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50 Most Influential Latinos 2019 2020-09-25T16:24:48-04:00

We measure success in many different ways. On the playing field athletes measure it in victories. In academia it is measured by accreditation. In public service, by election or appointment to higher office. Business success is typically gauged in terms of financial performance. But whatever the field of endeavor, a benchmark common to all levels of success is the degree to which an individual influences others. In that regard, it is impossible to overlook the influence that the Latino community has had on the state of Georgia.

Through the years Georgia has experienced great economic development and cultural enrichment due to the diverse and vibrant makeup of its residents including, significantly, the Latino community. Of the over 1,000,000 Latinos living in Georgia many have taken it upon themselves to serve in various capacities of leadership. And through their efforts, improve lives and create opportunities for growth.

To recognize the accomplishments of these gifted leaders, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presents the “50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia.” The nominations of the men and women selected for this prestigious honor have gone through a rigorous process to evaluate contributions they have made. Weighing heavily on the final selection was the degree of influence each person exhibited in their role as a representative of the Latino community. It is one thing to be successful but quite another to ensure others are successful as well. For that positive influence, the GHCC is thankful and is delighted to recognize the “50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia” for 2019.
On behalf of our wonderful judges, we are honored to introduce the 2019 awardees of The 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia

Adelina Nicholls
Executive Director
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

Since 2000, Adelina Nicholls has overseen, coordinated, and carried out the efforts to develop grassroots leaders and organizations within Georgia’s Latino immigrant communities in order to defend and advance Latinos’ civil and human rights at the Coordinating Council of Community Leaders. Originally from Mexico City, Adelina studied sociology at the Autonomous National University of México (UNAM), where she later taught courses in sociology, social theory, social research techniques, and methodology in the Political and Social Science College.
To this date (2018) Adelina has dedicated to facilitate the creation of Comites Populares around the state and developed within a collective leadership among immigrants in the state of Georgia in the struggle for Human Rights, and since 2007 Adelina has continued her organizing efforts as the Executive Director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
Adelina has received recognition as well as a number of awards for her work in community organizing and human rights, including the MALDEF Award Community Service (2001), the ACLU Georgia Civil and Human Rights Award (2008), Mundo Hispánico’s Best Organization of the Year (2013), and a National recognition on 2015 with the U.S. Human Rights Movement Builders Award, in (2016) she received the “Daniel Levi Award” National distinction from the National Immigration Project (National Lawyers Guild) . In (2018) she has received the WAND National Community Legacy Award for one of Georgia’s most effective community organizers focused on leadership development in Latino communities, and (2018) she was recognized by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce among the 50 more influential persons in Georgia.

Alba Castillo
Vice President, Community and Stakeholder Relations.
North America Group.
The Coca-Cola Company.

Alba Baylin is Vice President of Community and Stakeholder Relations, Coca-Cola North America. In this role she leads community giving and engagement, stakeholder relations, employee volunteerism, disaster relief, community board placements and the 5by20 women’s initiative for CCNA.

She held the position of Vice President of Customer Marketing for Foodservice customers from September 2015 until November 2018. Prior to that she served as Hispanic Marketing Group Director, for Coca-Cola North America, where she led the Company’s largest ever Hispanic-focused marketing program for 2014 FIFA World Cup, which featured award-winning digital and social media components.

Joining Coca-Cola in 1999 after ten years in the hospitality industry, Alba fulfilled roles of increasing responsibility in Worldwide Public Affairs and Communications, Strategic Partnership Marketing, and Customer & Commercial Leadership. From 2007 to 2013 she was assigned to the Company’s Latin America Group, first as Director of Revenue Growth Management and later as Group Director, Shopper Marketing.

In 2018 Alba was recognized as a Top 5 Latina Rising Star by the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPHA) and Fortune Magazine. She has also been recognized as a Latino Leader of the Future by Latino Leaders Magazine and by Ser Padres Magazine as one of 25 Latina Executive Moms Making a Difference. She is a strong advocate for community service and serves on the board of the Georgia State University Foundation, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Hands on Atlanta and is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, class of 2018.
Born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, Alba holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida International University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. Alba is married to Marc Baylin and is a proud mom to her seven-year-old daughter Sofia.

Alex Raul Rivera
Senior Manager for Lending Solutions.
Operations team.

Mr. Rivera was born in San Juan de Puerto Rico. Obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the Universidad de Puerto Rico/ UPR.
Has worked for and with Assurant since 1998. Holding several positions from claims specialist to supervisor and currently a Senior Manager for Lending Solutions Operations team. Team.
Throughout the years has been an Ambassador for several organizations in Georgia. Such as March of Dimes, Partnership Against Domestic Violence, American Red Cross, Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Hospital and Feed the Homeless.
His well-known involvement in the community has created admiration, attracted and inspired new leaders and partnerships inside and outside the company

Amilcar Valencia
Advocate for Inmigrant’s Freedom

Amilcar’s passion for justice led him to the immigrant movement supporting people affected by the immigration policies in the US. He was born in El Salvador and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from the University of Central America. He has been involved in the immigrants’ rights movement in Georgia for many years, including through working for the Georgia Latino Alliance for Humans Rights (GLAHR). In 2010, Amilcar along with his wife Katie Beno-Valencia and a group of compassionate people was a founding member of El Refugio, a ministry of hospitality and visitation at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. In 2015, he was named El Refugio’s first executive director. Amilcar is a member of the steering committee of Georgia Detention Watch and new steering committee member for Detention Watch Network (DWN).

Ana María Martinez
Georgia Latino Law Foundation

Originally from Manizales, Colombia, Ana María has been a resident of the metro-Atlanta area since age 12. She received her B.B.A. in Marketing, cum laude, from The University of Georgia in 2004. She obtained her J.D., cum laude and with Pro Bono distinction, from the Georgia State University College of Law in 2009. She is a Staff Attorney in DeKalb State Court. In addition to her work as an attorney, she has worked tirelessly over the last four years to establish and run the Georgia Latino Law Foundation (“GLLF”), the only organization in the state dedicated to substantively and intentionally supporting the Georgia Latino legal community pipeline. Since its inception, the GLLF has assisted over a hundred Latino/a law students through its pre-law and law school preparation program, Leadership Academy and Mentoring Program, and numerous other academic and professional development opportunities. Since 2015, the GLLF has also awarded over $70,000 in Fellowships to Latino/a law students working for legal non-profits.
Ana María dedicates her time outside of work to various legal and community organizations. She currently serves on the boards of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association, the DeKalb Bar Association, and the Lamar Inn of Court. Currently, she is the only Latina serving on the State Bar of Georgia’s Board of Governors. Her leadership in the community has been recognized through her selection to prestigious programs such as LEAD Atlanta and the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Millennial Advisory Panel, and through awards such as the 2019 Commitment to Equality Award (Committee to
Promote Inclusion in the Profession of the State Bar of Georgia, May 2019), Latinx Community Impact Award (Emory Law School Latin American Law Students Association, April 2019), Top 50 Most Influential Hispanics in Georgia (Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, September 2018), Atlanta’s Most Inspiring Stories (Voyage ATL Magazine, March 2019), 40 Under 40 Award (Georgia State University, Inaugural Class, 2018), Law and Justice Award, “Most Powerful and Influential Women In Law” (Women Works Media Group, 2017), 40 Under 40 Award (Atlanta Business Chronicle, Class of 2016), and the Award of Achievement for Outstanding Service to the Public (State Bar of Georgia YLD, June 2012).
Ana Maria is married to Mario Martinez, Jr. Together, they are the proud parents of Liliana (7) and Elena (3).

Angela Hurtado
Vice President, COO and Co-Founder
HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education)

Angela Hurtado is the Vice President, COO and Co-Founder of HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education) with over 10 years of experience working with youth, families, stakeholders and school districts. As a social entrepreneur, she turns ideas into reality, leads teams effectively, and manages the everyday demands of a thriving organization. Angela co-founded HoPe because she believes every student is one caring individual away from being a success story and through HoPe they are being the individuals creating a pathway to and through high school and college. Within 10 years HoPe has expanded its youth leadership development and educational attainment programming to 60 high schools in Georgia reaching over 4000 families yearly achieving a 100% graduation rate.

Angela is a community leader who has been recognized by the White House for the work HoPe has achieved in Georgia. She is a GPEE Education Policy Fellow, a Praxis Nonprofit Fellow Alumni, was recognized as the “Wonderful Woman of the Year” in 2016 by Wealth Horizon, recognized by Fox Broadcasting Company as 1 of 11 Home Free Heroes, Selected as a 2019 Braves Country Community Hero Award, selected as a recipient of the 2019 Univision Corporate “Lo Nuestro” Recognition and selected as a 2019 Stand Together Foundation Catalyst Network Fellow. Angela is from Colombia, loves God, her hubby and her two amazing daughters. She is a foodie who believes you can’t wait for change to happen, you have go and be the change!

Anibal Torres
Executive Director
Latin American Association

Aníbal Torres was named executive director of the Latin American Association in September 2015, after serving as interim executive director for three months. He served on the board of the LAA from 2008 until 2015, most recently as chair.

Throughout his decades-long career in publishing, Torres has held senior-level executive positions with a variety of media companies in the U.S., as well as in Latin America, where he worked for McGraw-Hill. Torres served as publisher of MundoHispánico, Atlanta’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, from 2007 to 2013. Prior to that, he was vice president and general manager of the Tribune Co.’s Hoy Spanish-language newspaper in New York City and publisher of the Tribune’s El Sentinel in Orlando, Fla. He has a distinguished record of community service and involvement.

Torres has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Dayton in Ohio.

A native of Puerto Rico, Torres has also lived in Colombia and Panama.

Anna R. Cablik

Anna R. Cablik was born and raised in the Republic of Panama, where she obtained a degree in Medical Technology from the Canal Zone College. After finishing her studies, she got married to Jerry C. Cablik and together they came to Atlanta in 1974. She started out working at Piedmont

Hospital, after two years, she had an opportunity to change jobs and in 1976 she started working with a construction materials company. She stayed there for seven years, progressing from clerk to Vice President of the Company. In 1982 she left her position to start her first company: ANATEK, INC., a contracting company that specializes in highway bridges.

After leading ANATEK, INC. to become one of the largest Hispanic owned firms in Georgia, Ms. Cablik started ANASTEEL & Supply Company, LLC in 1994. ANASTEEL is the only Hispanic/female owned reinforcing steel fabricator in the Southeast, and possibly the United States.

In 2001, Mrs. Cablik joined forces with Mark Massmann and started a third company: MassAna Construction LLC. MassAna is a general contractor specializing in heavy construction. In 2006 she sold her ownership interest in MassAna Construction.

Mrs. Cablik was a partner in PanAmerican Logistics, LLC, a logistics company that operated the Perishables Center at the Atlanta Airport; and CAMANA Holdings, LLC, a real estate holding company sold in 2017.

Anthony P. Rodriguez
Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Aurora Theatre

Aurora Theatre opened in the summer of 1996 and Anthony Rodriguez and Ann-Carol Pence (Co-Founder and Associate Producer) established Aurora Theatre, Inc. as a non-profit organization in 1999. Under their leadership, the theatre grew from 120 season subscribers to the 5100 subscribers Aurora Theatre currently boasts. Mr. Rodriguez’s greatest accomplishment to date was the successful negotiation to relocate Aurora Theatre to downtown Lawrenceville Georgia where it serves as the cornerstone for their revitalization. Aurora’s accomplishments include: Learning Library an educational theatre program, Aurora’s Apprenticeship for recent college graduates, Aurora Academy and Conservatory where students learn from working professionals, and Teatro Aurora a professional Spanish-language theatre company that was created to highlight Latinx cultural heritage and to help build social bridges in our community. Anthony is the Immediate Past Chair of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, he was the first Latino and Arts leader to serve in that position and is also past Chair of Partnership Gwinnet. Mr. Rodriguez is a member of Screen Actor’s Guild, Theatre Communications Group, and the national steering committee for the Latinx Theatre Commons. Mr. Rodriguez is a graduate of Marist High School, the University of Georgia, the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures’ Leadership Institute and Advocacy Institute.

Astrid Martinez
Entertainment Reporter

Astrid Martinez is a reporter and host of Astrid in ATL. The segment focuses on everything Atlanta has to offer, from movies being filmed in the city to arts, food, music, entertainment and culture.
She joins CBS46 after spending time as a reporter at the NBC station (KXAS) in Dallas, TX.
Before reporting in Dallas, Astrid worked three years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, NC where she was a reporter and fill in anchor. Prior to landing in Charlotte, Astrid was the anchor for the KGBT 5 p.m. newscast and Spanish language 8pm newscast in South Texas.
While working along the Texas-Mexico border Astrid tackled topics ranging from immigration, homeland security, drug cartels, violence along the border and human trafficking.
This former Miss Colombia USA 2000, began her broadcast growing up in Medellin, Colombia. Astrid saw first-hand the civil and political unrest that plagued her country. It was this type of upheaval and the people’s lives it affected that first ignited her passion for storytelling and a career in journalism.
After moving to the United States, Astrid and her family settled in New Jersey, where she graduated with top honors from Montclair State University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a concentration in Latin American Studies.
Astrid is honored to be in Georgia, where her family now resides. When she is not at work you will find her spending quality time with her daughter and family, traveling and watching sports.

Belisa M. Urbina
Executive Director
Ser Familia, INC

Ms. Urbina was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She studied Business Administration at the University of Puerto Rico and graduated as Valedictorian of her class. She moved to Georgia in 1999. On 2001 she co-founded Ser Familia, Inc. which is the leading program in
Georgia providing coordinated multi-disciplinary family, social and mental health services to Latinos.

She is a member of Cobb County’s 2020 Steering Committee and Kennestone Hospital’s Regional Board of Directors past chairperson. On 2012 she was named by Womentics as one of the Women of the year. On 2014, she was chosen as one the 11WhoCare®by Atlanta’s 11 Alive Channel. On 2015 she received the “Family Advocacy Award” from the Interfaith Children’s Movement. In 2017 she was honoured by the Georgia Women’s Legislative Caucus with the Nikki T Randall Servant Leadership Award. That year she was also recognized with the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award by the Atlanta Falcons. In 2018, Gideon’s Promise gave her the Community Impact Award and the Atlanta Braves chose her along with her husband as Community Heroes.

She has been married to her husband Miguel for 33 years and is the proud mother of 5 children and grandmother of 5.

Bernadette Olmos
A. B. Olmos & Associates, P.C.
Managing Attorney.

Ms. Bernadette Olmos founded A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C., intent on ensuring that her clients have access to the highest quality legal representation. As the practice has grown, Ms. Olmos has built her expertise to cater to the full spectrum of family law and personal injury cases and dedicates her practice to fierce advocacy on behalf of her clients. She is a registered mediator and arbitrator.

Ms. Olmos is a 2015-2016 Fellow with the American Bar Association Law Practice Division. Georgia Trend Magazine recognized Ms. Olmos in its Georgia’s Legal Elite publication. She served a 1-year appointment to the State Bar of Georgia’s Committee on Children and the Courts. She served a 3-year appointment to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumnae Board and served as the 2014-2015 clinical instructor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s inaugural Family Law Externship Clinic at Fulton County Superior Court Family Division.

Ms. Olmos served as co-chair of the continuing legal education seminar, Eliminating Barriers to Justice II: Why and How to Ensure Language Access for Limited English Proficient and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Litigants, co-chair of the 2014 continuing legal education seminar, Eliminating Barriers to Justice: Addressing Ethical Obligations, Cultural Competency, and Best Practices for Ensuring Meaningful Language Access in Georgia Courts. She serves on the board of the Georgia Legal Service Program, and is a board member of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association. Ms. Olmos is a member of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia Diversity Committee. Bernadette is admitted to practice with the State of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Georgia Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Bob Jimenez
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Administrative Services
Cox Enterprises

Roberto I. Jimenez is senior vice president of corporate communications and administrative services at Cox Enterprises, a leading communications, media and automotive services company. Jimenez serves as the communications counsel to members of the executive team and leads the management of the company’s brand, reputation and strategic communications across Cox Enterprises.

He is responsible for leading internal and external communications; digital communications; public affairs; issues management and crisis preparedness; creative studio; as well as corporate social responsibility and corporate giving. He also oversees the company’s meeting and event management services, audio/visual production and corporate travel teams serving as an enterprise-wide resource for the company’s 60,000 employees.

Prior to joining Cox in 2003 as director of corporate communications, Jimenez was a director of global communications and international marketing at AFC Enterprises, the franchisor and operator of more than 4,000 restaurants, bakeries and cafés around the world. In 1999, he joined the Walt Disney World Resort as manager of public affairs serving as official spokesperson for the 49-square mile resort. He was responsible for public affairs, issues management, crisis communications and diversity public relations.

In 1997, Jimenez launched Jiménez Pinzón International, a multicultural marketing communications consultancy, specializing in Hispanic, market-entry strategies. In 1992, he served as administrative director of marketing and public relations for Florida Hospital, the nation’s largest Medicare provider and leading cardiac center. Jimenez started his communications career as director of public relations at Opera Orlando in 1989.

Jimenez serves on the board of the Latin American Association as the organization’s Past Chair. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, The Alliance Theatre and Mount Paran Christian School. He is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and The Seminar. Previously, he served on the boards of Leadership Atlanta, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the United Way of Greater Atlanta, the National Hispanic Corporate Council and the Elon University School of Communications.

Jimenez earned a master’s of business administration degree with an emphasis in marketing and international business from Rollins College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Adventist University, where he was recognized as alumnus of the year in 2015. That same year, he was recognized by with the Individual Achievement Award by La Amistad, and in 2017 with the Leadership Excellence Award at the National Diversity Council Georgia Leadership Conference. Jimenez is an IABC/Atlanta Catalyst Award winner and past co-chair of the Diversity Committee for the Public Relations Society of America’s Georgia Chapter. Hispanic Business magazine named Jimenez as one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America in 2007.

Brenda Lopez Romero
Ms. // State Representative HD99
The Lopez Firm LLC

Brenda made history in 2016 when she became the first Latina elected to the Georgia General Assembly, representing House District 99 in Gwinnett County. She sits on the education, retirement, and state planning & community affairs committees. She served as Vice Chair of DPG Latinx Caucus and on the House Democratic Caucus Policy Committee. Brenda exemplifies strong leadership as a rising star in Georgia politics.
Brenda reflects the American Dream. She came to the United States at the age of five and became a citizen in 2008. She graduated from Cross Keys High School, where she was told by a counselor that she could be a secretary or receptionist. She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Georgia State University and graduated law school from Syracuse University. She has focused on international law, national security, and comparative politics in her academic career participating in Model United Nations to earning a certificate in National Security and Counterterrorism Law.
As the principal attorney at The Lopez Firm, Brenda handles removal and family-based immigration cases. While in law school, Brenda worked as a clerk for the Georgia Legal Services Program, the American Civil Liberties Union, and interned for a trail judge in Morelos, Mexico. After law school, she worked as staff attorney for Catholic Charities before opening her solo practice.
Brenda has over 15 years of law and policy experience related to immigration and nationality law and its intersectionality with constitutional rights, human rights, civil rights, voting rights, and racial and economic justice.
Brenda was humbled to receive Georgia Association of Educators’ 2017 Friend of Education Award.
Brenda has also served and/or volunteered with multiple organizations such as American Immigration Lawyers Association, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Democratic House Black Caucus, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. She is honored to be a Political Partner of the Truman National Security Project, on the advisory committee of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, advisory committee member of ProGeorgia Women of Color Thought Leaders Initiative, alumnus of Leadership Georgia, and selected for Leadership Atlanta Class of 2020. Brenda is most proud of her volunteer work as a former GED social studies instructor with the Marist School adult education program

Carolina Ramon
Director, Office of Minority Business Development
UGA Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

In 2016, Carolina Ramon became the first Latina to serve as director of the University of Georgia SBDC Office of Minority Business Development. In this position, she oversees the delivery of training and consulting services for minority business owners in the state of Georgia.
Before joining the SBDC’s Office of Minority Business Development, Carolina served as Director of the Small Business Administration’s WEDA Metropolitan Atlanta Women Business Center (MAWBC) for over six years.
Carolina is an experienced small business advisor and certified federal procurement instructor with an extensive history of launching business enterprises and designing entrepreneur programs for non-profit organizations in Georgia.
Carolina holds a Bachelor in Marketing and a Masters of Business Administration with concentration in Finance and Accounting from Georgia State University

Daniela Rodriguez
Lead Organizer
Savannah Undocumented Youth Alliance (SUYA)

Lead Organizer and a founding member of Savannah Undocumented Youth Alliance (SUYA) which is an organization that advocates for the immigrant community of Savannah, GA , and near areas in the deep south of GA. I am a former student of Georgia Southern University/Armstrong campus. My graduation ceremony was this past May. I was able to attend college thanks to obtaining major scholarships such as the Goizueta Scholarship Fund, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

I was born in Chiapas Mexico and I emigrated to the United States with my mother when I was 13 years old. I am 24 years old now.

Since 2013, I decided to come out of the shadows, and I have been a strong advocate for my community since then. My main focus has been to advocate for equality in education and to raise awareness about the GA college ban which denies in-state-tuition to undocumented students and also bans them from attending some of the top GA public universities. I strongly believe education is a human right and everyone deserves a chance to higher education, regardless of their immigration status.

My main goal as I continue to be a grassroots activist, is to help make my community a more immigrant friendly place where immigrants can be treated with dignity and respect.

Currently, I am also an intern for Border Angels which is an organization that focuses on U.S-Mexican border justice. This month, I will also be a student of the Neighborhood Leadership Academy of Step Up Savannah at Savannah State University. Earlier this year I was nominated as “Hidden Figure” Honoree by 9to5 Georgia Working Women-Savannah chapter for my commitment to work around DACA, immigration reform, and my work with SUYA in the community which is much needed and addresses the needs of those who do not usually have a voice. I was also featured in American Dreaming Documentary by Matthew Hashiguchi 2 years ago.

Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez
Assistant Professor
Kennesaw State University

Dr. Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor in Social Work and Human Services at Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) WellStar College of Health and Human Services. She is one of KSU’s inaugural Diversity Fellows through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Center for Diversity Leadership and Engagement. She is the co-principal investigator for the Atlanta Immigrant Crossroads Project, which led to various community-university partnerships and community-based participatory research projects on best practices for immigrant integration. The University System of Georgia, Kendeda Fund, and National Geographic Society have awarded her research funds. Her most recent applied research endeavors have been to develop an Immigrant Integration Toolkit for the State of Georgia and co-edit a book entitled Green Card Youth Voices: Stories from an Atlanta High School (Wise Ink Publishers, 2018), which has resulted in her team receiving one of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia’s inaugural Community Engagement Award.
Prior to coming to KSU, Dr. Rodriguez was the Director of the Arts and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC). She was a Goizueta Foundation Fellow through the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education and the state-wide coordinator for the Latino Youth Leadership Program through the J.W. Fanning Institute. Dr. Rodriguez has a long record of service in college and student affairs, inclusive of institutional development, multicultural student affairs, women’s empowerment programs, and student volunteer engagement.
Her primary research interests are in the field of immigrant integration and the role of the nonprofit sector in facilitating this process, specifically, the utilization of nonprofit organizations as both service and advocacy partners for policy change. Her many publications in peer-reviewed and practitioner outlets include work in the Child and Youth Services Review, INSIGHT for Diversity, Journal of Community Practice, Journal of Progressive Human Services, Journal of Urban Affairs, and Law and Policy.
Dr. Rodriguez’s teaching interests include nonprofit management, governance, and leadership, as well as public policy and civic engagement. She has developed courses in human resources management and social welfare policy, as well as overseas direct-practice internships and senior capstone courses. Four university centers for excellence in teaching and learning have consistently given her teaching notable recognition, which led to her selection as a Governor’s Teaching Fellow.
The University of Georgia awarded Dr. Rodriguez’s doctorate in Public Administration and Policy and Master of Social Work in Macro-level Community Practice. She earned a Master of Public Affairs with a concentration in Nongovernmental Organizations through the U.S. Peace Corps’ Masters International Program at Rutgers University. Florida International University granted her B.A. in Liberal Studies and Psychology, with a minor in Women’s Studies and Environmental Science.
Dr. Rodriguez lives out her mission in life with her husband and son in Marietta, Georgia, where they are active members of the community and Eastside Baptist Church. However, her heart is always with her mixed immigrant status, biracial, bicultural, and multilingual family members who are both near and far. Thus, in her free time, she enjoys “being home and travelling home” to make memories with those whom she loves, equipping the equippers of society to better serve humanity, and building a legacy through service and love.

Dax E. Lopez
State Court Judge
State Court of Dekalb

Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Judge Dax López moved to Georgia at the age of six. Constantly on the move, Judge López lived in six states, mostly in the South, throughout his childhood. Judge López attended Vanderbilt University and then, Vanderbilt Law School.

After law school, Judge López served as the law clerk for the Hon. Hector M. Laffitte in the Federal District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. He returned to Atlanta in 2002 to commence his career as an attorney at Holland & Knight, LLP. Before joining the DeKalb State Court, Judge López also worked in the litigation groups of Ashe, Rafuse & Hill and Foltz & Martin LLC, where he handled class actions, complex civil litigation, employment matters, and product liability cases.

On August 10, 2010, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dax to the State Court of DeKalb County, where he has presided over both criminal misdemeanor and civil matters. Judge López also presides over two sections of the DeKalb County DUI Court, which includes the only such court conducted entirely in Spanish.

Eduardo Martinez
President, The UPS Foundation
UPS Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

The UPS Foundation leads the global citizenship programs and initiatives for UPS. As President, Ed Martinez is responsible for the operations and management of its global community investments, employee engagement and corporate relations programs which invests in over 4,300 organizations and communities across 170 countries. In addition to his role as President of The UPS Foundation, Martinez also serves as the UPS Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer with responsibilities for the advancement of diversity and inclusion programs which empower over 440,000 UPS employees worldwide including its suppliers, customers and communities.

Martinez served as corporate legal counsel in the UPS Legal Department until 2007, where his practice included intellectual property, information technology matters, commercial transactions as well as civil litigation. Prior to assuming the role of President for The UPS Foundation, he held senior management positions at UPS in the areas of Corporate Finance and Accounting, Risk Management and Acquisitions

Martinez serves as a director on numerous boards and leadership advisory councils for the United Nations, civil society organizations and the World Economic Forum. He is a frequent speaker and advocate for the importance and value of public-private sector partnership to help drive humanitarian action, global sustainability, social & gender equality and the advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Martinez immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960. He has lived in Atlanta since 1992, with his wife and three children.

Martinez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from the University of Miami, Florida and a Juris Doctor degree from the Nova Southeastern University Law School. A member of the American Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association, he is also a member of the Florida Bar.

Elba Pareja
Director of Finance U.S. Domestic Product Performance, UPS
Founder and President,

Elba Pareja-Gallagher is a finance and strategy professional with 20 years of experience at UPS. She’s held roles in International Finance, Investor Relations, Marketing and Strategy. She lived as an expat in Asia for three years and currently is the Director of Finance on the Business Intelligence & Analysis team of the $43B U.S. Domestic business unit. She is also the chair of the UPS Hispanic/Latino Business Resource Group, Crecer, which was recognized by both the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Latina Style Magazine as the #1 Latino ERG in the country.

Elba is an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional and led the Gender Gap Task Force for the Atlanta chapter. She is the founder of the non-profit The ShowMe50 vision is to achieve 50% women in senior leadership positions across America by teaching men and women how to influence change in workplace cultures and talent management practices through inclusive leadership. ShowMe50 is a Regional Leader in the Lean In movement.

Ender Inciarte
Professional Baseball Outfielder
Atlanta Braves

A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Ender Inciarte began his career in Major League Baseball in 2008 when he signed as an international free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2015, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves where he has since grown into one of the game’s best outfielders, having won three consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 2016-2018, and was named to the NL All-Star team in 2017.

Inciarte comes from a family of baseball players as his father played for the Venezuelan national team and his brother played in the Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League system . Ender is proud to carry on the family legacy as he also represented his home country of Venezuela at the World Baseball Classic in 2017. Ender lost his father 9 years ago to a heart attack and is passionate about giving back to children from similar circumstances.

In 2018 Ender partnered with KRa Sports Drink and After School All-Stars to donate money and sports equipment to keep underprivileged kids in the game in both Atlanta and his home country of Venezuela. The result was thousands of dollars and hundreds of pieces of sports equipment donated to kids in need.

Eric Remedi
MLS Champion Atlanta United.
Defensive Midfielder.

Eric is currently a defensive midfielder for the current MLS Champion Atlanta United. Eric’s contributions to the team were instrumental in helping the Atlanta United win all of their championships during the last year. Eric came to Atlanta from the Argentine Superliga club Atletico Banfield, where he spent the first three years of his professional career and made 68 appearances across all competitions. As great as Eric’s contributions have been on the field, he is also an incredible human being off the field. Apart from his contributions to the team, Eric Remedi has been recognized for his willingness to help others. Eric repeatedly visits children in the hospital, helping to bring a moment of joy to them and their families. Eric has also participated in various charity events, including: various exhibition matches used to raise funds for non-profits; matches to help children with disabilities; and most recently was a keynote speaker at the Annual HoPe Conference, where he encouraged and motivated over 1,000 kids to reach for their dreams, to work hard for what they want, and to remember to give back. For his contributions, Eric has been recognized with the Community Service Award by HoPe; was named a Captain of the Year for his service to the community by Delta Airlines; and was recognized, along with other team members, by the Atlanta Gladiators for his professionalism, service, and success.

Erica Mason
Labor and Employment Litigation Partner
Akerman LLP’s

Erica Mason is a Labor and Employment Litigation Partner in Akerman LLP’s Atlanta Office. As national and regional employment counsel for her clients, she routinely defends employment claims before state and federal courts across the country, including, successfully litigating five sexual harassment class actions against the EEOC and dozens of class and collective actions against privately-represented individuals and groups.

Erica assists clients with internal and governmental audits and investigations, M&A and private equity HR due diligence, restructurings and RIF, restrictive covenant agreements, multi-state employment law compliance programs, and crisis management/PR messaging in cases involving sensitive allegations against high-ranking employees. She is as a strategic counselor, creative problem solver, and committed advocate.

She also conducts training on a number of employment-related topics including EEO and wage/hour compliance issues; as well as diversity, inclusion, implicit bias, and respectful workplace norms; leadership development and executive presence.

Erica is nationally recognized as a top labor and employment attorney, including nine consecutive years by Georgia Super Lawyers and three consecutive years by Best Lawyers in America,. She is a nationally sought out leader on a wide array of legal and non-legal issues.

Erica is also passionate about community service. She has received numerous awards recognizing her pro bono work, bar leadership, and advocacy for increasing racial/ethnic diversity and inclusion in the legal profession: most recently, Atlanta Magazine’s “500 Most Influential Leaders in Atlanta.” She is the immediate past National President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and sits on a number of non-profit boards.

Felipe Ramirez
Quality Assurance Automation Specialist for UPS Supply Chain Solutions
President for ALPFA Atlanta Chapter Board of Directors
Atlanta Advisory Council Member, Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)
UPS Crecer – Latino Business Resource Group Social Media Global Advisor

Felipe Ramirez joined UPS Information Technology in 1997; he is a Quality Assurance (QA) Automation Specialist in Alpharetta Georgia. He leads the Automation Testing Team and is the lead designer and architect for the Automation Framework supporting 10 Healthcare and Non-Healthcare IT warehousing systems for UPS Supply Chain Solutions that saved over 5,000 testing hours in 2018 on track to save 10,000 testing hours for 2019.

In August 2019, Felipe was selected as one of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 2019 “50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia”. This award is given to individuals reflecting the multiple sectors, that have an insurmountable impact on the community in the state of Georgia and nationally.

In February 2016, Felipe joined ALPFA (Association of Latinos Professional for America) Board of Directors as Vice President and in 2018 became President of the Board of Directors of the ALPFA Atlanta Chapter now with over 2,320 members and overseeing 6 student college chapters in Georgia. Nationally ALPFA has 45 Professional chapters & 160 Student chapters with 92,000 members.

In 2015, Felipe joined the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Atlanta Advisory Council. HSF is nation’s largest not-for-profit organization founded in 1975 supporting Hispanic American higher education.

In 2012, Felipe Co-Founded the UPS Crecer – Latino Business Resource Group (BRG) New Jersey Chapter. In 2014 moved to Atlanta GA and join the Leadership of the Crecer Atlanta Corporate Chapter and in 2018 became Social Media Global Advisor for the Atlanta Chapter. UPS Crecer is a volunteer affinity group, established in 2012 and in 2017 Crecer became the #1 BRG in the Nation by USHCC and Latina Style Magazine.

Felipe in his spare time volunteers with many other local organizations including the Latin America Association, Hispanic Corporate Council of Atlanta (HCCA), and many others.

Felipe has degrees in Electronic Engineering Technology and Telecommunications System Technology from County College of Morris and is ISTQB Foundation Level Certified Tester. He was born in Peru, and came to the United States at the age of 14. He speaks fluent Spanish, and English. He is married and resides in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza
Founder & Executive Director
Latino Community Fund in Georgia

Gigi Pedraza is a social entrepreneur and experienced professional in the areas of general management, strategy, operations, marketing and development.
Gigi is the founder and Executive Director of the Latino Community Fund in Georgia ( ), a grant making public charity dedicated to catalyze investment and promote collaborative work in the Latinx/Hispanic community. LCF Georgia amplifies the diverse voice of our community through advocacy, research and leadership development; builds capacity in community-based organizations and directly invests in families and Latinx-led member organizations through scholarships and grants. LCF Georgia is also the fiscal sponsor of the Delivering on the Dream table in Georgia.
Mrs. Pedraza has an active role in the community; she is a Hispanics in Philanthropy 2017 Fellow, member of the ARC Global Voices Panel, the past chair of the board of the Feminist Women’s Health Center and the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 Caminar Latino Leadership Award, 2016 Best Organization Award by Mundo Hispánico and a 2013 TUMI USA winner, a Woman of Inspiration by the Atlanta Dream, the 2018 NFL Hispanic Leadership Award and one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia
Pedraza has earned an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the Fuqua College of Business at Duke University, a Masters in International Tourism Planning from the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain, Executive Business Certificates from the Peruvian University of Sciences in Corporate Training and Strategic Marketing and has a BA from the Hotel Management School – College of Tourism in Lima, Peru.
She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two smart and strong daughters and a spoiled dog

Ivan Shammas
General Manager & General Sales Manager
Telemundo Atlanta

Ivan Shammas is General Manager & General Sales Manager for Telemundo Atlanta, a premier Spanish-language media company providing award-winning local news and programming to the expansive Latino population in Atlanta. His experience and passion for the Hispanic market continue to drive his involvement in the community through various organizations. Shammas serves as Chair Elect on the Board of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest Hispanic Chambers in the nation. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Over the past years, Shammas has served as Chair of the United Way’s Young Professional Leaders Advisory Board and as Chair of GALEO (Georgia Association for Latino Elected Officials) Leadership Council (GLC) overseeing 6 community outreach committees. Shammas is a proud graduate of the 2018 Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Institute -a collaboration between the University of Georgia and the GHCC. He is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta 2015 and alumni of the GALEO Institute of Leadership. Past recognitions include the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s and Georgia Trend Magazines 40 Under 40 awards. Being of Venezuelan decent, Shammas grew up in Atlanta and currently resides in Brookhaven with his wife and 3 children.

Janet Elizabeth Sevilla
Community Affairs Manager
Atlanta Braves

For over two decades, Janet E. Sevilla has spent her career designing and implementing large-scale community empowerment programs. Powered by a passion for equity and fair access to resources, she has worked with multinational corporations, major league sports franchises, politicians, and professional athletes to execute successful community development initiatives that have made a positive impact on school-aged youth in vulnerable communities, marginalized families, and the environment.
Throughout her career, Janet has played a major role in several notable initiatives that focused on centering and elevating the Latin diaspora. She played a key role in launching the Los Bravos Community: a platform that builds bridges between the Atlanta Braves and their Spanish-speaking fans by having players and alumni visit schools throughout the year to teach baseball and share stories about growing up in their native counties. In 2016, she hosted the inaugural Atlanta Braves Latino Heritage Night, an event featuring a Q&A panel with former and current players on the expansion of baseball in Latin America. Janet also partnered with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to host an annual Naturalization ceremony, welcoming new fans to Atlanta Braves baseball.
Prior to joining the Braves, Janet spent seven seasons with the LA Galaxy and one season with the LA Lakers, designing and executing events, outreach programs, and lucrative fundraising initiatives that benefitted the local Los Angeles community. Janet obtained her B.A. from UC Santa Barbara, with a major in Black Studies and Spanish and a minor in Exercise & Sports Management Studies. She is also a graduate of the Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Institute via the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development in partnership with the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Janet is a Board member of WISE Atlanta as well as an active member of Hermanas Unidas and the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Women’s Program, EME de Mujer

Jason Esteves
Assistant General Counsel at Equifax
Member of Atlanta Public School
Board of Education

Jason Esteves currently serves as Chairman and an at-large representative of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education. He was first elected on December 4, 2013 and was unopposed when he sought re-election in 2017. Jason has focused his efforts at promoting equity and improving the financial outlook of the school system. As an attorney and former educator, Jason is working to ensure every child in Atlanta Public Schools obtains an education that prepares them for college and career.

After graduating from the University of Miami, Jason devoted himself to teaching at an underperforming school in a low-income neighborhood. He worked countless hours with students, teachers, and parents to ensure his kids had the resources they needed to succeed. This experience gave Jason insights into the challenges our children face and the importance of public schools that help children overcome those challenges.

Today, Jason serves as Assistant General Counsel at Equifax Inc., where he manages litigation matters for the company. He was as an associate at the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (now Dentons US LLP) after graduating from Emory University School of Law. Jason also serves on various boards of local non-profits, and believes that partnerships with non-profits are vital to ensuring our children have the wraparound services they need to be able to focus on their education and development.

A native Georgian, Jason was raised in Columbus, Georgia by his parents, Linda and Fernando, a retired Army veteran. At an early age, his parents instilled in him the importance of public service and a good education. Those values are the foundation upon which Jason serves today.

Jason is married to Ariel, a graduate of Kennesaw State University and Emory University’s School of Nursing graduate program. Ariel is a Director at CareSource, serving Georgia’s Medicaid population. Jason and Ariel are proud parents of Jaeden and Zoe, and reside in northwest Atlanta.

Jerry Gonzalez
Executive Director

Jerry Gonzalez is the founding and current Executive Director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund (GLCDF). GALEO was founded in 2003 and is a 501(c)(6) statewide nonprofit and non-partisan organization; its mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia. The GALEO Latino Community Development Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with GALEO.

At GALEO, Gonzalez has utilized not only his extensive political experience but also his deep understanding of the struggles of the Latino community in Georgia. During his tenure with GALEO, the GALEO Institute for Leadership (GIL) program has become a flagship leadership development for the Latino and immigrant community in Georgia, equipping more than 600 community members with skills to serve their communities. The GALEO Leadership Council, Spanish-Language Leadership Series, and the Latino Leaders Summit are also integral to GALEO’s leadership, empowerment and networking activities.

Through GALEO’s voter engagement efforts, the Georgia Latino electorate has grown to well over 240,000 from a mere 10,000 in 2003, and Latino voter participation rates in most jurisdictions in Georgia during the 2016 election out-performed national Latino voter participation rates. In 2015, citing the federal Voting Rights Act Section 203, Gonzalez and LatinoJustice spearheaded the successful effort to make Spanish-language materials available to voters in Gwinnett County. In 2015, GALEO LCDF was honored by the Sapelo Foundation with the prestigious Smith Bagley Award, for its continued success and exemplary work with the community.

Gonzalez is a native of Laredo, Texas, and received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1995. He completed his Master of Public Administration with a Nonprofit Administration emphasis at the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University in 2005. In 1996, Gonzalez moved to Atlanta for a job as Field Support Engineer for Rockwell Automation. After transitioning into the nonprofit arena in 2002, Gonzalez worked with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) as a Legislative Policy Analyst, focusing upon immigrants’ rights issues at the Georgia General Assembly and in several local jurisdictions across the Southeast. Due to his efforts at GALEO, Mr. Gonzalez has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians for several years, and serves as a trustee and member on foundation and advisory boards, along with many other honors and awards. In 2017, he was selected to participate in the Rockwood Institute’s ‘National Leading from the Inside Out (LIO) Yearlong Fellows’ executive leadership program.

When not traveling throughout Georgia speaking at town hall meetings and advocating for education, civic engagement and fair immigration policies, Gonzalez lives in Atlanta with his husband of over 22 years, Ray, an established and practicing pediatrician, and their dog, Jenny. Jerry’s hobbies include photography, travel, hiking and considers himself an avid road cyclist.

Jerry James
Atlanta Gladiators

This is not the first award Jerry has received. The Fresno, California native brings an extensive background in professional sports to the Gladiators. James earned some hardware for his hard work with four championship rings. He won two World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants and one with the Houston Astros organizations, while winning another with their Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, when they won the Pacific Coast League Championship. Jerry who spent a decade with Fresno on the highest level of minor league baseball, served as the team’s Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Revenue. There he developed many aspects of the team’s business approach, focusing on corporate partnerships and community alliances.

Much like his time with the Grizzlies, the always committed James spends most of his off time now working with community non-profit organizations like Ser Familia, the National Latino Police Officers Association-Georgia Chapter, The Atlanta Gladiators Foundations and others. It is just one of the many reasons he was honored with the award as “50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia”.

John F. King
Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner.

John F. King was sworn in as Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner by Governor Brian Kemp on July 1, 2019. He previously was the Chief of Police for the City of Doraville since October 2002.

Previously, Chief King served in many capacities with the Doraville Police Department, including Deputy Chief over enforcement operations. He began his employment with the City of Doraville in 1993 as a Detective. Prior to that, Chief King was an Atlanta police officer beginning his career there in 1985. While at the Atlanta Police Department, Chief King worked various assignments including Red Dog, Organized Crime/Intelligence. Chief King’s career also includes assignments to both FBI and DEA as a Task Force Agent. In 1987, while at the Atlanta Police Department, Chief King received the Chief’s Blue Star for being injured in the line of duty as a result of criminal attack with a firearm.

A native of Mexico, King has created meaningful impact by building bridges among Doraville’s diverse populations and implementing youth education and crime-prevention programs. Recognizing the international composition of Doraville’s community, King made it a priority to hire bilingual police officers, place multiple languages on police cars, and ensure effective translators and public defender where employed at the City Courthouse. Chief King’s initiatives include Anti-Gang education programs for elementary school students and parents. Chief King worked with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to establish an education program for prospective small business entrepreneurs and worked with state, county and local leaders to implement safety and speed reduction program targeted on Buford Highway to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities. Chief King is also a member of Leadership DeKalb.

In addition to his role as Doraville’s Chief of Police, King serves as a Major General in the U.S. Army National Guard assigned to U. S. Army North and Commander Task Force 51. Chief King was the former Commander of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and has deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan. Chief King served as the Military Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Interior for Security for Afghanistan, an agency of over 96,000 police officers. He has won many awards for military and public services including the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantry Badge, meritorious service medals, and a NATO award for his service in both Bosnia and Afghanistan, among others. He also received the El Salvador gold medal for achievement in 2006.

King received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in criminal justice and public administration from Brenau University and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Chief King was a graduate of class #229 in the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA and a graduate of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange program to Israel (GILEE).

Juan Ramirez Hernandez
Violinist, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Founder and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Virtuosi Foundation, INC.

Juan R. Ramírez Hernández is a violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a celebrated composer, and Founder and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Virtuosi Foundation, Inc. Under the auspices of this Foundation, he founded the Buckhead Youth Orchestra and Casa de la Cultura-Atlanta, both in residence at Covenant Presbyterian Church. This season marks his 14th year as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra.

Ramírez began his studies in Mexico with Ivo Valenti and Vladimir Vulfman. His studies with Henryk Szeryng began at the age of fourteen, and continued as he became his principal mentor in Mexico, the U.S. and Europe. While in Boston attending the New England Conservatory of Music, Ramírez was privileged to study with Joseph Silverstein while under the tutelage of the eminent pedagogue and conductor, Leon Barzin.

Ramírez has performed and conducted in numerous countries throughout Europe and Asia, as well as in Israel and Mexico. He has won numerous awards and honors along the way, including the Serge Koussevitzky and Leonard Bernstein Awards, the Loridans Arts Award and the Governor’s Award in the Humanities.

The distinguished composer-conductor Gunther Schuller stated his “unqualified faith in Ramírez as a violinist and a musical leader of great artistic integrity” and noted that “whatever he undertakes is touched by quality.” In 2004, Ramírez was named Lexus Leader of the Arts by WABE Public Radio of Atlanta and WPBA Television for “his outstanding contributions, his pursuit of excellence in music and for his initiating and serving several community music organizations in the arts community.”

Known throughout the state as a music advocator and educator, Ramírez founded Music for Success! – an educational program under the auspices of the Atlanta Virtuosi Foundation in partnership with metro Atlanta educational institutions, providing string training by professional musicians to young elementary and middle school children of many backgrounds. He generously volunteers his time, energy and expertise to music students in the Atlanta area and beyond. He is a frequent guest conductor of the Honors Orchestra sponsored by the South Carolina Music Educators Association.

Ramírez has served on the Board of Directors of the Sphinx Organization and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, and recently received the World Chamber of Commerce Cultural International Hero Award. He holds the title of “Presidential Professor” at the University of Michigan, the highest honor “given to visiting artists and scholars, recognizing distinguished individuals for their extraordinary achievements.”

Ramírez’ compositions have been performed at the 1993 Cultural Olympiad, for Prince Albert of Monaco, and premiered by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 he appeared as Guest Conductor of the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra and was present for the Mexican premiere of his “Suite Latina” by the Vega Quartet in San Miguel de Allende. Upcoming events include a new commission by the Camarada chamber ensemble of San Diego, California.

Juanita Velez
Lead Manager International Social Media
Delta Airlines

An originally born Paisa, Juanita Velez, earned her bachelor’s degree from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. She began her business career as a Latina entrepreneur, co-founding a distribution and exporting company in Florida for medical and dental refurbished products and equipment for Latin American products. She left Miami to advance her studies where she pursued and became a part of the first Master’s in International Business cohort at Georgia State University in 2013. As she became more involved in the Atlanta community by interning at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, she gained a passion for the commercial internationalization of Atlanta. Human connectivity, communication, and globalization became Juanita’s main passion points, eventually landing her a career with UPS, the global logistics monster. Juanita joined UPS in 2013 as Global Brand and Sponsorships Specialist and was responsible for customer hospitality activation programs for Ferrari Formula 1, The Masters and other international and domestic sponsorships. She was promoted as the International Digital Integrated Communications Supervisor on the UPS International Communications Team. She effectively managed the coordination, development and execution of integrated communication programs that support UPS’s international marketing and business plans across all regions: APAC, Europe, Americas, Canada and ISMEA. After a great career with UPS, Juanita took a growing opportunity with Delta as International Social Media Strategist where she developed the company’s global social media strategy and presence in priority markets across all regions. Today, Juanita is the Lead Program Manager of International Social Media at Delta. Prior to leaving UPS, she served as Co-chair for Crecer, the UPS Hispanic Business Resource Group focusing on making UPS the employer of choice for Latinos and identifying opportunities within the Hispanic market for the organization to help drive. She also served as Chair of the Georgia Diversity Council connecting with other organizations in Atlanta valuing D&I in the workplace. Juanita is has been heavily involved with the Latin American Association both as board member of the LAA Fundraising Committee and also as mentor of Hispanic students at local tier 1 high schools. The value of mentorship is near to her heart, she dedicates a lot of her time to the mentoring community in Atlanta participating as a mentor in the Women Lead Program through Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business. Juanita also serves on the board of CIBER, Center for International Business Education & Research at Georgia State University where she provides insight and engages in conversations to advance academic programs within the international business segment of both undergraduate and graduate programs. She is also a Founding Member of the Business School Mentoring Program for Georgia State University and serves on the Goizueta Foundation Gift Advisory Board for the Emory Goizueta Business School. She has been highlighted as 2016 Latino Leader of Atlanta by the Latino Leaders Magazine, 2015 UPS Latino Millennial of the Year and 2016 Young Professional of the Year by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Juanita is also a graduate of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Program, where HYPE, Hispanic Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs was born creating a space for the development and cultivation of young Hispanics in the business community occurs. She currently leads a team of 14 dedicated to making impactful and relevant change and elevation of the Hispanic business community. Juanita’s passion is focused on the development of the immigrant youth; her goal is to leave a legacy of a streamlined and structured process for all students to use as a resource for their road to success. After all, she is one of them

Lisa Guadalupe Clarke
Founder & CEO. Motivational Speaker
ATL Search Group

Lisa is the Founder and CEO of ATL Search Group, a staffing company focused on diversity and inclusion. Lisa was born on Long Island, NY and raised in Jucuapa, El Salvador during the civil war. Lisa has over 26 years of experience in Staffing and Human Resources.  Lisa was named Hispanic Business Women of the Year by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Her passion is to help people find the right opportunities to develop and companies find Rock Stars!

ATL Search Group is a DBE and Women-Owned Certified company specializing in placing skilled bilingual and non-bilingual workers in Executive, Office Support and Light Industrial roles.

Community Volunteer Experience:
Lisa is a member of Leadership Georgia Class of 2019 and has appeared on various television, radio and media panel discussions in English and Spanish. She is a leader in the Hispanic community for the U.S. Southeast region. She served as the ALPFA Atlanta Chapter Past President and currently as a Corporate Advisory Board Member. Lisa serves as the Co-Chair for the Women Breakfast Series in English and Spanish and is a Board Member for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Lisa serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Goizueta Foundation, Inc. and the Gwinnett County Public Schools Advisory Board Member for the Hispanic Mentoring Program. In addition, she received the Diversity Award from Women of Golf Mean Business. She was a mentioned Honoree for the Latina Style
Magazine Top 50 Award Ceremony & Diversity Leaders Conference in Washington D.C. Lisa also received the Servant Leadership award from ALPFA National at their National Convention in Vegas; and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Minority Trucking Association.

Luisa Fernanda Cardona
Deputy Director
Office of Immigration affairs
Welcoming Atlanta.

Luisa Fernanda Cardona de Vence serves at the Deputy Director of the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs – Welcoming Atlanta. Luisa supports the director in the development and implementation of Welcoming Atlanta’s strategic plans and policies, and provides leadership and direction to the Welcoming Atlanta team. Programs which she currently supervises include language access through iSpeakATL, Citizenship and Citizenship Corners, ATLinBusiness, ESL and financial literacy, Bank On Atlanta, and community and volunteer engagement. Her work also includes serving as a Spanish media liaison for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Luisa is especially proud to have developed and implemented the first citywide language access plan to ensure that all people, regardless of English ability, have equitable access to all city of Atlanta services.

Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Luisa served the immigrant community as an attorney both in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. In this capacity, Luisa advocated on behalf of immigrant workers, tenants, and DREAMers. Luisa was born in Armenia, Colombia and raised in metro Atlanta, and holds a law degree from the American University’s Washington College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University.

Maria Alejandra Bastidas
VP of Digital Content

Maria Bastidas is the VP of Digital Content at, the #1 Independently Owned Spanish Language Digital Media Company in the US. As digital media expert, she has been the head of the newsroom as it transformed from Print to a Digital Media. In the last 5 years, she has developed and managed the team of creators and journalists in charge of the news, digital videos, live streaming and Native Campaigns, working along with National clients (Toyota, NASCAR, NFL, Macys) to develop branding content and videos to reach the Hispanic Market in the US.
Maria Alejandra also lead the video initiatives that allowed MundoHispanico to win the first 6 Emmy Awards presented to a Digital platform in the Southeast. She is deeply involved in the Georgia Hispanic community since 2000, when she came to the US from her native Venezuela. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Communication from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. She lives in Duluth, Georgia with her husband and three children.

Mariela Romero
Regional Community Empowerment Director
Univision Communications

Mariela Romero is Univision Communications Regional Community Empowerment Director in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Raleigh and is anchor, writer and producer of news magazine Conexión Fin de Semana in all three markets. Romero has received 23 Emmy® Awards from the Academy of Television Arts, S.E. and was awarded the Olga C. de Goizueta recognition by The Latin American Association in 2019. Mariela holds a degree in Journalism from Universidad Católica Argentina as well as a degree in Social Communications from Universidad de Belgrano. She also studied TV Broadcasting and Production in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mariela has interviewed former President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter, Civil Rights leader and Presidential Medal of Freedom Awardee, Reverend C.T. Vivian, and American labor leader Dolores Huerta among other distinguished public figures. She is a proud mother to her 19 year son Mateo who is currently pursuing a degree in Sound Engineering from Full Sail University. She is a native of Caracas, Venezuela.

Norberto Sanchez
Norsan Group

A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Norberto Sanchez is a Hispanic entrepreneur and community leader that has lived in the United States since 1982. Sanchez and his wife, Ira, moved to Atlanta, GA to attend Georgia Tech for his Masters in Engineering. After graduation, he began his career as an engineer and quickly realized that it was not his passion. In 1987, he took a career risk and opened his first restaurant, Frontera Mex-Mex Grill in Atlanta, GA. Norberto serves as CEO and Chairman of his company: Norsan Group, which currently owns and operates sixteen Frontera Mex-Mex Grills, two Luciano’s Ristorante Italiano restaurants, the award-winning Pampas Steakhouse, and recently Frankie’s The Steakhouse at Gwinnett’s 1818 Club in Duluth, GA. Prime Meats, Norsan Group’s meat packaging and distribution company, provides high quality meats to restaurants and grocery stores in the Southeast region of the US. In 2007, Sanchez broke into the media business with the addition of the Spanish language media group Norsan Media headquartered in Charlotte, NC. Norsan Media currently operates 23 local radio stations and 3 television stations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. In Charlotte, Norsan Media owns and operates several FM stations including Latina 102.3, La Raza 106.1, and La Zeta 107.5 and 97.3 FM publishes a weekly Spanishlanguage newspaper HOLA NEWS, and hosts various large-scale festivals for the Hispanic Community throughout the year.

Sanchez’s mission for his media company has always been to serve the Hispanic community on a grass-roots level. He has served on various Charlotte-based boards as an advocate for the Hispanic community, including: Foundation for the Carolinas, Levine Museum of the New South, and the Latin American Coalition. Norsan Media partners with several organizations in Charlotte to ensure the safety, wellness, and quality of life for their listeners. One of the signature events, “Milagros Para Los Niños Radiothon” with Levine Children’s Hospital breaks records every year, most recently raising over $145,000 in one day from their Hispanic listeners during the July 2017 radiothon.

Nury Castillo-Crawford
Director of Academic Support.
The Buice Center Community-Based Mentoring.

Nury Castillo Crawford is the mother of three sons, a life-long educator, President of the Georgia Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, CEO and Founder of 1010 Publishing and a published author. She was born in Peru, South America and emigrated to the United States with her family when she was ten years old.

Nury attained a B.S. and M.S. degrees from Florida A&M University. Education is her passion and she feels privileged to support children grow both academically, emotionally and socially.

In addition, Nury is a powerful voice and advocate for parental involvement, but more importantly parental empowerment. She engages with both parents and educators on how to approach delicate relationships dynamics. She works diligently to be a bridge between schools
and families. She is an advocate for the correlation between language and culture.

As a spirited entrepreneur and author, Nury founded 1010 Publishing which specializes in helping exceptional novice and veteran authors publish their literary creations in a bilingual format. Her first book “3,585 Miles to be an American Girl” is a bilingual, children’s story inspired by her own journey to the USA. An inspiring story of an immigrant, girl who encounters challenges, but succeeds with the support of her family. Through her book, she speaks out about the struggles of immigration, education and the role it played as well as living the American Dream. Her second book pulls from her experience in supporting parents. She prides herself on helping parents become empowered with access to knowledge and resources, in order to support their children.

She continues to work in public education. She is honored to lead the state’s only non-profit focusing on supporting, collaborating, and leading Latinx educators in the state of Georgia.

She is currently a Director of Academic Support for Gwinnett County Public Schools, where she has broken ground by implementing a Hispanic Mentoring Program, the first of its kind in the school district.

You can connect with Nury in all social media platforms , website and email

Ozzie Areu
Founder & CEO
Areu Bros. Studios

Ozzie Areu is the Founder and CEO of Areu Bros. Studios, which is the first major Latino owned and operated media studio in the United States. This creative campus was launched with a mandate of forming a collaborative ecosystem supporting minority and female storytellers and visionaries. Previously, Areu served as the President of Tyler Perry Studios, where he produced almost $1B in production. In his role, he oversaw the studio and production businesses generating over 900 episodes of television including 9 hit series, as well as 17 movies including numerous #1 box office openers and 6 stage plays. A renowned leader in the Latin American community, Ozzie has received numerous awards, such as Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2019 Most Admired CEO in Entertainment, the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia and The Presidents’ Award by The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Eagle Leadership Award by The Latino Leaders Network, The Global Cultural Hero and Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award by the World Chamber of Commerce, Diamond Award for Outstanding Producer, Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy and Humanity and The Nosotros Golden Eagle Award

Rafael Navarro
Editor & Director.
El Nuevo Georgia.

Rafael Navarro graduated in social communication-journalism at the Autonomous University of the Caribbean [Universidad Autónoma del Caribe] in Barranquilla, Colombia. Furthermore, he is a recipient of a scholarship from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a Germany foundation, with which he completed in Quito, Ecuador his studies in television news production at the International Center of Advanced Communication Studies for Latin America [Centro Internacional de Estudios Superiores de Comunicación]. He also holds a master’s degree in political sciences from Universidad Vasco de Quiroga of Morelia, Mexico.
He has worked as a press, radio, and television journalist in the capacity of a writer, editor, and director, as well as creative advertising creator for print and audiovisual material. He has also worked as a consultant for the public sector and several private companies in Colombia including the House of Representatives of the Colombian Congress. He has directed several political campaigns and been a university professor and academic advisor of Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia of Colombia.
In 2000, he moved to Atlanta, which has been his residence ever since. He initially worked as a freelance for the newspaper La Voz del Pueblo. One year afterward, the newspaper Nuestra Semanario hired him, where he worked for two years as a reporter and editor. Then, Rafael became the director and owner of that newspaper and also of the publication Gainesville Latino News of Hall County, which circulated during four years up to 2008.
In 2010, in the face of one of the worst economic crises of recent times, he orchestrated the first and currently the only consortium of Spanish-language media in our community. He brought together three of the existing newspapers at the time: Georgia Latino News, La Voz del Pueblo, and Siete Días. The partnership dissolved in 2012, and the newspaper returns once again under the responsibility of El Nuevo Georgia. El Nuevo Georgia retains the same vision, policies, and values that have always characterized the publication, which was conceived as a family newspaper to inform and educate on the principles that underlie the community.
Rafael, for the past 19 years, has participated in almost all events that have taken place in the community. He stands out for his participation through informational and advertising support to organizations that work for Latinos on all fronts, such as support in the educational process of children and young people to keep them in school and continue to university. He also stands out on other fronts such as political education to increase the participation and exposure of our leaders.
As a professional, he has been an interviewee and provided his collaboration to other national media such as Univision and Telemundo. Internationally, he has participated in coverage and forums for Televisa in Mexico, radio programs in Perú, the newspaper El Universal of Cartagena, Colombia, among others. Locally, radio stations frequently invite Rafael to discuss topics of interest in politics and immigration. And as an editorial partner of the Univision channel in Atlanta, he participates with notes in the space for news of Univisión 34 Atlanta.
In 2006, the Consul General of El Salvador in Atlanta gave recognition to Rafael for his support and dedication on topics of interest of the community and Latinos in general in Georgia. In 2008, he was awarded the Hispanic Excellence Award for his contribution in promoting multiculturalism in the state. In 2015, he was a nominee for the Rice Awards, which is a recognition for local people who create dialog and proposals to develop their communities. Recently, the Colombian government, through its consulate in Atlanta, recognized Rafael as one of its outstanding nationals for his business and journalistic career in Georgia.
He currently continues to occupy the post of editor and director of the newspaper El Nuevo Georgia, and he is co-creative and presenter of the magazine Face2Face Atlanta Show on digital platforms. Lastly, he is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Education Writers Association.

Rick Tapia
J.R. Revelry Bourbon Whiskey

Rick Tapia is the Founder and creator of J.R. Revelry Bourbon Whiskey, an award winning, 90 proof bourbon that provides a unique, smooth taste for new and existing craft whiskey enthusiasts and connoisseurs. J.R. Revelry was created by Rick as a result of his passion for American Whiskey, bringing his spirits expertise and entrepreneurial spirit to his brand.
Born in Lima, Peru, Rick moved to New York City at the age of five. His parents’ hard work and sacrifice motivated Rick to pursue a business degree from Boston University. Over 18 years, Rick worked for the finest names in the spirits industry, developing a refined taste and unique expertise in the field. This expertise led him to create J.R. Revelry®.
For a list of retail locations and more information about J.R. Revelry, please visit
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Rodrigo Cruz
Lead and Founding Pastor
The Nett Church

Dr. Rodrigo Cruz was born and raised in Monterrey Mexico. In 2004, he graduated from Law School at the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon and practiced criminal law for several years before responding to his calling into full-time ministry. After moving to the United States with his family, he received his Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2012, became an Ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church in 2015, and received his Doctorate of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2016. He is the founding and lead pastor of a multi-ethnic and multi-site church call The Nett Church, located in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He has a passion and vision for the church on earth to reflect on Sunday mornings the diversity of the school systems throughout the week. He is married to Kellyann a California native, and together they have 4 children Rodrigo Josue (13yrs), Natalia Rose (10yrs), Gabriel Adrian (7yrs) and Benjamin Yong (4yrs).

Rubén J. Cruz
Cruz & Associates

Ruben J. Cruz, the son of Cuban immigrants and the owner and founder of Cruz & Associates, has dedicated his successful career to helping injured victims and workers for the last 30 years.
In addition to running a successful law practice, Ruben is extremely involved in his community. He is the founder of the Alcanzando Un Sueño Scholarship Program, awarding numerous scholarships each year to deserving high school seniors of Hispanic decent and is a proud member of the Board of Directors of H.O.P.E. (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education). Rubén also is a strong contributor to numerous charitable organizations such as Kid’s Chance, the March of Dimes, Doctors without Borders, the United Way, Be a Leader Foundation, Chicanos Por la Causa and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
Ruben completed his undergraduate education at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he attended on a tennis scholarship and later earned an MBA and J.D. at Georgia State University in 1989.
Ruben currently lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children Nico and Sofia where he enjoys playing tennis in his spare time.

Samantha Ramirez Herrera
CEO & Founder
OffThaRecord Inc

Samantha “Sam” Ramirez-Herrera is an entrepreneur, public speaker, Emmy Award winning storyteller, creative director, and passionate activist. While she wears many hats, at her core, Sam is a storyteller.

Storytelling is the heartbeat of her company, (OTR), a creative content agency headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. At OTR, Sam has built a network of creative multicultural millennials who use their talents and technology to tell raw, uncensored and authentic stories to uplift marginalized communities and work with purpose-driven brands, nonprofits and change-makers.
Sam’s unorthodox path to becoming a digital media maverick is rooted in her own story of drive and determination. She was almost 7 years old when her parents decided to move the family from Mexico City to the United States, seeking a better life. As an undocumented immigrant, she grew up in the shadows, working hard to get ahead while at the same time fearing the possibility of discovery and deportation. After graduating high school, she waited tables and worked other jobs to make ends meet before becoming a DREAMer, thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Through her work at OTR, Sam addresses topics she is passionate about, including feminism, economic justice, immigration, reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, and mental health in communities of color. She is proud that, in its relatively short time, OTR has grown enough to employ staff and pay creative professionals in its network to produce original work for its clients, which are among the nation’s most influential brands and organizations.

As an extension of work at OTR, Sam, shares her expertise in communicating with Latin and Hispanic audiences and multicultural millennials. She has become a highly sought-after speaker on college campuses and at conferences addressing the issues of immigration, gender equality, sexual orientation and identity, culture and ethnicity, and diversity and inclusion.As a proud, Mexican-born DREAMer, she is also a vocal advocate of U.S. immigration reform.

In 2018 Sam played a lead role as “Elena” in the Latinx web series “Pinkslipped”. She was named a 2018 scholar at The Aspen Institute and at HATCH Experience North America. She currently serves on the board of The Latino Community Fund Georgia. Sam has appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and written up in Forbes, Mundo Hispanico, The Washington Post, Atlanta Business Chronicles, BITCH Magazine, The Collegian, Remezcla and more.

Samuel Aguilar
State Director, Georgia.

Samuel Aguilar is the Georgia State Director for, a national bipartisan policy group with roots in the tech industry. Within Georgia’s policy arena, Sam is influencing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as Georgia’s business and community leaders, to break through partisan gridlock and galvanize support around Georgia’s toughest issues.
Sam also serves as Secretary for HYPE, the next generation committee of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of commerce, and various civic engagement groups across Metro Atlanta. A proud graduate of the University of Georgia (BS 2013/MPA 2015), Sam enjoys spending his free time with his Dog, Baxter, and reviewing local breweries, dining, and millennial culture on his social media channels.

Sofia Marie Bork
Engagement Readiness Consultant
SunTrust Bank

Sofia Bork is employed with SunTrust Bank in the Treasury & Payment Solutions Department as an Engagement Readiness Consultant. She is a member of the Hispanic/Latino Teammate Network with SunTrust and currently serves as the Communication Chair.

Sofia currently serves on the Leadership Team for HYPE, (Hispanic Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) as the Vice President. Sofia is an alumnus of the 2019 LEAD Atlanta class and is currently serving on the LEAD Atlanta Alumni Social Planning Committee. Currently, she leads the steering committee for the Edgar Flores Memorial Garden in the Sara J. González Park and is a board member of Generation Green. Sofia also serves as the President for the St. Maximilian Kolbe Toastmasters club at the Cathedral of Christ the King and has placed at the area level in Toastmasters speech competitions. She is an alumnus of the Catholic Charities of Atlanta 2015 Leadership Class and is an Advisory Board Member for the Catholic Charities of Atlanta 2020 Leadership Class. Sofia is also serving on the ACCESS steering committee for the American Jewish Committee. Sofia has her Bachelors in English Writing and Publication from the University of North Georgia and Minored in Spanish.

Sofia is passionate about helping others foster their personal growth and development in the professional world and enjoys building authentic and meaningful relationships within the community.

Sofia Vargas Lukas
Senior Campus Director
Interactive College of Technology

My name is Sofia Lukas and I am the Director of Interactive College of Technology in Gainesville for the past 12 years. I have had the honor to serve the people of GA in various ways, from education to community service, to organizing charity and volunteer events all over Hall, Gwinnett, Jefferson, and Jackson Counties. I thrive on mentoring others and watching others succeed is my greatest reward.

*Hall County Community Hero
*ICT Campus Director of the Year (various years)
*ICT Most Improved Campus 2008
*ICT Financial Planner of the year
*ICT Faculty of the year (various years)
*ICT Community Service Award (various years)

Prior to ICT I owned and managed an assisted living facility “Dixie Manor ALF” for 8 years and the life experiences I shared with my residents are forever engraved in my heart.

*Best in Assisted Living facilities 2005

-2002 Mrs. Puerto Rico
-2002 Mrs. United Nations International
-2002 Mrs. Talent
-2002 Mrs. Constestants Pick (self-imposed translator to all non-English speaking contestants)
+ Seven months of intense charity work representing the crowns to spread awareness on different subjects and entice people to care and give.

In short, my entire adulthood I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve others and as long as I am able I will continue to do the same. This is my calling in life.

Suleima Salgado
Director, Telemedicine & Rural Health Initiatives
Georgia Department of Public Health

Suleima Salgado, MBA is the Director of Telemedicine & Rural Health Initiatives for the Georgia Department of Public Health. Suleima has over 15 years’ experience in government, healthcare education, communications, and public relations and has led several state and local public health initiatives.

As the director of telehealth for the state of Georgia for the past seven years, Suleima is responsible for setting strategic goals to increase access and bring health equity to underserved and rural areas of the state, using two-way, real-time, video conferencing. With dedicated circuits in all 159 counties, and over 500 end points, she manages the day to day operations and works with state and federal agencies, health systems, county health departments, private providers, public schools, colleges/universities and non-profits to develop and implement telemedicine programs across Georgia.

Prior to this role, Suleima served as the Deputy Director of Communications for the department where she oversaw all aspects of internal and external communications for the Department and its programs and divisions. The division managed all marketing and communications plans, media relations, and vendor relations while guiding health communicators in Georgia’s 18 public health districts.

Mrs. Salgado holds a Master of Business Administration from Southeastern University in Florida.

Not only is she very involved in her field, but she also serves her community as an active Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Gwinnett, is an active member of the American Telemedicine Association, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is on Medical Reserve Corp- Georgia East Metro response team, a board member of MentorEvolution and serves on the Duncan Creek Elementary PTA.

Yehimi Cambron
Yehimi Cambrón, LLC / Cross Keys Foundation
Owner / President

Yehimi Cambrón is an artist and educator born in Michoacán, México and raised in Atlanta. Cambrón’s artwork focuses on celebrating the humanity and resilience of immigrants. Currently, her series “Family Portrait” is on display at the High Museum as part of the exhibit Of Origins and Belonging, Drawn from Atlanta, on view through September 29.

In September of 2018, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named Cambrón among the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia. She was recently selected as the winner for the Living Walls’ Laura Patricia Calle Grant with her project Monuments: Our Immigrant Mothers. The mural is a celebration of immigrant mothers, who remain the most resourceful, entrepreneurial, and selfless human beings
for their families despite the trauma they carry on their shoulders. She continues her art as activism with upcoming mural collaborations with the Atlanta History Center, El Refugio at Stewart Detention Center, and Welcoming America.
Cambrón’s first mural was the Education is Liberation Monarch, painted as part of Living Walls’ The BuHi Walk. She has used this mural as a platform to advocate for the protection of undocumented youth. Cambrón was one of the nationally-selected artists for Off the Wall: Atlanta’s Civil Rights & Social Justice Journey, a collaboration between WonderRoot and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee. Cambrón’s series of murals for Off the Wall elevate social justice issues through the lenses of immigration narratives. Her work was featured by Sports Illustrated, ESPN México, Jezebel Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, CNN, CNN en Español and Univisión, among many others.
Before focusing on art full time, Teach for America (TFA) accepted Cambrón into their corps of educators fighting educational inequity. She became the first of two DACAmented (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) TFA educators in Georgia. After completing her commitment teaching elementary school, Cambrón returned to her alma mater as a high school art teacher.

President’s Award

Gabriel Vaca is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Business Center a 501c3 subsidiary of the GHCC.
The Hispanic Business Center (HBC) is the educational arm of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. For over 17 years the GHCC Hispanic Business Center has provided leadership and economic education for small Hispanic businesses. The HBC’s mission is to help Hispanic businesses accelerate their growth through education and access to resources.
Gabriel Vaca recently retired from UPS International after 24 years and was responsible for consulting and supporting UPS’ largest enterprise customers in their logistics and global supply chain.
Mr. Vaca has been an integral part of the growth transformation of the GHCC for over 12 years and has held a variety of positions, such as Chairman of the Board and GHCC Board Director. He also recently served as member of the Senior Executive Corporate Advisory Board of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce based in Washington, D.C.
He is a founder and graduate of the GHCC Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Institute and founding member of Crecer, the UPS Latino Business Resource Group, which he helped lead in 2017 to win first place at the USHCC Corporate Challenge. He has been a guest speaker on Leadership Development, Latino Employee Resource Groups, Hispanic business and International trade in the US and international countries.
He has been honored by the Georgia Secretary of State as an “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” for his work on helping Hispanic businesses in Georgia and also received the CEO Award in Corporate Ambassadorship from the GHCC. In June 2016 he was honored and was named Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairman Emeritus. In 2018 at the GHCC celebration of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia, Gabriel received The Special Recognition Award, above and beyond, because of his contributions and impact to the Hispanic business community and his support of the GHCC.
Mr. Vaca has a degree in Business Administration from the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, was born in Mexico City and raised in Washington, D.C. has two children and lives in Roswell, GA.

Notable Mentions

  • Norelie Garcia
  • Alex Campos
  • Julio Rivera
  • Lina George
  • Hilda Abbott
  • Doug Rohan
  • Mariciello Fuller
  • David Schafer

  • Jason Anavitarte
  • Jose Perez
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