Charlotte Keniston, Director
Charlotte came to Baltimore in 2011 to participate in Peaceworker and pursue an MFA in Intermedia and Digital Arts at UMBC, where she completed a thesis on the intersection of art, food systems, and social justice. She remained in Baltimore as an Open Society Institute Fellow and later ran community food programs at Paul’s Place, a non-profit in Southwest Baltimore. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Charlotte served in San Sebastián Huehuetenango, Guatemala from 2008-2010, helping to form women’s groups organized around gender equity and rural community development. Charlotte has taught classes at UMBC in Food Systems, Photography, and Public Art in the Visual Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies programs. Currently, Ms. Keniston is a doctoral candidate in the program of Language, Literacy, and Culture, studying participatory visual research methods and social change. Charlotte helps to organize the UMBC campus Digital Storytelling initiatives and is active in the International Digital Storytelling community. She lives in NW Baltimore County with her partner and their two children, cat, and 5 lively hens.
Joby Taylor, Associate Vice Provost and Advisor to Peaceworker
Joby came to Baltimore as a Peaceworker Fellow himself in 1999 and liked the program and the city so much that he has proudly stayed on, becoming program director in 2003. In 2023 Joby transitioned to co-leadership of The Shriver Center; he remains a close advisor to the Peaceworker program and mentor to Peaceworker fellows.
Joby was born and raised in Miami, Oklahoma, a small town that is also home to eight Native American nations. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gabon, Africa (91-93) helping build an elementary school in the village of Seka Seka, and, as all RPCVs soon find, he learned much more than he gave along the way. Joby’s involvement in service and service-learning has included other construction projects in the U.S. and the Caribbean, but also much work with youth, particularly at-risk and special needs youth. Academically Joby received his BA in Philosophy, an MA in Religious Studies, and completed his Ph.D. in the Interdisciplinary Language Literacy and Culture program. His dissertation is titled: Metaphors We Serve By: Critical and Constructive Play with the Discourses on Service. Joby lives in Baltimore City with his wife Beth and their two girls, Isabel and Katherine.
Valerie Pasión, Peaceworker Program Coordinator
Valerie was born and raised in Baltimore, where she continues to live today. She served as an environmental conservation volunteer in Peace Corps Paraguay (2018-2020)where she worked with farmers, students, and the Municipality of Isla Pucu. Upon returning to the U.S. she served as an Americorps volunteer in the Maryland Conservation Corps (2020-2021).
Valerie first joined the UMBC community as a Peaceworker Fellow in 2021, where she pursued graduate studies relating to Indigenous and Afro-descendant land rights as human rights, particularly as they are complicated by overlapping environmental crises. Her masters thesis is titled Beyond Formalization: Legal Empowerment Strategies for Strengthening Indigenous and Afro-descendant Land Tenure in Ecuador. Currently, Valerie is continuing as a doctoral student in the Geography & Environmental Systems department to expand her masters thesis to include spatial analyses, the role of folkcommunication, and artistic expression as components of understanding land relations.
B.A. Sociology, Towson University 2017
B.A. Spanish, Towson University 2017
M.S. Geography & Environmental Systems, UMBC 2023