Casa San José, a Brookline-based community resource center that advocates for and empowers Latinos, has announced the expansion of its leadership staff, effective July 1, 2017.
Sister Janice Vanderneck will assume the new position of Director of Civic Engagement. Mr. Julián Alonso González Asenjo will assume the position of Executive Director. Mr Asenjo, who has served as both a board member and service coordinator at Casa San José, succeeds Sister Janice Vanderneck, who, along with the Sisters of St. Joseph, established the outreach center in 2013 to address the significant and critical needs of the growing Latino immigrant population in Western Pennsylvania.
“The staff expansion and reorganization reflects the increasing need for outreach to our Latino neighbors, many of whom are living in a climate of uncertainty and unpredictability,” said Ms. Jackie Abel-Stavropoulos, chairperson of the Casa San José Board of Directors.
“Casa San José is blessed to have compassionate leaders and passionate advocates – in both Mr. Asenjo and Sister Janice – who continue to move the organization forward. We are very excited about these changes. Sr. Janice’s new position will enable us to even better address the needs of the Latino community.”
Mr. Asenjo helped in the crafting of the mission and vision of Casa San José as a board member and has worked as a service coordinator since this past fall. He is well versed in the day-to-day operations as well as bringing a wide range of connections with other possible collaborative partners.
“Working on a daily basis with our constituents provides an entirely new perspective on the needs and obstacles that these members of our community face,” he said.
Mr. Asenjo has more than 30 years of experience in international education and advising at the University of Pittsburgh. To Casa San José, he brings a rich cross-cultural perspective through his domestic and international work at Pitt, travel to more than 40 countries, and residence experiences in Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Portugal. Mr. Asenjo has an M.A. in journalism and communications from Point Park University and a B.A. in Ibero-American studies from the University of Wisconsin.
Inspired by her Congregation’s mission to serve neighbors in need, Sister Janice developed the blueprint for Casa San José, tapping into her deep spirituality “to proclaim justice to the downtrodden, and to welcome the stranger in our midst.”
With a handful of volunteers, Sister Janice planted the seed for Casa San José, which promotes integration and self-sufficiency among Latinos. It provides connections to resources on housing, health, education, employment, legal assistance, and family matters. Casa San José also serves as a public voice for immigrant rights and immigration reform.
Since its founding as an independent non-profit in 2013, Casa San José has served more than 2,100 clients, established programs for up to 120 youth, and enlisted 65 volunteers. The staff, some of whom are funded by grants, includes five full-time and three part-time employees.
The center is located at the lower level of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, but is looking for a larger space to accommodate its increasing outreach to a growing Latino population.