Meet the team: Paula Gomez Stordy

Where are you from?

I am from more than one place. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Chilean parents and have lived in various cities and towns in Massachusetts and Chile throughout my life. I feel fortunate to have discovered different places and connected with diverse people.

Where do you feel most at home?

Hearing Chilean and Boston accents make me feel at home. During the sobremesa in Chile, the time after dinner when everyone remains at the table to talk and connect, I feel at home. The Chilean accent and phrases feel familiar and comforting. I don’t mind hearing the same story numerous times, because it brings my family joy to tell them, laugh, and connect. Similarly, when I arrive to Boston after being away, I hear the Boston accent and it feels endearing. I hear the subtle variations of the Boston accent representing different areas of and outside Boston. The accent is complex and more than the dropping of the letter “r” as portrayed in movies. I enjoy hearing the inter-generational various of the accent.

What inspires you, professionally and personally?

Professionally and personally, I am inspired by the strength individuals have to grow, transform, and achieve the things that once seemed impossible.

What are your areas of expertise or what areas are particularly interesting to you?

For the past twenty-four years, I have worked with survivors of abuse within various settings including: courts, hospitals, community and shelter. My advocacy has led to institutional change to increase the inclusion and safety of survivors. My areas of expertise include: program startup and development, management, leadership development, strategic planning, fundraising, public speaking and training.

I had the privilege of serving on Esperanza United’s public policy committee years ago and continue to be interested in policy. I have such respect for all the staff at Esperanza United and am interested in the work they do to ensure culturally specific and trauma-informed work in areas of research, advocacy, training, technical assistance, direct service and community engagement.

Share one thing you have learned, big or small, doing your work.

This year, I have had the opportunity to witness the growth of many individuals who attributed their transformation to the support of their networks. This has crystalized for me the power of relationship, connection, community, and social capital.

Who inspires you?

There is not one person who inspires me but many individuals. Daily, I’m inspired by the positivity, hope, and vision of people who thrive despite difficulties they face.

What do you do to relax, de-stress or recharge your batteries?

Spending time with my family and laughing with friends make me happy. However, in order to really recharge my batteries, I need to go back to basics and sleep eight hours, eat three meals a day, hydrate and stretch before bed.

Why have you chosen to do this kind of work?

I chose to do this work to contribute to social justice and human rights. I am grateful to have witnessed societal and institutional change to improve the safety, dignity, and health of our community. The leadership of survivors, advocates, and community has led this transformation that inspires me to continue to do this work. 

What is your favorite food?

Seafood from the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean! Some of my favorite dishes include: Chile’s chupe de mariscos, machas a la parmesana, and almejas al pin pin. I love Boston’s clam chowder, lobster, broiled scallops, and fried clams from Kelly’s Roast Beef. I also love sushi, particularly, sea urchin and fish roe nigiri, salmon sashimi, and handrolls.

What is your favorite book?

Isabel Allende’s La Casa de los Espiritus