GALEO Institute for Leadership

Class of 2021

Serving Georgia Since 2004

Abigail Rangel

Adalina Merello

Experienced Community Organizer who has created professional networks across the country for the advancement of social justice.  Polished Latina professional who has been described as “easy to work with”, “accountable,someone who sees projects through”. My objective is to leverage aggregated work experiences to obtain a job that fosters personal and professional growth; and encourages and teaches new skills.

I am born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest to hippy and immigrant parents.  My home town is Eugene, Oregon and I am a proud Oregonian.  Growing up, the only other Peruvians I knew were my sisters, my aunt in California, my uncle in Washington and my cousins.  We build tremendous community through our annual family reunion at the Oregon Country Fair.  Where we sell our family made jewelry under the name of “La Familia Andina”

I am a proud graduate of both Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hunter College.  Both are part of the City University of New York.  I lived a decade in New York City and Los Angeles, with a year in Eugene, Oregon before I moved to my beloved home of Atlanta, Georgia.  I have been in Atlanta almost 9 years and love it.  It is my true home.  For fun I catch up with friends, read, listen to talk radio, and hang out with my fiancé and amazing dog, Maddy.  I live in Ormewood Park.

Andres Parra

Brenda Gutierrez

Brenda Gutierrez was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Calhoun, Georgia at the age of 6. She has a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Studies from Kennesaw State University. Brenda helped her husband run his campaign and win his election in November of 2019 as the first Latino elected in Clayton county; Hector Gutierrez Forest Park City Councilman, Ward 3. Brenda enjoys creating memories with her family while traveling or exploring new sites in our beautiful city Atlanta. Fun facts about Brenda she started her own non-profit summer of 2020, has her own podcast, and is in the process of getting her Doula certification.

Carlos Jasso

Carlos Jasso was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia to Mexican parents. His parents’ sacrifices and restraint gave him the inspiration and motivation to thrive for a better future for him and his family.

Graduating in 2019, he is currently a student at Georgia State University in his second year studying Marketing and is also volunteering with the non-profit organization HoPe (the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education) as the Alumni Engagement Coordinator.

Carmen Garcia

Proud Chicana born in San Jose, California. At the age of 13, relocated to Gainesville, Ga with dad, stepmom and two younger siblings (major culture shock!) Firm believer that we are here to serve others and only through education can we break generational poverty and stigmas. In doing so, a holistic approach can improve the well-being of future generations to come.

Went into the U.S. Army straight out of high school. Obtained a B.S. in Health Sciences through Brenau University where undergrad years were spent volunteering at schools and organizations. Main focus was to encourage higher education to students (hoping they would attend), predominately in the minority community.

Currently, Care Manager for a Christian non-profit, Good News Clinics. Days are spent working as a liaison between GNC and NGHS, to give uninsured patients the proper follow up care. A primary focus is minimizing visits and decreasing cost to the Emergency Department. Counsel patients, who are high risk, on disease prevention and non-compliancy and lead community engagement opportunities within the Spanish speaking community.

Serves as a Board Member at WomenSource, INC, which offer support programs for women to gain success and thrive in their lives. Part of the Community Health Committee of United Way of Hall County and Community Collaborative Committee of La Alianza of Hall County.

On free time, enjoy to volunteer, serve as a youth leader at church, run, hike, read and EAT!

Catherine Huff

Catherine Javiera Huff is an emerging arts professional in Atlanta, Georgia. Born and raised in southern Indiana, Huff received an Art History degree from the University of Georgia. Huff’s history and dedication to the Atlanta arts community is quickly growing. She is currently the Coordinator of Collections and Exhibitions and the former curatorial assistant of American and European art at the High Museum of Art. She was introduced to the High Museum through the esteemed Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Summer Academy. Huff now works closely with each of the High’s curatorial departments to create special exhibitions as well as permanent collection installations. Huff is a councilmember on the inaugural Atlanta BeltLine Public Art Advisory Board and has recently collaborated on campaigns with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as well as the New Georgia Project Action Fund. Her top interests include public art and its preservation, community-based arts education, as well as strategizing and imagining positive social change in the South.

Daniel Almaguer-Gaspar

Daniel Almaguer-Gaspar was born and raised in Georgia, coming from Mexican descent. He is a first generation Latino graduate from Georgia State University with a degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Legal Issues. He currently serves as the Sector Vice President of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. – Georgia Sector 1 and as the Assistant Director of Social Advocacy for the fraternity on a national level.

As the son of immigrants, he understands the need to advocate for the immigrant community and ensure protections for those vulnerable to discrimination. He understands the disadvantages one has to overcome when access to resources are limited. His background is in organizing to empower and mobilize communities to take action for positive change. He hopes to continue mentoring young people of color to continue growing and remember to take care of the communities they come from when they are able to.

Diana Chico Marquez

Diana was born in Jalisco, Mexico. She moved to the United States at the age of 10 and has lived in Georgia ever since. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2019 where she obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising. While at UGA, she was involved in various organizations such as the Hispanic Student Association, Alpha Kappa Psi, Goizueta Ambassadors, and ALPFA. Now as an alumni, she is involved in the UGA Latino Alumni Group.

She is passionate about advocating for immigrant’s rights, empowering women, and working towards an equal public education system.

Diana Howell

Diana Howell was born in Cali, Colombia and migrated to the United States with her family at the age of fourteen. She lived in NY for 5 years where she completed high school and then moved to GA where she attended college and received her B.S. in Psychology from Georgia Gwinnett College in 2013. Since High School Diana has been involved in the community either through volunteering or holding positions that directly affected the community such as working at the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), the Latin American Association, an immigration attorney’s office, and currently with WellCare of Georgia.

As an immigrant and as one who has worked with the community, Diana understands the challenges faced by immigrants not only here in Georgia but in the United States overall. Her desire is to provide assistance to those in need and work with other community organizations to help deliver needed services and assistance to communities in need.

Elvira Salgado

Eric Rangel

Eric Rangel was born in Hoboken, NJ, but raised in Dalton, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Finance and Applied Economics with a minor in Mathematics at Dalton State College. After college, Eric plans to matriculate into law school, where he intends to pursue legal studies in healthcare and corporate law. Eric aspires to work in government affairs within the healthcare sector to ensure healthcare providers and patients are well represented at the state and federal levels.

He has served under a Georgia state representative as a legislative aide focusing on the state budget, healthcare, education, and corporate legislation. He was also a campaign staffer for a candidate running for a U.S. Congressional seat for the 14th congressional district in Georgia.

Eric currently holds student-based membership with the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and serves on the advisory board for Community Estrella, a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, GA.

Aside from political engagement, Eric possesses a vast interest in FinTech and HeathTech. He also dedicates his time to learning new languages and computer languages such Python and Java.

Gabriela Maduro Salvarrey

My name is Gabi and I am a Peachtree Ridge High School graduate and D5 resident. I am a sophomore at Harvard College concentrating in Social Studies with a secondary in Education. I hope to pursue a career as a public servant advancing educational equity in my community. I have worked with organizations including the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education (HoPe), and taught with Breakthrough Atlanta and the Harvard Ed Portal Mentoring Program.

Indira Islas

Indira Ghandi Islas was born in Guerrero, Mexico, and has lived in the Gainesville, Georgia since coming to the U.S. at the age of 6. Due to the uprising violence, Indira’s parents decided to leave everything behind to give their three daughters a better and safer future. Her parents’ sacrifices became an inspiration for Indira, and she is following in her parents’ footsteps to become a doctor.

At the age of 16, Indira became a DACA recipient, and because of this status, after graduating high school, she earned a full-ride scholarship to attend college. In the spring of 2020, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in biology and is currently working on her MPH in Health Policy. Due to the barriers that come with obtaining higher education for DACAmented/Undocumented individuals, during her time in college, Indira became devoted to higher education. This led Indira to her current role as a College Access Coordinator for TeenSHARP, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping high-achieving low-income students of color get into top-tier colleges.

Besides Indira’s academics and job, she is an activist and advocate for immigration reform and immigrants’ access to healthcare. In her spare time, Indira enjoys volunteering at her local clinic and hospital as well as reading books about healthcare and immigration.

Ivan Serrano

Ivan was born in Los Angeles, California. His family relocated to Rome Georgia in 1998 at the age of 5, where he grew up and went to school. In 2016, Ivan enlisted in the United States Air Force and was station in McConnell AFB in Wichita KS. In Kansas, Ivan got involved with the local political process and helped organize efforts to bring out the voter turnout among Latino voters in Kansas.  His efforts were recognized by the elected Governor Laura Kelly. After finishing his enlistment, Ivan returned home to Rome Georgia and enrolled into Dalton State College, where he is currently working on his BA in History and hopes to help the local Latino community get involved with civic process in North West Georgia.  When not studying, Ivan enjoys reading historical novels and going to cinemas with friends, he hopes to go to grad school and earn his master’s in history.

Yanover Jairo Blanco

I, Jay Blanco, am an Honors Graduate from Kennesaw State University, I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration Management. I am a business owner and entrepreneur and the founder of The Yanover Company. My personal mission statement is below:

“I am diligent in my everyday life and in accomplishing my goals. I am forever reaching for more. I am resilient in the obstacles I face and I confront them with a smiling countenance and an optimistic heart and with courage and integrity. My delight is in helping others succeed and better themselves for a more bright and prosperous world. I never compromise my principles and hope to always be a light and example to others.”

My most important aspiration is to bring about lasting and positive change in my community.

Janet Sevilla

For over a decade, Janet E. Sevilla has served as a sports philanthropy advocate and corporate social responsibility professional. Powered by a passion for equity and fair access to resources, Janet has worked with multinational corporations, major league sports franchises, politicians, and professional athletes to design and implement successful, socially responsible initiatives that drive change in vulnerable communities.

In 2020, Janet joined the No.1 largest convention, sports, and entertainment destination in the world, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, as the Manager of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Janet is responsible for developing and executing the environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility strategy. Before GWCCA, Janet served as the community affairs manager for the Atlanta Braves. She strategically engaged the brand’s platform by developing education, health/wellness, youth baseball, community engagement programs, and fundraising for the Atlanta Braves Foundation. In 2017, Janet played a key role in launching the Atlanta Braves Spanish language brand Los Bravos and created a community segment called Los Bravos in the Community. Janet previously served as the community development coordinator with the Los Angeles Galaxy and the community relations associate with Los Angeles Lakers.

A Los Angeles native, Janet graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B. A. in Black Studies and Spanish, with a concentration in Sports Management, and from the Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Institute via the University of Georgia J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. In 2019, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized Janet as one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia. Janet serves as a Board Member of WISE Atlanta, a Hermanas Unidas, HYPE, and EME de Mujer member.

Jazmin Mejia

Ms. Jazmin Mejia is the legal assistant to Charles Kuck at Kuck | Baxter Immigration. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Georgia State University. She is of Mexican and Honduran descent. She is from Gainesville, Georgia and has been living in the States her whole life, except for a year, when she moved in with her dad who was affected by the immigration system. Her fondest memory in moving to Honduras was attending the International School of Tegucigalpa where she made friends and stays in contact with today. This really cemented her passion for education and learning. She plans on pursuing a J.D. sometime in the future and advocating for education reform in low-income and immigrant communities. She is fluent in English, Spanish and proficient in French.

Jennifer Manzano

Jennifer Manzano was born and raised in Clayton County to two industrious Mexican immigrants. Where she continues to experience and witness the intersectionality faced with being a first generation Chicana and by those of marginalized communities in the United States.

Currently a Senior and POSSE Scholar at Brandeis University, she is pursuing a degree in Health, Science, Society, & Policy and Latin American Latino Studies with a minor in Legal Studies. While newly living independently in an unfamiliar state, she quickly found her passion in activism specifically in the immigration and healthcare system. Since, she has worked in the Emergency Department of Massachusetts General hospital and for the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy as a research assistant studying the various discrepancies in healthcare for people with different social and economic backgrounds.

While becoming involved in the Boston chapter of the grassroots organization Movimiento Cosecha that fights for dignity, respect, and permanent protection for all immigrants, Jennifer has learned the power and movement in amplifying marginalized voices. She’s excited to embark on her journey with the Institute for Leadership and looks forward to learning from a network of professionals on how to advance Latinx representation.

Jesus Rubio

Jesús Rubio was born in Huelva, Spain but has spent most of his life in Kennesaw, Georgia. With descendants in Spain and Colombia, Jesús was born into a melting pot of Hispanic customs and traditions that he would later utilize to create a life in public advocacy roles as a minority in Georgia.

Jesús has earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy & Public Service at Arizona State University and earned a minor in Latin American Studies and a Business Certificate in Music and Entertainment Business while studying at Kennesaw State University. While at Kennesaw State, Jesús founded and became President of the Young Democrats at Kennesaw State University organization to create opportunities for students to engage with elected officials and candidates.

Jesús formerly worked with Congresswoman Lucy McBath’s district office in Sandy Springs, GA where he worked on constituent services and relations. There he helped plan and assist in the Congresswoman’s events in Georgia’s 6th congressional district and work on constituent correspondence. He eventually moved to Washington D.C to work in as a legislative intern at the U.S House of Representatives through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Afterwards, Jesús would come back to Georgia to organize for the Biden-Harris Presidential ticket and Democrats down the ballot statewide through the Democratic Party of Georgia as a field organizer in Gwinnett County. He would later work at the Jon Ossoff for U.S Senate campaign afterwards as the Latinx Outreach Director during the Georgia Senatorial runoff elections.

Joel Contreras

I am from Mexico City, Mexico and after arriving back to the U.S at the age of 6, the battle began. Many Latinos have gone through a battle of identity, many of us are in-between cultures. For many years I did not know who I was and did not know my purpose in the world until my teachers in elementary school took the time for me to understand the not only my classwork but the world around me. I had the opportunity to attend the University of North Georgia and graduate with a BFA in Communications and a minor in Spanish. I would not have gotten that far if it wasn’t for all those educators starting from elementary to my last day at the University of North Georgia. They believed in me and helped me understand that I am capable of achieving anything as long as I work hard for it. I hope to inspire future Latinos and help them understand the world around them and how to navigate it.

Jordan Gaeta

Maria Vizcaino Garcia

Maria Vizcaino Garcia graduated magna cum laude from Kennesaw State University in 2018. She majored in Political Science and minored in International Affairs from the School of Government and International Affairs. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, an organization whose members make up the top 15% of their class in the entire institution. Ms. Vizcaino also works ful-time as a legal assistant in a law firm in Riverdale, GA. From the knowledge she has learned from her experience at the law office, she has been able to give rudimentary legal advice to members of her community and will offer DACA application support for those who need it for little to no cost.. In addition, Maria Vizciano Garcia volunteers for the Democratic Party of Georgia and Nation of Dreamers. As a DACA recipient herself, Ms. Vizcaino Garcia recognizes that her success has been contingent on the benefits given by the Obama created program. Born in Celaya, Gto., Mexico in 1995, Maria was brought to the United States as a three-year-old undocumented child and was unaware of the perils many people like her faced until she had to apply for colleges. Without deferred action, she would not have been able to attend a public university in the state of Georgia, let alone work or drive. Although she graduated in the top 10% of her high school class, her college dreams were limited compared to those of her fellow peers. Nevertheless, with hard work, dedication, and a vision, Maria Vizcaino Garcia has been able to – and will continue to- achieve her American Dream.

Mariana Ortiz

Mariana works as a Diversity Fellow at the Center for Leadership in Disability in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She was also a GaLEND (Leadership in Education and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) fellow for the 2018-2019 school year as a family advocate. Mariana has a younger sister with a developmental disability and hopes to continue to help others like her sister through health policy.. She has had experience working with Latinx families through her work at the Marcus Autism Center in the Educational Sciences Research Center. During her time at the Marcus Autism Center, Mariana worked in the CITAS program, a support group for the Latina mothers of children with autism, and she also translated materials and resources for Marcus. Mariana has worked with Brenda Liz Muñoz at the Latino Community of Practice in the Center for Leadership in Disability to engage Latinx families to learn more about resources for their children with developmental disabilities. Mariana is also one of three certified bilingual Youth Mental Health First Aid instructors and has helped to facilitate mental health awareness training in English and Spanish in Georgia. She was awarded Georgia State University’s Royal Flame Leadership Award, Nell Trotter Award and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.’s Campus Leader of the Year Award in 2020 for her work in advocacy on behalf of the Latinx community.

Maricarmen Rodriguez

Maricarmen Rodriguez was born in California, to Mexican parents. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Linguistics where she received an English Teaching certificate, had a concentration in Turkish which connected to her minor in Middle East Studies. Maricarmen currently works as a paralegal at a private immigration firm in Atlanta.

She worked for the Latin American Association for two years where her passion to help immigrants really blossomed. Maricarmen enjoys spending time with her family at the Chattahoochee River on the weekends.

Marietta Murton

Marietta D. Murton is a bilingual community liaison. She completed her training at Georgia State University, where she graduated with the highest honors. While studying she earned awards and recognitions such as The College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Art Award, which recognizes student achievement in the field of visual arts, and The C200 Scholar Award during her enrollment in the GSU WomenLead Program.

When she is not working for the city or for the government, she volunteers for non-profit organizations whose mission is to prepare underserved Latino children for educational success, and as a board member for organizations to empower Latino students and professionals to develop leadership skills. In addition, Marietta uses her artistic skills to create and donate artwork to be sold in auctions in Galas for different Latino organizations, such as LAA, LACC and Los Niños Primero.

Marietta was raised in Peru and moved to the US at age 25 with only ten cents to her name. Fourteen years later, she managed to put herself through college, earning a bachelor’s degree, and becoming the first-generation college graduate in her family. She is deeply proud of her humble beginnings and of the opportunities that this country has made available to her.

Mirian Bravo

My name is Mirian Bravo, I am a highschool student at Cross Keys, and I’m ready to learn a lot  and be open minded. I am 18 years old and I want to go to college and do Real Estate. I love to help my community!

Moises Cortez Guerra

I am currently a freshman at Clayton State University majoring in Political Science. I hope of being able to serve my local community through the city council and go beyond towards the future to better serve my community! I love meeting new people and diverse cultures. I tend to try to learn the history behind everything I come across to better understand the world around me. My favorite hobby is creating graphic designs for various groups that want to help people in the community. I love the idea of getting their message out there through my designs. My parents are from Guatemala and have shown me to always keep my head up when life tries to bring you down because adversity and setbacks are only temporary. I like rollerskating and taking forest walks!

Octavio Aguado

Octavio Jesus Aguado is an alumnus of the University of North Georgia where he studied Biology. He currently works at Valdosta State University as a Residence Hall Director. He is in a master’s program of Higher Education Leadership. He also volunteers as a graduation coach for high school students with the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education. He hopes to work with the Board of Regents of the University of Georgia because he wants to change certain academic policies. Since the University of Georgia bans undocumented students from attending public higher education institutions, he hopes to continue seeking help for those who want to go to college.

Oscar Lanza Menjivar

Oscar Lanza Menjivar is a current 2L at Emory University School of Law. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Georgia State University. He is proud to call Atlanta home and is the son of Honduran immigrants.

Oscar is passionate about issues relating to diversity, access to justice, and technology. He has previously served as the Vice President for the Hispanic Law Student Association (HLSA), as the Public Outreach Chair for the Mercer Technology & Intellectual Property Society, and has volunteered with Nation of Dreamers as a graphic designer.

He is fully bilingual (Spanish and English) with conversational proficiency in French. Oscar is eager to utilize his skills to empower the Latino community in Georgia and believes strongly in promoting voter turnout in underrepresented communities.

Patrick Rodriguez

Patrick Rodriguez is the current Executive Director of The Georgia Coalition for Higher Education in Prison and serves as the Director of Special Projects for Common Good Atlanta. As a formerly incarcerated leader, Patrick has been working in the prison education space since his release from prison in 2019. He came out of prison with one focus and that was to serve. He wants to serve those who have been through the same experience as him. Whether that is through advocating for them on a legislative level or giving someone a ride to work, Patrick does it all.

When we asked Patrick if he had something He would like to share for this bio, this is what he had to say, “I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that have come my way. I could not have done it without a strong community of people around me. I have one focus and that is to help those who have been through the prison system. If I can make it a little easier for my brothers and sisters to transition into society or get accepted into college, all of this has been worth it. They say that if you judge a nation by its prison systems that will tell you where the work needs to be done, as a nation, we have a lot of work to do. Every day I roll my sleeves up and put my boots on and I hope you too can join me in this fight!”

Patrick is currently studying at Kennesaw State University and is majoring in Organizational and Professional Communication and plans on attending law school in 2022.

Ronaldino Velasquez

Hello my name is Ronaldino Velasquez-Perez. I am a 21 years young, first generational Hispanic- American. My family is from Guatemala and lived and grew up near a volcano.

We immigrated here to start a better life for us. I have dedicated my life to serve them and help my community in any kind of way.

That rippled me to start my business at 20 years old in Real Estate Investing.

I am passionate about the enhancement of the Hispanic/Latino community and understanding the fundamentals of power community enhancement which we still struggle and strive for.

I love hiking, love to learn history, and love making a difference.

Sergio Contreras

Sergio Contreras was born in Douglas, Georgia to immigrant parents from Durango, Mexico. Sergio is a proud first generation Mexican-American and first-generation college graduate from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2020 and from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College with an Associates of Science in General Studies in 2019. Understanding the struggles of first-generation college students has encouraged Sergio to work with programs like Upward Bound and College Assistance Migrant Program, which help high school students with higher education. In his free time, he enjoys watching TV, reading, listing to music and podcasts as well as volunteering to help other Latinos to know about their rights that they have. Sergio is currently preparing to go back to college to get a master’s degree in Latin American Studies.

Victoria Rivas

My name is Victoria Rivas-Sanchez I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I am currently studying Marketing at Georgia State University and I plan to work in Social Media Marketing after I graduate. I currently work for Los Vecinos de Buford Highway as the Civic Engagement Coordinator and also volunteer at Athena’s Warehouse. As a first generation student I have had to learn and teach my parent’s a lot when it comes to education and community organizing. It has also pushed me to strive for success not only for myself but for my parents. I want to lead by example not only at home but in my community.