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2024 GALEO Institute for Leadership Cohort

Aceli Zenil

Aceli Zenil Ortega was born in Jacala Hidalgo Mexico, Abril 21 1980, she moved to the United States at 16 years old in 1996. She completed high school in Mexico and dedicated herself to working for a better future for herself and her family. Aceli is now a mother of three, with one at Kennesaw State University and two at Paideia School.

Aceli, a Latina in the United States, faces culture barriers and language barriers. Despite these challenges, she seeks teaching and learning opportunities and supports through volunteering at schools, churches, and support centers. Her goal is to inspire her community to pursue their dreams and find opportunities for themselves and their families, demonstrating the importance of overcoming cultural and language barriers, and looking for ways to better oneself. She is currently the Co-CEO of Los Amigos de la Comunidad.


Allyson Gevertz

Ms. Allyson Gevertz is a native of Enid, Oklahoma. She attended Enid Public Schools, where her mother served as a School Board Member. After her high school graduation, she moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University. She received her Bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Emory, then attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts for her Master’s and Specialist degrees in School Psychology.

After working for several years as a School Psychologist for Gwinnett County Public Schools, Allyson began community advocacy work for her county of residence, DeKalb County. She has focused on sexual assault prevention in positions ranging from hotline volunteer to Board of Directors Chair for Day League (formerly DeKalb Rape Crisis Center). As President of the Junior League of DeKalb County, Allyson joined the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2007. She is currently on the Board of Directors for Leadership DeKalb. Her passion for children and families led her to work on the Partnership for Community Action Board, the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra Board, the DeKalb Juvenile Court Judicial Citizens Review Panel, and the Board of Directors for DeKalb County Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).

Because Allyson and her husband David have sent two children to DeKalb County Schools, she has spent many years focused on public education advocacy. She has served in various positions on local school PTAs and School Councils, eventually chairing the regional Emory LaVista Parent Council and DeKalb Chamber’s eduKALB. In 2013, she collaborated with other parent council leaders to form Parent Councils United (PCU), a county-wide grassroots advocacy group focused on educational excellence for all DeKalb students. As PCU Co-President, Allyson served on District-wide committees such as the DCSD Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, the Flexibility Advisory Committee, the Technology Advisory Committee and the Superintendent’s Advisory Council. She was a member of the DCSD team completing Harvard Business School’s Public Education Leadership Conference. In 2016, Allyson chaired the Education-SPLOST campaign. The initiative passed by 71% and is providing over $500 million for improvements to DeKalb Schools. Allyson will continue advocating for all DeKalb students in her role on the Board of Education.

Angedith Poggi

Angedith Poggi, DHSc, MPH, is a distinguished survey statistician and seasoned professor with over 10 years of professional expertise. In addition to her impressive academic background, she serves as an Academic and Professional Mentor, empowering students to realize their aspirations through digital resources, mentoring programs, and impactful workshops. Dr. Poggi is the visionary creator of the RETA Framework™, a strategic tool designed to guide the academic and professional journeys of first-generation Latino college students. Her commitment has resulted in the successful guidance of numerous students, enabling them to complete their dissertations and align their education, skills, and values with purposeful living.

A proud native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Poggi obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master of Public Health in Biostatistics from the University of Puerto Rico. In 2021, she achieved the pinnacle of her academic pursuits by earning a Doctor of Health Sciences with a focus on Education and Global Health from Nova Southeastern University. As a public health researcher, Dr. Poggi has coauthored several peer-reviewed publications addressing critical issues affecting underserved populations.

Dr. Poggi has been featured in Salud America, Best Colleges, Up Journey, Shoutout Atlanta, Bold Journey, Voyage ATL, and appearances on the Sala de Facultad Podcast, among others.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Dr. Poggi finds joy in traveling and actively participating in community and professional organizations. She serves as the Member Relations Vice-Chair of the Hispanic Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE), a division of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, Dr. Poggi remains an engaged member of the American Public Health Association, contributing her expertise to the advancement of public health initiatives.

Angel Munguia

Angel is a first generation Guatemalan-American that was born and raised in Pasadena, California. His career as a US Army Paralegal has been both emotional and fulfilling as he has tackled cases involving special victims, fraud, and attempted murder across various Army stations like South Korea, Missouri, Alaska, and Georgia. Angel holds an Associate’s degree in Sociology and a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. With the experience he has gained in the military he hopes to give back to the community and mentoring others into becoming all they can be. 

Anyela Ibauge

Soy Anyela Ibague soy colombiana llegué a este país en el 2011 como madre soltera de dos niños, y sin dinero ;no contaba con ayuda de ningún familiar; mi motivación era sacar adelante a mis hijos en su educación, mi hija se hizo profesional y mi pequeño hijo que tiene autismo está actualmente haciendo su bachillerato logré con mucho esfuerzo y trabajo comprar casa en florida a los 18 meses de haber llegado. Continué dedicada a mis hijos y trabajo luego me casé en diciembre 2020 y me vine con mi actual esposo a Georgia donde actualmente trabajamos y esperamos juntos lograr nuestras metas y de poder servir e inspirar a otros a lograr sus sueños.

Aprille Moore

Major Aprille Moore has nearly 18 years of experience in law enforcement and currently serves as the Commander for the Training, Background and Recruitment Unit at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office under the leadership of Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat. She is responsible for coordinating agency training and ensuring that all sworn personnel are in compliance with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council requirements, overseeing the background investigation process, and recruiting a diverse pool of applicants to join the ranks of law enforcement. In addition to those responsibilities, she also holds specialized Instructor Certifications in Use of Force, Defensive Tactics, Emergency Medical Training. 

Major Moore earned her Master of Public Administration from Troy University and her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University. She is also a graduate of the United Way Volunteer Involvement Program, Atlanta Regional Commission Regional Leadership Commission, Georgia Municipal Association Young GameChangers, LEAD Atlanta, Leadership Atlanta, as well as an inductee of Outstanding Atlanta. In 2021, Aprille was named as the youthSpark Community Ambassador of the Year and Atlanta Business Chronicle 40 Under Forty. She is also the recipient of the Junior League of DeKalb County Spirit of the League Award, Chandani Algeo Shining Star Award and the 2022 Association of Junior Leagues International Rising Star Award. She was also a 2022 40 Under 40 award recipient by her alma mater, Georgia State University, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her personal time, Aprille serves as a Community Ambassador for youthSpark providing prevention and awareness training to schools, churches and other members of the community on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and as an Ambassador for Black Girls RUN! Atlanta motivating women to reach and exceed their running goals, educating new members on running tips and leading group runs. She is also an active member serving in leadership roles in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Atlanta Alumnae Chapter, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Stone Mountain Chapter and Junior League of DeKalb County (GA).

As a woman in law enforcement, she recognizes her role is more pivotal than ever. Aprille prides herself on being able to bring a unique perspective to the profession through not only advocating for progress amongst her peers, but also fostering community connections that build trust. Born and raised in Decatur, GA, Aprille loves being a mother to her two sons, running marathons, cooking, and painting.

Arelious Cooper Jr.

After 20 plus years of being in professional basketball, and serving in multiple roles in professional sports from ball boy (Atlanta Hawks) to international player and coach to minor league team owner, A.R. Cooper accomplished about all he could in basketball. Throughout the years the one consistent thing no, matter what role he served in, was giving back to the community. After decades of participating in and facilitating basketball camps, coaching clinics, and charity games all around the world from Iceland to Taiwan, he was at an all time high professionally in 2020. Following a championship run in Germany, and a successful campaign in Lagos where he was able to bring enough equipment from local teams in the US to start a youth basketball league in Nigeria, he saw the sky as the limit for what was next.  The pandemic grounded Cooper and brought him back to Atlanta, Georgia where he started Art in the Paint, an organization that transforms neglected neighborhood basketball courts into community centers without walls. Since its inception, the organization has painted courts for over 20 communities from East Point, Georgia to Ethiopia. Some of the highlights have been working with Footlocker, United Health Care, Lil Baby, Renee Montgomery, SCAD, The Boys and Girls Club and President Jimmy Carter. Cooper has even been featured in Essence Magazine. After making a huge pivot and connecting the worlds of sports, art and community, Cooper hopes to be able to change the world with his innovative solution based work.


Brian Hibbs

Brian Hibbs is an associate professor of education/ESOL at Dalton State College. He regularly teaches courses in applied linguistics, language teaching methodology, and culture and education to prospective elementary- education teachers to effectively prepare them to work with multilingual learners in their current/future classrooms. In addition to English, he is fluent in French and Spanish and has extensive study abroad experience, including studying Spanish and teaching French as a foreign language in Grenoble, France as well as working as a lecturer in English in Valladolid, Spain and Paris, France. He has participated in previous leadership experiences, including the 2017 cohort of the Leadership Excellence Institute at Dalton State and the 2024 cohort of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Leaders Institute. He also has previous leadership experience, including director of the USG Goes Global’s Madrid program from 2017-2020 and chairing the High-Impact Practices Committee at Dalton State during the same period. His mission is to inspire others to discover how their individual strengths and abilities can contribute in meaningful ways to local, regional, national and international communities.

Candy Isabel

Candy Isabel is a first-generation immigrant from the Dominican Republic, a Veteran, and the Founder and CEO of Khamai Strategies. Growing up in Grand Rapids, MI, she has had a lifetime of experience and personal involvement in the communities that she serves. With more than ten years of experience in her fields of expertise and a Master’s Degree in Family Life Education, Candy is passionate about community and advocating for those who don’t have a seat at the table. Candy recognizes the barriers and adversities many communities face because at one point- it was her reality too. She is a product of the same environments she looks to help and advocate for. Candy asks the tough questions and doesn’t mind being in the hot seat when it’s time to stand up for what is right. Even if that means being the only one to say so. She is strategic, planned out, and loves to see ideas come to life. Candy is married and has 2 beautiful children.

Carmen E. Montoya

Carmen E. Montoya Moncada was born in Honduras and moved to the United States at the age of two, as her family sought to provide her with the American dream. Despite facing challenges as a DACA recipient, Carmen is determined to excel. Currently, she is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Networking Specialist with a concentration in Cloud Computing at Gwinnett Technical College. Her dedication and excellence in academics have led her to be nominated for the 2023 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership. Moreover, Carmen’s passion for empowering women in STEAM is evident through her role as the Vice President of Marketing for the Women in Technology Campus Club, which was honored with the prestigious 2023 WIT Campus Club of the Year Award. As she continues her journey in the STEAM field, she is committed to providing guidance and support to individuals seeking to enter the STEAM field, helping them navigate challenges and achieve their goals.


Christine Fabre

Christine Fabre Rose currently serves as the Assistant Director of Latinx Student Services and Outreach (LASSO) at Georgia State University. In her role, she supports Latinx students by creating yearlong social, cultural, academic, and professional programming. As a first-generation Latina, she is dedicated to recruiting, retaining, and graduating students. She is passionate about serving her students and making sure they feel a sense of familia throughout their journey in higher education. As an experienced Social Worker turned Higher Ed professional, she has a background in case management and therapy with diverse populations. Christine holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Florida International University and a Master of Social Work from Barry University in Miami, FL.

Christine enjoys serving her community by volunteering with several non-profits. In 2021, as Board President of Proyecto RAICES, she helped plan and coordinate the first Latino festival in Akron, OH for Hispanic Heritage month. In 2022, she was named one of the 100+ Latinos Cleveland Must Know. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and grew up in Miami, FL. Christine and her husband Jared are the proud parents of their two daughters Katarina and Daniella. Outside of volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and being outdoors.

Danny Zayas

Meet Danny Zayas, the Development Manager at the Ron Clark Academy! Hailing from the vibrant city of Glen Cove, NY, Danny brings a splash of Puerto Rican heart and soul. After soaking up the sun in South Florida for his education, he made the leap to Atlanta, GA, where he’s been thriving ever since.

With a Bachelor’s in Management and a Master’s in College Student Affairs, Danny’s got the brains to match his heart. When he’s not busy at work, you’ll find him tearing up the softball field with the Hotlanta Softball League or chilling with his loved ones.

Danny’s is excited to be a part of the 2024 Cohort. It’s his way of making a difference in the Latino community while shaking up his own perspective on leadership and community engagement.

Oh, and did we mention he’s got a furry sidekick? Lola the Frenchie is his faithful companion on adventures across Georgia and beyond, especially when they’re exploring with his mom, Nancy. Danny’s all about living life to the fullest, one game of softball and one road trip at a time!


Elena Miller

Elena Miller is a IATSE Local 798 union makeup artist currently based in Atlanta, GA. She has experience working in film, theatre, makeup effects, haunts, amusement parks, bridal, beauty, fashion and editorial. During makeup school she also learned a variety of skills such as: learning how to sculpt, cast, mold and paint foam latex, silicone, and gelatin; how to hand-lay hair, ventilate wigs and facial hair pieces as well as basic hairstyling. She graduated from the full-time, year-long Makeup Design for Film and Television program at Vancouver Film School on December 13, 2018. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN — Class of 2014, where she won the “Emerging Leader Award” for her work against racism and discrimination while campaigning for student government positions in 2012.

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she began her love of makeup on YouTube and working 2 years in cosmetic retail. However, she soon realized that the makeup for film, television, ad campaigns and commercials were far more fascinating and exciting. She discovered how to further her education and quickly applied to VFS. She graduated in 2018 and is happy to say that attending was the best decision of her life. She found that she LOVES working on set and enjoys seeing the storytelling of various angles and watching the process unfold. She has discovered that her biology background in human anatomy and physiology has been incredibly beneficial to her makeup career and set her apart from other artists with a unique perspective on seeing art through a scientific lens.

Eliseo Riddick

Eliseo Riddick is a highly motivated finance and accounting professional at UPS Supply Chain Solutions. He graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s in economics and is pursuing a master’s in information systems. He has received multiple professional certifications related to his field, such as AWS Cloud Practitioner and Certified SCRUM Product Owner. Throughout his career, he has blended his background in finance and technology to build data products such as machine-learning models and interactive dashboards to help executives make critical decisions. In parallel with his professional career, he has volunteered with and worked alongside his fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., where he serves as the Georgia Sector 1 Induction Officer. Where he helps undergraduate chapters coordinate their induction process and liaises between the undergraduate chapters and the national organization. As a family man and someone who strives to better his community, he plans on using his background in technology to make education and its real-world application in this space more accessible to the masses, particularly the youth. In his free time, he enjoys reading and going to the gym.

Erika Andrade

Erika Andrade (She/Her/Ella) was born in Griffin, Georgia and was raised by a Mexican father and American mother, growing up around different cultures which shaped her into who she is today. Erika currently attends Kennesaw State University and is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. She aspires to become a therapist specializing in substance abuse & behavioral counseling with goals of going to graduate school and studying human development. With a commitment to her community and helping others, she also wants to become a social worker who works for organizations similar to GALEO. Erika enjoys socializing and getting to know others, as well as helping others in any way she can. At Kennesaw State, she currently serves as the Membership Coordinator Co-chair for the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), where she found her home. OLAS was the start of her journey in giving back and bringing together her community and is what prompted her to get involved and search for other opportunities similar to what OLAS gave her. She joined the GIL program because she saw it as an opportunity for growth and a way to make a difference, and she is most excited to meet people who share a similar dream to her: empowering her community.

Fatima Santillan

Fatima Santillan is a first-generation Latina born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia. She is the proud daughter of two Mexican immigrants from Durango, Mexico. Fatima is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law and a minor in Public Administration at the University of North Georgia. Following her undergraduate degree, she will obtain a joint Master’s in Public Administration and Juris Doctor degree specializing in immigration law. She intends to become an immigration attorney, working in public policy reformation within underprivileged cities while using statistics and data to explain how deportation is happening at a disproportionate rate. Fatima believes that the educational opportunities for undocumented students are vastly limited because of their citizenship status. Having seen the implications for DACA students, she devised and began building a “Dream Center” at her university dedicated to housing resources for undocumented students, such as scholarships, community-offered legal services, and professional advising. Fatima is committed to cultivating opportunities that did not previously exist for Latinos in higher education and helping other first-generation Latinos adapt to a system that was not intended to serve them.

Gabriela Justo

My name is Gabriela Justo and I was born in Puebla Mexico. I was 16 years old when my family and I migrated to the U.S to pursue a better future in 2008, and I have been living in Norcross, GA ever since. I became a first generation High School graduate at Dunwoody High School in 2011, and soon after I attended Georgia Perimeter College pursuing a Nursing degree which I was unfortunately unable to complete due to financial and immigration obstacles at the time.

This setback did not keep me from pursuing a career in healthcare given that my passion for this field has been driven by many past experiences dealing with medical conditions in my family. After the DACA program was created, I became a Certified Medical Assistant and have since attained over 7-years of hands-on experience in the fields of Neurology and Rheumatology. Most recently, I have been working with Neuro Centers of America in a management role that has further motivated me to continue helping people to network and connect with valuable resources so as to foster education, promote mindfulness, and cultivate a healthy environment for the overall well-being of my community. In addition to my work in the medical field, I am also co-owner of Joyeria Mi Tesoro, a jewelry design and repair business which my partner and I started in 2022. I am very excited to keep learning and growing with the GIL program, and I look forward to applying this knowledge to empower others to achieve their goals.

Giovanni Sturgis

Giovanni Sturgis was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico and has lived in Atlanta, GA since 2017 by way of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a Non Profit leader and Community Organizer focused on Education and Entertainment that brings a decade of experience in Program Management and Youth Development.
In recent roles, he has cultivated partnerships with various organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Salvation Army, The Urban League, and United Way. He currently serves as Site Director at Per Scholas, a national nonprofit whose mission is to advance economic equity for underrepresented communities through tuition free Technical Training. He has a proven track record in work that incorporates the needs of families and individuals and has dedicated his life to empowering youth and people of color throughout the country.

James Rodriguez

My name is James Mathew Rodriguez, and I am a student at Georgia State University studying marketing. I am a first-generation student and the first in my family to receive a college degree after obtaining my associate’s degree from Chattahoochee Technical College. I have lived in Georgia all my life and reside in the town of Acworth, Georgia. I have a Mexican background and am deeply proud of my roots. I try to go back and visit Mexico as much as possible to reunite with my family members who currently live there.
About me, I am very into sports, specifically soccer and basketball, as I attend games in my free time and keep up with the scores throughout the year. I also enjoy music, art, and cinema, and I would love to travel more. I would like to visit the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa at some point in my life. I look forward to working with GALEO.

Jenny Ortega

Jenny Ortega Calderon, originally from El Salvador, moved to Athens, GA, with her family in 2009 at the age of 13. Her academic path led her to the University of North Georgia, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. During her time in college, Jenny actively engaged with numerous nonprofit organizations in Metro Atlanta, eagerly exploring the various challenges faced by families across Georgia.
Fuelled by her passion for community service and her steadfast commitment to seeing families thrive, Jenny now works at the Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries. In this capacity, she plays an integral role in delivering emergency assistance to residents in Southwest Gwinnett, thereby exemplifying her dedication to facilitating positive impact and supporting vulnerable populations.

Juan Holguin

Juan Holguin is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Dalton, GA now living in Powder Springs, GA since beginning his career with Georgia Power Company where he currently serves as a leader in the finance organization. He received his undergraduate degree in accounting from Dalton State College, Master of Accounting degree from Kennesaw State University, and is an active certified public accountant. Juan strives to grow and develop the LatinX representation in corporate America.

Judith Murillo

Judith Murillo, the eldest of four children and daughter of Mexican immigrants, was born and
raised in Georgia. Currently, she is a single mother to a 9-year-old boy while pursuing a degree
in computer science at Gwinnett Technical College. Her educational aspirations extend to
obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the field. Judith is passionate about supporting Hispanic
families in accessing full resources from public school systems and understanding their parental
rights. Her objective is to ensure that the next generation of Hispanics is equipped with the
necessary tools and support to thrive, contributing to a brighter future for the community.

Lanona Lynette Jones

Lanona Jones has made it her life’s mission to advocate for the underprivileged, the destitute, the homeless and disabled. As the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, Inspire Positivity, Inc., Mrs. Jones develops programs, workshops and events that foster the concept of inspiring and encouraging disenfranchised and disabled residents of neighborhoods to take an active role in creating the revitalization and redevelopment of their communities. The nonprofit’s primary purpose is to provide a safe and secure environment to allow residents to have their voices heard and their problems and concerns addressed through Welcoming Community Dialogues. Mrs. Jones has over 25 years of professional experience in the Human Resources and Non-Profit Management industries. Mrs. Jones has a unique perspective and understanding regarding the plight of the disabled populations in the community. Serving with compassion and determination, Mrs. Jones applies her professional and lived experiences as a disabled individual to assist residents who are homeless, transitioning back into the community from incarceration and those who suffer from developmental disabilities, substance abuse and mental illness. Through her work with Inspire Positivity, Mrs. Jones partners with local community activists, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies to create programs and services that improve the quality of life for residents who require assistance with housing, employment, education, social support services, community outreach programs and services for the disabled in rural Georgia communities. Mrs. Jones has committed her life to the service of others and for the uplifting and paths to success for the disenfranchised.

Laura Lizbeth Zamora

Laura Lizbeth Zamora is currently the Director of Youth Programs at Los Niños Primero where she oversees the Youth Service and Leadership Pathway. Growing up, Laura was supported by local nonprofits, like Los Niños Primero and the Sandy Springs Mission, and found a passion for community service. It is a fulfilling journey to be able to give back to the organization that supported her as a teenager. She hopes to empower other Latino youth shaping their future and reaching their full potential.

Laura holds her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University and intends to return to school for her Bachelor’s in Social Work in the Fall of 2024. She was born in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and came to the U.S. when she was 5 years old. Laura is excited to be a part of the GALEO Institute for Leadership 2024 Cohort and hopes to expand her leadership skills to continue impacting the Latino community.


Leslie Palomino

Leslie is a Georgia native who grew up in Gwinnett County, one of the most diverse counties in the Southeast of the United States. Leslie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law and a minor in Journalism from Georgia State University.

Leslie is the proud daughter of Peruvian immigrants who represents her parent’s dreams they had when they migrated to the United States in the late 1990s. During her upbringing, her parents instilled the importance of education, resilience, and helping others when she can. She grew up in a working-class and mixed-status family which inspired her to become a community advocate and an aspiring attorney. She plans to pursue areas of legal practice in immigration, and civil and human rights law. Leslie was the first eligible voter in her household of five, which ensured she was civically engaged by casting their family’s vote at each election.

Leslie holds a background in political campaigning, legislative advocacy, and community grassroots organizing. She first became politically involved during her high school senior year. At the age of 17, she engaged in activism and advocated for change in her community.

Leslie previously worked on the re-election campaign for Former Georgia State Representative Brenda Lopez Romero for House District 99 and also worked for Romero’s campaign for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Leslie served as a legislative assistant for Former Georgia State Representative Brenda Lopez Romero during the 2019-2020 legislative session. Leslie assisted at The Lopez Firm LLC., focusing on immigration cases. Leslie has completed a one-year Poderosas fellowship program with Poder Latinx, representing the state of Georgia. She was an organizing fellow with Fair Fight Action to safeguard voting rights and our democracy.

Most recently, Leslie served as the Georgia Senior Lead at Poder Latinx building political power within the Latinx community. In her role, she led voter registration and voter mobilization programs. She is now the Georgia Senior Program Coordinator at Poder Latinx.

Leslie is a champion for change in her community. She is passionate about increasing the civic participation of Latinxs in Georgia. Through her work, she strives to engage the next generation of leaders to become changemakers who are civically engaged and politically empowered.

Lino Alexis Acosta

Lino Acosta is a full time student at the University of Kennesaw State University pursuing a degree in Business Administration and also a minor in Supply Chain Management. He is 20 years old, born and raised in the small town of Tifton, Georgia. He currently works at Scholastic Book Fair Company but will start his first internship this summer with Sherwin Williams in Marketing and Sales. Outside of school and work, Lino enjoys spending time with his fraternity, friends and family. Lino is currently the Chapter president of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Incorporated at Kennesaw State University. Lino takes great pride in everything he does and challenges himself everyday to be a better version of himself than the day prior. Lino hopes to grow his leadership through this program to uplift his city. He hopes to one day change the dynamic and voice of latinos in South Georgia.

Maikel Atez Adames

Maikel Atez Adames is a dedicated graduate student currently completing his final semester at Western Governors University, where he is pursuing a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. Prior to this, he graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication. Currently, Maikel works as a Senior Onboarding Specialist at Insight Global, where he applies his communication skills and leadership acumen to onboard and mentor new employees. Additionally, he serves as the Alumni Advisor for the Gamma Pi Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. at Georgia State University, where he guides and supports the next generation of leaders within the fraternity. Outside of his professional and academic pursuits, Maikel enjoys spending his free time traveling to new destinations and cherishing moments with friends and family. With a passion for personal and professional development, Maikel is committed to making a positive impact in his community and beyond.

Maria Jose McChesney

I am a Bilingual Financial Advisor and I love helping clients Organizing, Growing, Protecting and Transfering their wealth (and save on taxes while doing it!). A native of Mexico City, I hold a bachelor’s degree in Actuarial sciences. Following my college years, I embarked on an exciting job opportunity in South Florida. Eventually, my husband and I made the decision to settle permanently in Georgia, where we have discovered an incredible circle of friends and a vibrant community that fills us with pride. I love being a Financial resource for my community so please reach out with any questions you have about money. I firmly believe that my calling is to continue serving others through financial guidance and education.

Mayra Lizeth Sainz

Mayra is a current PhD Candidate at Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and an alumna of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health where she received her MPH from the department of Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences. Her interests are partnering with community organizations to conduct research that explores, addresses, and evaluates programs that reduce health disparities in historically marginalized communities. Her dissertation will focus on partnering with community, religious, and government leaders to improve the quality of life for Latinx families impacted by dementia. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dogs Cubby and Luna, traveling to her home state of California to visit friends and family, and observing astrological occurrences and patterns.

Nakia Mattis

Nakia Mattis is the Senior Director of Revenue Cycle Management with Fresenius Medical Care North America. Over the past 25 years, she has built a successful career in healthcare and information technology. She is a PMI Certified Program Manager and ASQ Certified Lean Six
Sigma Black Belt who provides process improvement expertise, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of revenue cycle and clinical operations. Nakia has a Dual Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Clark Atlanta University and Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Additionally, she has a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from the
University of Maryland. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Health Administration with Medical University of South Carolina. She is an active member the Project Management Institute (PMI), American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), and the Healthcare
Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as well as involved in various community service organization throughout the Atlanta Metro and North Fulton area where she resides with her husband, Lawrence Mattis, and their two beautiful children, Hunter (9 years old) and Penelope (7 years old).

Natalie Jimenez

Natalie is currently serving as a youth advocate with Tranquility House Domestic Violence Center. She is a current graduate student at Kennesaw State University obtaining her degree in Public Administration. Natalie first-generation Guatemalan. She enjoys being involved with her college and in her community and is always delighted to lend a helpful hand. She is an advocate by heart and by trade. She hopes that her work in the field and onward will inspire change and impact in the future for herself and others. Driven by her desires to make waves and change, she hopes to pursue research opportunities that will aid in the implementation of new policies in Georgia. Her favorite activities include reading new books, spending time with her family and hanging out in the sun.

Noemi Nolasco

Noemi Nolasco is a first-generation Mexican American who, as the youngest of five siblings, became the first in her family to graduate from high school and college. She studied Spanish language & literature with a focus on communications at the University of North Georgia. During undergrad, she held various leadership positions and was awarded the Student of Engagement Award her senior year for displaying one of the University’s core values. In Spring 2023, she then interned at GALEO with the leadership development team. She then worked as a social media assistant to Councilman Gutierrez in helping promote local events in her community. Currently, Noemi works in marketing and Human Resources at 5 Points Electrical. Through her experiences, she has gained a deep appreciation for community involvement, particularly for underrepresented groups.

Paloma Valdovinos

Paloma Valdovinos is a vivacious and resilient, eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants. It was her experiences as a first generation Mexican-American growing up in the south that exposed her into roles serving her community and the realization that systems were not set up to support people equally. Paloma’s body of work centers the questioning of systems and gently invites organizations and individuals to do the radical work of reflecting how their own actions and decisions may be perpetuating inequity.


Paloma is a visionary youth program manager, with over 10 years of experience creating and developing programs that center youth voices, focus on their leadership and self-agency development, and support families in increasing their sense of trust and communication. As a seasoned youth advocate she has worked with hundreds of families to identify their needs and connect them to services and resources in their community.  As a youth witness of domestic violence, she believes it is her mission to ensure that children and youth have access to life changing resources and that organizations are equipped with the best practices to support them.

Paola Cordova Arcela

Meet Paola Cordova Arcela, a committed graduate student pursuing her Master of Business Administration at Georgia State University. Hailing from Callao, Peru, she embarked on a life-changing adventure at 17, relocating to the US to pursue her higher education dreams. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in International Business from Kennesaw State University. Presently, she thrives in the real estate investment sector and serves as the co-founder of a real estate investment company. Additionally, she dedicates her time as the Board Secretary for the non-profit organization, Peace Harmony Joy Alliance (PHJA), which works to create less stress and more joy around the world. Paola finds fulfillment in continual learning and embracing new experiences. During her tenure at PHJA, she has spearheaded the translation of their book and the development of its Spanish audiobook. Her ambition extends to obtaining her J.D. and becoming an Intellectual Property lawyer in the near
future. Balancing her professional pursuits, Paola takes pride in caring for her two beloved dogs. Her purpose revolves around helping others, and she finds immense joy in exploring the world through its diverse culinary delights and in dancing.

Remedios Rodriguez

Remedios Rodriguez is a senior healthcare executive with over 25 years of experience in healthcare management, business development, and operations. She is a graduate from Miami University School of Law, Georgia State University Counseling Department and Mercer University undergraduate arts program. Remedios has successfully overseen the insourcing and strategic development of behavioral health programs at health insurance companies like WellCare Health Plans and Peach State Health Plan. Remedios has extensive experience starting up and managing behavioral health managed care organizations in Puerto Rico and Florida. In addition to her executive roles, Remedios has also worked as an associate attorney focusing on workers compensation litigation and as a therapist providing mental health services.  Throughout her career, Remedios has demonstrated an ability to develop and implement new healthcare programs, manage operations, and contribute to the profitability and growth of managed care organizations. Overall, Remedios has a strong track record of leadership and success within the healthcare industry, particularly in the areas of behavioral health and managed care.

Sayra Rodriguez

Sayra Rodriguez was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez Campus. She is also certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP). Sayra began her career in 2013 as a Fracking Field Engineer in the Oil & Gas Industry in Texas. She joined Georgia Power in 2015 and worked at Plant Bowen as System Engineer, System Owner and Plant Performance Engineer. Since February 2020, Sayra has served as a Renewable Development Project Coordinator on the Distributed Generation side where her responsibilities included leading the installation of solar projects through Georgia Power’s DG RFP programs and leading RFP program level initiatives. Now, she serves as a Senior Engineer in the Capacity Procurement team for Georgia Power, leading initiatives to meet the generation capacity needs in the upcoming years. In addition, Sayra is part of multiple Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). She has been part of the Amigos’ Leadership Board since 2018, where she was President in 2023, and currently serves as the ERG’s advisor. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and trying out new restaurants. She loves building large sets of Legos, salsa dancing, playing the violin, and loves traveling. So far, she has visited 15 different countries!

Veronica Apecena

(she/her/ella) Veronica grew up in a big Mexican-American family in Colorado. She has lived in several countries, is multilingual, has a Master’s in Disability Studies, and is known for her environmentally-sustainable lifestyle. She has been engaged in disability advocacy, awareness, and inclusion for over a decade. Cultivating community among folks with developmental disability labels, she has experienced their gifts as well as the social injustices surrounding their lives. She recently became a coordinator with Citizen Advocacy where she initiates and supports one-to-one advocacy relationships between people with and without developmental disabilities. She is also working to model inclusive employment through job creation and providing meaningful, supported employment for neurodiverse peoples. In order to do this, she started a small business: a refillery selling sustainable cleaning and personal care products.
She has two adopted children, 9 and 13 years old. Her and her family have lived in the metro Atlanta area for nearly six years.

Victor Aguilar

Victor Aguilar, 24, is a native of Riverdale, Georgia. A community advocate with a demonstrated history of working in government administration serves as the youngest, first male, and Latino City Clerk for the City of Morrow. Victor Aguilar started his career with the City of Morrow in 2019 as an administrative assistant and worked his way up to working within many different city departments such as code enforcement officer and Sanitation Coordinator before being appointed City Clerk on July 1st, 2022. Before working with the City of Morrow he worked at the Georgia General Assembly and the Clayton County Police Department. He currently is working on obtaining his master’s certification as a Georgia Certified Clerk from the Georgia Clerks Education Institute of Government and has a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Georgia. He is currently working on obtaining his master’s in public administration from Liberty University.

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