The Center of Concern team represents a variety of disciplines, cultural backgrounds, and faith traditions, and this diversity of perspectives enhances its work. Members of the team take pride in one another and in providing excellent service in research, education, collaboration, and advocacy. Please click on the name of a team member below to jump to his or her detailed biography and contact information.
Lester A. Myers, Ph.D., J.D., CPA, CFF, CGMA - President
Ann O. Venton - Chief Operating Officer
Christine M. Hyland, CFRE - Director of Development
Education for Justice
Dianna M. Ortiz, O.S.U. - Editor, Education for Justice
Anna M. Misleh - Assistant Editor, Education for Justice
Jane M. Deren, Ph.D. - Senior Fellow, Education for Justice
Rethinking Bretton Woods Project
Richard J. Rowden - Director, Rethinking Bretton Woods Project
Les has focused on organizational integrity and responsibility, helping organizations promote principled leadership and ethical cultures; assess risks of fraud and misconduct; and design, implement, and evaluate ethics and compliance and other anti-fraud programs and controls to prevent, detect, and respond to such risks within the context of leading frameworks for organizational governance and internal control. His corporate citizenship services include stakeholder and public affairs matters involving sustainability, labor standards, consumer protection, financial integrity, and philanthropic engagement.
Les teaches business and leadership ethics, sustainability, law, Ignatian tradition, Catholic social thought, and forensic accounting in various appointments at Georgetown University in undergraduate, graduate, executive, and continuing professional education programs. He also led KPMG's Exempt Organization Tax Practice in Washington, D.C., and served as a director in the forensic practice in KPMG Advisory, focusing on fraud risk management and investigations. He serves on the boards of Center of Concern and Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité (CIDSE), and on the advisory board for the Georgetown University Law Center Corporate Counsel Institute. He is also a Caux Round Table Fellow.
Since joining the Center in 2010, Ann Venton has been responsible for facilities, human resources, financial, and database management, and general support of the organizational team. Prior to joining the Center, she spent over three decades in medical trade journal publishing, where she acquired a wide range of skills, including accounting, print media production, database management, and corporate governance. She is delighted to be able to draw on the full range of this experience in her work with the Center, as she continues to develop her leadership capabilities in the social profit sector.
Chris Hyland has raised millions of dollars for social service programs, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and arts groups. She has devoted her career to working on behalf of various social justice issues and with diverse communities. She has a personal commitment to working with the poor and marginalized. Chris was the first director of resource development for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and has consulted at Catholic Charities USA. She served as director of development and public relations for the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. As a consultant at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, she worked with national Vietnamese organizations as well as the Hmong National Development Board. Chris is a popular speaker, having presented workshops on grant writing, fundraising, and establishing a development office, major gift campaigns, media relations, social media, and trends in the philanthropic sector.
Education for Justice
Dianna Ortiz is a member of the Mount Saint Joseph Ursulines. She was an elementary school teacher in schools in Kentucky and later in Guatemala. She is the founder of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International in Washington, D.C. She also has worked with Guatemala Human Rights/USA and Pax Christi USA. Dianna is the author of The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth (with Patricia Davis, Orbis Books 2002). She was a recipient of the Ashoka Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurs and has also been recognized with honorary doctorates from the College of New Rochelle (NY), Carroll College (MT) and Springfield College (IL). Dianna has received numerous awards, including the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award in 2000, the M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers in 2008, and the 2012 Human Rights Hero award at the Program for Torture Victims.
Anna M. Misleh is the assistant editor of the award-winning Education for Justice (EFJ), a project of Center of Concern (Center). Anna performs editorial work for EFJ and has published resources for its global membership. She manages member relations, marketing, social media communications, financial reporting, and special projects. She also represents EFJ and the Center at conferences, collaborative meetings, and other gatherings for professional educators, civil society organizations, and other advocates for social justice.
Jane Deren serves as a senior fellow with Education for Justice, a project of Center of Concern. Previously she taught social justice at Georgetown Visitation High School in Washington, D.C. She is the author of best-selling Center of Concern workbooks Catholic Social Teaching and Human Rights and Celebrate Jubilee and Justice!, both of which have earned recognition as important catechetical resources by educators. Jane taught in Catholic schools in Philadelphia before she received her doctorate in 1977 from Temple University, where she also served as a faculty member. While working in Washington D.C.-based national social profit organizations during the 1980s, she developed a variety of national popular educational programs for adults. Before joining Center of Concern, Jane was with the University of Maryland, where she taught and directed a statewide graduate-level program for educators.
Rethinking Bretton Woods Project
Rick Rowden became the fourth director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project in September 2017. He has over 20 years of experience in academic, international civil society and social advocacy organizations, and United Nations agencies in the areas of international economics, global integration, foreign aid, and national economic development policies in developing countries.
Rick has extensive experience working on issues related to the global financial architecture and trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) policies, particularly their impact on the national economic development strategies of developing economies. He has also advocated for policy and governance reforms at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank; explored how macroeconomic policies impact health, education, and other national budget categories; supported rights-based approaches to development through civil society engagement in economic policies; and examined the nexus between human rights and international economic policy.
Rick is the author of The Deadly Ideas of Neoliberalism: How the IMF has Undermined Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS (London: Zed Books, 2009), which The Washington Post recommended as among five things to read to understand the role of the IMF in the 2014 Ebola outbreak. He has published articles in anthologies and The Lancet, Health and Human Rights, Human Geography, Review of African Political Economy, Global Social Policy, International Journal of Health Services and The Berkeley Journal of Sociology. He has also contributed regularly to popular publications such as Foreign Policy and The Guardian and writes for a new United Kingdom magazine on alternative economic ideas, The Mint.
More recently, Rick has been researching the role of emerging market economies in the global economy and specializing in the new field of South-South economic relations. He is completing his Ph.D. in economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, where his dissertation focuses on India-Africa economic relations and the developmental impact of India’s foreign aid, trade, and FDI in Africa.
Rick earned his B.A. and M.A. in international relations, both from San Francisco State University, and he lectured in global studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, and political science at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.