Dr. Cecilia M. Cardesa
Senior Advisor, Special Projects
Dr. Cardesa is a trauma-informed expert who joined the WCI team as Senior Advisor, Special Projects in 2019, weaving both her academic scholarship and personal experiences into program development and management. In her role as Senior Advisor, Special Projects, Ceci is responsible for spearheading WCI’s organizational growth, including opportunities for the expansion of international and domestic programs through a trauma-informed lens. Dr. Cardesa is also the Founder and CEO of TraumaVenture, a Trauma-Informed Management Consulting firm based in Philadelphia providing subject matter expertise on the role of trauma in civil society – individuals, organizations and communities.
From June 2017 to July 2019, Ceci led a national conversation on trauma-informed lawyering as Executive Director of Military Assistance Project. She served as the CEO for Dress for Success Worldwide, as the Executive Director of Voices without Borders, Inc., and spearheaded the change management of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Whether working with Catholic nuns and women religious in sub-Saharan Africa or social impact organizations here at home, Ceci uniquely bridges her international experience into the strategic alignment and direction of local organizations through her profound commitment to public interest law and the social impact sector. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her commitment to community development, and has served on local, national and international boards. Most recently, she received the 2016 VERA MOMENTUM Award based on her work with start-ups in El Salvador through Business Council for Peace (BPeace). Ceci also has served as Delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and Hong Kong’s Social Enterprise Summit.
Ceci studied Political Science at Villanova University, where her undergraduate thesis focused on the impact of globalization in international non-governmental organizations and the role of the Internet in human rights. As a graduate student focusing on Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Ceci was moved by the architectural use of space memorializing memory after a visit to the Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. The thesis for her master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania was on the Role of Storytelling in Social Value Creation. Ceci’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania looked into Situating Traumatic Memory in Social Value Creation. While in graduate school, Ceci served as planning committee member for the 2013 Wharton Social Impact Conference. She serves as Guest Lecturer and Start-Up Judge at the St. Joseph’s University Haub School of Business Veterans Jumpstart Program.
Born and raised in Argentina during its Dirty War, Ceci was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress in 1999. She is a mental health advocate.