2010 Fellows
National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 27 Years of Latina Leadership  

Advancing Latina Leaders in Nonprofits

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Areceli Campos

Los Angeles, CA
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Corporate Counsel

Araceli Campos is Corporate Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. She has a record of service and unique experience to her current role at MALDEF, having first worked at MALDEF in the Office of the President and General Counsel over ten years ago.

Araceli also clerked for the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Civil Rights Enforcement Section, focusing on civil rights public policy in California. She began her legal career with the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, where for several years she represented clients in intellectual property, media, and entertainment matters, and in several high profile government investigations. She also worked with the law firm Carlsmith Ball LLP, representing clients in both business litigation and transactions.

In other areas of service, she has provided attorney services pro bono to residents of Los Angeles, garnering firm recognition for her defense of a female genocide child asylum claimant for the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children. She is a long-time volunteer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation, an organization for supporting California’s agricultural communities. Since 2009, she has served as a Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women. Araceli Campos is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where she was a founder of the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, and of Yale University, where she graduated with distinction.

Karol Espejo

Rockville, MD
My Sister’s Place, Latino Outreach Coordinator

Karol Beatriz Espejo, is the Latino Outreach Coordinator for My Sister’s Place (MSP), the oldest and largest nonprofit agency exclusively serving battered women and their children in the District of Columbia. At MSP, Karol designs and conducts educational curricula and presentations on women’s rights, organizational processes for accessing services, and domestic violence prevention while also reaching out to the Latino community.

Prior to joining MSP, Karol, served as the Health Education Program Coordinator for the Capital Breast Care Center where she provided patient navigation and preventative health education to underserved women. Karol has also worked for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Montgomery County as the Latino Outreach Coordinator, where she designed and implemented education and outreach programs targeted at Latino families. In this capacity, she also became a state trainer for NAMI’s nationally recognized Family-to-Family educational program and conducted the state of Maryland’s first training in Spanish.

Karol is active within the community, serving on the steering committee for the Latino Alumni Network (LAN) at the University of Maryland. Karol is a proud member of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc., and currently serves as the Vice President for the Theta-Theta Graduate Professional Chapter. Karol received her Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health from the University of Maryland, College Park. She was born in Lima, Peru and currently resides in Rockville, Maryland.

Mareth Flores

Bellevue, WA
National Council of La Raza, Major Gifts Officer

Mareth Flores is the Major Gifts Officer for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) — the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. She has eight years of experience in fundraising with an emphasis on direct mail marketing, capital campaigns, and major gifts. In this capacity, Mareth had significant responsibility for a campaign that raised over $35 million for NCLR to purchase its headquarters building and establish an endowment fund. She also managed NCLR’s direct mail campaigns to over 3,000 donors, and now manages NCLR’s major individual donor fundraising efforts.

Additionally, Mareth works with and supports Gamma Alpha Omega (GAO) — a Latina sorority that she and four other women founded at her alma mater, Washington State University. GAO is an organization dedicated to promoting the achievement and quest of higher education amongst all women. GAO provides its members with leadership, scholarship, and community service opportunities.

Mareth was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and moved to Washington State in 1992. She is married to her best friend, Jayson Anthony Francis, and has a daughter Juliana Katherine Francis. Mareth received a Bachelor’s in Communications from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

Dulce Maria Gamboa

Washington, DC
Bread for the World, Special Assistant and Advisor to the Managing Director

Dulce Maria Gamboa, works at Bread for the World (Bread) as a Special Assistant and Advisor to the Managing Director. Bread is a Christian-advocacy organization based in Washington D.C. that urges Congress to eradicate hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad.

Prior to moving to the U.S., Dulce gained eight years of solid experience in policy analysis and election administration. She worked as a policy advisor in the Mexican Ministries of Finance and Health. She also conducted research and analyzed electoral surveys for the consulting firm Grupo de Economistas y Asociados. For three years, she worked as a senior advisor to the Commissioners at the Federal Election Commission where she played a key role in the organization of the 2006 Mexican presidential election. Specifically, she crafted campaign finance regulation that improved transparency and information access, as well as developed and implemented a system to monitor radio and TV spots during that presidential cycle.

Of Mexican origin, Dulce studied Political Science at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City, and earned her Master’s degree in Political Management from George Washington University. She volunteers as an ESL teacher at the St. Thomas Moore Church in Arlington, Virginia. Other interests of Dulce’s include cooking, reading, and traveling.

Astrid Garcia

North Hollywood, CA
NALEO Educational Fund, Redistricting and State Policy Manager

Astrid Garcia is the Redistricting and State Policy Manager for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO Educational Fund), the leading nonprofit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process. In her role at NALEO Educational Fund, Astrid works with state legislators and other civil rights groups to advance policies which support the civic engagement of the Latino community. She also conducts educational and community outreach on redistricting.

Prior to joining NALEO Educational Fund, Astrid worked for the district office of Congressman Xavier Becerra, where she was responsible for a vast policy portfolio in addition to building community relations. Astrid’s professional experience is in advocacy, nonprofit consulting and community and public relations. Her policy expertise is in redistricting, Latino politics, immigration, and sustainable communities.

In addition to her professional work, Astrid is an active volunteer with her community and serves as a mentor for Latina youth. Astrid is a former Fulbright Scholar in El Salvador and focused on the impact of emigration in El Salvador. She received a Master of Public Affairs and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations from Pomona College.

Julia Gonzales

Denver, CO
Reform Immigration for America (on Loan from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition), Colorado State Director

Julia Gonzales is currently the Colorado State Director for the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign, on loan from her work at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. In this role, she is building strategic statewide alliances including business, Latino, labor, civic engagement and agricultural sectors to support immigration reform.

As part of an emerging generation of dynamic young leaders, Julia has helped Colorado build strong and lasting coalitions around comprehensive immigration reform, educational justice, and workers’ rights. She is an experienced bilingual capacity-building trainer and facilitator. She has nearly a decade of community and youth organizing experience with organizations such as Padres y Jóvenes Unidos and Front Range Economic Strategy Center, and has spent the past five years building political power through organizing on social justice issues across the state. Julia is also a board member for the Colorado Latino Forum, which has been organized to increase the political, social, educational and economic strength of Latinos and Latinas, and was a founding board member of United We DREAM, the national link for organizations, communities and individuals to find ways to achieve passage of the Dream Act and immigration reform together.

Julia received her undergraduate degree in 2005 from Yale University. She was born on the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona, and grew up along the south Texas borderlands. Her family has deep roots in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico and she is proud to call Denver home.

Xiomara Mayra Guevara

West New York, NJ
Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs, Executive Director

Xiomara Mayra Guevara, is the Executive Director for the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs (MCOHA). In the past four years under her tenure, MCOHA has increased its budget and expanded programs, while also improving its prominence in the community and with funding sources.

Previously, Xiomara served as Center Director for La Casa de Don Pedro Preschool programs. She was successful in opening, organizing, and building both centers she managed into model classrooms for the city of Newark. Her passion for education stems from her time teaching middle school grades. She continued to use education to help the Latino community as adjunct professor for Fairleigh Dickinson University’s “Puerta al Futuro” program from 2003 to 2008 and was chosen by the Association of Latin American Students as Professor of the Year in 2007.

Xiomara was honored by the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research, and Development of NJ as Alumni of the Year 2007 of the Latino Leaders in Public Service Internship program. She also serves her community by serving on the Board of Directors for the Zufall Health Center, Saint Clares Hospital, Morris Arts Council, Hispanic Director’s Association of NJ, Homeless Solutions CHODA, and Family Development Center-Project 2015. She was recently appointed by the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders to serve on the Human Services Advisory Council.

Xiomara received her B.A. from Drew University where she majored in Political Science and Spanish. She completed her Master’s in Public Administration at NYU, the Robert Wagner School for Public Service as a Public Interest Scholar. Recently, she completed her second year of Law at Rutgers University-Newark. Xiomara believes her biggest gift and achievement is being the mother of her wonderful children, Emilio and Alyssa.

Carmen Iñiguez

Oakland, CA
Rockwood Leadership Institute, Program & Outreach Manager

Carmen Iñiguez is the Program & Outreach Manager of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, a nationally recognized leadership development organization where she oversees the Fellowship for California Leaders of Color. Previously, she worked with Californians for Justice as the Statewide Alliance Director for the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE), a statewide coalition of grassroots, civil rights, policy and research organizations to transform public education at the local, state and national level.

When she was 15 years old, Carmen began organizing against toxic pollution with the Labor Community Strategy Center (LCSC) in her hometown of Wilmington, CA — a low-income, predominantly monolingual Spanish-speaking community of color. Her passion for organizing for social and racial justice has led her to work and volunteer in a number of nonprofit organizations working on immigrant rights, education, and labor, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). Carmen enjoys working with, mentoring and learning from youth.

She received her B.A. in Communication Studies and Spanish Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently a graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco where she is pursuing a Master’s in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Community Mental Health and is also a certified life and professional coach. Carmen lives in Oakland with her partner and two cats. She enjoys travelling and all things en español.

Joyce Margaret Medina

Phoenix, AZ
Arizona Community Foundation, Junior Program Officer

Joyce Margaret Medina serves as the Junior Program Officer for Education at the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), where she works on the grant review and administration of a $20 million fund to support statewide systematic education reform. She also developed and administers the Youth in Philanthropy Initiative at ACF, which allows for youth, including low-income youth, to engage more in philanthropy.

Joyce is passionate about creating change in our education system through advocacy, smart reforms and innovation. In her free time she volunteers at an elementary school where she tutors a 2nd grader in reading — the most meaningful volunteer experience of her life. Joyce is also a member of the Latina Giving Circle, a fund of the Arizona Community Foundation, where she participates with Latinas interested in finding solutions to community issues.

Joyce was raised in and resides in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a graduate of Arizona State University where she earned a B.S. in Child Development and taught pre-school at Open Horizons Child Development Center. She went on to work for Golden Key International Honour Society providing leadership development and community service opportunities for college students across the U.S., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In 2005 she became a National Urban Fellow and attended Baruch College to earn a Master’s in Public Administration. As part of the Fellowship, Joyce was placed as a Special Assistant to the County Administrator in Broward County, Florida, where she worked on affordable housing, county elections, and county redevelopment projects. After graduation, Joyce returned to Arizona and most recently served as the Director of Development and Community Relations for Communities In Schools of Arizona, where she worked to provide under-resourced schools additional support for those living in poverty.

Diana S. Mendoza

Chicago, IL
Instituto del Progreso Latino, Program Director

Diana S. Mendoza serves as Program Director at Instituto del Progreso Latino where she oversees the development of various youth programs. She began her nonprofit work in her hometown of Chicago as a Program Coordinator with Vida/SIDA, an HIV prevention and education project. In this role, she created a health curriculum with a focus on the social, economic and cultural barriers that exist for Latinas within the health care system. Previously, Diana worked with the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. as the Director of the Latino Child Care Institute.

Diana began her career in 2004 as Public Policy Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She worked for U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, who was then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Diana also worked as a Policy Analyst with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and later joined The Ferguson Group, the largest representative of local governments.

Apart from her professional work, Diana has pursued her passion through her volunteer work. She was active as a citizenship instructor, an on-call volunteer with the local police domestic violence program, and served on the board of Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT), an after school program for emerging Latina leaders at the middle and high school levels.

Diana earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the City University of New York Bernard M. Baruch College and was awarded the Philip J. Rutledge Capstone Award for her thesis. Diana completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Legal Studies and Women Studies.

Beatriz Mieses-Hernandez

New York, NY
Dominican Women’s Development Center, Development Director

Beatriz Mieses-Hernandez, is the Development Director of the Dominican Women’s Development Center, a gender-based organization in Northern Manhattan. In the last two years, Beatriz has developed winning proposals bringing $3.7 million dollars in annual revenue and nearly doubling the organization’s operational budget.

Beatriz has dedicated her life to ending gender discrimination and supporting the Latino community. As an Intensive Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Case Manager for Safe Horizon, the largest crime victims’ assistance agency in New York City, Beatriz was a liaison between crime victims and community resources. She also coordinated successful advocacy campaigns and actively engaged hundreds of parents through the Columbia University Head Start.

Beatriz migrated to the United States in 1995 from the Dominican Republic. Her first job was as a factory worker in Newark, NJ where she worked for two years during the day while studying English and other courses at Essex County College at night. Beatriz married and moved to New York in 1997. She continued her studies at York College part of the City University of New York, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2003. She received several academic recognitions for her hard work, such as the National Honor Society in Psychology (Psi Chi) award, the Academic Achievement Award in Psychology, and the York College Honor Society for the Liberal Arts. Beatriz completed her Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affair in 2008.

Marisol Morales

Falls Church, VA
National Latina Health Network, Communications and Program Manager

Marisol Morales is the Communications and Program Manager for the National Latina Health Network (NLHN), an organization that addresses critical health concerns affecting Latinas. In this capacity, Marisol manages the organization’s outreach efforts as well as several high-profile health partnerships including the National Institute of Health’s The Heart Truth® campaign. She has developed and overseen several national public health programs for both government and corporate partners.

Beyond her professional achievements, Marisol’s commitment to helping others in the Latino community runs deep. She is an advisory board member to Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT), an after-school program in Arlington, Virginia that empowers Hispanas ages 11-18, many of which are the first in their family to aspire to attend college.

Marisol, born in Washington, D.C., is of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian heritage. She spent her formative years living in Puerto Rico. She returned to the Washington area to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from George Mason University, where she honed her creative abilities and developed her passion for video production. She began her career at a health communications company where she produced several public health education videos for Latinos.

Marisol currently resides in Falls Church, Virginia, with her husband, Christopher, and three-year-old Shih-Tzu, Rocky. She is an avid advocate for animals and travels to Puerto Rico to volunteer and increase awareness about animal cruelty and rescue.

Fanny Arroyo Oliveira

Los Angeles, CA
Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, Director of Programs and Operations

Fanny Arroyo Oliveira is Director of Programs and Operations for Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), a California nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to Latina leadership development, advocacy and education. Currently, Fanny provides strategic advice and special project management as part of the executive team. In her seven-year tenure at HOPE, Fanny has served various positions. For the past five years she has been responsible for managing and implementing the Youth Leadership through Literacy Program, a statewide youth leadership development program that serves approximately 300 high school Latinas per year.

In her capacity as Director of Operations, Fanny oversees human resources, all financial aspects of the organization, serves as Board liaison and manages strategic partnerships and marketing strategy including social media. Before joining HOPE, she implemented federal grants for both the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Florence Firestone Chamber of Commerce. Fanny recently completed a two-year term as officer for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, a body representing over 90,000 Los Angeles residents.

Fanny earned a Bachelor’s in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles and lives in Boyle Heights with her husband and two dogs.

Stephanie Ramirez

Los Angeles, CA
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (Naleo) Educational Fund, Deputy Director of Constituency Services

Stephanie Ramirez serves as a Deputy Director of Constituency Services for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. The NALEO Educational Fund is the leading nonprofit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. In her role, Stephanie leads the development and implementation of NALEO’s health programming, national and California-based health policy trainings and related programs, focusing her efforts specifically on promoting the governance and policymaking success of Latino elected and appointed officials.

Prior to joining the NALEO Educational Fund, she served as a research intern at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), where she contributed to SCAG’s annual State of the Region Report and Report Card. She also served as a research assistant at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, in Washington D.C., where she analyzed global and regional security trends, focusing on Latin America. Stephanie was active with the Southwest Voter Registration & Education Project, executing a successful voter registration campaign as Youth Vote Project Coordinator at East Los Angeles College during the 2008 Presidential elections.

A native of Los Angeles, Stephanie received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Riverside with a double major in Latin American Studies and Political Science-International Affairs.

Marcela Ramos

Austin, TX
Austin Children’s Museum, Gallery Education Manager and
Bienvenidos Initiative Leader

Marcela Ramos is currently the Gallery Education Manager and Bienvenidos Initiative Leader at the Austin Children’s Museum where she recruits, trains, and mentors gallery staff to provide effective gallery demonstrations in English and Spanish.

As a former youth advocate, Marcela volunteers as lead teacher for the first and second level ESL classes at El Buen Samaritano, a local nonprofit that provides food assistance, health care, education and health, and wellness programs for low-income families. Through this affiliation and with the assistance of the Education Director, she created a partnership to invite families to the museum with help from a grant program.

Marcela also recruited middle school students from Austin schools for Breakthrough, a nonprofit organization which guides students along a seven-year path to become first-generation college graduates. She currently serves on the board of the Austin Area Translators and Interpreters Association and works as a freelance translator for local nonprofit organizations.

Marcela holds a Bachelor of Art in Latin American Studies from Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas.

Alicia Rascón

El Paso, TX
Latinitas, Co-founder and CEO

Alicia Rascón is the co-founder and CEO of Latinitas, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Latina youth build confidence through media, art, culture and technology. As a college student, she launched the first digital magazine for the Latina youth, TeenLatinitas.com. Without funding for her magazine, but with determination and passion, she inspired Latina girls to succeed. Since then, Alicia has made it her life and career to empower Latina youth to realize their potential.

Prior to Latinitas, Alicia worked in the nonprofit sector in marketing, fundraising and program development for the Austin Children’s Museum, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County, National Public Radio’s Latinos USA, and AmeriCorps. She has served as a guest speaker for youth empowerment programs impacting thousands of girls. She has served on the board of the Women’s Fund of El Paso, Junior Woman’s Club, Elevated Arts and Lone Star Girl Scouts. Alicia has been honored with community service recognitions from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Museum of Mexican Art, Sor Juana de Inez Texas Art Festival and as a Rising Star at the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s 2009 Executive Leadership Training Conference and Mujer Awards. She has also been featured on numerous television, radio, print and online media outlets, including the Dallas Morning News, Washington Times, AP Wire Services, Univisión, Hispanic Business, and American Latino TV.

Alicia graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin with a minor in Mexican-American studies and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Texas at El Paso. Alicia Rascón was born in Jalisco, Mexico and grew up in El Paso, Texas. She is married to Delbert Humberson and the mother of 3-year-old Humberto.

Gloria “Vanessa” Rodriguez

San Antonio, TX
Child Advocates of San Antonio (CASA)
, Executive Assistant to CEO

Gloria “Vanessa” Rodriguez serves as Executive Assistant to the CEO of Child Advocates of San Antonio (CASA). The mission of CASA is to recruit, train, and supervise court-appointed advocates who provide constancy for abused and neglected children and youth while advocating for services and placement in safe and permanent homes.

Most recently, she served in the Community Relations department for the Spurs Foundation, assisting as the liaison for all community and nonprofit donation requests, special events, volunteer management and public relations. She previously worked at American Red Cross San Antonio Chapter as the Project Manager assisting with the planning and implementation of one of the most successful golf tournaments.

After working four years for a Fortune 500 company in the financial services industry, Vanessa decided to pursue her passion in helping those in need and making a difference through a career change into the nonprofit sector. She received her certification in Nonprofit Management and Leadership through the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and is currently finishing her Masters in Public Administration, with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Prior to this, Vanessa received her B.B.A. and B.A. by completing a double major in Business Management and Psychology, with a minor in nonprofit management from UTSA.

Vanessa has been very active in American Humanics, an on-campus student association and national organization, devoted to training and nationally certifying the next generation of nonprofit leaders and managers. In her role as Vice President of Human Resources, she was responsible for increasing membership enrollment tenfold and helped the organization receive a National Benchmark award for its successful certifications.

Vanessa enjoys traveling around the world, meeting new people and learning new cultures. Most recently, she was involved in the San Antonio march against SB1070 Arizona immigration law. Two years ago, she was nominated and participated as a delegate in business for an International Scholar Program in China.

Vania Ruiz

Auburn Hills, MI
Centro Multicultual La Familia, Client Advocate

Vania Ruiz is a client advocate for the Domestic Violence program at Centro Multicultural La Familia in Pontiac, MI, where in addition to case management, she recruits for and facilitates victim support and violence prevention groups.

Vania found her passion for social justice, community service, and advocacy, as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan where she earned a Bachelor degree in Political Science. As a student, she was an English tutor for children and adults through an organization called ALAS and volunteered for Assisting Latinos Maximize Achievement (ALMA), a student led orientation program at the university for incoming Latino students. She also served as an elected at-large representative for the Latino Task Force/Caucus, an on campus advisory board that advocated and serve as a liaison between the Latino student community and campus administration. Because of her continued involvement, Vania was awarded the Tapestry award which recognizes members of the University community who exhibit a steadfast commitment to learning, education and living in support of the quest for social justice.

Since college, Vania has worked in both the corporate and nonprofit world, having worked at companies such as Global Business Consultants and Hutchinson Seal. Her nonprofit experience includes her work as a Family-to-Family Outreach Coordinator at Latin Americans for Social & Economic Development, where she focused on recruiting parents for foster care and providing support services, particularly through creating Spanish-friendly materials and translation services. Through these and other experiences realized she needed to dedicate her time to her passions. In the future she hopes to be the executive director of her own youth center for underserved, at-risk, urban youth in efforts to inspire, empower and provide them with the tools to fulfill their dreams and become productive members of society.

Maria Clara Samaniego

Washington, DC
Casa de Maryland, Development Assistant

Maria Clara Samaniego works as a Development Assistant at CASA de Maryland, which is the state’s largest Latino and immigrant service and advocacy organization, serving more than 20,000 Latinos and immigrants in the Greater Washington Area. As Development Assistant, Maria Clara has led successful fundraising efforts targeting individual and small business donors, resulting in an 80% increase in donations from this group since 2007. Recently, in collaboration with CASA’s development team, she helped successfully complete a $32.9 million capital campaign for CASA’s new Multicultural Center and headquarters by playing a critical role in leading grassroots fundraising efforts. She also spearheaded a “Multicultural Center Art Project” in which she secured dozens of beautiful, donated pieces of art, exhibits and cultural activities in CASA’s new Multicultural Center.

Prior to CASA, Maria Clara worked with the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL). Additionally she worked for the State Modernization Department in Ecuador where she focused on proposal analysis for a national referendum.

Born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, Maria Clara graduated from Juniata College with a B.S. in International Business and Art, and received high academic honors and recognition for her leadership and community-involvement on campus, including “Juniata College Community Service Award.” In her spare time, you can find Maria Clara around Washington, DC, indulging in her love of salsa dancing, music, and the arts.

Jennifer W. Sanchez

Salt Lake City, UT
Poder Para La Familia Hispana, Gang Intervention Specialist

Jennifer W. Sanchez serves as a Gang Intervention Specialist at Poder Para La Familia Hispana, a nonprofit working to reduce the disproportionate representation of Latinos in Utah’s Juvenile Justice System. She started as a volunteer in 2006 and later became a part-time instructor with Ocho Pasos, a program working with Latino/a youth offenders. Jennifer’s work with Ocho Pasos and other nonprofits has fueled her passion to make a difference through this sector as well as through her job as a journalist. She has worked at newspapers for the last decade.

Aside from Ocho Pasos, she volunteers at DiverCity, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit. Jennifer helps coordinate the Backpack2School program to collect school supplies for low-income students and has served more than 600 students.

In her journalism career, Jennifer has worked at daily newspapers nationwide, including New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri and New Mexico. Since 2005, she has been a reporter at the The Salt Lake Tribune, where she has covered immigration, underrepresented communities and local government. Jennifer has won several awards nationwide for her efforts in elevating issues affecting the Latino community.

Jennifer earned a News and Public Affairs Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently a Public Administration graduate student at the University of Utah. She is also a Pi Chapter charter member of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc., a national community-service organization. Jennifer plans to establish community centers that would serve future first-generation college students, especially those involved in the juvenile justice system.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Jennifer is the eldest of six children. She spent a year as a high school foreign exchange student in the Outback of Western Australia. She enjoys the gym, the theater, and salsa dancing.

Fabiola Sandoval

Los Angeles, CA
Esperanza Community, Asset Manager

Fabiola Sandoval is the Asset Manager for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation in Los Angeles, a social action nonprofit that addresses the needs of the South Los Angeles community. Its five core areas of programming are: affordable housing, health, economic development, education, and arts & ecological sciences.

Fabiola has been actively involved in issues around social justice and empowerment. For the past seven years she has been a member and was previously co-chair of the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition (DWAC), a coalition based in downtown Los Angeles working with other advocates on issues of housing, violence, trauma and healing through the arts. Her first major collaborative project with DWAC was the 2004 Women’s Needs Assessment which documented the conditions and needs of homeless and low income women in addition to offering policy recommendations. On her free time, Fabiola blogs, photographs and documents her communities. Some of her writings can be found in Make/Shift Magazine and the Community Connection, a community paper based in downtown L.A.

The daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, Fabiola received her B.A. from Mount St. Mary’s College where she doubled major in Political Science and History. She is also a mother of a five year old.

Jesusita Santillan

Dallas, TX
The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future, Program Manager

Jesusita Santillan serves as the Program Manager for Leadership America (LA), the flagship program of the Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future and Smithsonian Affiliate located in historic Fair Park, Dallas, Texas. One of the longest running national women’s leadership programs, LA brings together women of accomplishment and provides exposure to the most creative, innovative, and forward-thinking leaders in the nation.

Jesusita graduated from Southern Methodist University (SMU) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and International Studies with a specialization in Latin American Studies and a minor in Spanish. During her studies at SMU, she studied abroad in Madrid, Spain where she taught private English lessons during her spare time. Jesusita maintains a strong tie to her alma mater. She is the immediate past-chair of the SMU Hispanic Alumni Associates, during which she spearheaded the development of the inaugural Hispanic Alumni Scholarship Fund — the first and only retention scholarship at the university. She has also served on the community outreach committee of the SMU Alumni Board and on the SMU Young Alumni Board.

Jesusita is an alumna of Power Pipeline, a regional program that mentors emerging women leaders. A sister of Kappa Delta Chi — a national sorority dedicated to community service to local university communities with an emphasis on the Hispanic/Latino population — she has received the Kappa Delta Chi, Sorority Inc., Pink and Maroon Award for her exemplary leadership as an active sister and alumna.

Jesusita is passionate about education reform, foreign policy, human rights, women’s rights and global issues. She enjoys traveling, running, hiking and physical fitness classes, including ballroom dancing.