Team

Our staff and board members are passionate about supporting the Latinx community. Learn more about our backgrounds and how each member of our team helps move our work forward.

Staff

Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza

Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza

Executive Director and Founder

Social entrepreneur and nonprofit professional with over 20 years of experience in the areas of general management, strategy, operations, marketing and fund development in both for-profit and nonprofit spaces. She is the recipient of the 2018 NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, the 2018 Women of Inspiration of the Atlanta Dream, named one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia and a 2017 Hispanics in Philanthropy Fellow among other distinctions. She is originally from Lima, Peru.

Christina Benavides

Christina Benavides

Director of Programs & Administration

Christina began her career in social justice by empowering Black and Latino girls in NYC through gender equity programming. Throughout her 15 years as a nonprofit professional, she has held various leadership roles working to strengthen program, operational and fundraising systems. Most recently Christina worked with CUNY’s Senior University Dean of Academic Affairs Office focusing on professional development for teams leading citywide educational programs.

Michelle Zuluaga

Michelle Zuluaga

Civic Participation Manager / Advocacy Team

Michelle is dedicated and passionate about educating, engaging and mobilizing the Latinx community in Georgia at the local and state level through advocacy, census, and voter mobilization. She has a degree in Political Science and International Relations from UNG. Her family is from Colombia.

Pedro Viloria

Pedro Viloria

Health & Wellbeing Manager / Advocacy Team

Pedro received a BA from Emory University with a double major in Political Science and French Studies and is experienced in research and data analysis, healthcare management customer service, and is fully tri-lingual (Spanish, English, French). He founded and ran an NGO dedicated to providing meals to unprivileged children in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Sergio Mendez

Sergio Mendez

Grantmaking Administrator / Advocacy Team

Sergio Mendez is a first-generation college graduate of immigrant parents. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Augusta University. He is a six-year veteran of the US Army. He has previously worked with organizations dedicated to helping fellow students and service members.

Andy Santamaria

Andy Santamaria

Civic Participation Coordinator

Andy is an experienced canvasser and organizer with experience in New York and Atlanta. Andy has been engaged in the social justice space since he started knocking on doors for the 2010 census.

Dianne Román

Dianne Román

Health & Wellbeing Coordinator

Dianne Roman-Gonzalez is from Manati, Puerto Rico raised by a mother with an arduous work ethic encouraging the development of her leadership skills and fostering volunteerism and community engagement. She has an undergrad degree in Biology and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Puerto Rico.

Liz Reyes

Health & Wellbeing Coordinator

Liz is a graduate of public health and is dedicated to ensuring education, information, and preventive health screenings are available to our most vulnerable community. She also leads our navigators as they participate in events in outreach efforts.

Ulyssa Muñoz

Ulyssa Muñoz

South Georgia Lead Navigator

Ulyssa has been liaising and supporting hundreds of families in South Georgia since 2020 with Know Your Rights information, navigating the health system, civic mobilization, and financial assistance. She leads our Tifton team

Cristian Estrada

South Georgia Lead Navigator

Cristian is a first generation college student graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BIS in Interdisciplinary Studies. He leads our work informing primarily essential workers including farm workers in South Georgia of their rights, facilitates community vaccination events and designs and leads outreach to accellerate positive change in his community

Daniela Racines

Communications & Content Coordinator

Daniela has a Master in Nonprofit Management and Leadership and is an experienced professional in nonprofit and environmental communication with experience in Ecuador and Georgia. She ensures our outreach is centered on simple, relevant, actionable and accurate content.

Aimee Robles

Office Administrator

Aimee is pursuing a degree in Finance from GSU and supporting the administration and emergency assistance program LCF Georgia launched in 2020. She worked closely with the South Georgia team and the Director of Programs to ensure internal processes are effective and effcient.

Omar Rodriguez-Vila, Ph.D. Academic and Research Volunteer

Professor of Marketing Practice and Education Director of the Roberto C. Goizueta Business & Society Institute at Emory University.

Board of Directors

Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez

Chair of the Board

Vice President of CCI Companies. Lillian has served as VP of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations at The Coca-Cola Company and previously was the President of the Hispanic Federation of New York. Lilian also serves as board member for the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, MALDEF, LaAmistad, and the Hispanic Advisory Council of the Nielsen Corporation.

Daniela Demaria

Vice Chair of the Board

Senior Vice President, Managing Director, Head of Strategy and Solutions for Fifth Third Bank. She has 20 years of C-Suite experience in the US and abroad. She is past Board member of Dress for Success – Atlanta, the United Way Women Leadership Council – Cincinnati, the GA Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Cool Girls

Omar Esposito

Board Treasurer

Chief Revenue Officer for Stackfolio with 13 years of banking experience. Member of the Georgia Bankers Association Board of Directors and the Community Bankers Association of Georgia’s Associate Member Advisory Council. LEAD Atlanta graduate, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HouseProud Atlanta and board member of a number of nonprofit organizations.

Luis A. Avila

Board Secretary

Vice President of Governance and Compliance for Cox Enterprises, Luis has broad-based transactional, corporate governance, securities, and M&A expertise. Mr. Avila has been recognized by numerous organizations, including being named Business Leader of Color by Chicago United, Business Leader of the Year by the Chicago Latino Network, Out & Proud Corporate Counsel by the National LGBT Bar, and Top Lawyer Under 40 by the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Aida Perez-Flamm

Founding Chair (2017-2019)

Founder and partner of Aida & Co, Aida is also director of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), a key Latino leader and instrumental in the development of many local anchor organizations including the Latin American Association, The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and others. Aida is a patron of the arts and a courageous advocate for the Latino/Hispanic community

Henry A. Kelly

Board Director

Successful logistics entrepreneur and a former director of corporate relations at Georgia Power. He is former chairman and president of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission as well as the Criminal Justice Reform Commission. He is a 2000 graduate of Leadership Atlanta.

Rudy Beserra

Board Director

Former Vice President of Latin Affairs for The Coca-Cola Company. A nationally recognized community and business leader, Beserra was instrumental in the founding and development of several national Hispanic organizations including the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute. Beserra is the Board Chairman for the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

Yolanda Robles

Board Director

CEO and Founder of CulturaLink. Successful entrepreneur in the technology and health care space, born in the Dominican Republic and served as an interpreter and cultural navigator for her family. She is a member of the Joint Commission’s Long Term Care Advisory Council, American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management, member of the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives and National Association of Healthcare Service Executives (NAHSE), among others.

Frank Fernandez

Board Director

CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and former Senior Vice President with The Arthur M. Blank Foundation. He is a recognized leader on housing, transportation and economic development issues. Mr. Fernandez has received the “Vision Award” from Liveable City for his work creating HousingWorks, the Non-Profit Leadership award from Austin Under 40 and Ernst and Young’s 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Natalie Hernandez, PhD, MPH

Board Director

Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine and Interim Director of the Center for Maternal Health Equity at Morehouse School of Medicine. She has a broad background and over 15 years of experience in community-based participatory research, women’s health disparities, health policy, and social determinants of health. Prior to her doctoral studies, Dr. Hernandez worked as a Program Manager for UnidosUS leading all their national maternal health projects.

Charmaine Ward

Board Director

Corporate Relations Director for Georgia Power forming strategic alliances and partnerships with diverse sectors of the company’s 2.5 million customers. Charmaine also serves as Secretary for the National Black MBA national board and on the boards of the NBMBAA Atlanta Chapter, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta Technical College Foundation Board, Atlanta Business League Foundation Board, NBAF Advisory Board and Alliance Theatre Advisory Committee. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Links, Inc., and Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.

Lauren Waits

Board Director

Lauren is an independent public policy consultant based in Atlanta with over 25 years’ experience in legislative, administrative and grassroots advocacy, working at a range of social justice and anti-poverty organizations. She served as the Director of Government Affairs at the Atlanta Community Food Bank from 2016 to 2020, and the Policy Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children from 2005 to 2009. Ms. Waits currently serves as Treasurer of the Board at Project Community Connections Inc. (PCCI), a rapid rehousing organization that supports people experiencing homelessness.