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2023 Inaugural New York 

Introducing the 31 members of the 2023 Inaugural New York cohort, Latina leaders who participated in HOPE's Latina Career Advancement Training. The intensive training covered a StrenghtFinders assessment, organizational finance management, values-based branding, and negotiations.

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Jennifer Albandoz

Human Services Program Administrator, Philadelphia Prison System

A program administrator and social services manager with more than 20 years’ experience in social services, Jennifer Albandoz serves as Human Service Program Administrator for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons for the City of Philadelphia. Ms. Albandoz collaborates with municipal agencies, managing multiple program initiatives, program evaluation, monitoring compliance of legal and regulatory policies, community outreach and advocacy, working with disenfranchised populations, and building effective relationships. Ms. Albandoz has worked for the City of Philadelphia since 1996 and was recognized by the city's legal department as a leader in the law enforcement department. With over 15 years of involvement in advocacy and community work, Ms. Albandoz has volunteered for ASPIRA as a parent representative and board member and served as the board chair for the ASPIRA Schools. In this role, she created a strong independent board, aligned with the mission of the schools and continued to work with the Hispanic community. Her passion for education is to empower our children to achieve their goals instead of following the path of incarceration.  Jennifer's biggest accomplishment has been to help the oppressed population and see them overcome their challenges in our community. Jennifer Albandoz consistently stands for social justice, firmness, and fairness.

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Estefania Amparo

Community Health Worker Supervisor, Latino Commission on AIDS

Estefania Amparo is a first generation immigrant to parents of the Dominican Republic.  Raised in the Bronx she knew her career lay in working with people.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University at Albany- State University of New York.  Her area of study included a double major in psychology and Africana studies with a minor in educational psychology.  She chose occupational positions to build her soft and hard skills in an effort to develop the talent needed to be an effective human service provider. She went on to earn her Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in general management at Metropolitan College of New York and is now Community Health Worker Supervisor of the Latinos Community Covid-19 Response Initiative at Latino Commission on AIDS.  This program was established to address the Covid-19 impact on Hispanic/ Latine communities in New York City and more specifically of the North Bronx.  

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Maria Ayerbe

 Associate Counsel,The Estée Lauder Companies Inc 

Maria J. Ayerbe is Associate Counsel, Global Commercial Relations at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc (ELC). In her current role she leads the legal function for the Travel Retail Worldwide business unit representing all of the Estee Lauder Companies’ brands in APAC, EMEA, and AM within the sales channel for traveling consumers. She is a member of ELC’s Travel Retail Senior Leadership Team.  Maria is known as a global commercial attorney, business team legal liaison and strategic client advisor with over 16 years of significant experience structuring, negotiating and executing complex cross-border wholesale purchase and sale agreements across sectors and structuring and implementing global consumer-facing initiatives. Maria has prior career training from leading law firms in New York and Bogota, Colombia, where she is originally from, and a master’s in law from Fordham University School of Law (New York). In addition to spending time with her husband and son, Maria enjoys practicing karate, live music, and sharing career development advice with other professionals.

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Nilbia Coyote

Executive Director, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)

Nilbia Coyote is the Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), which organizes immigrant workers & newly arrived immigrants to fight for their dignity, worker rights & labor justice in NYC. NICE operates in immigrant-rich Jackson Heights and offers a range of programs from worker rights education and support services to skills-based training and collective job searches. Nilbia is a community builder, advocate, and organizer for immigrant communities. She is an immigrant from Mexico and has over 18 years of experience building the individual and collective power of immigrant workers by recognizing their humanity, organizing with them through community education and enabling them to contribute to their communities while becoming self-sufficient.

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Mariel De La Cruz 

Director of Events and Partnerships, Manhattan Borough President

Mariel De La Cruz is the Events and Partnerships Director for Manhattan BP Levine. She was raised in Washington Heights and is a District Leader in Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill. 

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BettY Diaz

Director, Veterans Programs and Operations, Paramount Global

With nearly 20 years of market research experience, Betty Diaz is currently the Director of Programs & Operations for the Paramount Veterans Network, working closely with the Chief Veteran Officer, Richard M. Jones. The group oversees military-related initiatives for Paramount employees and the veteran community. Coming from a military family (uncle is a Marine Veteran and cousin is a Wounded Warrior Army Veteran), Betty recognizes hard work and dedication it takes to serve our country, and is proud to support veterans’ career development.  Under Betty’s leadership, the Paramount Veterans Network expanded its mental wellness programming and community initiatives by +200% and +125% respectively, in 2022 vs. year prior. Betty also created the first-ever Veterans Network Ambassador roles among Paramount’s talent and enrolled SEAL Team’s Toni Trucks, Judd Lormand, Neil Brown Jr., and A.J. Buckley; Blue Blood’s Donnie Wahlberg; The Talk’s Sheryl Underwood; CBS’ Tough As Nails’ Merryl Tengesdal and Kelly “Murph” Murphy to support the group’s mission. 

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Melissa Diaz

VP, Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant, City National Bank 

Melissa Diaz, Vice President, Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at City National Bank has developed strategic recruiting solutions for prestigious Fortune 500 companies for 25 years.  Her passion for inclusivity and equity fuels her commitment to volunteering and community. She sits on a board for a federally qualified health center and is Vice Chair on of the board of a charter school nationally recognized for inclusive education.  She is an avid salsa dancer and loves to experience the diverse culinary landscape of Los Angeles.

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Jennifer Escobar

East Coast Field Sales Manager, City National Bank

Jennifer Escobar is the East Coast Field Sales Manager at City National Bank, responsible for recruiting, coaching, training, and supporting colleagues in the greater New York metropolitan and mid-Atlantic areas.   Jennifer works closely with Colleague Resource Groups (CRG’s) as a former Philanthropic Chair of the Women’s Network. She is currently serving as a Co-Chair of the Business Development Network which works in partnership with other CRG’s to help increase diversity in our colleague and client base. Jennifer is an active member of her community and volunteers with organizations such as Reading is the Way Up, City National’s K-12 literacy education program, and Sanctuary for Families.   Prior to joining City National, Escobar served as a business relationship manager for HSBC Bank’s Commercial Banking division. 

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Miladis Flores

Chief of Staff, Assembly Member Kenny Burgos

Miladis Flores is Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Kenneth Burgos at New York State Assembly. Previously, she held the role of Director of Constituent Services where she assisted constituents with addressing a range of concerns, including housing, health care, social service, education, environment, and economic development issues. Prior to working for the State Assembly she served as Resident Services CoordinatorResident Services Coordinator at St. Nicks Alliance.

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Jessica Garcia

Sr. Manager, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Paramount Global

Jessica Garcia (She/Her/Ella) is a Sr. Manager of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Paramount Global. Her role includes working with the Paramount Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to further their professional and business goals by supporting their initiatives year-round. In addition to her work with the ERGs, Jessica supports the development of both internal and external partnerships by cultivating strong relationships. Her passion for creating a diverse and inclusive workforce where all employees feel like they have a seat at the table goes beyond her role at Paramount. She currently sits on the board of the Vecinos Collective and has sat on the board of the New York chapters for both the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) where she worked on initiatives to further membership goals and produce inclusive programming. She currently resides in Queens, NY, where she spends her free time dancing salsa and finding other opportunities to reconnect with her roots. 

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Teresa Gomez

Case Manager, Latino Commission on AIDS

Teresa Gomez is Case Manager for the Latino Commission on AIDS, an organization dedicated to spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations.

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Madelyn Grajales​​

Senior Compliance Officer, Xponance

Madelyn Grajales is a Senior Compliance Officer at Xponance. Madelyn is responsible for the submission of compliance deliverables to clients, oversight of sub-manager compliance program desk audits, the submission of certain regulatory filings, and compliance review of marketing activities. She is a member of the Compliance Operations Risk Committee and the Employee Engagement Committee. Madelyn joined Xponance from Aberdeen Standard Investments where she had been a Compliance Officer since 2018, after serving as an Operations Analyst at Aberdeen for several years. Before joining Aberdeen, Madelyn worked at BNY Mellon as a Conversion Specialist following roles as an Operation Accountant and Senior Operation Accountant.

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Adriana Huinatl

Health Care Services Coordinator, Voces Latinas

Adriana Huinatl is a Health Care Services Coordinator at Voces Latinas, a nonprofit founded in 2003 with the mission to reduce the rate of HIV transmission and violence among immigrants by empowering, educating, and providing leadership and advocacy trainings which enable Latinos to have a voice and to make healthier decisions for them and their families.

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Janis Luciano

Associate, Reference Data, JPMorgan Chase

Janis Taina Luciano is an Associate at JPMorgan Chase with Thirty + years in Banking and Securities Industry background. She started as a Clerk Typist, and the rest is history. Outside of work, her hobbies are running, hiking and spending time with my family. Her family migrated to New York from Puerto Rico, and she was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.


Ana Ilse Enciso Martinez 

HR Communications Manager, The Estée Lauder Companies

Ana Ilse Enciso is an experienced Internal Communications professional who believes in the power of words. She began her journey in communications at Laboratorios Pisa, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Mexico, with a dream of moving to New York City to pursue her dream career in the beauty industry. Seven years later, she is now the HR Communications Manager at The Estée Lauder Companies, one of the world's leading manufacturers, marketers, and sellers of quality skincare, makeup, fragrance, and hair care. Here she oversees the development and key messaging of the HR initiatives to improve employees’ experience at the Company. Prior to joining The Estée Lauder Companies, she served as the Communications and Marketing Specialist at the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation.


Samantha Mcquibban

Deputy Director, New York State Mentoring Program (NYSMP) 

Samantha Ines McQuibban is the Deputy Director of the New York State Mentoring Program. With almost two decades in youth development, Samantha proudly oversees Governor Hochul's Latina Mentoring Initiative (LMI) that connects Latina youth, ages 8 to 24, to inspiring Latina mentors across New York. In 2021, the New York State Mentoring Program, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Office of Women’s Affairs, and Latina government, community, and corporate leaders established the first statewide mentoring initiative for Latina youth. LMI provides opportunities such as scholarships and internships, in addition to mentors. Along with empowering future leaders and nurturing aspirations, mentors encourage self-advocacy and build confidence all within a safe space that celebrates heritage and creates community where success looks like them.  Samantha also supports foster care mentoring in New York City. Youth-centered, she credits every young person in foster care for inspiring her work to focus on elevating the youth's voice and developing intentional programming. Born in La Paz, Bolivia to a Bolivian mother and Colombian / British father, Samantha is a native of Washington DC. 

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Aura Mejia    

Tenant Organizer and Advocate, Neighbors Helping Neighbors 

Aura Mejia has been part of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Organizing/Advocacy Unit since 2013. As an organizer and advocate, her work is to assist tenants with their housing needs and provide assistance on one-on-one cases by connecting tenants with legal representation, field complaints and mediate with organized buildings. She also oversees tenant associations and coalitions with tenants that are facing harassment and displacement. Aura trains and supervises new organizers and advocates and provides tools that help them identify tenants, buildings with bad conditions that trigger upper respiratory and chronic health problems.

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Joanna Mendez

Chief of Staff, NYS Senator Luis Sepúlveda

Joanna Mendez began her career in public service as a volunteer for the Homes for the Homeless. As a volunteer for several not-for-profit organizations, Joanna began to learn the intricacies of state budgets, legislation, and politics. It was through this experience that she decided to pursue a career in state governance and politics. In the NYS Senate, she has served as Legislative Director to NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. Since 2020, she has served as the Chief of Staff to NYS Senator Luis Sepúlveda, Chair of the Senate Cities 1 Committee. Joanna Mendez earned her Bachelor’s in Government and Politics and Master’s degree in Public Administration from St. John’s University. She is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Harlem to Ecuadorian parents. 

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Sonia Molina

Events Manager, Make the Road New York

Sonia Molina and her family emigrated from Mexico to the United States when she was 8 years old. She grew up and went to school in Queens and with the support of her family was able to become a first generation college graduate. She joined Make the Road NY in 2013 as a part time receptionist and has since been able to develop her skills that have helped her grow within the organization. Her current role as Events Manager has allowed Sonia to connect her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management with Social Justice elevating one of her passions which is to work with and help people.

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Geiddy Muñoz

Integrated Marketing Manager, CBS News and Stations, Paramount Global

Geiddy Muñoz is an Experienced Strategic Marketing Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry. An out of the box story-teller skilled in production management and market research. Strong marketing professional with a Master of Science (M.S.) focused in Public Relations from New York University. 

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Viviana Narvaez

Senior Manager, Interactive Development, Tapestry Inc.

Viviana Narvaez is the Senior Manager, Engineering at Tapestry. She brings structure, execution and ownership to every project she’s part of. Most recently she led her team to successfully re-platform Tapestry’s e-commerce sites to a PWA experience. She has 13 years of application development experience and has spent the last three managing and growing multiple engineering teams.

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Emely Paez   

Senior Director, Government & Community Partnerships, Hispanic Federation

Emely Paez is the Senior Director of Government and Community Partnerships at Hispanic Federation (HF), the nation’s premier Latino non-profit membership organization. She currently focuses on the management of relationships with elected officials and government agencies to help increase their understanding of and support the Federation. Emely also focuses on legislative priorities on all levels of government and previously worked on overseeing civic engagement efforts, including but not limited to voter education and registration, Get Out The Count during the decennial Census in 2020, among other civic initiatives. Prior to joining the Hispanic Federation, Ms. Paez was the Chief of Staff for New York State Senator Jose Peralta, representing the 13th Senatorial District in Queens, NY.  As Chief of Staff, Emely spearheaded communications, budget and legislative initiatives while interfacing with the Senator’s Counsel, Department Directors, and Albany staff to drive the Senator’s agenda serving more than 300,000 constituents.  

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Kathia Pilier 

 Educational Director, Committee For Hispanic Children and Families (CHCF)

Kathia Pilier is a graduate student from Bronx Community College with an AAS in Early Childhood Education, an BA with honors in Sociology and a minor in Early Childhood/Childhood Education, an MA in Adult Education. she is also pursuing her EDD in Curriculum and Instruction from Liberty University. She has experience working as an instructor and currently as an Educational Director for CHCF in the Family Childcare Division. Her background has allowed her to create and plan a variety of events while also managing a team and supporting the community, while promoting the importance of learning, time management, one on one support, and guidance towards personal or academic goals including team members, supervisors, families, or childcare providers.

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Sandy Ramirez-Pertuz

Senior QA Manager, eCom IT, Tapestry Inc.

Sandy Ramirez-Pertuz is currently the Sr. Quality Assurance Manager overseeing Ecommerce and testing efforts for Browse, inclusive of all supporting systems at Tapestry, Inc. Sandy has spent the last three years working on the re-platforming of all Tapestry brands’ website to a Unified Code base, as well as the implementation of their Progressive Website App. Along with overseeing testing efforts, Sandy focuses on creating effective teams and driving process improvements across the Software Development Life Cycle which included adding an Automation Manager to implement automation and drive strategy. 

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Hennessy Reyes

Deputy Chief of Staff, NYS Senator Luis Sepulveda 

Hennessy Reyes was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. At the age of 12 years old, she immigrated to the United States, which inspired her commitment to public service. Hennessy has devoted the past six years to the New York State Senate. In 2017, she began as Community Affairs Liaison to New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera. Her work delivering stellar constituent services to thousands of Bronxites quickly elevated her to be promoted to Community Affairs Director for his team. In 2020, she became Deputy Chief of Staff to New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda, Chair of the Senate Cities 1 Committee. Hennessy Reyes is a proud CUNY graduate of Lehman College and received a double Bachelors in Economics and Political Science.

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Mayleen Rivera    

Deputy Secretary, Bureau of Intergovernmental & External Affairs, Office of Speaker Carl E. Heastie

Mayleen Rivera currently serves as Deputy Secretary for Intergovernmental and External Affairs. Ms. Rivera began her public servant career within the New York State Assembly as an intern. Soon after, she became an Excelsior Service Fellow where she focused on leveraging data and aligning strategies to promote neighborhood success on a zip-code level as part of the Community Opportunity Reinvestment (CORe) Initiative. During her tenure as a Fellow, Mayleen also provided quality assurance to all NYS hospitals on behalf of the New York State Perinatal Quality Collaborative (NYSPQC). Her efforts assisted in the implementation of the ABC’s of Safe Sleep; an initiative led by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). Ms. Rivera later became a Legislative Director for Assemblyman Buchwald, where she crafted legislative policy for 73 bills. Mayleen has been recognized for her social and civic contributions as a City & State NY 40 under 40, PoliticsNY Power Player, YWCA Resourceful Woman and as an Albany County Woman Trail Blazer. 

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Christine Rodriguez

Associate Director of Residential Programs, The Violence Intervention Program

Christine Rodriguez is an afro-Dominican woman born and raised in Washington Heights. She has worked at The Violence Intervention Program since October of 2022 and established her career in Domestic Violence in February of 2020 when she started her grad school journey. In April of 2022, she was promoted to Associate Director of Residential Services and earned a Master in Social Work degree specializing in Organizational Management and Leadership. She is passionate about her role in her community and working with her teams to create a safe place for survivors of violence to grow and reach their fullest potential.

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Linda M. Rodríguez

 Executive Director in Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Linda M. Rodríguez is an Executive Director in Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. She provides oversight for signature initiatives including the firm’s Annual Challenge, which advances equity and economic opportunity by supporting innovative, community-driven solutions identified through a competitive process that awards ~$20m to nonprofits every year. Her team also leads The Fellowship Initiative, a national college and career success program for young people of color. Over the past year, Linda also led the development of a new learning function. This function was created to capture lessons learned, lift up insights to improve strategy and practice, engage internal and external stakeholders, and drive greater impact across the Global Philanthropy organization, which includes 100 employees around the world.  

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Myriam Villalobos Solís

Senior Director of Network Engagement, Hispanic Federation

Myriam Villalobos Solís was born and raised in Puerto Rico and completed her doctoral degree in Developmental Psychology at the University of Rochester in upstate New York. For over 10 years, Dr. Villalobos worked as a professor and researcher in various academic settings (including Columbia University, New York University, and Baruch College) where she advocated for Latinx youth and families through research and education. She has published in leading Psychology journals and presented nationally on the healthy development of Latinx youth and families, highlighting their strengths and uplifting their voices. In 2023, Dr. Villalobos joined the Hispanic Federation, a leading national nonprofit organization, to use her research, data analysis, and communication skills to continue to advocate for the Latino community through the empowerment of Latino-led and Latino-serving nonprofit organizations. 

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Maria Eugenia (Maru) Velarde

Administrative Manager, Make the Road New York

Maria Eugenia (Maru) Velarde is a Peruvian woman who arrived in the United States seven years ago seeking better opportunities for her family.  she brought with her an extensive background in administrative management and a passion for empowering others. After settling in NY, Maru began working for a non-profit organization that provides support and resources to immigrants, many of whom are Hispanic. She quickly found her calling as a mentor and educator, helping others navigate the complex systems and cultural differences they encountered in their new home. Despite the many obstacles she has faced since arriving in the US, she remains committed to her work and to helping others achieve their dreams.

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Wendy Velazquez

Vice President, Community Manager, JPMorgan Chase

Wendy Velazquez is a Community Manager in the Lower East Side, NY for Community & Business Development. She is a local ambassador for Chase whose job is to build and nurture relationships with key community leaders, nonprofit partners and small businesses at the neighborhood level. Wendy hosts financial health workshops, facilitates non-profit partnerships and offers community programming. She is helping to advance racial equity by supporting Black and Latinx communities with tools and resources to help them improve their financial wellbeing. With over 16 years of experience in the financial services industry, Wendy has held a number of positions including teller, Sales and Service Associate and Assistant Branch Manager-Operations. Prior to this role, Wendy served as Branch Manager at Chase Bank-Delancey. She is currently a member of Adelante, Nextgen, WFN, and Women on the Move and a proud alumni of Baruch College. Wendy currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and spends her free time volunteering, traveling and coordinating practice dates with her daughter.

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