2022 GALEO Institute for Leadership Profiles
Alberto Yanar, born in El Paso, Texas, has lived in Georgia for about a decade and a half. Currently, he is attending Georgia State University as an economics major. His passion for Econ stems from his disappointment in United States policy regarding marginalized communities and disheartenment at the deliberate inaction to correct systemic injustices towards them. In seeing how minorities, POC, LGBTQ+, lower class families, and countless other disenfranchised communities are disproportionately affected by systems of oppression, he hopes to do his part in changing the way we see the world. Using his economics degree, he aspires to one day help restructure society to create a more equitable world for everyone.
Alfredo Garcia is from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico. He has been living in the United States for more than 20 years. His passion for food has led him to hold leadership roles in several restaurants, especially in the Italian and Mediterranean locations he is currently positioned at.
He believes the pandemic has made people redirect and reevaluate how to do business, and it has motivated people to make some changes. His efforts are currently focused on participating in virtual restaurants and kitchens, having clients a simple click away.
He also values collaborative efforts and helping his team reach their leadership potential. He believes customer service is not a job, it is a way of life.
Analía E. Rao, MSW, LCSW
A native of Argentina, Analía Rao obtained her Diploma in Social Work from Universidad del Salvador (USAL), Argentina, in 2001. From 2001 to 2004, she served as a field faculty at the USAL School of Social Work. In 2004, Analía immigrated to the United States and joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Affairs as a visiting scholar, where she later obtained a Master’s in Social Welfare. From 2007 to 2009, Analía served as the Assistant Director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging, where she managed several research projects on policy issues affecting the Latino community. In addition to her research and program management experience, Analía has extensive clinical experience in working with culturally diverse populations, and throughout her career has worked and collaborated with various community agencies and organizations to help meet the needs of individuals and families. Currently, she is Research Faculty at the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she manages programs aimed at increasing unrepresented students’ access to post-secondary STEM education. Analía is the recipient of the Buenos Aires Health Ministry Residency Fellowship in Public Health and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship, and a member of the National Association of Social Workers.
Analucia Yanar was born in El Paso, Texas. She is currently getting her undergrad at Georgia Southern University in Economics with an emphasis in International Business and a minor in Global Health. At Southern, she is involved in the Women’s Club Soccer as president, treasurer of the Eagles Economic Society, and secretary of a new club named INFORMS. Analucia thinks it is important to be involved in school where you can network and leave your stamp on the organizations you’ve participated in.
Analucia hopes to be able to pursue a career in public health focusing on how it affects the minority communities and be able to resolve many of the issues that pertain to health insurance, health care services, and resource allocation. Being a part of the 2020 GALEO cohort really inspired her to take a harder look at the disparities amongst our communities and how we are able to develop skills to assist them. With this program she was able to learn about herself in a new perspective of leadership and have huge takeaways to apply in the future. She hopes to one day be able to put all of what she learned together and make a change in all communities.
An entrepreneur, resilient and passionate immigrant from Bogota. He likes hiking in Georgia trail parks, playing with his daughter Samantha, and enjoying different types of foods and local festivals with wife & best friend Diana. Christian is an Atlanta United Fan!
Had held different leadership offices/opportunities with organizations such as the Freemasons -past president of Sandy Springs Lodge#124, Ex-president of the Roswell Police Citizens Class, Ambassador for the Sandy Springs Leadership Program among others; on each opportunity he had left a positive fingerprint message that Latinos can make a difference in our local communities and local organizations. Currently he owns and manage a successful insurance agency located in downtown Alpharetta, were he became an insurance advisor specializing in commercial lines. Currently pursuing CIC and CPCU insurance designations.
He wanted to get involved with GALEO Leadership Program to learn how to inspire and motivate Latinos to vote in federal elections and get them involve in civic local activities and civic organizations, very thankful for this learning opportunity.
Claudia Estibaliz Valencia
Claudia Estibaliz Valencia is from Mexico. She graduated from graphic design in 1998 and emigrated to the United States in 2002, where her two children were born. While in this country, she made the decision to join the Al-Anon Family Groups, a life program for which she has participated in different tasks, including volunteering and passing on the message of being able to live better as a family. Under these experiences, she has been visualizing the crises that Hispanic families face due to both economic and emotional dysfunction.
Now, Claudia promotes the creation of small businesses as an entrepreneur contributing to the community in cultural activities that involve their Mexican identity. She helps promote these ideas so that families transmit it to their children and that through their example, the community creates a life plan in which they can develop a small business. The small business, at the same time, allows them to integrate peace of mind in their economy and an occupation of time developing their best talents with quality and care. Claudia does all this through her company Piñatas Here U Go and Services.
She has been collaborating with the General Consulate of Mexico in Atlanta developing face-to-face and online workshops for the families of our community, as well as participating in exhibitions of Mexican culture at Rialto Arts Center, Atlanta History Center, Fernbank Museum, and the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. She is currently collaborating with the La Consentida Digital Radio station in a blogcast called, “La Voz Informativa,” in which she interviews the leaders of our community, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations to publicize the services they have to support our Hispanic community.
Frank was born in El Monte, Los Angeles 1995. His parents moved to Smyrna, GA during the Olympic economic boom. Then to Marietta where he was raised. He is an Undergraduate student at Kennesaw State University majoring in International Business set to graduate in Fall 2020. Frank has served on the boards for Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) and Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), winning KSU 2019 Student Organization of the Year. Also a member of International Business Student Association and a brother of the Beta Sigma Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Recently promoted to Foreman architectural woodwork, Frank takes great pride in his involvement with the recent development in the Metro Atlanta area. Notable projects include Mercedes Benz Stadium, Comcast HQ, Truist Park, NCR HQ, State Farm Arena, and Supreme Court of GA to name a few. Most recently he has completed the expansion of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.
As a disruptive leader, Frank has always prioritized authenticity. He strives in connecting passion and purpose to unapologetically serve and elevate the Latinx community in GA.
Jasmin was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia Gwinnett College, being the first college graduate of her family to get a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science with a clinical concentration and a minor in information technology systems. She is currently developing her skills to be a software engineer and ultimately be a trailblazer for other minorities in technology. She is hoping to solve real-world problems through technology.
Jeniffer Chow is our current Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia and was raised by immigrant parents. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University.
Within the last three years, she has been involved with different sorts of non-profit organizations which has developed her passion for helping the community. Jeniffer currently serves with GALEO and is doing her part to ensure that our community is counted in the 2020 Census and to increase voter engagement for the 2020 and 2021 elections.
She is fully bilingual (Spanish and English). Jeniffer sees this opportunity to not only engage the community, but to educate. She sees a lot of potential in the Latino Community of Georgia and she would like to share her talent and knowledge with GALEO in hopes of encouraging Latinos to vote and become active participants in the community.
Jessica Garcia is from Cumming, Georgia. She recently graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. During her time at Georgia State University she was involved with the Latin American Student Association, the Latino Leadership Council, Avanzando El Sueño and the Alpha Pi Chapter of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/ Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc.
Jessica is now working as a full-time immigration paralegal in Atlanta. She is also the Director of Communication and Marketing for the Leadership, Advancement, and Development of our Young Sisters (LADYS) Program, a mentoring program based in Charlottesville, Virginia sponsored by Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. During her free time she likes to paint, go on hikes and go to concerts.
Joey Florez Jr.
Joey is a native of Brooklyn, New York but has called Atlanta his home for most of his adult life. Growing up in a multicultural home (his mom is Puerto Rican and his father is Colombian), being immersed in heritage was a part of everyday life; always a constant. He graduated from Georgia Gwinnett College with a Bachelors in English, a Minor in Religion, and a certificate in Latin American studies with the hope of combining story-telling, culture, and language into an avenue for identities to be seen and voices to be heard. He is currently a high school Spanish teacher and lives with his wife in South Carolina.
Karen Padilla is Guatemalan and Honduran born in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a first generation college student who strives to serve the undocumented community. Karen is currently enrolled as a 3rd year student at Georgia State University. She is studying Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law.
Her passion for Political Science and Law began after seeing the struggles of undocumented family friends being separated due to deportation. Her goal is to attend law school when she graduates from her undergraduate studies. She became a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated in Spring 2019 where she serves as the Political Education Initiative Chair for 2019-2020. Through this position, she is able to create nonpartisan political events to promote voting and census registration.
Nonetheless, her passion lies in serving her community. Her goal in GIL is to further her professional skills and continue to serve her Latinx community. She strives to bring her confidence and strong work ethic to this organization to promote immigrant rights and voting rights.
Karen Perez was born in Los Angeles, California to Guatemalan parents. They helped shape her faith, her pride in her culture, and her belief that there’s no ailment Vicks VapoRub can’t fix. Through their example, she’s learned that the best way to have a successful life is to live it in service of others.
As a first generation college student, she studied Communications and Rhetoric and Non-Profit Management and graduated from Oglethorpe University in 2015.
In 2016, Karen had the honor of voting in the Presidential Election alongside her parents, who after nearly 30 years in The United States following many of the legal pathways that some believe to be so straightforward, had finally become US citizens and would be voting for the first time. For her, this experience made is clearer than ever how crucial voting was for those who had the opportunity to do so, and how important it was to be an engaged member of her community and to speak out on the issues and policies that most shaped their lives.
Karen works as a paralegal at a family law firm where she enjoys approaching her role on each case with empathy and care for the well being of the most important thing there is – families.
In her spare time she volunteers with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Innovation Law Lab, and serves on Sigma Sigma Sigma’s Atlanta Alumnae Chapter’s executive board.
In no particular order, Karen’s favorite hobbies are talking about, shopping for, taking pictures of, and hanging out with her 2 year-old niece Rosie.
Leopoldo “Polo” Vargas
Leopoldo “Polo” Vargas is our current Program Coordinator for Program Coordinator for Operations and Communications. He was born in Celaya, Guanajuato in Mexico. His parents brought him to the United States when he was 6 months old and has since become a U.S. citizen.
Polo graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a certificate in Applied Politics. During his undergraduate career, Polo also worked as a writer and senior editor for the Georgia Political Review magazine, as Vice President of the Hispanic Student Association, and as a Resident Assistant for University Housing.
Fully bilingual (Spanish and English) with a beginner’s level in German, Polo is passionate about languages. Polo sees his position as an opportunity to learn about different ways to serve the Latino community of Georgia in the political arena. He would like to share his talents with GALEO in hopes of promoting Latino rights in this great state.
Nancy Ramirez is a graduate student at Georgia State University and is pursuing a Master’s in Religious Studies. She previously interned for GALEO.
Currently at Georgia State University she serves as the President for the Religious Studies Student Forum which is a student led organization that strives to facilitate communication between faculty and students, and better inform others on this field of academic study. The organization plans different events that inform about current religious laws and policies, demonstrate possible career opportunities, and helps students attend and present at academic conferences. In addition, Nancy works as a Research Assistant for Dr. Bassett, the department chair of the Religious Studies Department at Georgia State University.
Nancy Vicente was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Guatemalan and Mexican immigrant parents. Nancy grew up in Forsyth County and graduated from North Forsyth High School in 2012. After attending the University of North Georgia for two years, Nancy started working as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm. There, she found her passion in assisting people throughout their immigration processes. After three years, Nancy received an offer to work for a corporate law firm where she worked with attorneys to servicing large companies by assisting them with their business immigration needs. In her role as an Immigration Paralegal, Nancy has been able to fine tune her writing skills and has gained valuable experience in her field, including working for The Coca-Cola Company as an Immigration Paralegal. She recently left the corporate law firm to work for a small immigration firm which helps her concentrate on her studies. Nancy believes a good education is the best foundation for a person’s success and growth. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law at Georgia State University. Her goal is to attend law school and work for the federal government in a capacity that will allow her to effect change for minority communities. She would also like to work on active investigations to help victims of crimes. Nancy has been highlighted for her achievements by Hispanic Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs (HYPE) and she looks forward to achieving great things for her community.
In her free time, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She likes attending Atlanta Braves games during the Spring and Summer and her favorite types of movies are action movies and comedies. She likes to read as much as possible whenever she has the time to do so.
Orayka graduated from Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan and worked in property management for five years, ultimately bringing her to Atlanta.
She holds a license in real estate and has various certifications. She is currently the owner and CEO of Alexander Multiservices, LLC. She offers real estate, personal and business tax preparation, and notary and translation services in Spanish.
She is the daughter of Dominican parents and is a proud mother of three children.
Rubi Garcia Manzo
Rubi was Born in York, Pennsylvania and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelors degree in Political Science and a minor in Latino Studies. During her time in college, Rubi won Political Advocate of the year two times in a row and held many leadership roles, including, but not limited to, Vice President of the Mexican American Student Association, At-Large Representative of the University Park Undergraduate Association, and Governmental Affairs Associate Director for the Penn State Council of Commonwealth Student Governments. Throughout this time, she was also able to work with her peers to create the first ever Latinx Penn State Graduation.
After graduation, Rubi Spent the summer of 2019 in the Governors Office of Pennsylvania as an intern for Governor Tom Wolf, today she serves as the Policy Co-Chair for HYPE and is currently in the process of applying to Law School. Her reasoning of going to law school is centered around helping others who generally do not know how to ask for help or do not have the means to do so. She aspires to help build up the community that raised her and helped her become who she is today – an educated Mexican-American woman with experience but overall, one who is proud of where she came from.
Sonrisa Reed earned degrees in Nursing and Spanish from the University of North Georgia (UNG). She served as the Youth Program Coordinator for the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) where she created a program to increase immigrant and refugee engagement in the school system. There she was inspired by the undaunted enthusiasm she observed from these new neighbors to better both life for their families and their new country. Since then, she has been passionate about immigrant and refugee rights.
Sonrisa believes that our collective wellbeing is dependent upon individual wellbeing. Thus, as communities and as a country, we benefit by ensuring marginalized communities have a voice in our public discourse, so our policies will effectively serve all people who make this country home.
Sonrisa loves hiking and traveling with her amazing son who also inspires her advocacy. In addition to her work with refugees and immigrants and as an ICU nurse, she has endeavored to fully engage in and benefit the communities she has been a part of. This has included sharing her love of nature through environmental education as a Naturalist with Elachee Nature Science Center. At UNG, she was the chapter president of the National Student Nurses Association and the president of UNG’s Non-Profit Development Club. In Nashville, the NICE Volunteer of the Year Award was renamed in her honor.
Her desire for self-improvement and her determination to make the most of opportunity motivated her as a six-time member of the U.S. Flatwater Sprint Kayak National Team, a recipient of a Georgia Games Sportsmanship Award, and a silver medalist at the Pan-American Games. As an athlete and through her interest in community development, she has traveled to a number of countries, but she felt particularly at home in East Africa. This spring, she hopes to return and explore community health initiatives and needs in Kenya. She also looks forward to warmer weather and being back on the water this summer.
Stephania Ortez is from Fairfax, Virginia. She is the daughter of Honduran parents. She moved to Georgia in 2012 and has felt at home ever since. She is currently a senior at the University of North Georgia (UNG), pursuing her degree in Political Science and minor in communication.
She is passionate about civic engagement within Georgia. Her interest in civic engagement grew from seeing community members being left out of important political conversations. Stephania hopes to use her degree and experience to help in the fight to increase civic engagement.
At UNG she has been involved with the Multicultural Student Affairs office, Latino Student association, Black Student Union and the UNG Speech & Debate team. She has served as the Vice President from 2018 to 2020 and is the current president of the debate team. With the debate team she has been able to compete in local, national and international debate tournaments in both Spanish and English. She loves the platform debate gives individuals to discuss overlooked issues with more depth.
Stephania enjoys trying new foods, traveling, creating and admiring art.