done by my fellow PCVs and Moroccan counterparts, friends, and students.
heyab-mariam ogBasion, training & reporting officer
Hello! My name is Heyab-Mariam Ogbasion, and I’m currently serving in a large community on the outskirts of Errachidia. Although originally from Memphis, Tennessee, I also call Washington, DC home. I’m a first generation Eritrean-American, and growing up in the US with this identity has motivated me to be active in my community, specifically on issues of gender empowerment and equality.
I hold a Bachelor’s in Finance & International Business and more recently a Master’s in Organizational Development, so it is safe to call me a data and analytics geek! With that being said, I am super excited to collaborate with PCVs, Moroccan counterparts, and PC staff as Training and Reporting Officer. I’m confident of Staj 98 and the passion and expertise each of us brings towards GAD related work.
Elizabeth "lou" jay, representative
Hi my name is Elizabeth. I’m known around Peace Corps as Lou. I have a B.A. from DePauw University in Sociology and Anthropology with a minor in French and an M.A. from the University of Indianapolis in Sociology with a concentration in cross-cultural comparison. Before I came to Morocco I was a professor at the University of Indianapolis; I taught Intro to Sociology and Social Problems. Much of my academic background focused on women and society cross-culturally. This greatly influenced my decision to join Peace Corps and work with disadvantaged populations within the community, namely women.
Much of my work in my three years here in Morocco has been focused on the empowerment of girls and women. After completing a Fitness Trainer TOT with my counterpart, Fatima, we started a women’s health and aerobics class in our dar chabab, or youth center. We empower the women to focus on their overall health instead of body image through yoga, aerobics, kickboxing, and dance as well as discussions about health and diet. I’m also working with a women’s association in my community to hand-sew reusable feminine hygiene products that can be sold throughout our region to promote a more economic, hygienic, and environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable products, while also promoting the growth of our association and its impact within our community. I’m excited to be a part of the GAD committee to help other PCVs see how they can do GAD work within their communities on a daily basis through conversations and toolkits. I truly believe it’s the small things we do day in and day out that make the biggest impact.