Latin@ Like Me

A new spotlight section, Latino Like Me, to expand dialogue about the vastness of Latino culture and identity. We hope that by featuring different Latinos from the Pittsburgh community we can foster a thoughtful and constructive discussion about different forms of identity.

Palloma Marciano

I am a Ph.D. Student in Political Science at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil. My research focuses on Comparative Political Behavior, Public Policy and Latin America.

Norman Zelaya

Please explain what you do for living. I am a special education teacher in San Francisco Unified School District. I spent 23 years in the classroom, and now I am a mentor supporting new SpEd teachers to clear their credentials. Most of my career in the classroom was spent serving Latinx students in the Mission District, where I grew up. I taught many of those years in Spanish.

Aura Jirau

Currently I am a full-time graduate student funded by the University of Pittsburgh. Before becoming ABD, I worked as a teaching assistant for Pitt’s Department of History. I have been researching my doctoral dissertation full-time in Puerto Rico since July 2017. Currently I am finishing gathering newspaper sources and oral history interviews before moving back to Pittsburgh to begin writing the document itself, which I hope to defend by Spring 2020.

Ignacio Mamone

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Pitt. I’m currently working on my dissertation on public opinion and trade policy in Latin America. Now that I’ve finished my coursework, I spend my days collecting and analyzing survey data and government documents, everything for my thesis. In my dissertation, I am trying to find when policymakers are more likely to cater to certain types of voters when they make trade policy, when they regulate international commerce and make related policies concerning globalization.

Stella Clivillés

I am currently a sophomore student at Pitt but I also work part-time as an after-school worker at the Falk School.

Ignacio Mamone

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Pitt. I’m currently working on my dissertation on public opinion and trade policy in Latin America. Now that I’ve finished my coursework, I spend my days collecting and analyzing survey data and government documents, everything for my thesis. In my dissertation, I am trying to find when policymakers are more likely to cater to certain types of voters when they make trade policy, when they regulate international commerce and make related policies concerning globalization.

Giovanni Pizardi

My name is Giovanni, I am from Peru. I am a PhD student here in Pittsburgh in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures. I am also a Spanish teacher.

Paolo Brasko Ferreira

Currently I do three hundred things at the same time. I am a kind of work-alcoholic in a sense: I work full time for Westinghouse Electric company (for the past 20 years) as a Ph. D. Nuclear Engineer, I also work as part-time professor at Pitt University (Computer Science) and sometimes for Penn State (Mechanical Eng), During the weekends I help my wife in her business when needed (Party planner/execution), and if she ‘releases me’ then I go to my second house that I have been flipping on my own.

Diana Osma

I work in the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), which is one of six area and thematic studies centers under the leadership of the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. My role as an Assistant Director for Outreach allows me to provide activities and tools that support spreading Latin American and Caribbean knowledge to our students and educators. Pretty much 40% of my time is spent overseeing a school visit program where Pitt undergraduate students have the opportunity to visit and teach Latin American and Caribbean topics with Pittsburgh schools, including ones in suburban areas as well. In the other 60% of my time, I promote and organize cultural events such as film series, outreach fairs, lectures and conferences, furthermore educational events such as workshops for Spanish and Portuguese K-12 teachers and professional development trips.

Jorge Oliver

I am a Community Assistant at the Pointe Apartments in State College, PA. I work in the office and as a part of the maintenance crew. So I not only help residents with questions about their living but I also do some of the hands-on work too. 

Paola Calahorrano

I’m a visiting lecturer in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. I came to the United States in 2009 to study an M.A. and a PhD in Hispanic Literature, and I’ve lived in 3 different cities: Tucson, Boston, and now Pittsburgh. I’ve been teaching Spanish language, literature and culture the whole time.

Tristan Cunha

I go to Pitt currently, I study Industrial Engineering. I’m a senior technically, but I’m going to graduate in the spring of 2020 because I’m part of the co-op program. I’m actually on my second rotation of co-op right now. And for my co-op, I work for a managerial consulting firm, and that will likely be the field that I pursue upon graduation.

Angel Gauthier

I’m a college student at Pitt, and I also work part-time at Pizza Romano and McCormick and Schmick’s.

Sergio Cabrales

I am studying here in the United States thanks to the Fulbright scholarship, so the government is giving me the opportunity to study here at the University of Pittsburgh in GSPIA.

Sandra Garcia Rivera

What gives me life is music, is performing poetry, is standing on stage with a band of supremely talented fellow musicians and artists liberating an audience of the burdens of day-to-day life through music, through story, through the drum, through a poem. That gives me life. However, what sustains my financial stability is my role as an administrative professional, teaching artist, and program leader in the arts & culture sector.

Alejandra Kisahi

Yo estudio una maestría en Desarrollo Internacional en GSPIA.

Pamela Loaiza

I am currently pursuing a master’s in Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). I'm a Fellow for the Center of Latin American Studies and I'm pursuing a Latin American Certificate in Social and Public Policy. I am interested in the intersection of development, gender, and security in the region. I have previously worked as a researcher and intelligence analyst, both in the private and public sector, in my home country of Peru.   

Mariana Alvarez

Estoy haciendo una Maestria en Desarrollo Internacional en la Universidad de Pittsburgh.

Betty Cruz

I get to work with pretty inspiring community partners every day. Together, we are striving to advance equity and advocate for inclusive policies. I founded my social enterprise Change Agency in an effort to do just that: change who has agency in our community.  We do this by convening stakeholders, connecting partners, and leading programs to directly address systemic barriers that exist in our region. Projects we are a part of include: All for All (immigrant inclusion), Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh (older adults), and Workplace Equity (WE) Challenge.​

Diana Bellini

I am a Vice President and Relationship Executive for BNY Mellon Asset Servicing division. I oversee and manage a portfolio of U.S. public funds. As a Relationship Executive, I am a strategic partner with our clients and our stakeholders. In my current role, I drive revenue growth, client retention, and the expansion of BNY Mellon’s footprint in the Asset Servicing market.

Maria Paz Avilez Pincheira

I am currently pursuing a Masters in International Development at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mateus Pinho

I am a student at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a degree in Bioengineering with a minor in Chemistry and Polymer Engineering.

Santiago Frontado

At the moment, I’m waiting in a restaurant, waiting until I get my response for my asylum request. Once I get my work visa and all of that, I will be able to start looking for any job related to my career as a journalist. But yeah, that’s pretty much what I’m doing so far.

Gisele Fetterman

I am an access and equity advocate and the First Lady of Braddock. I am the founder of Freestore 15104 and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue and For Good PGH. The Freestore works to eradicate food, clothing, diaper etc. insecurity. It is sustainable, volunteer-run and serves close to 1,600 families a month. 412 Food Rescue works to end food waste and food insecurity by redirecting fresh, healthy food to those in need.

Gustavo Machado

I am a senior public relations specialist at Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, a healthcare organization. My main area of responsibility is overseeing internal communications for more than 4,100 employees and clinicians.

Jose Casas

I am a playwright, and I’m also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Drama at the University of Michigan.

Tomas Moniz

I teach basic skills writing to mostly student of color in Berkeley at Berkeley City College. I’m also a father of three, editor of two anthologies Rad Dad and Rad Families, as well as a writer and performer.

Sofia Barboza

I am currently a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Brazil in the state of Paraíba in northeast Brazil. And next year I will be coming back as a mentor, so I will be a mentor to a group of ten new ‘Fulbrighters’ in Brazil.

Baruch Porras

I am a writer, performer, arts events host organizer and standup comedian. Currently I am the community arts organizer for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, I run their art program managing three gallery walls, and organizer their performance series, as well as other literary and artistic community based events in the center of the Castro at their Strut building. I also regularly host, organize, and curate poetry, and storytelling shows for KQED Arts. I am also the founder and head organizer for ¿Donde Esta Mi Gente? Created in part by a grant from the Galeria de la Raza. ¿Donde Esta Mi Gente? Is a Latinx Literary and performance showcase that I created because I one day realized I had been working as a performance poet for years but had never been in a show with all Latinos. I was usually always the only one on a line up. We’ve done shows with all Latix performers all over San Francisco, from universities, to bars, to theatres, poetry festivals, and even sexual health clinics.

Kelly Prestel

At present, I am the Associate Director of Education at the Boch Center in Boston, MA. I oversee our award-winning creative youth employment programs, City Spotlights Summer Leadership Program and the Teen Leadership Council. These programs employ over 70 teens throughout the year to train as community artists and advocates for social change.

Ricardo Vila-Roger

I am a freelance actor, director, and activist. I am also a teaching artist in the Theatre Arts department at Pitt.

Dr. Mónica Méndez

I’m currently an international consultant who trains corporations, not-for-profits and community groups about gender in the workplace, gender-based violence, and soft skills, like conflict management and emotional intelligence. 

Luis Granes

I’m a Corrosion Specialist, certified by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, here in the USA. I work for Sauereisen, Inc, as the International Sales Manager. I travel around the world, giving sales presentation, training seminars, act as a corrosion consultant and give tech service where people do not speak English.

Hadley Pratt

I manage business operations for a local startup called BoXZY. We make an all-in-one 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC mill - a true desktop makerspace!

Brandon Mendoza

I work for the leading regional economic development organization. I manage federal and local government affairs. But broader than that, I work in economic development.

Angela Defendini

I am a licensed massage therapist and massage therapy instructor.

Louis Irizarry

I manage all of the human resource compliance needs as well as various accounting functions at Bunting Graphics located in Verona, PA.  I also sit on the board of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) Pittsburgh.

Jorge Rojas

I am an attorney in Reed Smith LLP’s Complex Litigation Group. Although my litigation practice encompasses a broad range of commercial cases, I focus on commercial disputes stemming from contractual agreements, class action litigations, restrictive covenants work, and other complex business disputes.

Marilet Martinez

I am a professional actor, teaching artist and improviser. By day, I work for Kaiser Permanente's Education Theatre in Oakland, California, where my team and I use theatre, visual art, and team building to explore mental and behavioral health with teens. I have work in professional theatre for 15 years and have been a part of several world premiere plays dealing with political, social, racial, gender and economic issues. I am also part of an all female improv troupe which is unusual considering the improv/comedy scene tends to be filled with white males.

Jose Diaz

I work in nonprofit as a program director for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, where I oversee a program called Hope For All. Funded by United Way, Hope For All is a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and YWCA Greater Pittsburgh to identify distressed households and provide them access to benefits and resources that enhance their quality of life. I have operated in this role since June, 2014; prior to that, I was a community organizer for several years in the community of Homewood working with residents to address issues of safety, education, and beautification. At my core, I'll always be an organizer!

Yolanda Schuman

I work for BNY Mellon in the Technology sector with Internal Applications, specifically in IT Asset Management.

José Monroy

I am a Partner Operations Lead at Google Pittsburgh, leading the team that provides technical support for our Google Shopping partners worldwide.

Jesabel Rivera-Guerra

I am Community Health Director at the American Heart Association. I create strategies to improve heart health in Allegheny County. I also volunteer at the Latin American Cultural Union, where I lead our team in creating strategies to increase visibility of the Latino community through collaboration with different Latino-serving organizations, while preserving and enriching our culture through community-based events.

Marisela Orta

I'm a playwright. I found my way to theatre a little over 10 years ago. Before that I was a poet. Currently I'm studying at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop--one of the top MFAs in playwriting programs. So I write plays. Almost always my plays feature Latinx characters.

Jeimy Sanchez-Ruiz

I am the currently the Youth Community Outreach Coordinator at Casa San Jose. I am also a Junior at Carlow University with a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology.

David Klinowski

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the area of behavioral economics. I run experiments and other kinds of analysis to explore what motivates human behavior and how people respond to incentives.

Sandra Quiñones

I am an Assistant Professor of Education (Literacy) in the Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education at Duquesne Education. I teach graduate and undergraduate teacher education courses and conduct research about community schools, critical literacy, and Latino/a education.

Jason Mendez

I do a few things for a living. First and foremost, I am a memoirist and interdisciplinary theater artist. My writings unpack a range of moments, which collectively capture my coming of age as a Puerto Rican kid growing in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. For example, I reflect on experiences such as the passing of father from cancer, becoming a father myself, and my time tenure being a (Latino) professor at Duke University. My stories embody concepts like home, trauma, coping, healing, and revolution. As a performer, I enjoy bringing my stories to life. Instead of simply reading sections, I love to perform them. Creating aesthetics experiences that captivate and engage audiences. My performances are like sensory overload emphasizes the smells, sights, and sounds of my stories. I am also co-founder of Sons of the Boogie, an arts collective fusing pop culture with the eclectic style of the South Bronx. I, along with renowned artist and trendsetter P.H.A.S.E. TWO, founded a creative space to represent and preserve our respective cultural histories as South Bronx sons. It's a platform for our work and also a space seeking to collaborate with other artists who share and preserve the stories and histories of the Bronx and other communities whose experiences are often misrepresented or untold.

Monica Ruiz

I am a community organizer at Casa San Jose, a project of the Thomas Merton Center. I work with undocumented immigrants to ensure that they are engaged in both civic and social activities in our community. I am an advocate for immigrant rights, human rights, affordable housing, and equitable development. I have my MSW from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Community Organizing and Social Administration.

Diana Gomez

My name is Diana Gómez-Pereira and I am from Bucaramanga, Colombia. I speak Spanish as my first language and I also speak English at a proficient level and French at a basic level. I came to the United States to study a Master in Education (MEd) with an emphasis in Foreign Language Education. I graduated in the spring of 2010 from the University of Pittsburgh and my undergraduate degree was in Foreign Language teaching at the Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia. After graduating from my bachelors’ degree, I worked at an International School in Bogotá, Colombia teaching 1st and 2nd grade with two teachers from Wales and Ireland. In this international school, I was teaching all subjects in English but I was mainly helping students with learning disabilities.

Tara Sherry-Torres

I am the Founder + Creative Director of Cafe Con Leche. Cafe Con Leche is an experiential marketing and event production company that focuses on the Latino market in Pittsburgh. Our services help companies, nonprofits and institutions curate unique experiences to build authentic brand relationships with Latinos using influencer advertising, events and digital media.

Tom Hoffman

I've been a Salesforce Consultant with Summa in Pittsburgh since September 2015. I work with clients from around the world, assisting them with setting up, customizing, and deploying their Salesforce instances and other associated software applications to maximize business processes and efficiency. For the 5+ years prior to that, I was the director of a medical non-profit organization that provided quality improvement research, education, and charitable surgical efforts in Latin American countries.

Cinthya L. Viñals

I married on May 2016 so I am living with my husband. I am working in H&R Block since December 2016. I was studying English until I found this job. I still want to keep improving my English so I can find a better job in the future.

Maggie Negrete

I am a teaching artist and arts administrator. A teaching artist is a working artist that chooses to share their practice with students. My primary disciplines are illustration and typography, but I also work in visual poetry and have an interactive installation, the Apothecary of Esoteric Panacea. Currently, I work for the Brashear Association as the Education Coordinator, developing enrichment opportunities for the youth of South Pittsburgh, in particular, the young children of Allentown through our Allentown Learning Engagement Center. In the past, I held a position at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council with a focus around events, social media, design and organizing teaching artist initiatives. If I'm not at home drawing or work, I can usually be found at community meetings, organizing the Pittsburgh Zine Fair or supporting my friends who are artists and musicians.

Rachel DeSoto Jackson

I am an educator, scholar, and artist in the field of Theatre and Performance focusing on creating diversity, equity, and inclusion through Applied Theater models for social change. My areas of specialization are in Latinx/Chicanx theatre and performance, Applied Theatre, and Theatre of the Oppressed. My artistic practice, scholarship, and teaching explore Latinx/Chicanx and minority narratives of identity, culture, and social memory. At the intersections of my work is an emphasis on community-building. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Applied Theater at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Director of SPATE (Simulated Patient/Applied Theater Ensemble). I also serve as a Board Member for the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed organization and on the Editorial Board of the organization’s journal.

Brent Rondon

I work for the Global Business Program, Duquesne University Small Business Development Center. I am an international business consultant assisting manufacturers to find new markets overseas. I am currently involved in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce to support U.S. manufacturing companies to increase their business in Latin America. The focus industries are infrastructure, energy, mining, oil and gas, construction equipment and transportation equipment. I meet with the U.S. companies nationwide, translate their business materials into Spanish, organize trips to Latin America to do B2B individual business appointments or buy large spaces at Latin American industry fairs and then I subsidize individual spaces for the U.S. companies. I also run a program for Immigrant Entrepreneurs where I provide business consulting in Spanish talking about how to open a business. I have been meeting Latinos for over 5 years now with much success.

Marla Ripoll

I am a professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh.