GHCC Leadership Team 2018-11-26T21:37:46+00:00

The GHCC Leadership Team

Chamber Staff

Santiago Marquez
Santiago MarquezPresident & CEO
Mr. Marquez was born in Cuba and came to the United States in 1971. He is a graduate of Georgia State University; alumnus of the Buckhead Business Leadership Class; alumnus of Leadership Atlanta, best class ever-2013; and a member of the Gwinnett Rotary, and in 2015 and 2016 he served on the Gwinnett Citizens Review Board. He also serves on multiple boards including the Aurora Theatre and Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

Mr. Marquez joined GHCC in September 2008. His main functions included financial management, fundraising, membership development and partnership development. Mr. Marquez has been working in the non-profit sector since 1998, cutting his teeth with Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Inc., while attending graduate school at Georgia State University. After CCCS, Marquez served as the Director of Employment and Housing for the Latin American Association, starting the first housing department to focus on Hispanics in Atlanta. In 2004, Marquez joined Boys & Girls Clubs of America where he worked for four years as the Director of Latino Outreach. During this tenure his duties included implementing a Latino outreach strategy in multiple Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. The Latino outreach initiative focused on outreach to Latino youth and families, while helping Clubs increase the number of Latino staff and board members. Most recently, Mr. Marquez served as the Director of Development, NE region where his duties included fundraising and corporate relations in the northeast region of the United States.

In 2014, Mr. Marquez received an award from the National Diversity Council. He is currently a student at the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza School of Business. He is the proud husband of a beautiful wife and very proud father of two beautiful daughters.

Gabriel Vaca
Gabriel VacaExecutive Director

Gabriel Vaca comes to the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce after a 24 year successful career at UPS and will lead the GHCC Hispanic Entrepreneur Center (HISEC) a newly formed organization that will support and accelerate the growth of Hispanic businesses with new programming and opportunities in finances, access to capital, sales / marketing and procurement & certification.

Gabriel Vaca was responsible for consulting and supporting UPS’ largest enterprise customers in their logistics and global supply chain. He was instrumental in developing international trade between the U.S. and countries around the world, especially with Asia and Latin America.

Joining UPS in 1994 in Miami, Mr.Vaca helped customers develop exports and imports between the U.S, Mexico and Latin America. He later relocated to Atlanta and held various International Business Development positions at the UPS Corporate Headquarters.

Mr. Vaca is past Chairman of the Board of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) the 6th largest Hispanic Chamber in the US. He has demonstrated his commitment to the GHCC by serving as a Board Director since April 2004. However, his support does not end there; he also served as Board member of the Hispanic American Center for Economic Development and is a business advisor of the GHCC- Hispanic Young Professional and Entrepreneurs (HYPE) group and it is through Mr. Vaca’s efforts the GHCC continues to receive support from The UPS Foundation, contributing to the strengthening and economic wellbeing of the GHCC and the Hispanic community. He currently serves as a 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 as the most impactful Latino BRG in Corporate America 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 also was a speaker in support of NAFTA during its ratification and most recently he has been a featured speaker at the Hispanic Corporate Council of Atlanta, Georgia Tech, Georgia Power, Kennesaw State University, University of Georgia, Chamber of Commerce of Bogota, Colombia and has discussed international trade in various forums in Mexico.

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.

His commitment to helping Hispanic small businesses and UPS employee development and business growth is based on his personal experience as a small business owner where he received support as well as business opportunities through the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.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.


Juanita Rivera
Juanita RiveraDirector of Operation

Promoted to operations director in March 2017, Juanita handles the GHCC’s financial accounts and manages chamber events. She also oversees accounts for the GHCC affiliate Hispanic-American Center for Economic Development (HACED).

Juanita joined the GHCC in August 2002 as an administrative assistant and receptionist. Six years later, she was promoted to handle bookkeeping duties for the GHCC and HACED.

Juanita holds an associate’s degree in Business Administration from Caguas City College, in Puerto Rico. Originally from Guayama, Puerto Rico, Juanita grew up up in Caguas and her family have lived in Atlanta since 1988. Married 36 years to Isidro Rivera, she has 3 children and five grandchildren with another. She enjoys summer and watching her grandchildren play softball and baseball.

General Counselor

Jimmy McDonald
Jimmy McDonaldLegal Counsel
Jimmy McDonald, will be featured as the lobbyist for the GHCC leadership team. He also serves as the GHCC General Counselor and COO. McDonald is the Managing Principal for the McDonald Firm LLC, and Donnelly McDonald Group, LLC. He received his Bachelor of Science from Columbus State University, Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia, and the Doctor of Law (J.D.) from Georgia State University.

Membership Services

Albert Sorto
Albert SortoVice President
Albert joined the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as the Vice President and COO in February 2018. He has been involved with the chamber for the last two and a half years by serving on the Business Development Board and as a GHCC ambassador since 2016.

Before joining the Chamber, he held the position of Vice President of Business Development with The National Minority Trucking Association (NMTA) and has been in the transportation and logistics Industry for over five years. Prior to that, Albert worked as a National Director of Sales in the specialty retail industry where he created and managed a successful Cart and Kiosks program for a Suwanee, Georgia based manufacturer. He also brings experience from the retail perspective from his position as a Divisional Director of a well-known cosmetics company that operates over 400 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada.

In 2008, Albert, launched his own consulting firm, Specialty Retail Solutions; where he helped clients launch new products via turnkey wholesale channels. Additionally, he assisted to identify and negotiate lease agreements of key retail locations in malls across the country. Albert has been a guest speaker at various national trade shows with focus on retail, manufacturing and logistics. He has also been interviewed and featured in several industry trade magazines. Albert has served on non-profit boards and committees and currently serves on the executive advisory board of APICS Atlanta.

Albert was born in El Salvador and grew up in Houston, Texas. He moved to Atlanta in early 2000. His entrepreneur ethic is attributed to his parents, who both were successful business owners. Albert resides in Lawrenceville with his wife and son.

Fabiola Rios
Fabiola RiosBusiness Development
María Palacios
María PalaciosBusiness Development

Programs Department

Juanita Velez
Juanita VelezPresident HYPE

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 is developing the company’s global social media strategy and presence in priority markets across all regions. Her teams continue to be all over the world, both internal and external from Delta.
Juanita also serves on numerous boards both internally and external from 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.

Branding Marketing and Communications

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