Dr. Cecilia M. Cardesa

I build Trauma-Informed ecosystems.

Dr. Cecilia M. Cardesa-Lusardi

Dr. Cecilia M. Cardesa

Dr. Cecilia M. Cardesa is the Founder and CEO of TraumaVenture. Cecilia serves as Senior Advisor, Special Projects for Women’s Campaign International where she builds trauma-informed programing to empower women and girls around the world, and also serves as Executive Director of Military Assistance Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing free, trauma-informed legal services to active duty, reserve personnel, veterans, and their spouses in the form of pro bono consumer and veterans administrative law services. 

Whether working with Catholic nuns and women religious in sub-Saharan Africa or social impact organizations here at home, Cecilia 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.

In 2011, Dress for Success Worldwide hired Cecilia to create and execute the strategic turn-around management of its local Philadelphia affiliate along with creating a sustainable growth strategy, sound financial forecasting and organizational positioning. Prior to serving as CEO of Dress for Success Philadelphia, she spearheaded the change management and holistic turn-around of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as a senior member of leadership team at its U.S. Headquarters. Before that, Cecilia served as the Executive Director of Voices without Borders, Inc. Dr. Cardesa began her career working for an affiliate of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).

She has served as Delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and Hong Kong’s Social Enterprise Summit. Dr. Cardesa has received numerous awards and recognition for her commitment to community development, and has served on numerous local, regional and national 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).

Education & Research

Dr. Cardesa studied Political Science at Villanova University. Her undergraduate thesis focused on the impact of globalization in international non-governmental organizations: role of the Internet in human rights. As a graduate student on Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Cecilia 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.

Cecilia’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania looked into Situating Traumatic Memory in Social Value Creation: The Trauma-Entrepreneurship Convergence. While in graduate school, Cecilia served as planning committee member for the 2013 Wharton Social Impact Conference.

Cecilia was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1999. She is a Secular Franciscan and Reiki Master Practitioner.