Elliot Rivera

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Executive Director of Youth in Action

Growing up in Worcester, MA as a first generation Salvadoran, Elliot Rivera did not have the access to most resources. What he did have were two dedicated parents working countless hours in manufacturing and janitorial services to get by. Never really thinking he would end up working with people, opportunities to support his communities from fighting within a union for undocumented worker rights to supporting youth in multiple settings came naturally to Elliot. 

As a person of Latine heritage, Elliot’s connection to his work and the journey of it is rooted in his deep core connection to all aspects of his culture. Now proudly calling Providence RI home, in his current role as the Executive Director of Youth in Action he is not only to amplify the stories and journeys of the next generation but also support them in their own journeys by opening doors to experiences and opportunities he was never afforded. 

For Elliot, the Latinx experience is a story of strife, persistence and love with an eye for community. Across all aspects of music, food and storytelling, He finds connections to his people through stories of his predecessors and their journeys and uses them to continue that legacy today and forward.  Celebrating each individual wholey– con mucho ritmo!

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Victor Regino

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Deputy Director of City Services for the City of Providence

Born and raised in Rhode Island as a first generation Puerto Rican and Dominican, Victor noticed at an early age the difference of growing up as an immigrant in a Spanish speaking household. At a young age, he was expected to help his mother navigate their new life in the United States by helping to interpret words, conversations and even legal documents; much of which was beyond his comprehension. His experiences while growing up helped create and shape his passion to serve and elevate the voice of the Latino community 

Today, Victor serves as the Deputy Director of City Services for the City of Providence. Working in the city with the highest population of Latino constituents, he is able to assist those in his community by directly communicating in their native language, assisting them with access to resources and city services that historically heavily impact their livelihoods as well as being able to voice their concerns. 

Aside from his professional capacities, Victor is also the proud Co-Founder of a liquor brand company called Papi’s Coquito, where he hopes to bring the traditional Puerto Rican beverage to liquor store shelves for all to enjoy. When he is not working, you can often find him offering business advice to help others achieve their career objectives and spending precious time with his fiancé Michaela and his beautiful daughter Aliani.

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Dr. Eugenio Fernandez Jr

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Founder of Asthenis Pharmacy

Growing up in the West End of Providence, Engenio Fernandez Jr. witnessed the effects of inaccessibility to reliable health information outside of a doctor’s office. After completing his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island with quadruple degrees in Biology, Psychology, Pharmacy and Business, he went on to complete a Masters degree from Harvard University in Public Health. 

With all his knowledge and experiences within his community, he wanted to focus not so much on the heavily diverged clinician portion of health, but focus on the actual needs from the community. From this, he founded Asthenis because he saw and heard the needs for access to reliable health information outside of a doctor’s appointment. 

Asthenis not only powers as a traditional pharmacy but also serves as a community resource for reliable health education. Engenio’s mission for Asthenis is to build a health-conscious community by promoting public health guidance and health education. Located in Wiggin Village right across from the low-income neighborhood he grew up in, he identified the intersectionality of where people live and their ability to access reliable health education. 

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Gloria Greenfield

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Senior Director of Community Programs

In 2001, amidst the political turmoil after 9/11 Gloria Greenfield left her home country of Venezuela at 25 and came to the US with nothing but two suitcases and her child. She worked many dead end jobs to survive and learn English. 

Four years later Gloria got a job at an immigration law office and found it to be an opportunity to learn everything there was about immigration law. She devoted her time there studying every piece of the process which began her path as a legal advocate. Although it wasn’t until she became a part-time court advocate at  Sojourner House that she found the mission of the organization aligned with her passions and values and her true career began.

As the Senior Director of Community Programs, Gloria has been able to advocate for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in their immigration cases including deportation regardless of ability to pay. As an immigrant herself, she saw first hand the lack of legal services available for undocumented victims of domestic violence which created an immense barrier to leave abuse and seek shelter. It was because of this she established the first and only Advocacy Program housed in a state domestic violence agency. 

Her family, friends, and clients who are also Latino or immigrants have shown Gloria time and time again that our dreams are the essence of our core. “So many of them are business owners, leaders, and outstanding citizens of our community. We, immigrants, appreciate all the opportunities we receive and we know it’s our duty to give back to this incredible nation.”

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Steffy Molina

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Bilingual Family Engagement Director

Born in Providence, RI, Steffy was born to a Bolivian mother and a Guatemalan father. At 6 months old, her mother brought her to live in Bolivia with her where she spent her childhood until the age of nine when they moved to Granollers-Barecelona Spain in search of a better life. After living in Spain for five years Steffy and her mother had to have the difficult conversation about her future as they were undocumented with an unstable finiancial situation so they decided it would be best to finish out her education in Bolivia. After graduating from high school in 2011 Steffy moved to the United States to pursue a career. 

Coming from a non-English speaking family, she was the interpreter growing up, experiencing first hand the many inequalities and discrimination of Non-English speaking families especially in education. It is from her experiences that she found her passion to provide affordable and accessible education for all. As the Bilingual Family Engagement Director at Providence Promise, she gets to bring her passion to work to bridge the gap between community and families and their engagement with their children’s education and success. 

She believes that although not every Latino experience is the same, the Latino community is extremely diverse and is always looking for ways to succeed and achieve the next opportunity to move forward. She points to the enrichment of the economy especially in the food industry by the Latino culture and cuisine.

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Roberto Gonzalez

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Founder of Steam Box

Growing up, Roberto Gonzalez had to learn to channel his inner Peter Parker to understand the meaning of “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.” While attending a predominantly white school, he struggled being the only Puerto Rican student. He endured discrimnation from staff and classmates, which prompted him to move to Classical High School. Once he made that move, he felt that he was able to be exposed to more diverse opportunities and benefits for success while still facing barriers due to class and race. 

Roberto took those experiences and feelings and turned them into motivation. He decided he wanted to create solutions to the problems he faced and that also plagued the youth in his community daily. After graduating as a sound engineer, he stayed connected to his inner Peter Parker. Having grown up in Washington park, he founded STEAM Box to mentor youth in his community and to be the support in their lives that he didn’t have. STEAM Box creates STEAM programs based entirely on the youths interest such as outer space, self-made hover-boards, apps, artificial language and virtual reality. They even tell their stories through podcasts episodes and they’ve traveled to Japan twice. 

Roberto’s experiences motivated him to create a space he wished he had as a youngster to create, develop and experiment his interests to then model a path to a career. He believes in making the youth their own bosses, taking charge of their own futures. His favorite part about his work is that just as much as fun it is, there is so much learning through it all. 

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Yaniza Gallant

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Multilingual Director for East Providence Schools

Yaniza Gallant’s story begins as a refugee born in Havana, Cuba to parents who immigrated to the United States when she was only five years old. Despite language barriers, her dad worked multiple jobs to provide for their family as they began their new life in Passaic, New Jersey until they moved to Providence, Rhode Island when Yaniza was 11 years old. 

Throughout her public school education, she saw education as an equalizer for her that changed the trajectory of her life. Due to barriers such as language and lack of resources, there was little interaction between her home life and her school life. Even with extremely supportive parents, Yaniza was told that college was out of her reach. It was because of her teacher, Mr. Roberts who became her first adult advocate that her dreams of being the first in her family to go to college was achieved and she attended Rhode Island College.

Beginning as a bilingual teacher in the Providence School Department and later becoming a Principal at Orlo Elementary in East Providence, Yaniza became what she always wanted to see during her education for her students. She uses her personal story to show students and families what is possible. Her career has come full circle, in the last two years Yaniza has been the Multilingual Learner Director for the East Providence School Districts. As Director, she oversees all students and staff of second language learners. 

As a first generation Cuban American, Yaniza experienced first hand the struggle of a refugee from a young age. It is the drive to succeed and achieve that she holds center to her identity. She believes Latinos are rich in that drive and passion in the pursuit of a better tomorrow for generations to come and honoring the core values and beliefs our nation was built on. 

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Lissette Castrillon

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Bilingual Speech and language pathologist

As a first generation Colombian-American born to Immigrant parents, Lissette connected with her roots through language. Being bilingual instilled in her the honor of speaking her native Spanish Language. In high school, she became fascinated by language and cultures that she set out to explore a career that married her passion with the experience of being bilingual, she found her path as a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist.

After an amazing opportunity to study her undergrad in Orlando, Florida and her graduate degree in Portland, Oregon she felt compelled to come back to her home state of Rhode Island to give back to her Latinx community to advocate on behalf of this community and others who see a high need for bilingual professionals across disciplines. In her work she works closely to debunk the myth that speaking both languages will confuse a child and in fact show that learning both simultaneously, enhances the emerging bilingual brain.

Witnessing the hard work and drive first hand from her parents, Lissette is not only successful in her career but also successful in breaking barriers. She newly purchased a home where she resides with her fiancé and puppy Cosmo. She truly believes that Latinos enrich our nation with their desire to work hard and achieve success no matter the sacrifice truly valuing the American Dream.

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Brenda Almonte

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Director of Public Property for the City of Providence

As a first generation Dominican American, Brenda grew up the youngest of three girls to a single mom from the Dominican Republic. She grew up with the support and love of her community, especially her grandfather who took on the role of a father figure early in her life. In 2018, Brenda’s grandfather passed away at the age of 98. His love and advice is dearly missed.

 

Education has played a large role in Brenda’s life. She was the second person in her family to graduate from college and one of the only ones to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Roger Williams University. Brenda is currently enrolled in a MBA program at the University of RI. Brenda’s early professional career in property management allowed her to assist and connect with residents in need of affordable and accessible housing. Her experience and language abilities allowed her to better connect with Spanish speaking Latino residents, while ensuring that her team also understood the needs of this community as well.

 

Today, Brenda is the Director of Public Property for the City of Providence, where she ensures that neighborhoods with higher percentages of Latinos receive equal consideration when it comes to maintenance and rehabs of city owned/managed buildings such as recreational centers or schools. “It feels amazing to drive around my city and know I can provide excellent asset management. I am the first bi-lingual and woman to hold this position. I couldn’t think of a greater honor.”

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Zuleyma Gomez

The latino policy institute

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Chief of Staff for the City of Central Falls

Growing up in Central Falls, Rhode Island as a Mexican American, Zuleyma was able to witness a community that holds the utmost pride in their identity and constantly fights for the opportunity to become so much more. Having this experience throughout her childhood pushed the desire to have a hand in creating those opportunities by pursuing a degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College.

Zuleyma was not always heavily engaged in politics as a young adult. It was not until her 2014 involvement in the Latina Leadership Institute that opened her perspective and understanding of civic duty that is now ingrained in her. She registered to vote later that year to use her voice to help others understand the large result and changes that can come about in their own backyards.

Today, Zuleyma Gomez is the Chief of Staff for the City of Central Falls. She recognizes her duty to ensure all departments of the city are responsive to the community and that everyone has their voices heard when it comes to their community. She believes that the Latino community is gaining the strength and confidence to use vastly varied experiences to create new and truly authentic angles of civic engagement. 

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