By Tracey Peterson
December 10, 2018
Not even a few minutes into my Skype interview with our new VOSH/International Executive Director Maria Arce- Moreira and it is hard to not be captivated by her personality, intelligence and charm. Maria’s sense of positivity and passion yet remaining ever so humble are part of what makes her shine with strong character.
So many may ask who is this Maria Arce Moreira, the VOSH/International new Executive Director?
International presence is nothing new for Maria. Born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, she later spent some years working in Kenya, the Netherlands, and currently resides in the United Kingdom. With over 20 years of building a professional career in the non- profit or NGO world, progressively focusing on advocacy, policy, and management, fundraising and governance, Maria comes to VOSH/International bringing experience and knowledge. Growing up Maria always valued the importance of education so it comes as no surprise when we learn Maria is fluent in 5 languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, and Dutch. Being able to communicate in multiple languages has allowed her to develop collaboration skills and learn the issues that unite us across the world. Her past has led her to work in several global networks dealing with different thematic areas like gender and integrated water resource management, rural transport, environment, human settlements, and associations of optometrists including the World Council of Optometry.
After spending years traveling with her work, in 2014 Maria decided to bring more flexibility to her life and became a consultant. This enabled her to bring more international experience to the local context. Proudly she supports a couple of non-profits; one working on mental health issues among children and young people and another supporting independent living among the elderly. She also is a Trustee for an International NGO called Sense International that works for people with deaf blindness and their families through training, skills development and advocacy and advocacy for a local non-profit for the elderly.
Maria first learned about VOSH/International when she was working for the World Council of Optometry (WCO). Since VOSH is an affiliate member she had a couple of opportunities working with VOSH in support of advocating the profession in Mexico and Brazil. Later on she met former VOSH/International President David McPhillips in Columbia during the 1st World Congress of Optometry. She was struck by the sincerity of his and VOSH efforts to collaborate with others. Keeping her interest in the global eye health sector alive after leaving WCO she decided to apply to one of the VOSH?International committees and attended the 2017 annual meeting in Chicago. Once again impressed by the level of commitment and interaction with its VOSH Corps committee, Maria decided to apply for the position of Executive Director.
Distinctively we can see Maria has a clear vision of VOSH/International. Next year she has plans to join one of the VOSH mission trips as her first direct experience to better help understand the work and impact done.
A thank you is extended to Maria for accepting this new role as Executive Director. We are all excited to see her passion continue as we welcome her to her new role and see the vision steer forward ahead within the VOSH organization.
“I am honored to join VOSH/International. I am reassured to know that all its committees and chapters are united in purpose and there is always a willingness to do the work that is needed. I am certain VOSH/International can be an international reference point and inform others from its significant field experience.”
So what’s in store during the years ahead for VOSH and its 84 chapters globally as Maria becomes Executive Director of VOSH/International?
Here are a few objectives Maria shared that are most important to her:
- Consolidate the existing good work and operating structures. (It is a pleasure to know that the committees are active and responsive)
- Develop a new strategy that supports our ambitions, is well connected to and informed by current international debates of the sector, strengthens mutually beneficial partnerships and facilitates connections among all VOSH chapters (national and international) to share more knowledge and expertise
- Grow the VOSH/International profile as a global organization profiling our contribution to several aspects of the global eye health care debate. Retain significant presence at annual meeting