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LIA LEADERSHIP

The famiLIA behind the scenes

Founder Chief Executive Officer

Jose Enriquez Ph.D

Jose is an immigrant that was born in El Salvador and grew up in East L.A. He attributes much of his success to his hard working mother who sacrificed everything to give him and his siblings a better life. He graduated from John Glenn H.S. in L.A. with a full ride scholarship to wrestle at Brigham Young University where he obtained 3 degrees: BA in Secondary Education Spanish, ESL. Masters in Educational Leadership, and a PhD in Educational Leadership. His previous positions include; Coordinator of Title III and Special Programs at the Utah State Office of Education, Director of Diversity for Alpine School District, served 11 years in both Alpine and Provo school districts as an Assistant Principal, and taught Spanish for 3 years prior to that. He served a 2 year service LDS mission in Chicago Illinois. He was appointed a commissioner on volunteerism by Lieutenant Governor Bell’s Utah Commission on Volunteers in 2010, and as a commissioner to the office Multicultural Affairs by Governor Herbert, 2012. Serves on the Board of Directors United Way of Salt Lake and Board of Directors of Intermountain Community Care Foundation and Granite Education Board of Directors .Currently, Jose is living his dream as the full time Executive Director of Latinos in Action (LIA), a non-profit he built from the ground up since 2001, and which officially became a non-profit organization in 2010. LIA is currently implemented over 200 schools across Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, California ,Arizona, Nevada, Florida, NY, and Iowa. LIA’s mission is to empower Latino youth to lead and strengthen their communities through culturally responsive social emotional learning , college and career readiness, and leadership. In 2014, LIA was honored as a Bright Spot by the White House Center for Excellence in Hispanic Education. Latinos in Action was recently recognized by Governor Herbert and Envision Utah and given the Common Good Award for Excellence in Educational programming. Jose is father of 6 children; 1 grandson.
Chief Academic Officer

Caryn Martinez

A product of New York City public schools, Caryn studied Elementary Education and English Language Arts at Hunter College of the City University of New York. After graduating, she followed her dream of giving back to her community by becoming a public school educator in Brooklyn. She continued her teaching career after relocating to Florida. Born to a mother from Puerto Rico and a father from the Dominican Republic, Caryn used her experiences as a bicultural, bilingual Latina in her efforts to reach and encourage today’s youth within the classroom. In 2016, she was recognized by the Florida Department of Education as one of the highest impact teachers in the state, acknowledging that her consistent effect on student growth and learning was among the most statistically-significantly positive in all of Florida. In her Letter of Recognition, Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart, wrote, “Whether in a classroom where students arrived already high achieving, or a classroom in which students were underperforming, her efforts provided inspiration and opportunities to young people that would have otherwise been inaccessible.” Ms. Martinez’s career in education spans over sixteen years, where she prepared students for college, career and life at the elementary, middle school, and high school level. She has also supported fellow teachers as a trainer, lead teacher, and/or mentor for almost as long.

Her current interests include reading, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family.

Chief Financial Officer

Robert Herrera

Robert was born and raised in Waltham, Massachusetts, a city ten miles west of Boston. Both his parents immigrated from El Salvador to Boston in 1970. He is a first-generation college graduate having received his Master’s in Accounting from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon graduation, he began his accounting career at Ernst & Young in the Audit department. Robert then worked in the commercial real estate finance field for the next 18 years where he advanced to Senior Accounting Manager. He then took a position as Chief Financial Officer for Lena Park Community Development, a non-profit organization committed to providing programs, services and access to resources that helped youth and families have the necessary resources to build healthy lives, healthy families, and healthy communities.

In his free time, Robert enjoys deep-sea fishing, spending time with his family and friends, attending sporting events, and enjoying some good East coast pizza. He is a hard-core Boston sports fan. Robert lives with his wife, Jackie, and their son Gabe. His daughter Jasmin, recently graduated from San Diego State University and his son Benny, is currently attending Sacred Heart University.

Chief Operations Officer

Kayla Nielsen

Kayla was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and is the oldest of five siblings. She has lived in Hawaii while studying at Brigham Young University, Florida while working on a cruise ship, Argentina while serving an LDS mission, and Utah while studying at LDS Business College.

Kayla currently resides in Lambayeque, Peru with her husband Denis and loves ice cream, indie movies, and ugly clothes.

Director of Events and Activities/Regional Program Manager | South Florida/Iowa/Illinois/Texas

Julie Arocha

Julie is a 5th generation Tejana born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Growing up with four sisters and one brother, family was always the foundation that provided her the support and encouragement to further her education. She attended Brigham Young University, where she began working for the Juvenile Justice Department in Utah County and her desire to work with youth was forged.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Julie returned to her home state and pursued working with youth in the criminal justice field in Austin, Texas. As she progressed in her career Julie worked with local State Judges, District Attorneys and Defense Attorneys in a collaborative effort to reduce recidivism and implement rehabilitative measures within the community. Julie also volunteered with various youth organizations, developed professional relationships with local leaders and was selected to attend Austin City Works Academy where she learned about government entities and social programs available for the betterment of her community.

In 2019, Julie and her family moved to South Florida to raise their daughter near its beautiful beaches and palm trees. Julie enjoys being active, spending time with family and is more driven than ever to help our youth.

Director of Development/Regional Program Manager | Utah Central/Colorado

Elizabeth Morales

A product of two powerful Mexican immigrant parents with a dream, Elizabeth who also goes by Liz was born in Moroleón Guanajuato, Mexico, and came to the United States at three years old. She is a first-generation college student who graduated from Copper Hills High school and was a product of Latinos In Action. She went on to graduate with her Bachelors in Ethnic Studies and Communications from the University of Utah in 2017.

While there, she worked with former President Pershing as the Presidential Ambassador Director, The Lassonde Entrepreneur Ambassador Program Director, and with Former Associate Vice President of Student Development Kari Ellingson to continue to enhance opportunities for underrepresented first-generation students.

She recently returned home from Colorado, where she completed a Masters in Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University. She previously was the Director of Supporter and Corporate Relations at The Salt Lake Tribune, where she lead the nation’s first nonprofit metropolitan newspaper membership program and all fundraising efforts.

Her goal is to transform spaces for students by providing them with equitable resources that serve their community and other historically marginalized populations. Just like those who have mentored her and helped her persist through school. She aspires to be a mentor to students and teachers working towards increasing college access and retention rates.

Liz loves spending time with her family, being outdoors with her dog Max, and taking any opportunity she has to travel the world.

Regional Program Manager | Utah South/California/Washington/Oregon

Yadira Muñoz

Yadira Munoz was born in Virginia, but was raised in Salt Lake City, UT. Even as a child, Yadi understood the privileges she had growing up. It was her dream to have a career in which she could give back to the different underrepresented communities that she grew up around. Her parents knew that she excelled at school and they encouraged her to continue her education.

She graduated from Granger High School and then obtained her Associates degree from Salt Lake Community College. Being a first-generation college graduate came with its adversity. Yadi, however, was able to utilize different school programs to help her navigate her way through her undergrad degree. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelors of Social Work.

Yadi has worked with youth in different forms. She has history as a Direct Support Staff working with children and adults with disabilities. She has supported parents and youth at a children’s mental health office, and has also volunteered with organizations such as YMCA, assisting teachers with the after-school programs.

After completing an internship with them, Yadi worked on a permanency (foster care) team with the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). While working in the child welfare system, she worked with diverse families and assessed their needs as she helped them navigate the court system. She was a mediator between court staff and the families and would make sure that all parents, no matter their background, knew their rights and were well aware of the court proceedings that were happening in their case. Yadi would help families identify their support system by helping them create a team. She would provide a safe space for the team to meet and work together to achieve the family’s goals.

Yadi is very excited to be a part of the LIA team and to be surrounded by others that share her passion of helping youth discover their potential and of being of service to those in underrepresented communities.

Yadi feels that it’s important to cultivate those relationships that are most important to us, so she likes to spend her free time doing different activities while spending time with her own family and friends. She recently found that she likes outdoor activities, such as camping, more than she thought she did. She also enjoys watching movies, going to concerts, and traveling.

Regional Program Manager | Central Florida/Tampa

Linda Torres

Linda was born and raised in Puerto Rico where she lived with her loving parents and animated sisters and brothers. In 1986, she moved to the United States, eventually making Orlando her home. Linda attended the University of Central Florida, majoring in Anthropology and Educational Leadership. During her last year at UCF, she was selected as one of eight National Interns by NALEO, placing her at the Florida Governor’s Office of Hispanic Affairs as a Demographic Researcher. Continuing her interest in research, Linda documented the use of medicinal plants and other traditional healing treatments for her Anthropology Thesis, “Alternative Healing Practices in Rural Puerto Rico”.

After graduating from UCF, Linda focused on improving the lives of young people by working in education and for youth-serving organizations. She was the Education Coordinator at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, where she visited schools and even dressed as the Grim Reaper to spread a message of safety on our roads. Linda also worked as the Director of Prevention Services for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, where she trained staff in the implementation of programs such as SMART Moves and SMART Girls.

As an educator, Linda’s experience includes over 20 years and many roles, including Reading, Health and ESOL Teacher, Testing Coordinator, Reading Interventionist, ESOL Compliance Coordinator and Staffing Specialist.
Linda is mother to two young men and three chickens. During her free time, you may find Linda kayaking or practicing shooting sports and archery. She loves to spend time with her family and traveling, especially to places with beautiful bodies of water.

Linda’s favorite quote expresses the importance that she gives to being authentic:
“…Para saber a dónde se va hay que tener primero la voluntad y la determinación de seguir siendo quien se es. De otro modo, el que llega es otro... Quien deja de ser no llega."
Ernesto Ramos Antonini

Regional Program Manager, Central Utah/Arizona

Valeria Lopez

Valeria Lopez is a first generation college student who graduated from Ben Lomond High School and received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Weber State University. Val comes from a strong family of immigrants who have emphasized hard work, education and a sense of social responsibility. Val continues in the pursuit of education where she hopes to receive a Masters degree in Higher Education.

Prior to joining LIA, Val has held various positions in education including Student Advocate, District Behavior Interventionist, Youth Court Supervisor and Health/LIA teacher. Her passion for forming positive relationships and connecting with students has only grown stronger over the years particularly in relation to high risk youth and underrepresented communities.

Val believes that the path to success starts with education. She looks forward to working with educators and LIA students as they advocate to help students discover and unleash their full potential. She is excited to be part of a team who shares her passion in empowering Latino youth to lead and strengthen their communities through the pursuit of education.

Outside of work, Val loves spending time with family and friends. She loves the outdoors and a good run to Target.

Regional Program Manager | Utah North/Idaho/Nevada

Vanessa Alder

Vanessa grew up in the rich cultural environment of Barcelona, Spain. In her familia, food and quality time spent together are number one, so they spent many weekends traveling around Barcelona visiting different towns and experiencing their unique cuisine, customs, and traditions.

When she was a young teenager, they had the opportunity to live in Brisbane, Australia for a time. She was immersed in Australia’s melting pot of cultures, where she met peers from all over the world and learned to speak English. These experiences coupled with her education gave her the foundational skills and values she has used to succeed in teaching LIA.

Her training and work in the travel industry has also broadened her knowledge. She believes that traveling is one of the best ways to educate yourself, as you not only learn about a country, its people and way of life, but also a lot about yourself while visiting different parts of the world. As they say, “traveling is the best teacher.”

She moved to the States as a young adult and married an American. They have worked to combine their cultures while raising three children who are bilingual and bicultural. They make it a point to incorporate traditions from both cultures in order for them to experience their rich heritage. They have also been able to travel back and forth from Utah to Spain, strengthening their family ties on both sides.

After teaching LIA for six years she has a deeper appreciation and passion for what our mission is: empowering our Latino youth to lead and strengthen our community. Her priority has always been to help students learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Nothing brings her more joy than seeing students get out of their comfort zone, making a difference and realizing their individuality and potential. She’s excited to be a part of this organization where culture, leadership, service and education are the essentials in making this program a success.

Data Specialist/Regional Program Manager | Idaho

Camilla Ramazzini

Originally from Guatemala, Camilla was raised for most of her life in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She is the proud daughter of immigrant parents who made incredible sacrifices so that she and her sister could value, take full advantage of, and focus on their education. In May 2021, she graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in both Linguistics and Music, a minor in Global Health & Health Policy, and a language citation in Mandarin Chinese.

Camilla’s passion for education began when she was a young student, her parents instilling the immense opportunity it is to have an education. It was precisely her parent’s sacrifices and her own adversity that motivated her to always challenge herself and strive for academic excellence. But it was disheartening for her to see so many of her Latino peers neglect pursuing their academic potential, lacking the right resources, motivation, and mentorship. This led her to start her own STEM-focused program in high school, called Never Stop Dreaming. Never Stop Discovering (or NSD2), where she tutored and mentored Latino elementary students in math, conducted science experiments with them, and motivated them to persevere amidst socio-economic challenges.

During her time at Harvard, Camilla worked on immigration advocacy and organizing with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, asylum case management with Physicians for Human Rights, and school program data collection with Special Olympics, D.C.

Her upbringing and story have motivated her to continue opening doors for other Latino students and their families through education.

Outside of work, Camilla enjoys hiking, spending time with family, playing board games, and singing.

Regional Program Manager Utah South

Grethel Becerra

Grethel was born in San Fernando Valley, California, but later moved to Payson, Utah. At the time, Payson was not as diverse, and the resources for Latino students were limited. As a first generation Latino student herself, Grethel knew the struggles that most minority first generation students face. Growing up, she saw all the sacrifices and struggles her parents went through as Mexican immigrants to give her and her siblings a chance to a better future. As a result, she graduated from Utah Valley University with her undergraduate in Public Health.

Right before graduating, Grethel began working as a health educator for a non-profit organization. She mainly worked under grants that focused on programs for underrepresented Latino youth in areas such as rape prevention, teen dating abuse, and bystander intervention. Her primary work consisted of teaching classes to youth in residential treatment centers, group homes, and across Utah County schools.

Working directly with youth has taught Grethel the impact and importance that forming positive relationships with students can have in their future. As a Latino first generation student herself, she knows how important it is to have a mentor in school and the impact it can have on the education of an adolescent. She believes in the importance of having programs where youth can learn and discover how to unleash their full potential.

One of Grethel’s goals is to continue her education and get her Masters and PhD in the nearfuture. She hopes to be a role model to her children, nieces and nephews, and other Latino students and let them know that anything is possible if they set their mind to it! Grethel is excited to be part of the Latinos in Action and such an amazing team of leaders! She looks forward to working together to continue empowering young Latinos to become the leaders of tomorrow! Outside of work, Grethel loves spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys photography, listening to podcast and traveling to Mexico to enjoy the good food!

Media & Technology Specialist

Luis Castro

Luis Castro is also known as Dj Azuquita is been with Latinos in action for over 18 years first as the official DJ for the Organization and now he has been able to be utilized as the Media guy for LIA as his company Innovativemad helps with all the Content creation, Video, Social Media Management, Event Tech and Photography.

Victoria Chile Born, Luis C has applied himself to an entrepreneur status due to the several Companies that he owns (Afuego Fridays, The Mixkings, Innovativemad, Onfire Productions), and as an organization, we can utilize.

Full Stack Developer/Graphic Designer

Jhonatan Castillo, Alumni

Hi, I’m Jhonatan, a web and graphic designer with 5 plus years of experience based in Utah. I have developed a deep love and appreciation for my culture, which is my number one inspiration. My passion and enthusiasm for my work allows me to create quality eye catching designs as well as clean and well written code. If you can imagine it, I can bring it to life.

I like to always challenge myself and stay on top of different trends and markets thus I choose a variety of areas to work on, the crossover between design and programming has always been of interest to me I hae been lucky enough to work alongside some talented teams on a number of high profile websites.