The 2023 HOPE Binational Fellowship cohort has been selected through a rigorous process following nomination by recognized leaders, mentors, national partners, and the HOPE Binational Fellowship Advisory Group. The HOPE Binational Fellows are outstanding Latina professionals with the potential to make urgent and long-lasting improvements in the lives of Latinos nationally and globally.
Stephanie Castellanos is a justice & equity strategist, national facilitator, and the founder of Uproot Talent – an award-winning boutique talent advising and executive search firm that specializes in hiring and *keeping leadership of the global majority. Her commitment to co-creating equity in the workplace stems from her experiences as the daughter of immigrants and a single mom, navigating higher-education as the first-person in her family to graduate from high school, two decades of grassroots organizing, and growing up as a kid from Inglewood, CA. Her experiences include leading the talent, DEI&B, and recruitment strategy for multiple start-up organizations – including founding a multi-sector grassroots coalition dedicated to recruiting and retaining teachers of color and matching over 600 leaders (90% identify as people of the global majority) to nonprofits, foundations, public school districts, and child welfare agencies across the country. As the creator of WOKESHOP™, she’s also facilitated over 1,000 un/relearning experiences alongside over 20,000 participants since 2015. Stephanie’s expertise goes beyond the “professional” realm. She’s organized thousands of community members to become the first U.S. city to defeat Walmart’s expansion while in high school, spent countless hours preparing her neighbors and family for interviews growing up, and co-founded a standing mentorship program (CAMBIO Academy) for girls of color while a student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). It’s this lived experience that Stephanie centers and uplifts in all she does. .
Alejandra Ceja is Vice President of the Office of Social Impact and Inclusion for Panasonic North America and Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation. In this capacity, Ceja leads corporate social responsibility, diversity, equity and inclusion and philanthropy focused on advancing educational equity. Ceja is the former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In this role, Ceja helped cultivate 150 Commitments to Action totaling $335 million to build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high quality education for Hispanic students. Prior to this role, Ceja was the chief of staff to the Under Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education. She earned her master’s degree in public administration at Baruch College, City University of New York, and her bachelor’s degree in political science at Mount St. Mary’s University in California. She is a graduate of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and a recipient of their Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Mariana del Hierro
Mariana del Hierro (she/her/ella) is the Executive Director of Re:Vision, a non-profit in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood that works with people in economically marginalized neighborhoods to develop resident leaders, cultivate community food systems, and create an economy owned and led by the community. Before arriving at Re:Vision, Mariana worked for 10 years in the public health field developing strategies and meaningful partnerships to advance health and racial equity in Phoenix, AZ and Denver, CO with the City of Phoenix, UCDenver, CDPHE, and most recently at Denver Health. Mariana began her career as an immigrant rights community organizer and applies community organizing strategies for community resilience in all her roles. Born in El Paso, Texas, Mariana is a proud fronteriza and mother.
María del Carmen Alanis Figueroa
María del Carmen Alanis Figueroa is an International Consultant and President of DEMOS, a Politics, Governement & Strategic Intelligence Consulting firm. She is also President of 12624 Consultoras, Gender equality and women´s political rights Consultancy and FEMSA Senior Consultant on public affairs and communications. Her life’s commitment is to transform human’s lives through her work. Skilled in Sustainability strategies from a capacity building standpoint, she has almost 35 years of national & international public, political and social first level affairs experience. With a passion for risks & actors mapping through a strategic intelligence methodology under dynamic contexts, María del Carmen is specialized in underrepresented groups & persons’ rights, such as women, indigenous, disabled, refugees, rural, LGTBIQ+. She holds a Juris Doctor (J.D) from UNAM Mexico and M.Sc in Comparative Government, LSE. Until November 2016, Magistrate and 4 years Chief Justice of the Electoral Court of Mexico (Federal). More than 30 years dedicated to public service. Former representative of Mexico to the Venice Commission (Council of Europe), representative to MESECVI-CIM (OAS). Former Consultant for Latin America Electoral Integrity Initiative at the Kofi Annan Foundation and Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School (2017-2019). She is a member of The Electoral Integrity Initiative of the Kofi Annan Foundation, the International Women’s Forum (Mexico), the International Association of Judges, Mujeres en Plural, 50+1 and other Mexican associations and Organizations.
Elvia Annayancy Varas Garcia
Elvia Annayancy Varas Garcia holds a law degree from la Salle University in Mexico City as well as a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. In 2006 she founded Early Institute, where she has been the director of the only think tank in Mexico focused on improving health, education, safety and protection of early childhood through public policy and advocacy. As founder of the law firm Ética yJusticiaS.C., she has developed great skills in organizational strategy negotiation and public affairs, large scale conflict resolution, public policy, and management of strategic teams. Long before graduating from La Salle University with a law degree, she had already been working in the labor world. She began her professional career as a lawyer in 1994 at Servicios Especializados de Asesoría Laboral S.C., in Mexico City and continued her career in the corporate legal coordination of Empresas Amoxxo S.C. During her years of experience, she has directed different publications, projects and legislative reforms that have served as a fundamental basis for the country’s public policies for the benefit of children and their families. She is currently a columnist for El Financiero, one of Mexico´s most relevant newspapers. Through her professional working career, she has strived to innovate by improving and simplifying internal systems and processes, convinced that there is always a better way of doing things.
Ivalis Meza Gonzalez
Ivalis Meza Gonzalez most recently served as Chief of Staff to Mayor Ron Nirenberg and brings 15 years of experience in government affairs and community engagement. In 2022, Ivalis started a new role as an associate with Andrade-Van de Putte & Associates, a government affairs firm with a proven track record of forging partnerships and guiding clients to provide them meaningful results. While serving as Chief of Staff, Ivalis helped lead the City Council’s recommitment to the Edward’s Aquifer Protection Program, Storm Uri response, strategic housing implementation, City Council Redistricting Committee and the SA: Ready to Work initiative, providing job training for the high-paying jobs in demand. She was also named the 2021 40 under 40 “Woman of the Year” by the San Antonio Business Journal for her role in organizing our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to her role as chief of staff, Ivalis worked in community engagement for our world champion San Antonio Spurs – working with schools, nonprofits, and local governments to bring our players to our residents. She continued her work at the San Antonio River Authority, working with our local and state government on our world class mission reach and museum reach river expansion projects. Ivalis is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and St. Mary’s University School of Law. She understands the value of organizing and coalition building and couples it with her passion for public policy. The combination of these leadership skills has made Ivalis a critical contributor to major community initiatives, serving on the boards of Healthy Futures of Texas, the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, and the Martinez Street Women’s Center.
Julissa Gutierrez is a public servant, workforce equity champion, and diversity and inclusion practitioner. As New York State’s Chief Diversity Officer, Ms. Gutierrez provides executive oversight, designs, and implements programs and initiatives increasing diversity within the State’s workforce and the participation of women and people of color in all areas of State Government. She provided strategic leadership efforts to raise the minimum wage, implement the strongest Paid Family Leave program in the nation, pass GENDA, and more. Ms. Gutierrez was voted #34 in City & State New York’s The 2022 Power of Diversity: Latino 100 List. She was also recognized in August 2022 for her efforts to improve the lives of all New Yorkers in amNY Metro and PoliticsNY’s Power Women list. In May 2021, Ms. Gutierrez was named #1 on City & State New York’s MWBE Power 50 list for her contributions to minority and women-owned business enterprises. In her years of service, Ms. Gutierrez has earned a reputation as a sought-after expert on Latino issues and civic participation and has been featured by several national and local press outlets. During COVID-19, she led the establishment of New York State’s Vaccines Equity Task Force, a diverse group of leaders from communities across the state charged with ensuring an equitable distribution of vaccines to those most impacted. Previously, during her time in public service, she served as Deputy Director of Constituency Affairs for New York State. Prior to joining the State, Ms. Gutierrez served in leadership roles at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. A proud Queens-born Colombiana, Ms. Gutierrez is a Board Member of the New Immigrants Community Empowerment and Trustee for the Queens Public Library. Ms. Gutierrez holds a Master’s Degree in Social Service Administration with a Community Organization and Development Concentration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, with a Minor in Women’s Studies, from the University of Delaware.
DR. Margarita Safdie Kanan
Margarita Safdie is a PhD in Health Promotion and Physical Activity from the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queens University, Canada. She also has an MS in Applied Nutrition and Food Policy from the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, Boston. Dr. Safdie has worked in the Health Promotion office of the Ministry of Health of Mexico as a technical advisor for policy implementation. Dr. Safdie has worked at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico as a researcher and her line of research was mainly related to the prevention of childhood obesity. She has worked extensively for National Government Ministries such as the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Family Welfare designing, implementing and evaluation nutritional and physical activity interventions targeted to vulnerable population. Moreover, Dr. Safdie has significant experience working for international organizations in behavior change methodologies, health and physical activity promotion and food policy in Latin America. Dr. Safdie has designed, implemented, and evaluated various health and nutrition policies in Mexico. She currently works at Aspen Institute as director of Project Play promoting the practice of physical activity and sports within healthy environments. Dr. Safdie has an extensive list of academic publications and has been awarded with several national and international awards such as the PAHEF excellence achievements for the best scientific contribution. She is a researcher level I from the National Research Council from the National Council of the Science and technology in Mexico.
María Cristina Cárdenas Peralta
María Cristina Cárdenas Peralta is a well-known figure in the education technology industry in Latin America. She is the Head of Coursera Latam, overseeing the company’s partnerships with over 200 universities and companies, offering affordable and relevant online learning to individuals and organizations worldwide. Before joining Coursera, Cristina founded 3C Innovation for Human Development, a consulting firm focused on technology adoption and integration in Latin American education. Her firm worked with regional and European governments, international organizations, and NGOs Cristina’s earlier roles include serving as the head of the General Coordination of @prende.mx, an agency of the Mexican Ministry of Education, where she focused on promoting new ICT developments in the learning-teaching process. She also developed and implemented pilot programs for digital inclusion during her tenure at the Office of the Presidency in Mexico. Cristina’s work at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington focused on impact evaluation of projects in Central and South America. She also helped design and implement a pilot program for financial outreach in rural Mexico while working for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Cristina is an active member of various advisory boards and NGOs, including CONECTADAS, which promotes inclusion for women and girls in the digital and technological fields, and Casa de María, an NGO dedicated to rehabilitating children suffering from addiction. She also serves on the advisory board of MXDC.org, and the board of Christel House Mexico, a non-profit organization focused on youth education for those living in extreme poverty. Cristina holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Essex and an Economics undergraduate degree from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. Her passion for enhancing education through technology has made a significant impact on Latin America’s education technology landscape.
Lillian Riojas is Valero’s Executive Director, Public Relations and Creative Services. Lillian leads Valero’s global media and communcations strategy and works closely with Valero’s refining and renewable operation leadership teams as well as local public affairs teams across the globe. Lillian builds meaningful relationships and helps guide stakeholder engagement as well as works on promoting Valero’s brand and strengthening company awareness, especially its low-carbon fuel business.
Virginia Santos has worked in the early childhood education field for over 30 years. Her current role as the COO of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation allows her to work closely with children and families needing assistance and support. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.
Zuraya Tapia-Hadley currently serves as Senior Director of Government Affairs for TelevisaUnivision (TU), the leading Spanish-language media and content company in the world. Prior to TU, Zuraya was Manager of Public Policy for Meta (Facebook), where, first, she led engagement with Members of Congress as part of the Federal Government Affairs team, and later joined the External Affairs team, where she was responsible for Meta’s engagement and partnerships with national advocacy groups across a wide array of constituencies, including national Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, women, and LGBTQ+ groups. While at Meta, Zuraya led a company-wide cross functional team focused on addressing Spanish language fact-checking and content moderation, and co-chaired the global Latino employee resource group, Latin@. Previously, she served as a Principal at The Raben Group, where she advised U.S. and international clients in the non-profit and private sector on how to navigate the Washington, D.C. political and policy arenas, develop engagement strategies with communities of color, and improve diversity and inclusion strategies. Zuraya has been a frequent commentator on issues of politics, justice, and immigration on CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, and NTN24. She has been recognized throughout her career as one of the “Latina Leaders to Watch” by the Congressional news publication “TheHill”, and one of the “Top Latinos Under 40 Impacting Foreign Policy” by the Huffington Post. She also served on the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine and re-appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Zuraya earned a Master of Laws (LLM) from Georgetown University in International Law and is licensed to practice Law in Mexico after earning her undergraduate degree in law from the Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Puebla, Mexico.
Allegiant Electric LLC, founded in 2015, by Andrea Vigil a certified Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), Woman Business Enterprise (WBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Small Business Enterprise (SBE), and Nevada local Emerging Small Business (ESB) firm, based in Las Vegas, NV, specializing in electrical services; including solar, battery storage and Electric Vehicles (EV) charging stations. Prior to founding Allegiant Electric, Andrea was a Chief Operating Officer at American Patriot Solar Community in Las Vegas, NV. She was responsible for overseeing day to day operations in Las Vegas, all marketing, advertising marketing research, analysis, strategy and planning. Due to the changes with net metering, American Patriot Solar Community closed and she and her husband were laid off work, they decided to obtain a C-2 electrical license and open their own company. They started working out of their home, with just Anthony and Andrea. As a result of the net metering changes, most of the existing solar companies shut down and this left thousands of NV customers without a solar company to service their existing solar systems. This created an opportunity for Anthony and Andrea, and they brought in two more employees and continued to work out of their home for six months. They had outgrown their home-based business and were ready to move into an office space. Once again, Allegiant Electric has now outgrown their existing office space and they have reached out to SBA to discuss obtaining a business loan for the purchase of a building.