Fanny Smedile, President
Fanny Smedile was born in Columbe, Ecuador, where she studied Business Administration and worked for a hospital and a clinic that offered service to the poorest of the poor in the area. She also worked for a Justice Court and in the Riobamba-Ecuador Tourism Center. In 1988, she had the opportunity to come and live in New Jersey, where she herself felt what all immigrants feel in one moment or another when they leave behind what they have known all their lives and encounter language barriers, difficulties finding a job, working long hours, adapting to the new culture, and missing family and friends, among other things. Her main objective has always been to work for those in need and help provide them with social and health services.
Fanny was very active at Saint Mary Church in Pompton, NJ, where she worked to begin a Hispanic community and outreach. Different programs were established, such as a home for new immigrants, ESL classes, health clinics, and a Hispanic celebration to honor the many different Latino cultures. In 2000, Fanny and her family relocated to Lake Monticello, VA and almost immediately, she began involvement with the justice and charity programs offered through the church; first at Saint Thomas and then at Incarnation. She was one of the founders of Creciendo Juntos in Charlottesville. All of her work has had and continues to have, the purpose of bringing needed services to members of the Hispanic community.
Fanny works tirelessly to create a better place for Hispanic members of our community. As she always says when talking about her accomplishments, “This is not only my achievement, but the work that we have achieved in conjunction with great people and organizations that want to achieve the same objectives. Without them, I could have never succeeded.” There are no better words that summarize her work than what she herself says: “I’ve cried, I’ve rejoiced, and I’ve shared with the Hispanic community the joys and struggles of life. I will continue doing it as long as my God give me strength.
Clay Wilcher, Director of Finance
Clay is from Charlottesville Virginia went to Albemarle High School. After High school moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and took grant writing classes at University Nevada Las Vegas. He has a proven track record of 24 years of business management and sales background in various business ventures over the years.
He has been a Vice President in the banking industry for the last 12 years with HSBC North America Consumer Lending Division. In 2010, he worked in conjunction with his wife Malinda and Delegate Rob Bell to pass legislation, HB921, in the state of Virginia. It requires Social Services, Police Departments, and any other entity involved in child abuse cases to retain all information and records for twenty-five years.
Clay believes that unless you are an American Indian, we our all immigrants to this country through our ancestors. With proper education, we all could have a better understanding of the plight of the immigrant community and why they want to come to the United States of America.
Janie Eckman, Secretary
Janie Eckman has a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in Human Services Administration. She brings experience in family services, community organizing, and justice and charity work to Sin Barreras. Before her move to Charlottesville in 2003, Janie worked for the Family Services Division in Wilmington, Delaware as a Family Crisis Therapy supervisor in foster care and adoption.
Since 1991, she has taught English as a Second Language (ESOL) to immigrants, and since 2004 she has been volunteering as a family mentor for refugee families through the International Rescue Committee. In 2006 she became involved in IMPACT, an interfaith community organization that addresses the systemic causes of injustice, inequality and poverty in the Charlottesville area. A combination of these experiences influenced her decision to assist in providing direct services and advocacy for the region’s growing Hispanic population through Sin Barreras.
“All over the world, immigrants struggle against tremendous odds to provide for themselves and their families with dignity. It is a privilege and joy to be involved in Sin Barreras’s work to walk with them in love and humility, with the dedication and hard work of its members and generous volunteers.”
Sheila Herlihy, Director of Public Affairs
Sheila Herlihy is the Coordinator of Justice and Charity at the Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville. She was born and raised in Ohio, and has since traveled to various parts of the country and the world, learning about and participating in different cultures. Being fluent in Spanish has helped her work with immigrants in Philadelphia, Delaware, and now in Charlottesville. Participating in Sin Barreras has been a great experience for Sheila, who wants to help build a more inclusive community around her.
Edgar Lara, Director of Community Engagement
Edgar grew up in California’s central valley where he spent several summers as a migrant worker throughout California. Despite the challenges and obstacles faced having an undocumented single mother in a largely undocumented community it gave him the strong work ethic, family values, and sense of community and justice he carries in his work.
After high school, he joined the Marine Corps where he was exposed to many countries and cultures, including deployment to the Middle East. He received his B.S. in Business Economics from UCLA and worked in consulting and business finance for 10 years, during which he arrived to Charlottesville in 2012. The past few years in the US have seen a growth of hate, demonization of immigrants, and an all-out attack on our society’s most vulnerable communities which prompted him to step away from his career to dedicate more time to helping give our local Hispanic immigrant population a voice and supporting them through Sin Barreras.
“I’m proud of my roots and where I come from, but I’m as American as anyone. I’m doing what I can to make my country better. Supporting the immigrant community, regardless of status, is how I’m doing it because we’re all better off because of their sacrifices and contributions.”