Due to the upheavals related to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, both large and small organizations have experienced periods of great change in the past two years. At The Lay Centre, some of these changes are part of a gradual move into a new phase of its history. The past year has marked some new developments among our staff and we would like to acknowledge and thank deeply all those who dedicated years of their personal and professional lives to our mission.
First and foremost, The Lay Centre’s co-founder, Riekie van Velzen, officially retired from her position as administrator in 2021. Together with Donna Orsuto, who remains The Lay Centre director, Riekie started The Lay Centre in 1986 and has accompanied it every step of the way. She continues to contribute to the mission as a consultant and as a board member.
Another hallmark in our history was the retirement of Heather M. Walker (pictured) in June 2022. She dedicated 15 fruitful years to The Lay Centre, showing particular care for interreligious dialogue and the promotion of Christian unity. Heather worked in different roles at The Lay Centre and, in the last few years, was assistant director for programs and communications. She left a significant legacy, having built strong friendships with others in Rome and abroad.
We are proud to say that working at The Lay Centre opened important doors for some of our collaborators. Clarissa Amaral de Oliveira, who was assistant director of finances and worked with us since 2016, left our team in March 2022, shifting into the investment sector in Luxembourg. In September 2022, Isaias Marcano, a Lay Centre alumnus who studied social sciences and served as our community life coordinator for about a year, took on the role of assistant rector at a university in Rome.
We wish to express our deep gratitude to all who crossed our path and enriched our lives with their presence and their talents.
Currently, alongside Donna Orsuto in the senior staff, Filipe Domingues serves as deputy director and Christiaan Santini as operations manager. In September, Lay Centre alumna Claudia Giampietro joined our staff as programs coordinator. The Lay Centre will soon fill the positions of financial consultant and community life coordinator with new professionals.
We are also extremely grateful to those who offer catering, cleaning and external consulting services for our organization.
Photo: Isaias Marcano, former Community Life Coordinator, and Heather Walker, former Assistant Director for Programs and Communications