We are grateful to our former board members for their service:
Dariela Almeda, Ph.D. HSEAS '14
Dariela Almeda, Ph.D. was born in Mexico and migrated to the United States when she was ten years old. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biomedical Engineering in 2008. That same year, she was admitted to Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (HSEAS). She obtained her master's and doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Her doctoral work was focused on developing and optimizing liposome drug delivery vehicles targeting inflamed endothelium via the bioconjugation of two antibodies: anti-VCAM1 and anti-E-selectin.
During graduate school, she was also part of an initiative to start a Latino science and engineering undergraduate and graduate student organization. As a result, the Harvard Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists (SOLES) was born. Dr. Almeda supported SOLES by serving as a founding member of the executive board and was involved in establishing the organization during its first year. Dr. Almeda was also part of Harvard’s Bridge Program where she volunteered as a Citizenship Program Tutor. In this program, she taught and prepared English as a Second Language (ESL) students for the U.S. Citizenship Test and was able to help them achieve their goal of becoming U.S. citizens.
After obtaining her Ph.D., Dr. Almeda moved back to Texas where she is currently working as a Research Scientist at Azaya Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical start-up company. She is presently focusing on the development and manufacturing of chemotherapeutic drugs to treat cancer.
Juan Sebastian Arias COL '09
Juan Sebastian Arias currently works as a Program Associate on the Collective Impact team at Living Cities, a funder collaborative that seeks to improve the economic well-being of low-income people in U.S. cities. Before joining Living Cities, he served as a Commercial Revitalization Intern with WHEDco, a community development non-profit in the South Bronx. Prior to that, he was a Harvard Fellow with the New York City office of Enterprise Community Partners, a national affordable housing intermediary. There, he supported Enterprise’s various policy, partner support, and weatherization initiatives.
Outside of work, Juan Sebastian co-leads the NYC Chapter of Harvard Latina/o Alumni National Network (HaLANN) and co-founded the Inter Ivy League Alumni Council (IILAC). To date, HaLANN and IILAC have collaborated in NYC to throw networking events and mixers, as well as develop a mentoring program to support local Latina/o high school students in applying to college. He also serves on the Steering Committee for the NYC Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) and is an alum of The Funders Network’s PLACES Fellowship.
Juan Sebastian graduated from Harvard College in 2009 with a B.A. in Social Studies. On campus he was President of Fuerza Latina and active member of Raza, Candela Salsa, Candela Hip Hop, and Ballet Folklorico de Aztlan. He is a proud native of Chicago and resident of Harlem in New York.
Sofia Bahena, Ph.D. HGSE '14
Sofía Bahena, Ed.D., is currently an education associate at the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) in San Antonio, Texas, a non-profit organization committed to strengthening public schools to ensure equity of educational opportunity for every child. Prior to her work at IDRA, Dr. Bahena completed her doctoral studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focused on understanding the contexts that support the academic achievement and educational attainment of Latino students in the United States. During her tenure at Harvard, she collaborated on a project that developed a series of parent surveys targeted towards PK-12 school leaders who can use them to assess various dimensions of the family-school relationship. Dr. Bahena also served as an editor for the Harvard Educational Review, where she co-edited a book titled, Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline (December 2012). Previously, Dr. Bahena was a policy and research assistant at the Alliance for Excellent Education, in Washington, DC, where she worked on various projects informing federal secondary school policy and authored an issue brief on teacher attrition (February 2008). She also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA school partnership coordinator for an elementary school in Baltimore, Maryland while working at Greater Homewood Community Cooperation.
Dr. Bahena is an alumna of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ed.M., 2013; Ed.D., 2014). While at Harvard she was involved with HGSE’s Comunidad Latina and the cross-school initiative, the Harvard Latino Student Alliance. In addition, in 2010, she co-chaired the eighth annual Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) at HGSE, a student run conference dedicated to generating critical discussions about education as they pertain to communities of color. Sofia is also still involved in the broader academic and Latino community through her active participation in Latinas Completing Doctorate Degrees and the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Fellows Network.
Eric Calderon HBS '13
Born in Houston, Texas, Eric R. Calderon serves as the Chief Executive Officer of LK Industries. Founded in 1930, LK Industries is a niche manufacturer of oil testing equipment. The firm was acquired in 2015 through Mr. Calderon’s search fund, TXE Capital.
Mr. Calderon previously worked as an engineer for Concho Resources in the Permian Basin. In this role he gained valuable field experience in drilling and operations. Later he moved into a corporate engineering role where he assisted with the evaluation of corporate reserves and strategic acquisitions. Prior to his role with Concho Resources, Mr. Calderon worked with ExxonMobil as an international reservoir engineer and with Chevron as an offshore engineer in the Gulf.
Mr. Calderon earned his Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. While at Harvard, Mr. Calderon served as the President of the Latino Student Organization and led an independent project with PEMEX, the national oil company of Mexico.
In 2012 Mr. Calderon had the privilege of working for House Speaker John Boehner on energy policy and legislation. Mr. Calderon serves as the President of the Harvard Business School Club of Houston and as a Board member of the Harvard Business School Latino Alumni Association. He is also a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Aldine ISD Leadership Council, the National Association for Employee Ownership, the Texas A&M Hispanic Network, and the 12th Man Foundation.
Erika Carlsen HDS '15
Erika graduated with a Master of Divinity, concentration in Buddhism and leadership, from Harvard Divinity School. She currently works as the Program Manager for the Gleitsman Fellowship and Latino Initiative at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. She was born and raised in Ogden, Utah and graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Politics. Prior to Harvard, she worked at Rockwood Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership training organization for social change leaders. She also served on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. She is the co-founder of Arriba Latinas, the first mentorship organization specifically for Latina youth in Utah.
While she was at Harvard, Erika served as the President of the university-wide Harvard Latino/a Student Alliance and Vice Chair for the Harvard Graduate School Leadership Institute. Her interests include spending time with family and friends, running, biking, and reading.
Mark Contreras, HBS '88
Mark is a 1988 graduate of HBS, a 1984 graduate of the University of Chicago and has been engaged in the local media business--local newspapers and local broadcast -- for almost 30 years. During college he drove U.S. Senate candidate Paul Simon around Chicago during his campaign and later went to work for him as a legislative assistant on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Simon was a former newspaper owner and publisher and told Mark that he loved being Senator but that he made a much bigger difference as a newspaper publisher. That advice stuck with Mark. He is the oldest of three children and grew up in Minneapolis and Chicago and have lived, studied or worked in Boston, MA Chicago, IL Washington, DC New York City Wilkes Barre, PA Pontiac, MI St. Louis, MO Kansas City, MO Cincinnati, OH Levittown, PA.
He is interested in helping HLAA to demonstrate to the broader public some tangible evidence of the competence and achievements of Hispanics in the U.S. to counter recent public themes to the contrary. He is interested in making sure Hispanics play a growing role in top corporate roles and boards of directors. He would like to see HLAA grow into a platform that offers opportunities to the next generation of Hispanics to lead throughout the country in various industries with strong, positive impact on society.
Cristina Herndon COL '06-'07
Cristina Herndon is CEO and Co-Founder of Próxima Parada, a start-up that seeks to empower highly-talented Peruvian students to access international education opportunities regardless of socioeconomic background. She has worked and volunteered on access to higher education programs for the past 15 years, both in the United States and in Latin America. Her professional experiences have largely focused on the intersection of international development and education.
Cristina graduated from Harvard College in 2007 with a degree in Government. As an undergraduate, Cristina was very involved in organizing the Latino and Latin American student communities through Fuerza Latina, the Institute of Politics, La Vida at Harvard, Presencia Latina, and the Harvard Foundation. She was also a Head Coordinator and Latino Coordinator for the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program at Harvard College Admissions.
Since college, Cristina has remained engaged with the university community, conducting interviews for Harvard College Admissions in Peru and serving on the Board of the Harvard Club of Peru from 2010 to 2011 and as Co-President of the Harvard Latin American Alumni and Friends SIG from 2012 to 2013. She currently also serves on the Board of the Harvard Latin American Alumni and Friends SIG.
Hilda Rodriguez HGSD '92
Hilda Rodriguez graduated from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design class of 1992. Prior to attending Harvard, she completed undergraduate studies in Environmental Design at the University of Puerto Rico. Upon graduation from Harvard, Ms. Rodriguez moved to Mexico City where she developed her professional career becoming Director of Interiors for KMD Architects Mexico. In 2006, Ms. Rodriguez moved back to the United States and went to work for Wilson Associates, an internationally recognized Hospitality Interiors Design Firm headquartered in Dallas, TX.
Ms. Rodriguez has over twenty years of wide-ranging experience in the areas of interior architecture design and planning for hospitality, corporate offices, academic, healthcare, and residential projects. She is committed to design creativity and care for the environment through intellectual research and the implementation of practical design application to create project efficiencies and value. Extensive experience across complex multidisciplinary design projects in Latin America, the United States and the Middle East. Recognized in journals and articles for contribution to interior architectural design in Mexico. Through the years she has earned numerous awards for design and her involvement in the design community and mentoring young women. Since 2010, she has been Principal/Owner of Hilda Rodriguez Architecture/Planning/Interiors.
In addition, Ms. Rodriguez is a patron member of the Harvard Club of Dallas and involved with the Harvard Schools Committee, and the 100 year centennial celebrations of the Harvard Club of Dallas.
Osvaldo A. Rubio COL '95
Osvaldo A. Rubio is currently a Senior Vice President at GE Capital. In his 12+ years at GE, Osvaldo has helped to make many Energy investments including financing wind farms. Also, he has managed large portfolios of debt and equity Energy investments.
Osvaldo graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Social Studies. As an undergraduate, he was Co-Chairperson of the Harvard Foundation Student Advisory Committee, an active member of RAZA and helped lead the effort to bring Cesar Chavez to campus.
Osvaldo holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Prior to business school, he worked at Prudential Financial for five years working in Asset Management, Private Equity and Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions.
Osvaldo was born and raised in Chicago’s La Villita neighborhood. He is an alumnus of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) program as well as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Summer Internship program. Osvaldo’s volunteer activities include: Alumni Interviewer for Kellogg Admissions, Review Committee of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Summer Internship program, First Round Judge for the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge. He is also a member of the Early College Awareness Committee of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Westchester County, NY where he currently resides.
Marco A. Viniegra, PhD MA '06 PhD '14
Marco is a dedicated teacher working with kids in a K6-12 IB school with a high number of Latino and Hispanic kids. He enjoys teaching Latino and Hispanic kids about the rich traditions of Hispanoamerica, the possibilities they have, and to find paths for them to success. He is also a member of the governing board of Community Health Care, a network of amazing clinics in WA dedicated to underpriviledged communities. He is married to a fellow educator (a professor of culinary arts) and together they are active members of their community.
He wants to help HLAA create a network of like-minded people with the dedication, hard work, and strong community commitment that Harvard alumni share designed to help Latinx and Hispanics in our country and elsewhere. He feels an obligation to be a positive role model for others while also building a grassroots and top community of Harvard Latinx and Hispanics that truly makes a difference.
He plans to help foster a positive, inclusive, and enriching community of present Latinx and Hispanic Harvard students and Alumni and to help identify and bring to Harvard new extraordinary students and staff. "Ultimately, we must extend the wonderful qualities and values we learned at Harvard to the betterment of our communities and the communities of Latinx and Hispanics everywhere."
Laura Ponce, Harvard College 1995, El Paso, TX
Laura has a Masters in Public Administration, twenty years of experience in the non-profit sector, and have served on several local and statewide boards of directors which may be helpful in the strategic planning process. She is the Executive Director of an antipoverty organization that provides adult basic education, assistance for immigrants, housing counseling, weatherization, employment counseling, intensive case management, utility assistance, patient assistance for accessing free/low cost medical care, and affordable rental apartments. The diverse programs expose her to a vast network in the for-profit and non-profit sectors of our local community as well as throughout Texas and the Southwest. Her experience and network may be helpful for students that want to access mentorships, internships, and find job opportunities in Texas. Her organization is also an affiliate with the National Council of La Raza. Her strengths include but are not limited to: Strategic Planning, Early Awareness/Student Recruitment/Admissions, Professional Networking.
Kevin Martinez COL '11
Kevin Martinez promotes educational equity through his work as a strategic planner for Green Dot Public Schools, one of the nation's largest networks of college preparatory charter schools. As an undergraduate, Kevin served as president of the Harvard Japan Society and, as a recruiter for the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, worked to promote Harvard in underserved communities. After graduation, he joined Teach for America as a math and science teacher in Los Angeles. Outside of work, Kevin volunteers as a mentor for youth and is involved in launching a local chapter of HLAA in Southern California.
Monica Garcia Norlander, MPH '13, IL
Twenty three years as an undocumented American whose family left Peru of civil unrest in the early 1990s gave Monica a unique lens as a Harvard student. Upon graduating Harvard, she moved to Palo Alto, CA. She has facilitated positive change in health care, through improvements in staff morale, increased affordability, and better access to appointments when patients want them. She was involved at an organizational level in the implementation of the goals of the Affordable Care Act, the greatest transformation in public health policy since the 1960s. Now, in Chicago, she want to ensure that the implementation, auditing, and evaluation of policies and programs benefits all communities, especially in under-served communities.
She celebrates the great groundwork laid by founding Board members and looks forward to advancing that mission. She is humble, open-minded, and passionate about advancing the interests, opportunities, and leadership for all Latinxs. She looks forward to reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, supporting future alumni, and more.
She plans to advance HLAA as the premier worldwide incubator and developer of diverse thinking, learning and career opportunities, transformative and impactful friendships, and global economic and social policy influence for all Latinos and allies. She support and align with HLAA’s stated mission to develop a national network of current and future Harvard Latino alumni, increase Latino representation throughout the University, and encourage Latino alumni involvement in University alumni activities and affairs. She plans to continue to mentor and ensure that future generations and peers grow and rise.
Lorena Corona Harvard Extension School 2010, Fontana, CA ( Southern CA)
Lorena is a passionate woman and a responsible leader committed to advance educational opportunities among first generation/at risk students. In the last four years, she has had the opportunity to provide the leadership and vision necessary to set the policies in place and move a school district with more than 40,000 students from near bankruptcy to solid stability without compromising the quality of educational opportunities. She had the experience of advocating local, state and federal elected officials. Recently, she had the pleasure of joining ventures with the Mexican and Guatemalan Embassies. While leadership is her passion, she is always seeking opportunities to engage in public speaking, networking, planning, community education and advocacy.
Dr. Cesar Cruz, EdLd '16, CA I’m Dr. César A. Cruz, a Mexican-born educator/activist/author/husband/father and HGSE EdLD ’16 alum. I’ve been undocumented/poor most of my life, and see providing opportunities for our most disenfranchised LatinX populations as imperative. At Harvard, through coalition-building/struggle, we achieved the implementation of an Ethnic Studies course at the Ed. School. Currently, I’m designing Homies Empowerment High School, focused on youth who’ve been “pushed out,” labeled “thugs.” Your support is a vote for finding “a way, out of no way,” for taking on 20 foot-borders with our people’s 21-foot ladders.
Markus Kessler HKS ‘15
Markus Kessler recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School with a Master in Public Policy. He hopes to use what he learned while at Harvard to influence NYC government policy and decision-making aimed at redressing racial and socioeconomic inequity.
While at Harvard he was a Senior Editor and the Chair of Alumni Relations of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy (HJHP); a member of the HKS Latino/a Caucus; and helped with Alumni Outreach as part of the Harvard Latino Law, Policy & Business Conference Steering Committee.
Prior to his time at Harvard, Markus was a Research Associate at NYU School of Medicine’s Section on Health Choice, Policy and Evaluation. He worked with an interdisciplinary team of research scientists to evaluate the impact of city-wide health policy interventions aimed at reducing rates of obesity in low-income communities. More recently, Markus interned in the NYC Mayor’s Office at the Center For Economic Opportunity. He assisted in driving the Center’s mission to develop, implement, and manage innovative data-driven programs that build human capital and improve the financial security of New Yorkers living in poverty.
Markus was born and raised in Corona, CA and received his BA from Pomona College in 2010. Additionally, he is a UC Berkeley Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA), DMI Scholar, and YP4 Alumni.