Susan Weissert

COUNTRY: Peru and United States
FOCUS: Advocacy, Education and Healthcare

Lima, Peru: Education Team member, Asociación Kallpa.
Maryknoll, NY: Coordinator, Maryknoll AIDS Task Force

PROJECT GOAL(S): Provide resources and support to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Maryknoll Sisters and Maryknoll Priests and Brothers working in direct AIDS ministries worldwide, as well as HIV/AIDS advocacy work with parish and community groups in the U.S.

In 1987 she joined MKLM (Larry had been a lay missioner since 1980), and that year their daughter Micaela was born. Susan worked in Peru through 1993, focusing on women’s groups, community organizing and health education. In 1993 they returned to the U.S., where Susan assumed organizational responsibilities.

Susan served as the Coordinator of the Maryknoll AIDS Task Force (MATF). The MATF was a collaborative effort between the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Maryknoll Sisters and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. It was established in 1993 and housed in Ossining, N.Y., where the three Maryknoll entities have their centers, and was part of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns. Susan served as the Coordinator since 1996 until 2009.

While Maryknoll has had missioners working in HIV/AIDS since the early 1980’s, the MATF was formed in response to the AIDS epidemic affecting the people served by Maryknoll around the world. It focused on providing culturally appropriate AIDS educational material, integrating it with regional and local reflection on human sexuality. In addition the AIDS Task Force Office at Maryknoll housed an AIDS resource center. MATF also collaborated with U.S. and international AIDS networks and promoted regional cooperation among churches, government and professional networks.

Susan regularly visited and monitored the progress of AIDS in the 14 countries where Maryknoll missioners work with HIV/AIDS. She worked very closely with organizations at the United Nations and was a frequent speaker on global AIDS. Susan was a frequent presenter at the National Catholic AIDS Ministry Conference. The MATF also worked closely with the Center on Corporate Responsibility, which calls multinational corporations to accountability on HIV/AIDS and facilitates advocacy on the part of consumers and stockholders, particularly in terms of pharmaceutical companies and access to lifesaving medications.

Susan’s extensive experience in Latin America and her organizational expertise made her an exceptional coordinator for the Task Force.

After leaving Maryknoll, Susan worked from 2010 until 2015 with the Dominican Sisters Family Health Services, directing the Infant-Toddler Parents Program in the South Bronx. There she worked with immigrant families, providing early childhood development programs for children from birth to three years, as well as a comprehensive program for their mothers.

Susan has serves on the Board of the Hesperian Foundation (publishers of Where There Is No Doctor and other health resources) as well as the Advisory Board of EPES Chile, a grassroots health education program. She is available for local volunteer projects and is currently studying for certification as a medical interpreter.