The Corner Institute: Malinalco team


About us







Administrative team:

Director: Ellen Calmus
Ellen is a writer and photographer who has taught children and adults in Mexico, the U.S. and El Salvador, from pre-school art and drama classes to adult literacy to university courses in international relations. The Corner Institute grew out of the children's educational resource center she started in 1998, when she came to Malinalco in search of a quiet place to write. She graduated from Harvard University with high honors in visual studies and received a public policy masters from Princeton University.

In 2008 Mexico's First Lady awarded Ellen Mexico's Quetzalcóatl medal for her work with migrants' families and children.


Assistant Director: Anabel Perez Cortes
Anabel's first encounter with the Corner Institute was when she knocked on Ellen's gate in Barrio San Juan to administer a Mexican National 2010 Census questionnaire. In the course of interviewing Ellen (and receiving in turn a barrage of questions about what she'd learned so far about the demographics of our region) Anabel revealed that she combined college-level studies in accounting with a love of math and concern for her community. Anabel joined our team as the Corner Institute's accountant, demonstrating herself to be such a whirlwind of cheerful energy and efficiency that she soon became our office administrator. In 2014 she began assisting with our crisis support for migrants' families, our most-sought vital service, which Anabel now coordinates.

Ana Lilia

Production coordinator: Ana Lilia Lopez Martinez
In 2007, when twelve-year-old Ana Lilia participated in El Rincón’s first summer program for migrants’ children, which included a woodcarving class taught by Malinalco’s most distiguished sculptors, back when it was almost unheard-of for women to carve, our teachers awarded her top prize in woodcarving. During high school summers she returned to help teach the younger students, then joined our team full-time in 2012. Since then, Ana Lilia has gone from being a top-notch artisan to serving as a skilled trainer in our emergency job-creation program for women whose migrant husbands have died or disappeared, meanwhile helping to systematize our inventory and wowing us all with her skills installing and managing computers and other equipment.


Coordinator of Migrants' Family Services:
Esmeralda Sotelo

The Texas-born daughter of a Malinalco migrant, Esme contacted the Corner Institute to volunteer her skills as a licensed social worker to help us provide urgently-needed services to migrants’ families here in her mother’s hometown. Her love for this beautiful mountain town’s community in combination with Esme’s professional training and native English skills make her ideally well-prepared both for understanding the complex situations behind the crises local migrants’ families face, and for contacting U.S. agencies on their behalf. Esme’s first day on the job included making call after call to Texas detention centers until she successfully located a missing Malinalco migrant – no mean feat in these times of chaos along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Creative Arts Team and Associates:

Coordinator of Visual Arts and Design:
Edgar Monroy Rodriguez

Gary, as all of Malinalco calls him, began carving as a seven-year-old shepherd, developing this skill into an art in the tradition of the ancient Aztec stone-carvers whose work can be seen in Malinalco's historic sites. Gary's larger pieces grace many local churches and his work has been exhibited internationally. This area's Aztec heritage means that there are many woodcarvers in the Malinalco area, but Gary's gift for inspiring young people's interest in woodcarving and his delight in sharing his skills with others has made him a figure of unparalleled affection and respect for the generations of young woodcarvers who have learned their art from him. We feel very fortunate that Gary has joined our team.


Editorial Coordinator: Laura Pérez Madrigal
A librarian and promising young writer, Laura first participated in the Corner Institute when we invited her to write for a little magazine about Malinalco's Day of the Dead traditions. Since then she has assumed increasing responsibilities in Corner Institute activities, and in 2005 her skilled editing and organizing earned her the position of editorial coordinator of Corner Project publications. She began by editing a collection of local ghost stories, organizing a Day of the Dead evening of story-telling which she recorded and edited into a book. Now she is working on a book of local memories from Mexico's revolution -- and, as you can see, Laura is aso our model for our fashion exports.


Community organizer: Ruth Sanchez
In the summer of 2006 Ruth joined the Corner Institute's Malinalco Migrants' Eagles workshop as an apprentice woodcarver -- showing some spirit beneath her quiet demeanor, for proposing to learn such a traditionally male-dominated skill. She earned the respect of all participants, and helped teach the younger apprentices. Her proven talent for crafts plus her ability to see projects through led to an invitation to coordinate production for our new artisanal publications. Ruth put herself through college while working with El Rincon, earning a BA in agronomy at a local extension of the University of the State of Mexico. Ruth helped organize our first peacebuilding projects, and is now helping us organize a women's community savings association.

Artisan associates:

Jaime Flores Colin
One of Malinalco's most skilled woodcarvers, Jaime's prize-winning sculptures have been exhibited nationally. He gained proficiency in the art of woodcarving after studying with team member Gary Monroy, devoting himself to the skill with particular energy after returning from a year working in the U.S. Jaime teaches in the Corner Institute's summer program for migrants' children and is one of the woodcarvers who produce our beautiful export jewelry and hand-carved desk frames.

Malinalco team
maguey logo Woodcarvers of Malinalco

¡Join the team!