OUR TEAM

Ms. Elsy Aracely Argueta (she/her)

Personal Trainer and Gym Manager

Aracely is a personal trainer and the manager of the community gym. She leads all the programming and the team of volunteers at the facility; she also writes program evaluations and authors related research. She is a Peas y Poder scholarship winner. With this support, Aracely studied a masters-level certification course in bodybuilding and fitness, and she plans on continuing her university education with a major in nutrition in the near future. Outside of the gym, Aracely is an accomplished small business owner with extensive training and experience in sales, accounting, customer service, management, and leadership. She founded and runs the local school supply store.

Aracely has lifted weights for four years, and in her own words, the most important impact of lifting in her life has been, “The changes that often you do not see, but you feel: when you improve your strength and resistance; you change your mood with less stress and less pain. And the most important change happens when you know your body and your muscles, and the moment arrives when you begin to love your body. For me, this is the best life change.” For this reason, Aracely volunteers many hours every week to support the gym.

Fuerza, poder and potencia form part of Aracely’s daily life, and they characterize her identity in the sense that from the time she wakes up, she practices them. For example, “I lift myself up to go to work to build my business, to be able to resolve problems, and create new projects. It is having a clear vision that as a woman, I can be the architect of a better future, including caring for myself, my physical and mental health. All these definitions enclose a common good: personal and community development. All these definitions bring us to the same end: to be owners of our own projects, whether short or long term, care for ourselves, to motivate ourselves to resist, and by living an example, to guide people in difficult moments. This project motivates men, women (adults, not only youth) to learn to love and care for their body and thoughts, from the moment they make the decision to practice sports, exercise, have the discipline to arrive at the gym after a long, difficult workday, to being to practice a habit that brings us step by step to personal achievements.”  Thus, when Aracely thinks of ‘strength,’ she focuses on a living process, a lifestyle rather than a sport.

Noelle Brigden competing in powerlifting

Dr. Noelle Kateri Brigden (Ph.D.) (she/her)

President of the Board of Directors

Noelle’s research and writing explores borders, migration, political and criminal violence, gender, fieldwork ethics and political ethnography. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University, where she teaches courses on international relations, human security, international migration, and politics of street gangs. She was a 2017-2018 Visiting Research Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and held a 2013-2014 postdoctoral fellowship at the Watson Institute for International Studies. Her book, The Migrant Passage: Clandestine Journeys from Central America (Cornell University Press 2018) explores violence and survival strategies along Central American migratory routes crossing Mexico, and their implications for the nation-state. The book won the 2019 Yale Ferguson Award. Her work has also been published in International Studies Quarterly, International Studies Review, Mobilities, Antipode, Migration Studies, International Journal for Migration and Border Studies and Geopolitics.

In addition to researching human security issues, Noelle is an avid powerlifter. She is the faculty advisor for the Marquette University Powerlifting Team, and she is a certified USAPL club coach. Noelle holds the American bench press record for the M1 47kg weight class. She also holds all the American open-age military records for the 47kg weight class. She holds numerous Wisconsin state records in both the 52kg weight class and the 47kg class for open-age and masters-age categories. She was the USAPL National Bench Press Champion for the M1 52kg in 2019, won a silver medal for the M1 52kg at the USAPL National Powerlifting Championship in 2019, won a place on the U.S. national powerlifting team for the 2020 Bench Press World Championship (which was sadly cancelled due to covid-19). She is on the 2021 USAPL National team after winning a gold medal for the M1 47kg at the 2021 USAPL National Powerlifting Championship and gold for the M1 52kg at the 2021 USAPL National Bench Press Championship. She is also the 2021 USAPL open-age National Military Champion from any weight class.

Read Noelle’s Story

Dr. Jim Winship (MSW, Ph.D.) (he/him)

Vice President of the Board of Directors

Jim is a longtime social work educator whose experience in El Salvador spans five decades, from the two years he spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1970-72) to a six-months as a Fulbright Scholar in a Salvadoran university to his ongoing involvement in research on migration, including the 2014 publication of the book Coming of Age in El Salvador. For the past decade-plus, he has worked both in the United States and in Colombia with individuals to construct their own digital stories, short personal stories that integrate narrative, photos/video, and music.

Mr. Ian Thiesenhusen (he/him)

Fundraising and Communications Intern

Ian is a Marquette University student pursuing Exercise Physiology degree with Communication Studies minor; additionally interested in culinary arts, music, theatre, tennis, and soccer. He is currently playing, working, and studying to gain knowledge and experience in all areas of interest and life. He describes himself as “excelling in hands-on learning situations, appreciative of all creative environments, and sure-footed on the pitch; an open, friendly, outgoing, and reliable person.”

With enthusiasm and resourcefulness, Ian successfully led our recent matching grant drive to build the new facility. He continues to develop our social outreach, including Corporate Sponsorships and Community Fundraising. His goals include creating a strong, honest public presence, and raising financial support and awareness for our organization.

Dr. Aoife Redmond-Durow (M.D.) (she/her)

Public Health Liaison

Aoife is a board certified family medicine physician. She was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. After graduating from University College Dublin she initially started her training in Ireland but then moved to the U.S.A where she completed her family medicine residency at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. She now lives and works in Maine. In addition to taking care of her patients she also has had the opportunity to teach medical students from Tufts medical school and recently became a medical student coach.

Health and wellness have always been a passion for Aoife from a young age. Moving from Ireland to the U.S.A. made her more aware of the role of culture in our health. That experience nurtured her interest in issues like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and the importance of understanding food choices and exercise. Working in a rural part of Maine has helped her recognize that at times resources may not be as ample as we would like, and she is deeply committed to finding ways for people to live their fullest lives. Aoife loves the outdoors and staying active. Depending on the season, she enjoys running, skiing, hiking, music.