| A Letter from WOLA Executive Director Matt Clausen

WOLA is Readier than Ever to Confront the Challenges Ahead


Dear friends, allies, and fellow members of the WOLA community,

With 2017 before us, I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to serving as the executive director of one of the most committed and courageous research and advocacy organizations in the Americas that advances human rights and social justice. I am honored to have the opportunity to guide the organization forward in the coming months and years.

This is a critical time for human rights advocacy in the Americas. More than ever, we need to be ready for anything. With the new administration taking office on January 20, there is much uncertainty about the direction of U.S. foreign policy. From migrant rights to U.S.-Cuba policy to anti-corruption initiatives in Central America, many of the causes that WOLA champions are under threat.

One thing, however, is certain: WOLA is more energized and better prepared than ever to confront the challenges that lie ahead. As we work to advance human rights and social justice in this hemisphere, to promote a lasting peace in Colombia or to defend the rights of Central American migrants fleeing violence, I am confident for a number of reasons that we are in a position of strength. Here are some great examples:

Institutional Strength
I’m pleased to announce that WOLA has been selected by the Ford Foundation to receive a BUILD grant, which is a major multi-year investment in WOLA’s institutional capacity. This selective grant is a testament to WOLA’s critical role and effectiveness. This will bolster the work of WOLA’s staff, who are leading experts in their fields.

Dynamic New Website
WOLA has developed a new, mobile-optimized website designed to improve integration with 21st century social media and communicate our work to our community of partners, journalists, and policymakers across the Americas.

Powerful Storytelling
WOLA continues to find compelling ways to humanize the issues we fight for. We recently released a series of videos interviewing Central American migrant children who attempted to escape violence and personal threats, and who were deported to their home countries.

WOLA Documentary
Noted Mexican director and actor Diego Luna, who is on our board of directors and most recently had a leading role in Star Wars, produced a short film about WOLA’s history and our 40 years of effective advocacy. This WOLA film feels particularly relevant in this troubled time, as we all examine what it means to make a difference and to keep fighting for human rights over the long haul.

I am sure that 2017 will bring its share of hardship and setbacks, but I also know that WOLA is readier than ever. WOLA will continue to use its strength to ensure that justice and human dignity prevail.

Matthew Clausen avatar

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Video Testimonies:

To raise awareness, especially in Mexico, about the vulnerability of Central American migrants and the threats that they are fleeing, WOLA has released a series of videos featuring Central American youth who escaped north. The young women describe the dangers they left behind, the risks of traveling through Mexico, the crimes they were victims of in Mexico, and their experiences being deported from Mexico.