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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 Operating 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.

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 | 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!

Regional Program Manager South Florida

Geraldine Vea

Geraldine Vea was born and raised in New Jersey by two hard-working parents. Geraldine’s mother immigrated from Peru and her father from El Salvador to which she attributes much of her success and determination to their upbringing and examples. In 2005 she moved to Utah to attend Utah Valley University and graduated with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. During her college years, Geraldine worked closely with mentoring LIA students and LET students as they pursued their college degrees. She was president of the Latino Legacy and Latin club at UVU. While Geraldine’s passion for helping students grew, she also had a vast interest in the corporate industry. For the last 15 years, Geraldine worked for a major international company where she became General Manager of USA Sales. In 2021 she stepped away from the corporate world to spend more time with her newborn son and 6-year-old daughter. Geraldine realized this was her opportunity to return to her element and passion for working with tomorrow’s future leaders. Her passion for helping and working with the community has landed her the opportunity to work with the South Florida Region where she currently resides.

Some of Geraldine’s hobbies include spending time with her children and traveling. She loves to explore other cultures and countries with her family. Geraldine’s favorite cuisine is Peruvian but also loves her “Abuela’s Pupusas”. She hopes to share her passion and experiences with those whom she interacts with.

Elementary Coordinator

Priscilla Arocha Young

Priscilla is a first generation college graduate, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is the eldest daughter of two hard-working parents, devoted sister to four sisters and one brother, loving wife of an amazing man, and mother of three accomplished adult children. From an early age she was taught the importance of family, faith, and education. Family, faith, and education is the foundation that has helped her reach her academic, spiritual, and personal goals.

She attended Brigham Young University, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. While completing her undergraduate degree, she began working with ‘at risk’ youth. During this time Priscilla became convinced that education is a valuable tool that can change the direction of “at risk” youth, and she committed herself to making a difference by educating young people. While raising a young family with her husband, she continued her education and earned a Masters of Education from Texas State University. She began her teaching career working for Austin Independent School District, where she earned The Teacher of Promise award. Priscilla is a veteran educator that has taught at the elementary level and community college level. Her commitment to education and determination to make a difference in young people’s lives are the driving forces behind her work in education.

Priscilla enjoys listening to music, DIY projects, and outdoor activities like canoeing and hiking. She values quality time with family, and is happiest when her family is all under one roof. Priscilla is a firm believer that our youth are the leaders of tomorrow, and she will do everything she can to provide the tools young people need to be successful members of society.

Family Engagement Specialist

Angela Puertas

Angela Puertas is a proud Salem, Oregon native who has always had a passion for helping others. As a teenager, Angela worked in canneries alongside migrant workers and saw firsthand the language barriers that prevented them from being treated fairly. To help bridge this gap, Angela began learning Spanish and became the go-to translator for her coworkers.

This experience sparked Angela's love for the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, which continued to grow during her 18-month mission for her church in Honduras. After returning home, Angela pursued her education at BYU, where she graduated with degrees in Marriage and Family Studies and Human Development.

Angela is a devoted wife to her husband James, who hails from Peru, and the mother of nine children. Her love of different cultures and travel has led her to explore many parts of the world. Angela also expresses her love through cooking and feeding others.

In her community, Angela has become a passionate advocate for inclusivity and parental involvement in education. She has served in various roles within the PTA, including her current position as president at the high school where three of her daughters attend. Under her leadership, the PTA grew from 10 to over 160 members, allowing for greater parent involvement and support.

Angela's commitment to her community extends beyond education. She is also involved with the city council and school board and serves as a substitute teacher, specializing in English as a second language and Portuguese classes. Angela's passion for language and cultural understanding has helped her make a positive impact on the lives of those around her.

Administrative Assistant

Flor Ruelas

Proudly made in Guadalajara Mexico, Flor then moved to Provo Utah. At the age of 7 where a new culture and language were all new to her she learned from her parents to work hard to achieve great things. She became part of one of the first Latinos in Action classes, where she learned to love teaching. Being the oldest of her family and first generation to go to college, after graduating with honors in the top of her high school class, she attended Utah Valley University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education and an Endorsement in Spanish Education. Flor was also part of the LET program and LIA Chapter that started at UVU.

During her last semester of college she started to teach Latinos in Action at Orem High School, something she enjoyed doing and a program she loved. She then started teaching Spanish and continued to teach Latinos in Action at West Jordan Middle for 2 more years, where service to the community and student’s lives were changed. Flor loved to help her community and had that vision since she was in LIA as a student and having the opportunity to be that role model to so many students after overcoming so many barriers herself, it was a great accomplishment for her. Flor knows how important these types of programs are for our Latino students and has always been really excited to be part of a program that touches a students life and changes their future.

After her second baby, Flor stepped away from the classroom to spend time as a mom. She missed the interaction with students that Flor continued to work at a school as a teacher assistant and as a registrar to continue helping her Latino community in any way possible. She is married and has two kids who she loves to volunteer when she is able at their school and loves to spend time with. Flor loves to dance, travel and eat “good Mexican food”.

Virtual Education Specialist Special Projects Support

Nate Creer, DHSC, MBA

Nate was born and raised in Utah. A Spanish immersion student in elementary school and a student of language, Nate is a fluent Spanish speaker with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Education. He earned an MBA in Healthcare/ IT Management from Western Governors University and a Doctorate Degree in Health Sciences Leadership from Colorado Tech University. Nate has more than 25 years of experience working in Healthcare Administration and has focused much of his career on advancing virtual education and virtual healthcare initiatives. Working at Western Governors University as the operations manager for the Online Prelicensure Nursing Program, he led an online distributed nursing education team focused on growing the nursing workforce through an innovative competency-based clinical education model. Nate worked with Hospital Corporation of America as a Division Director for Medical Transfer and Telehealth Services, managing a centralized team responsible for Medical Transfers, TeleStroke, and TeleCrisis programs supporting 12 hospitals in Utah, Idaho, and Alaska. As the Product Manager for Telehealth with the University of Utah, he focused on implementing a digital health strategic plan for the hospital, the virtual access design during the pandemic, and a leader focused on the mission of providing access to care for patients how, where, and when they need it. Working as the Virtual Education Specialist for Latinos in Action, Nate is focused on the development of a micro credentials curriculum in partnership with Intermountain Healthcare. The program helps LIA students gain hands on experience and a better understanding of the healthcare industry. Nate is the proud dad of 2 unique and amazing kids Chase and Millie. Chase and Millie are legally blind due to a rare genetic eye condition. Nate and his kids work together to advocate for Brielle literacy and equal access to education for all kids with disabilities. In his free time Nate loves playing trivia games with his kids, being outside, and spending time with his animals.
Higher Education Coordinator

James Carrie Puertas

James Carrie Puertas is a driven entrepreneur with a keen passion for business and an unwavering appreciation for family values. Originally from Peru, James moved to Provo, Utah with his parents at a young age and grew up as the oldest of 10 siblings. At 19, James embarked on a religious mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, serving in Eugene, Oregon for two years. After his mission, he attended Brigham Young University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science.

During his academic pursuits, James discovered his love for entrepreneurship and launched his first car dealership in 2014. With the success of his business, he expanded his portfolio by establishing Car Match in 2018 and acquiring his Realtor License. In 2019, James further diversified his business interests by establishing Buildability, a construction business.

Looking towards the future, James plans to continue expanding his business ventures by launching two new businesses with fellow entrepreneurs in 2023. These ventures include Zen Cor, a hot and cold therapy wellness center that offers healing and personal growth, and Mr. Kong Tacos, a food truck that provides quality food with outstanding customer service.

Aside from his thriving business ventures, James is a devoted family man who has been happily married to his eternal companion for 11 years, and is the proud father of two beautiful children. His entrepreneurial spirit, strong work ethic, and unwavering commitment to family values have shaped his character and leadership style, making him a respected member of the business community in Provo, Utah.

In his leisure time, James is an avid soccer fan and a die-hard Barcelona supporter. He also enjoys pushing himself out of his comfort zone and investing time in his health and wellness. James's objective is to lead a life of principled conduct and genuineness, exemplifying his finest qualities for the people he cherishes, as well as those who may lack the means or know-how to safeguard or look after themselves. Through this approach, he aims to radiate the teachings of Christ.

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.