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Hi, I'mKelly Merchán

Communicator, advocate & mountain lover

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Hi, I’m Kelly! I consider myself many things — a lover of mountains and coffee, communicator, writer, wife, traveler, Marylander and a human who wants to contribute to the betterment of the world. In everything I do, I bring together my passions for community building, conflict resolution and communication (and positivity) to tell stories and develop programs that make the world a more equitable place. 

Here’s my story. 

Recognizing that conflict is inevitable in our world and that it can be a powerful force for good, I pursued a master's in international peace and conflict resolution from American University’s School of International Service. At AU I specialized in community-based reconciliation and localized peace, focusing on resource-based conflicts and social movements in Latin America. During this time I also worked as a victim advocate at a center for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Here I was exposed to incredible resilience and bravery that I will never forget. Originally trained as an anthropologist at Towson University, I frequently draw on lessons learned about social justice, structural inequalities and the role that history, economy and politics impact our daily life. 

As a twenty-something gal seeking a life of adventure, love and an opportunity to explore the unknown, I took a leap of faith and moved to Cuenca, Ecuador without much of a plan. Just two days after graduating with my masters I was on a one-way flight. I quickly became Ecuador’s biggest fan, mesmerized by its “four worlds,” multiculturalism, food and ways of living. My original “Wonder My Way" blog launched in 2015 became a special space for me to document my experiences and travels during this period of my life. 

By day, I found myself working for a local nonprofit where I co-founded, designed and managed the first capacity building program for nonprofits in Ecuador and launched a nonprofit network where 50+ grassroots leaders could unite to talk about personal and professional challenges in the nonprofit world. These lessons have stuck with me for life, bringing tangible experience in grassroots initiatives, solidarity, cross-cultural communication, program management and perseverance. 

On nights and weekends, I found myself in many worlds and subcultures — breaking into Ecuador’s modeling industry, traveling the country on our Royal Enfield motorcycle, climbing new heights on mountain adventures and trail races, finding sisterhood with Ecuadorian women and other immigrants from around the globe, building bonds with my new family in Ecuador, dancing the night away at small discotecas. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? Ready for our new chapter as husband and wife, Eduardo and I embarked on our next chapter in the U.S. Our path brought us to Ithaca, New York where we both work at Cornell University. As a communications specialist at Cornell’s Department of Global Development, I highlight the department’s impactful work at home and abroad through storytelling, web copy, social media and internal communications. 

As always, I find joy in exploring the outdoors, hiking/trail running, drinking coffee, traveling and learning something new every day.