Meet the Team


Vivian Valencia is the on-site program coordinator. Her role is to facilitate the logistics of the program in Córdoba and support the staff and students. When she's not running around Córdoba on a Casa errand, she's likely looking for spicy food. 

Vivian is from Turlock, California. She studied Political Science and Theology at LMU. While at LMU, she developed her commitment to restorative justice and juvenile justice issues. After graduation, she committed herself to restorative justice ministries, which fueled her passion for the law and legal reform. 

She went on to receive a law degree from the University of San Francisco and worked in criminal defense work and restorative justice via her ministry background. She's sharing her passions and using her experiences now in Argentina as the administrative coordinator and spiritual support for students and staff.


Michelle Almanza is returning as Community Coordinator for her third semester. Since her experience as a student with CASA de la Mateada in cohort 2, she has been dedicated to learn more and advocate for social justice issues.

Michelle is from San Juan Capistrano, California and is an alumna of LMU, class of 2016, where she studied Psychology and Spanish. While at LMU, Michelle advocated for CASA as a peer advisor for the Study Abroad office, and also served as part of the support group at LMU for CASA students.

In Córdoba, Michelle enjoys picnics at the park, day trips to the Sierras, and teaching Zumba.

Abbey King is the incoming Community Coordinator for the 2017-2018 academic year.

She is from Denver, Colorado, where she also attended Regis University and graduated with degrees in Peace and Justice Studies and History in 2016. While at Regis, Abbey was the Student Director of the Center for Service Learning, serving as the main coordinator for several community-based learning and volunteer opportunities.

Abbey was part of the second CASA de la Mateada cohort and also studied abroad in Bologna, Italy. As a CASA student, she learned to embrace the openness and vulnerability that is required when living in community and looks forward to sharing that experience with new CASA students.

She is excited to reenter life in Córdoba, energized by all of the chaos and beauty of which it is comprised.

  Martin A. Maldonado is Assistant Researcher at the Argentine National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET). He has a Ph.D. in Political Science (University of Florida) and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy Analysis. His work encompasses the theories of poverty, different approaches to social and economic inequality and the making and implementation of social policies. He is currently focusing on the mechanisms that produce and reproduce marginality among the Argentine youth.  Martin has taught at the graduate and postgraduate levels in Argentina, México and the USA and currently teaches in the “Poverty: A Global, Comparative Perspective” in the Casa program. 
 ‌ Diego Fonti is Professor of Philosophy and Vice-Rector (Academic Vice-President) at the Universidad Católica de Córdoba. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Universität Freiburg in 2009 and has published work on the philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Franz Rosenzweig. His recent research has focused on “Human Rights, Freedom and Liberation in Latin America.” In the Casa program, he teaches “Philosophy from the Periphery,” an examination of the role of Liberation Philosophy in contemporary Latin America and the world. During the coming year, he will teach (with Douglas Christie) a new course, “The Practice of Everyday Life.”

Ariel Ingas holds an advanced degree in Spanish Instruction from Universidad Nacional de Córdoba and is a certified English language instructor and Public Translator. He has authored a book of short stories, El Convite (Córdoba: Ediciones del Boulevard) and has contributed to the magazine La Central. In the Casa program, he teaches thecourse "Argentina: Language, Literature and Culture" for advanced Spanish students. He has worked with international students for the last ten years and enjoys introducing them to the Argentinian culture and lifestyle. Focusing mainly on Argentinian Literature, he loves making students travel through the different artistic languages that have contributed to the development of Latin American culture: cinema, music, literary language. His lessons may begin with a mate and finish with a poem; you never know. . .