LAWRENCE COHORT

MAURICE AGUILER

Lieutenant and Executive Officer, Lawrence Police Department

 

Maurice Aguiler is a Lieutenant in the Lawrence Police Department. He serves as the Lawrence Police Department’s Executive Officer where he implements, collaborates, and advises on organizational matters such as: public relations, community policing and engagement; restructuring of Lawrence Police Department’s organizational structure and Detective’s Division; creation and updating of policies and procedures; programs, training, and disciplinary matters. He currently oversees the implementation of the department’s Body Worn Camera program facilitated by a grant provided by the Department of Justice, and will exercise oversight into the design and construction of a new police station.    

Maurice facilitated logistical and tactical operations command in response to both Columbia Gas I and Columbia Gas II Merrimack Valley disasters, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic preparedness protocols, protest preparations and dialogue with protest groups.

Maurice is a Lawrence High School graduate and has lived in Lawrence for more than 38 years.  Maurice enjoys reading, cooking, travel and spending time with his family.  He has recently begun sailing lessons with the Boston Sailing Center and endeavors to someday circumnavigate the world.  

After serving in the United States Air Force, where he was discharged as an Operation Desert Shield Veteran, he went on to obtain his AA degree in Criminal Justice from Northern Essex Community College. He proceeded to obtain his B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts, and ultimately his Juris Doctor from the Massachusetts School of Law. Since 2017, Maurice has been a member in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Additionally, he is a graduate of the FBI LEEDA Trilogy Program, the Senior Management Police Institute’s Police Executive Research Forum, and several other executive leadership courses.

EDWIN ALVAREZ 

Supplier Diversity Advisor, CVS Health

 

Edwin Alvarez is currently the Supplier Diversity Advisor for CVS Health. Through the CVS Health Supplier Diversity Program Edwin actively seeks diverse suppliers of products and services that can meet the operational needs of the CVS Health enterprise.  Strategically sourcing for diverse owned vendors allows him to partner with business owners that accurately reflect the communities in which CVS Health serves its customers.   

 

Edwin also serves as CFO of CathWear; an FDA Registered Medicare approved medical undergarment.  He has been instrumental in the growth of CathWear with a primary focus on securing both equity and debt funding during capital raise phases. Throughout his career, Edwin has held roles within investment firms such as Fidelity Investments, MassMutual Financial Group, and Citizens’ Bank and serves as the elected Treasurer of the Portuguese American Citizens Committee.  His strong belief in maintaining lasting relationships has served him well throughout his professional journey. 

Edwin is married with two daughters and is an avid camper and active snowboarder.

A Lawrence High School graduate, Edwin attended Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island for his degree in Marketing and subsequently earned an MBA from the University of Rhode Island.

MIKE ARMANO

Director of Inspectional Services, City of Lawrence

 

Mike Armano serves as the Director of Inspectional Services for the City of Lawrence.  Mike began his professional career launching a law practice and real estate brokerage while working a night-shift and teaching paralegal studies. Almost a decade after practicing law, Mike joined the Lawrence Fire Department, worked as a firefighter, fire investigator, and fire code official. After becoming an EMT, earning a master’s degree in Public Administration from Anna Maria College, and receiving Mass Fire Academy certifications up to the level of Chief Officer, Mike climbed the ranks to Fire Captain and accepted a position as the Director of Inspectional Services. 

 

In this role for the past 2 years, Mike has had the honor of leading the City of Lawrence in its fight for housing equity and environmental justice. As a dedicated first responder, Mike also takes pride in leading a team that is passionate about strengthening the health, safety, and welfare of the community. Ultimately, Mike's goal is to “leave it better than you found it”.  

In addition to his professional achievements, Mike enjoyed serving the youth of the community while coaching high school wrestling at Central Catholic High School, working as a counselor at Camp Marist, and starting the Firepit youth wrestling club in Lawrence. Mike is married to his beautiful wife Jill and has three amazing children.

A native of the Merrimack Valley, Mike grew up in Lawrence, attended Central Catholic High School, and graduated from UMass Lowell with a B.A. degree in Political Science. He later earned a juris doctorate degree from The Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, MA. 

JOSE CRUZ

Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer, Reading Cooperative Bank 

 

Jose Cruz is a Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer at Reading Cooperative Bank, where he specializes in CRE (commercial real estate) and C&I (business) loans. He has over fifteen years of experience in the financial and banking services field.  He has worked throughout the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire regions and is extremely knowledgeable about the needs of the Lawrence and the Greater Merrimack Valley markets.

 

Jose is involved with a variety of community organizations and boards, including The Board of Directors of The Professional Center for Child Development in Andover and Lawrence, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, NH, where he volunteers as a coach for girls recreational volleyball.  Jose is an active member of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer with the Town of Salem, New Hampshire Ski Club. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, golfing, and spending time with his family. Born in the Dominican Republic, he immigrated to New England in early 2001. He currently lives in Salem, NH, with his wife Grace and their two daughters.

Jose is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University, where he earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Management. Jose is currently an MBA candidate at the Isenberg School of Management at the UMass, Amherst, as well as a student at the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. 

YVETTE VERAS GUERRA

Founder and Proprietor, NSG Real Estate, LLC 

 

Yvette Veras Guerra is the Founder and Proprietor of NSG Real Estate, LLC, a residential and commercial real estate investment company in the Merrimack Valley. Yvette ventured into the real estate business in 2009 while working full-time for ECCO USA, Inc. Her focus was on the management of a $30M+ portfolio and providing competitive trade financing while applying a sound risk management approach. Prior to Credit Management, Yvette held various progressive and leadership positions in the banking industry for twelve years leading to Lead Consumer Loan Officer for Metro Credit Union and First Essex Bank.

 

Yvette served as a member of the Merrimack Valley YMCA Camping Services Board from 2015-2017 as Annual Fundraiser Chair and Vice-Chair from 2017-2019. She was awarded volunteer of the year in 2016. Yvette also volunteered for Budget Buddies, empowering low-income women through financial education and one-to-one coaching. Originally from Lawrence, MA, she has lived in Methuen for more than seventeen years where she and her husband Hugo, a Chilean native, are raising their three children: Natalia, Sebastian, and Gabriel. When she is not juggling the daily business operations and the kid’s extra curriculum activities, Yvette enjoys dancing, traveling, exercising and spending time with friends and family.

 

Yvette graduated from UMass, Lowell with a B.S. in Accounting and Finance in 1995 and also holds a Graduate International Business Administration Certificate from Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England. 

ODANIS HERNANDEZ

Director of Strategic Initiatives, Lawrence Public Schools

Odanis Hernandez currently serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Lawrence Public Schools (LPS), overseeing key projects for the district like the Early College Program, Acceleration Academies, Summer School and Student Re-engagement. She is also responsible for Philanthropy and Partner relations as well as Alternative Education.  Prior to becoming Director, Odanis led LPS’ career pathways programs as Work-Based Learning Manager.  She also played a key role in the opening of the LPS Family Resource Center and successfully managed, from grant award through implementation, the Lawrence Working Families Initiative (LWFI). Prior to joining LPS, she spent more than 11 years at the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board and ValleyWorks Career Center.

 

Having immigrated to Lawrence from the Dominican Republic with her parents at the age of 11, Odanis is driven by her intimate familiarity with the professional and personal challenges that both Lawrence immigrants and working mothers face in joining the labor force. Odanis still proudly calls Lawrence home, along with her husband David; their three daughters, 20-year-old twins Karina and Karolina, and 19-year-old Kyannah; and dogs Blanka and Karamela. Odanis enjoys time with her family, traveling, hosting large family dinners and serving her community. She is a former board member for Notre Dame Education Center and the Giangrande Family Scholarship Fund. 

 

 Like her husband and daughters, Odanis is a proud LHS graduate (Lancer Class of 1995). She earned her B.A. from Bridgewater State College in 2002, and completed a certificate program with the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership through the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.   

SUSAN KAMACHO

Vice President of Human Resources, Gemline

 

Susan Kamacho is the Vice President of Human Resources at Gemline, a premier supplier of promotional products.  Susan joined Gemline in 2008 and served as their Training & Development Manager, focusing on leadership skills needs analysis, curriculum development and workshop delivery for four years.  After a brief hiatus, Susan rejoined Gemline in 2010 as a Human Resources Manager.  Over the past ten years, Susan's passion for workplace culture development utilizing continuous improvement philosophies has resulted in a Human Resources team that is strategically focused on corporate initiatives and accountability.  During the past five years, Susan has presented at a variety of HR Continuous Improvement/Lean summits as well as at the Association of Manufacturing Excellence Conference. 

 

Susan resides in Litchfield, NH, just outside of Manchester, with her husband Juan.  Her four children have moved on with their own lives, leaving them as recent empty nesters.  Susan enjoys blog writing, cooking and inviting her children home for large family dinners. 

 

Susan is a graduate of Upsala College in East Orange, NJ, with a B.A. in Human Resources Management and Psychology.  She has gone on to achieve certification as a professional coach and trainer.

FRANK KENNEALLY 

President and CEO, Merrimack Valley YMCA

 

Frank Kenneally is currently the President and CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA based in Lawrence, MA. Frank has been a leader in the Y Movement for thirty years, all with The Merrimack Valley Y.  As a life-long resident of the Merrimack Valley, Frank brings a unique perspective and understanding of the communities the Y serves.  This understanding has led to several creative and innovative approaches by the Y to address community needs around food insecurity, educational inequalities and bridging communities.  Frank is a leader in promoting collaboration among state and local governments, educational institutions, healthcare providers and other nonprofits to address the issues in Northeast MA.   He started his career in Camping and Aquatics and has held several program and executive positions leading up to being named President and CEO in July 2019. 

 

In addition to his Y work, Frank is very active in the Merrimack Valley community and regionally serving on several volunteer boards and committees, most recently joining the Board of Epilepsy Foundation New England.  Frank is also Adjunct Faculty in the Health Sciences Department at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA.  Frank lives in North Andover, MA with his wife Amy and their three sons Sean, Jason and Aaron.

 

Frank is a graduate of Salem State University, earning a B.S. in Sport, Fitness, and Leisure Studies. He also earned a M.S. from Springfield College in Human Services Organizational Leadership and a Certificate in Non-Profit Business Leadership from Mendoza College of Business at The University of Notre Dame. 

MAX LOPEZ 

Pre-Sales Engineer, VMware 

 

Max Lopez currently serves as a Pre-Sales Engineer for the End User Computing business unit for VMware, supporting healthcare in the northeastern region covering ME, MA, CT, and NY. Max joined VMware in November of 2019 as part of the Commercial team, he quickly got moved to the Government, Education, Healthcare team in February 2020. Prior to joining VMware Max spent six years as Senior Manager of End Using Computer at Navisite. He grew this business unit to generate over $4.5 million in annual revenues? per year. Max has over 20 years of experience in the information technology field, working for a few multimillion-dollar public companies as well as two small private startup companies.

 

Max was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  His family immigrated to the United States when he was in the fourth grade and he has lived in Lawrence for most of his life. He’s married to Cathy Lopez who is a Human Resources Director at a startup in Lexington, MA. Max has two kids, 16-year-old Camille and 12-year-old Marcus.  Max is also the President and Co-founder of New England Hoops Academy (NEHA).  NEHA was founded in 2017 with the mission of allowing the young boys of the city of Lawrence and neighboring towns to play basketball in the AAU circuit at an affordable rate. Max is an avid supporter of the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club.  He’s also an avid supported of Youth Development Organization “YDO” for the work they are doing with the youth in the Lawrence community.

 

Max graduated from the UMass, Lowell, with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems. 

ANA LUNA

Executive Director, ACT Lawrence

 

Ana Luna leads ACT Lawrence, a Latinx-led non-profit community development corporation serving the city of Lawrence for more than 20 years.  She first got involved with ACT Lawrence in 1996, as one of its founding members and then became its Executive Director in 2003.  Focusing on low-income and diverse groups, Ana oversees programs in the areas of financial literacy, homeownership education, housing counseling, youth employment and community engagement activities. 

Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, she immigrated to Lawrence in 1985 where she discovered her commitment to improving and supporting the community.  Ana currently lives in Lowell, MA with her husband Juan and 9-year-old daughter Emily.  Ana enjoys reading, journaling, exploring new restaurants and traveling. 

 

Ana graduated from Tufts University in Medford, MA with a Master's in Public Policy and holds a B.A. in Television Production from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

JUANA MATIAS

Chief Operating Officer, MassInc

Juana Matias, joined MassINC in 2019, as Chief Operating Officer. In this capacity, Juana oversees the development and marketing efforts of the organization, while supporting President, Lauren Louisan Grogan, with the overall management of the organization.  Prior to joining MassINC, Juana served as the State Representative for the 16th Essex District, becoming one of the first Latina immigrant women elected to the Massachusetts State House. Juana dedicated years of her career to public service following law school by enlisting in AmeriCorps as a Justice AmeriCorps Legal Advocate. Prior to her service with AmeriCorps, Juana served the Merrimack Valley region as a social worker, where she assisted families and children who had suffered abuse and neglect by providing them with a wide range of support and social services. 

Juana immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of 5 with her parents and three brothers. They settled in Haverhill, MA where she attended local public schools. Juana currently resides in Lawrence with her partner Pavel and their beautiful dog, Teja.

Juana graduated from the UMass Boston in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science and Criminal Justice. She went on to receive her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 2014.

LESLY MELENDEZ

Deputy Director, Groundwork Lawrence

 

Lesly Melendez currently serves as the Deputy Director for Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) after returning to the organization as the Community Engagement Director in the fall of 2014. Lesly had previously worked for GWL from 2004 – 2007 managing outreach, projects and events. She was promoted to Deputy Director in November 2016.  During her years away from GWL Lesly worked for Comcast and partnered with GWL to lead Earth Day/Comcast Cares Day for five years. Lesly's passion and commitment to the environment and her community have made her a great re-addition to the GWL family.

 
As a lifelong resident of the City of Lawrence, she has always been passionate about serving the community. Lesly has served on numerous volunteer boards as well as on the City’s Planning Board initially as a voting member, later as Chair, and most recently as the Chair of the Licensing Board. She continues to be involved in community initiatives through her professional and her personal life. Lesly brings her love of writing, community and civic engagement and her passion for social justice to the GWL Family.

 

Melendez completed a certificate program at the Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership, now Institute for Nonprofit Practice, through the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University in 2016.

DR. JENNIFER V. MEZQUITA

Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Northern Essex Community College

 

Dr. Jennifer V. Mezquita currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at Northern Essex Community College. During her college undergraduate years, Jennifer was introduced to the higher education professional field. She developed a passion for addressing issues of social injustice, equity and access.  Prior to joining Northern Essex Community College, Dr. Mezquita worked at the College of the Desert Foundation, Valencia College Foundation, Valencia College and the University of Central Florida where she held leadership roles within alumni relations, student services, assessment, academic advising, and post-secondary transition programs. Jennifer has over 14 years of higher education experience and eight years of business and industry experience in banking and sales. 

Jennifer was born in the Dominican Republic where she was raised by her grandparents until the age of 10 when she and her siblings joined their mom in Orlando, FL. She lived in southern California prior to becoming a resident of Haverhill, MA.  Her greatest joy and most important title is Mom, to her 14-year-old son, Charles. 

 

The first in her family to attend college, Jennifer is a proud graduate of Valencia College, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she earned her AA degree, B.A. degree in Food and Resource Economics, master's degree in Educational Leadership: Student Personnel Administration and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership: Higher Education and Policy Studies.

CHRISTINA MINICUCCI

State Representative for the 14th Essex District

 

Christina Minicucci currently serves as the State Representative for the 14th Essex District. Christina's district straddles the Merrimack River and includes sections of North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence, and Haverhill. As a member of the legislature, Christina serves on the Small Business and Community Development Committee and is an active member of the Gateway Cities Caucus. She provides a lens of equity and perspective to pending legislation that considers the unique challenges and experiences of the micro-businesses that populate and drive the Merrimack Valley economy. Other areas of focus are education, healthcare and housing access for all. The COVID-19 crisis has driven home the importance of investing in and expanding access to all three of these areas in order to create stability and growth for our families. Prior to joining the legislature in 2019, Christina worked in real estate development with a focus on multi-family housing in the Merrimack Valley.


Born and raised in the Merrimack Valley, Christina and her husband Eric Loth live in North Andover, MA where they are raising their three children Aidan (17), Fritz (14) and Saoirse (11). When not driving around the Valley for work, Christina enjoys running, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with her kids.

 

Christina graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME with a B.A. in Spanish and also holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Suffolk University and completed the Advanced Management Development Program from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. 

MARIA GONZALEZ MOELLER 

Chief Executive Officer, The Community Group (TCG)

 

Maria Gonzalez Moeller first joined The Community Group (TCG) in 1994 as a translator for a special project. She was inspired by the organization, its mission, and the community of Lawrence, and soon transitioned into a full-time role. Over her two decades at TCG, she held multiple positions: Chief Operating Officer for Child Care Services, Human Resources Manager, Operations Manager at Community Day Charter Public Schools, and in her early years, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. Maria started her new role as CEO in July 2019. One of her main goals as the new CEO for the organization is to strengthen community partnerships and collaborations for TCG in order to expand opportunities for the families they serve. Maria is an active advocate for accessible and high quality early education and care for all children and currently serves as a board member for the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care.

 

Born and raised in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Maria moved to the United States mainland to attend college, where she met her husband, Bob. Maria and Bob live in Andover, MA and have three children: Robert (24), Thomas (21), and Sara (16). Maria’s parents, siblings, and extended family still reside in Puerto Rico, which motivates her to visit often and maintain a close connection to the island. In her free time, Maria enjoys cooking, running, and spending quality time with family. 

 

Maria earned a B.S. in finance and international marketing from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. After graduating, she moved to the Boston area to attend Bentley University, where she received her MBA.

ALEXANDRA (Alex) NOVA

Deputy Director, Lawrence Partnership 

Alexandra (Alex) Nova is the Deputy Director for Lawrence Partnership, a public/private collaboration committed to its mission of fostering economic development in the city of Lawrence that is equitable and inclusive.  Alex recently served as the Assistant Director of Donor Relations at Phillips Academy where she managed the high impact stewardship and recognition program. She has a background in marketing and corporate events management and has worked with some of the Commonwealth’s leading corporations including State Street, Wellington Management and Eastern Bank.  Prior to her corporate experience, Alex worked in Lawrence as a Program Manager with Family Services Inc., as the Latino Medical Support and Family Case Manager at Fidelity House, Inc.

 

Alex currently lives in Salem New Hampshire with her husband Radhames, a fellow Lawrencian, and their three children. She is passionate about creating programs and initiatives that develop, amplify and create opportunities for Latinx professionals. Alex is a member of the board of trustees for Esperanza Academy, a tuition-free, independent middle school for girls from Lawrence, Ma. She also serves on the MA COVID-19 Relief Fund Advisory Council as well as on the Steering Committee for the Boston Federal Reserve Bank Working Cities Challenge Advance Leadership Development Collaborative.  Alex has held various volunteer leadership positions including serving on the ALPFA Boston Board of Directors.  She is a graduate of the Center for Collaborative Leadership Emerging Leaders program and Inroads Cultural Inclusion Program for Non Profit Board Governance.  Alex is one of the founders and co-chairs of Inroads’ Mastermind, a professional development program for Cultural Inclusion Board Governance alumni. 

Alex holds a B.S. degree in Hospitality Management from the Florida International University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Tufts University, Jonathan M. Tisch Collage of Civic Life. 

JESSICA V. VILAS NOVAS

Director, Lawrence Public Library

Jessica V. Vilas Novas currently serves as the Director of the Lawrence Public Library. She is responsible for the planning and supervision of the operations of both branches, overseeing the development of library policies, programs, procedures and managing a $1.6M budget and a staff of over 25. Jessica has focused her role on re-envisioning the Library to be a community hub for the arts, culture, and life-long learning. She was appointed to the Director role by the Library Board of Trustees in the fall of 2016. Prior to joining the Library, Jessica spent years working in the medical field in Boston and Los Angeles before discovering her passion for community engagement and desire to provide equitable access for all. Her introduction to nonprofit was at UTEC in Lowell, where she discovered many of the tools she uses today in her work. For a couple years, she led an intergenerational community writing group out of El Taller in downtown Lawrence, drawing dozens of Lawrence residents and residents from nearby towns to weekly meet ups. Jessica currently serves as Board President of the Lawrence-based youth development and social justice focused art nonprofit, Elevated Thought, Inc. 


A Lawrencian, Jessica is raising her baby Ava and stepson Jordan with her husband Will in Lawrence with a view of City Hall from their window. She enjoys traveling, hiking, dining, and spending time with the family.

 

Jessica graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Biology, and also holds an M.Ed in Community Engagement from Merrimack College and a MS in Library Science from Simmons University. She recently earned a certificate in nonprofit management and leadership from Tufts University through the Institute for Nonprofit Practice program.

ALEX PEREZ 

Lead Technical Recruiter, PTC 

Alex Perez is the Lead Technical Recruiter for PTC, a Boston-based top-tier organization delivering next generation technology in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, IOT and Cloud-based SaaS. Alex is responsible for hiring executive management and individual contributors across all functions of engineering.  In 1997, an internship introduced him to a career that would lead to continued education in the areas of technology and human resources as a technical recruiter. For the past 20+ years Alex has consulted and hired for some of the world’s leading engineering firms including Google, Microsoft, EMC/Dell and Verizon.

 

Alex has always been inspired to help the youth in his community. He became a Big Brother through the Big Brother/Big Sister program mentoring teenagers. In addition to that, he recently served on the Board of Directors for Notre Dame High School in Lawrence and is currently on the event committee for Socratic Inc, an organization dedicated to providing scholarships to high school seniors in the Merrimack Valley.

 

Alex was born and raised in the city of Lawrence, MA to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Today he is married with three kids: Brandon (17), Sophia (13) and Daniel (12). When he’s not doubling as Uber dad, he enjoys time with family, travel, dinner with friends and quality time with his wife Cecilia.

 

Alex graduated from UMass, Amherst class of 1998 with a B.A. in International Business and a minor in Spanish and Finance. 

CLAUDIA E. VERÁSTEGUI PIERCE 

Vice President of Operations, 99Degrees

Claudia E. Verastegui is currently the Vice President of Operations for 99Degrees, a Lawrence-based technical performance activewear and wearable technology manufacturer. Claudia leads 99Degree’s speed and agility model which enables US manufacturing at scale. She is responsible for Planning, Supply Chain, Production, R&D, and Engineering. Before joining 99Degrees in early 2018, Claudia served as the Senior Manager of Manufacturing and Contracting, at Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Claudia first joined Dickies in 1999 as a Junior Engineer. She was promoted over her 18 years with the company in roles spanning Production, Engineering, Manufacturing and Contracting.

 

Claudia, originally from Mexico, has been living in the US for the last 14 years and has spent the past 2 years in Lawrence, MA.  Claudia is married to David, who teaches math at Abbot Lawrence Academy. They have 2 dogs (Tickles and Coco). She enjoys reading, volunteering, walking, good movies and ice cream. 

Claudia graduated as an Industrial and Systems Engineer from ITESM in Mexico. She has a certification as a Six Sigma Green Belt from University of Texas in Arlington and Lean Certification from Productivity Latinoamérica in México. 

ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ

Investment and Management Strategist

Consultant to corporations, non-profit organizations, and high net-worth individuals

Roberto Rodriguez is an excellence-driven finance executive leader who grows enterprises.  He is an action-oriented and mission-driven executive inspired by the possibility of making a difference in under-represented communities. Roberto built a 15-year career as an Asset Allocation strategist at Wellington Management Company, LLP.  He served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Public Policy for Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in the Clinton Administration in the mid 1990s. Roberto also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa in the early 1980s. 

Roberto was born and raised in Habana, Cuba. After a couple of years in Spain, he immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen. Following a decade in Washington DC, he moved to Concord, MA where he raised his children. He currently lives with his partner, Dr. Michelle M. Cochran in Andover, MA.  Roberto is passionate about tennis and cycling. He is also a dedicated student of moral philosophy and the Dutch and Flemish Masters’ works of art. Some of his favorite authors include David Foster Wallace, Roberto Bollano, Phillip Roth and Jose Lezama Lima.  

 

Roberto has a Master of Public Policy (MPP) with honors from Harvard University with a Business and Government concentration. His award-winning thesis at Harvard evaluated the privatization of The New York City Transportation Authority’s warehouse operations. He also received a B.S. in Psychology and Pre-Med from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

VLADIMIR SALDANA 

North Regional Director, Office of Congresswoman Lori Trahan

Vladimir Saldana is the North Regional Director for the Office of Congresswoman Lori Trahan. Since joining the Congressional Office, Vladimir has managed outreach and developed relationships with key stakeholders in the communities of Lawrence, Methuen, Andover and Haverhill. While serving as the liaison between Congresswoman Trahan and the communities in the north region, Vladimir has guided the office to successfully support businesses and residents affected by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions access compensations as results of the disaster.  Vladimir also created and implemented a Census 2020 outreach campaign plan across the north region to ensure a more accurate count for hard-to-count communities. Prior to joining the congressional office team, Vladimir was a Real Estate Project Manager for Lawrence CommunityWorks. While at Lawrence CommunityWorks he managed the construction of five new single-family homes with a budget of $2.45M.
 
Vladimir is passionate about community development and serves as a board member for non-profit organizations in the community. He is currently a board member of the Boys and Girls Club, Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, and an advisor to the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation.

 

Vladimir is a proud alum of the UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College.

MARICEL GORIS

Assistant Superintendent, Lawrence Public Schools

 

Maricel Goris is the Assistant Superintendent for Lawrence Public Schools.  She is an experienced facilitator of adult development and training as well as youth development and educational programming that has directly improved the educational service delivery and student learning outcomes in urban and suburban programs and schools. Maricel began her education career in the Boston Public Schools as Deputy Director of the Office of Equity and would go on to serve as Assistant Headmaster at English High School, the Social Justice Academy and Boston Green Academy. She served as Metropolitan Educational Opportunities Council (METCO) Director for Newton Public Schools for five years and has served as a Board Member for the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, Inc., METCO Directors’ Association, and METCO, Inc.  

 
A daughter of immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic and one of four children, Maricel was able to experience living in a number of cities - Bronx, Cambridge, and Miami before finally settling in Boston, as a young adult.  Maricel currently resides in Haverhill, MA with her shitzu Bentley and is the mother of two adult children.  In her spare time, she enjoys exploring hiking trails in New England, traveling to new destinations, and working on 2,000+ jigsaw puzzles.

 

Maricel holds a Master of Arts degree in School Administration from UMass Boston, Master of Arts degree in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, B.A. degree in History and African-American Studies from Simmons College and an AA degree in Social Sciences from Roxbury Community College.

SANDRA SILVA

Vice President of Operations & Community Support Services, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center

 

Sandra Silva is the Vice President of Operations and Community Support Services for Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC). Sandra joined GLFHC at the age of 15 working part-time while attending school. Her current focus is on grant and program administration where she has helped to secure approximately 2 million dollars in grant funding to support several integral community programs focusing on mobile suboxone, HIV and HIV prevention, outreach and enrollment, and homeless services. She has led many program start-ups and successfully maintained state and federal programs for over 15 years. Sandra has also been instrumental in her work addressing social determinants of health and helping align front end operations at GLFHC.

  

Sandra represents GLFHC on the Mayor’s Health Task Force Advisory Committee, Rental Cost Task Force as well as other city initiatives. She works alongside community partners including The Center, Lawrence General Hospital, Lawrence Community Works, Groundwork Lawrence, Merrimack Valley Accountable Care Organization and many others to address Social Determinants of Health as well as enhance services to our community. Sandra currently serves as a Board of Director for the Portuguese American Club of Lawrence and volunteers regularly at GLFHC’s Mobile Market distributing food to those in need. 

Sandra was born and raised in Lawrence and currently resides in Methuen, MA.  She has a degree in Paralegal Studies from Castle College, a BA in Social Sciences from Bradford College and a master’s degree in Health Care Management from Cambridge College. Sandra also earned a certificate in Community Health and Community Health Center Management from Suffolk University. 

ELIZABETH (Liz) SWEENEY

CEO, Family Services

Elizabeth Sweeney serves as the CEO of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, a non-profit social service organization with a mission to empower, nurture and support children and families through life’s challenges.  Liz began her career as an intern at Family Services in 1993 while working towards her master’s degree in Social Work.  Through her 27-year career at Family Services, Liz has led the implementation of 30+ programs and services, supervised hundreds of staff and volunteers, created collaborations and partnerships, and facilitated countless trainings and workshops.  Since becoming CEO, she has more than doubled the budget, scope and number of people served by the organization, which now improves the lives of over 7,000 vulnerable individuals each year.  Liz has been a member of the Lawrence Rotary Club for the past nine years, spent three years as a Board Member for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity, and currently sits on the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership’s Leadership Council.  She is a recipient of the Northeast YWCA TWIN award and a WZID 20 Outstanding Women of New Hampshire Awardee.

 

Liz raised two boys, Philip and Nicholas, spending hours in a hockey rink or on a soccer field.  Currently residing in Andover, Liz continues to enjoy sports as an avid Patriots and Bruins fan.  With her boys out of college, she spends her free time on her newest passion: golf. 

 

Liz graduated from the University of Lowell with a B.A. in Psychology and also holds an MSW from Salem State University.  Finally, she completed the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program at Boston University.  

MARTHA VELEZ 

Director of Health and Human Services, City of Lawrence

In July 2019, Martha became the Health and Human Services Director for the City of Lawrence, overseeing the Council on Aging, Veteran Services, Recreation Dept. and Human Rights Committee. In her role, she continues to foster new partnerships with other community leaders, businesses, non-profits and academia institutions to expand the already vast foundation of resources that she has established throughout her 30 years with the city of which 11 yrs., were as the Director of the Council on Aging, in order to better serve the community as a whole. 

Born in Cuba, Martha and her parents immigrated to Lawrence when she was 5 years old. Martha has been a resident of the City of Lawrence since 1969 and is the proud wife of Fernando Velez, and mother of Tabitha and Sheldon Velez. Martha has been an employee of the City of Lawrence for 30 years.

Martha has a unique ability to bring people together to achieve common goals.  She serves in various coalitions, boards and committees that reflect her passion for creating inclusiveness and an understanding of diverse cultures. She has received The Eartha Dengler History Award by the Lawrence History Society for her progressive views for the City of Lawrence; The Lawrence’s Unsung Heroine by the MA Commission on the Status of Women for the work she has done in the Greater Lawrence community and more recently for her work in response to the Columbia Gas Crisis.

CHRISTINA WOLF

Director of Population Health, Lawrence General Hospital

Christina Wolf has worked to improve the health of individuals and communities for over 20 years.  Since joining Lawrence General Hospital as a Clinical Nurse Leader in 2015, Christina has focused on building collaborative partnerships inside and outside the hospital to improve and transform the way care is delivered, defying expectations for what can be achieved when working together across siloes.  Since moving into Population Health in 2017, she has been accountable for the hospital’s performance in value-based care contracts, earning a total of $1.4 million in savings in the Medicare bundled payment program, and improving access to care and services for approximately 40,000 people enrolled in one of two Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  As a partner in community development, Christina serves on the Mayor’s Health Task Force Advisory Board, working alongside city officials and community partners to address issues including the opioid crisis, homelessness and affordable housing, and access to fresh, healthy food.

 

A Massachusetts native who has lived in Southern New Hampshire for 25 years, Christina is happiest when she’s spending time outside with her husband, two children, and two dogs, whether at the top of Mt. Monadnock or in her own backyard.

 

Christina is a two-time graduate of the University of New Hampshire, first with a B.A. degree in Spanish, and later with an M.S. in Nursing, and is grateful for the many doors opened by both.   

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