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Executive Leadership Team
Marissa Castañeda is a Master of Theological Studies Candidate at the Harvard Divinity School. She serves President of Nuestra Voz, the Latinx student organization at HDS. She holds a BA in Sociology and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Currently, she is interested in exploring alternative histories, through the art of writing, research into narrative and modes of communication that question the standard models of rationality/modernity. By alternative histories she is influenced by the Gloria Anzaldúa and María Lugones approaches because of the ways they interrogate how Latinos think about their bodies and their historical traditions. Her passion for literary theory and Latinx narratives in canon informs her academic and professoriate goals.
Marissa is the daughter of immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico and grew up in Napa Valley. As a proud Chicana scholar and first-generation college student, Marissa is dedicated to advocacy for marginalized communities through professorship and mentorship.
Alfredo Garcia is an undocumented student from Coahuila Mexico. He came to the U.S. at the age of 15 in 2007. Since then, he has worked as a house painter every summer to save money for school. Alfredo is the recipient of the HDS Dean’s Fellowship. He is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School. He is interested in researching faith as a mechanism of resilience within the framework of undocumented communities.
Alfredo received a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University (2015), where he graduated magna cum laude, as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society – the nation’s oldest academic honor society, and as an undergraduate research scholar. At Texas A&M, alfredo served as the president of the Council for Minority Student Affairs (CMSA), a student organization that advocates for equal educational opportunities for undocumented students. As the president of the group, Alfredo recruited leaders from different Latino organizations, and led them to advocate for the creation of a Latina/o Mexican American Studies minor at the university. The minor is now part of the institution’s curriculum.
Jazmine Garcia Delgadillo
Jazmine received her BA and MPH from UC Berkeley. She was introduced to evaluation work as an MPH student and this led her to develop an interest in learning how research can be translated into action. Over the past few years, Jazmine has been pursuing opportunities to expand her evaluation expertise. She participated in the evaluation of a training program for traditional birth attendants in Chiapas, Mexico and the evaluation of a nationwide food security program throughout marginalized communities in Mexico. This glimpse at applied public health opened her eyes to the global nature of health inequity and the importance of community-based work, valuing the lived experience and expertise among community members to collaboratively find solutions to pressing issues.
Most recently she worked for Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California, Department of Research & Evaluation and had the opportunity to work on various studies under the Health Services Division to improve the quality of care. In addition, Jazmine participated as a Leadership Fellow for California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and had the opportunity to partake in advocacy and community efforts to bring the voices of Latinas to the political platform. As a doctoral student at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, Jazmine is eager to explore how to effectively translate maternal and child health research into policy, particularly as it affects immigrants and other women of color.
Seciah Aquino is a first year doctoral candidate for the Doctorate of Public Health Program at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. She was born in Guatemala City and immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. She grew up in Los Angeles, California alongside her beautiful family. Seciah’s training in public health began when she was only five years old, as she was exposed to medical missions and the amazing impact they had in rural Guatemalan pueblos. Thereafter, the trials of life as an immigrant refined and shaped her leadership abilities. Through life experience, she has been blessed to learn first hand how to stand up for the voiceless, how to provide for the needy, and how to speak up for the rights of the destitute.
Seciah graduated from the University of Southern California in 2013 with a B.S in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a M.S in Global Medicine. After graduation she joined the USC Division of Dental Public Health and Community Health Programs and served as a promotora and program assistant for the Children’s Health and Maintenance Program. During her time there she provided encompassing oral health education for community members and leaders, health professionals, teachers, families and children. In addition, she was instrumental in communicating and establishing partnerships with school districts, early childcare centers and other head start programs. In a single sitting she was blessed to set up the provision of preventive oral health services for more than a thousand kids.
Seciah is determined to successfully revolutionize healthcare in the United States and ultimately the world. She seeks to provide the leadership needed to address the health disparities that currently exist. She would like to create and facilitate a well-designed partnership that will allocate our nation’s health professional resources directly to the need in a manner that will be beneficial for both the clinician and the patient.
Camilo Caballero was born in Colombia and raised in the State of Georgia, Camilo has devoted his educational career to the empowerment of underrepresented communities in the U.S. and abroad. Camilo received an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Gordon State College and a Bachelor’s degree of Science in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology. While pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree, Camilo served in various leadership roles in Georgia with state government agencies, political campaigns, and non-profit organizations, where he supported economic development efforts, worked with government agencies to promote college education, and volunteered with Latino community advocacy groups. During those years, Camilo also served as an intern at the U.S. Embassies in Madrid and Lima, where he worked on promoting U.S. culture and democratic values to foreign audiences.
Camilo is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at Tufts University in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he is specializing in international law and human security. In addition, Camilo serves as Director of External Affairs for the Harvard Journal Hispanic Policy, and as founder and Co-Leader of the Fletcher Students of Color & Allies club.
Jeffry is a small town boy living his once remote dreams. He is an MPA candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Applied Mathematics-Economics from Brown University.
Elena Hoffnagle is a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she plans to concentrate in Social and Urban Policy. Before coming to the Kennedy School, the majority of her work focused on public health policy, both at the national and local level. She is particularly interested in policy approaches to reduce health disparities among Latinos, especially by increasing access to healthy food and increasing opportunities for physical activity. She has led a team of researchers to develop policy recommendations for improvements to SNAP (the food stamps program) ahead of the 2012 Farm Bill. Most recently, she spent four years managing Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, a major part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to reduce childhood obesity. Her work focused on helping city and county governments develop policies and programs to improve the health of their residents. At HKS, she hopes to focus on local-level policymaking more broadly, including developing tools to increase civic engagement and evaluate municipal-level public policy changes.
Elena is from Napa, California. She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in political science with distinction.
Kristell Millan is currently a first year Masters in Public Policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she is a Presidential Scholarship recipient. Her professional interests are focused on economic development, social entrepreneurship, financial innovation, and the intersection between the public and private sector.
Kristell previously worked for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) for five years, assisting in the organization’s mission to promote Hispanic representation at all levels within Higher Education institutions. She was also part of a research team collaborating with the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that focused on the growing social and economic influence of Hispanics within Arizona and the United States. Most recently, Kristell worked at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co’s Private Banking division in New York City, where she served on a team providing financial services to Private Equity firms and partners.
Kristell was born in Sinaloa, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of five. She grew up in California and Arizona, graduating from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Finance and a B.A. in Global Politics.
Cassandra Fradera is a Masters Candidate in Journalism Studies at the Harvard Extension School ’17 with a focus in digital media. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Babson College where she began her first entrepreneurial venture managing student artists.
As a Senior Digital Media Editor for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, Cassandra seeks to highlight the diversity of US Latinos. She is the creator, producer and host of Café con Cass, a weekly Cambridge Community Television show that brings dialogue alive on healing, arts, and diversity with occasional guests. She is the current Latinx Graduation Co-Chair for the Harvard Latino Student Alliance.
Born in Arizona and raised in New Mexico, Annette is pursuing a second master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in Human Development and Psychology. At HGSE, Granillo assesses how elite higher education institutions can better prepare Hispanic women for careers in STEM, finance/ economics, and law and how organizations can better recruit, assimilate, and cultivate this type of human capital.
Granillo holds a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from New Mexico State University in which she studied organizational behavior specifically how Hispanic women make sense of their identities in the workforce and in politics using communication. She previously served as the Academic Communication Specialist for the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
In addition to her role, Granillo also serves as Co-Director of Communication for the Harvard Latino Student Alliance, and Co-Director of Partnerships and Operations of HGSE Leadership and Organizational Behavior Group. She also volunteers with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and as a mentor for First-Generation students at Harvard College.
Isaac is a joint degree MPA/JD student at Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia Law School. Originally from Queens, NY, he is a first-generation college student and graduated from Columbia in 2011 with honors. Before serving in his current role as Board Relations Director for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, he was a Senior Editor for Articles. A strong communicator, Isaac has appeared on CNN en Español as an on-air commentator.
Prior to graduate school, Isaac worked as an investigator examining allegations of NYPD misconduct. He has interviewed hundreds of police officers regarding incidents involving stop-and-frisks, search warrant executions, and firearms discharges.
Isaac currently serves on the U.S. Senate Republican Taskforce on Hispanic Affairs.
Teresa Acuña has been working in state and national politics for the last eight years. Most recently, Director of Policy and Leadership Programs at the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) in Washington, DC, a premier coalition of the nation’s 40 leading Latino organizations advocating on behalf of Latinos in the United States. Teresa co-managed a national effort focused on increasing diversity in presidential appointments and in elected office.
She also worked in Congress as Legislative Director to Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod and in California state politics as a lobbyist and in various positions in the state legislature. Teresa served as Legislative Director for Assemblymember Luis Alejo, helping secure $2.1 million in infrastructure funding for a farmworker community. A former California State Senate Fellow and Legislative Aide to Senator Gilbert Cedillo, she helped usher various pieces of legislation that sought to diminish social and civil inequalities.
Teresa has also worked on numerous campaigns across the state of California and hopes to focus her time at the Harvard Kennedy School in creating the first Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program for Latinos, which will improve the number of Latinos in senior level positions of the federal government. She is a Roy and Lila Ash Student Fellow and a Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Teresa is a graduate from San Diego State University, majoring in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies and a native of California.
Hector Kilgoe is a second-year Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School, with a concentration in African and African American Religious Studies. Before enrolling at Harvard, he was chair of Cipactli Latino Honor Society as well as a member of the planning committee for Unidos: La Casa Latina Mentorship Program at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he also served as an editor for The Colors Project, a magazine for queer people of color. He is currently a Junior Fellow in the Science, Religion, and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School and an editor for the Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School.
Hector is a first-generation university graduate from Charlestown, Massachusetts. He holds a BA in Religious Studies, with minors in Jewish Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania.
Alex Maza is a second year Master of Public Policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School. Also at Harvard, he is a Sheila C. Johnson Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership. He graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Political Science and Economics. Much of his time as an undergrad was spent working on issues involving social and racial inequality. While at the Urban Institute Summer Research Academy, he researched racial disparities in Drug Court outcomes. Upon graduating, he taught 6th Grade English and Social Studies in the Washington D.C. area. Alex’s most recent work before coming to Harvard has been as an education consultant at an international school in Beijing, China.
Denise Molina is a southern California native and currently a dual degree candidate in the Master of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Master of Business Administration at MIT Sloan School of Management. Denise launched her career in economic development in Mexico City under the auspices of a Fulbright Fellowship and then transitioned to operations consulting in which she served clients in Latin America and the U.S. She earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Irvine.
Born in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, Paul immigrated to the United States when he was 11 years old. He became the first person in his family to attend college and graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Economics. Soon after, Paul began his public service career trying to advance a progressive agenda that focused on the needs of working families and communities of color.
Most recently, he was a Senior Legislative Assistant for Assemblywoman Gonzalez in the California State Legislature, representing the area that gave his family a new life in San Diego. Together, their team spearheaded legislation that allowed DACA students to practice law in the state, created the largest paid sick leave policy in the nation and passed the first statewide automatic voter registration in California.
Paul is now a first year Master of Public Policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School where he was awarded the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship. In the future, he hopes to return to California to continue providing a voice to marginalized communities and one day represent San Diego as an elected official.
Diane Ramirez is a J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School. She is interested in practicing criminal law, juvenile justice, and/or immigration law, especially since these areas of law have a disproportionate impact on Latino communities. She is currently a practicing student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and is an active member of La Alianza and the Harvard Latino Law Review.
Previously, Diane was a Judicial Fellow in the California Capitol Fellows program. Through the fellowship, she worked as an administrator for the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles to expand juvenile diversion programs, build court-community outreach programs, and promote policies to increase access to justice. She has also previously worked as a law clerk in the criminal division of the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney.
Diane graduated magna cum laude from Rice University with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology. She is from Atlanta, Georgia and is a first-generation college graduate.
Alexis Nieves was born and raised in a humble working class community in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout the course of his life, Alexis has dedicated himself to serving underrepresented groups domestically and internationally. His professional and research experience is in the comparative racial, ethnic inequalities facing underserved communities in democracies of the Western Hemisphere. Alexis is a recipient of the Thomas Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship through which he will join the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat and promote American values and interests all around the world. He was also awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Brazil. Alexis has experience at the federal level having worked at the Office of Cuban Affairs – Bureau of Western Hemisphere at the State Department. He also worked at the U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva in the office of Humanitarian Affairs. His experience working with underrepresented groups has cemented his desire to join the Foreign Service.
Alexis is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at Tufts University in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he is specializing in international security and humanitarian assistance.
Hiram Rios Hernandez
Hiram Rios Hernandez is a Master’s in Public Policy Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He currently holds a BA in Economics and a BA in International Studies from the University of South Florida. Hiram has received a Gilman, Boren, and Critical Language Scholarship to support his Mandarin Studies in China, and is a Pickering Fellow in International Affairs with the U.S. Department of State. His involvement with the arts started at the age of 11 when he began playing violin. To this day, he has played with the South Shore Symphony, the USF Symphony, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Orchestra.
Naomi (Nao) Toledo is a master’s degree candidate concentrating in Literature and Creative Writing at Harvard Extension School, and currently serves as Senior Editor of Digital for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, where he has previously served as Director of Communications. He is also a member of the Center for Public Leadership’s Latinx Leadership Development Group at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
A child of Mexican immigrants, Toledo was born and raised in Houston, TX and received a BA in English from Rice University. Toledo is a former English and Creative Writing instructor at YES Prep Public Schools, a Houston-based charter school system for underserved students, as well as a former adult ESL instructor with the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA) at Houston Community College.
He has recently been a guest blogger for The Trifecta Tribe, writing a monthly self-empowerment column for queer and trans people of color. Toledo is also a professional bass guitar player, and has performed at Austin’s SXSW, Las Vegas Pride, and venues throughout Texas, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Toledo is currently at work on his thesis, a short story collection inspired by postcolonial U.S. Latinx fiction, and blogs about all things grad school, gender identity, politics, and social justice at naomitoledo.com.
He lives in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston, with four roommates, and a pet cactus named Jorge.
Juan José Aparicio
Juan José is in his second year of the Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Originally from Los Angeles, California, Juan José grew up in a working-class, Mexican immigrant community. Through his passion for the arts, he was awarded the Herb Alpert Scholarship for Emerging Young Artists and went on to complete his undergraduate studies at Harvard College, where he concentrated in Government and Russian Studies. While at Harvard, he was selected as a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow. After graduating from the Kennedy School, he will join the U.S. Foreign Service.
Felipe Espitia Cetina
Felipe Espitia is an ALB candidate at Harvard University. Recently, he was granted the opportunity to serve as a research assistant for the Harvard Advance Leadership Institute. Within this department, he handles all in-depth research on: legal matter, minimum wage, insurance requirements, tax credits, discrimination policy, and liabilities. Furthermore, he is also a student tutor through the Phillip Brook Association and a debate instructor through the Harvard College Mentors for Urban debate. Finally, within the Harvard Colombian Community, he serves as the treasure of the Colombian Student Association.
Before his time at Harvard, he was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, but later on migrated to New York to help his parents start Rp. SptiCorp, a corporation dedicated to educating and assisting the Latino market by offering financial services for first-time Latino credit holders. After this venture, he discovered that his real passion was not finance, but education, more specifically educating many in the Latinx community who had inaccessibility to higher education, so while he was taking classes at a community college, he helped re-open the Association of Latino American students where he served as president. After his term, he was elected to serve as the only student representative on the Suffolk County Community College Board of Trustees. As Student Trustee, he represented the largest community college in New York and he advocated for higher education at state levels through NYCCT (New York Community College Trustee) and on the national scale through ACCT (Association of Community College Trustee) As a member of this organizations, he met with local and state representatives to discuss issues within the Latinx community. Thanks to this experience he learned the implications of policy making and its impact in the Latino community.
Daniel Urgelles is a South Florida native and joint degree candidate for a Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership. Daniel completed his undergraduate career at the University of Pennsylvania as a student in the Huntsman Program for International Studies and Business, majoring in international studies, political science, and finance. After college, he worked at J.P. Morgan’s Financial Institutions Investment Banking Group and at Corsair Capital, a middle market private equity firm in New York.