Staff

Guillermo Velazquez

Executive Director

Guillermo Velazquez is the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC). As Executive Director, Mr. Velazquez is responsible for the operations of PHDC and for implementing its mission in economic and community development. Business incubation, housing, employment, investment, and career development are all activities of the Hispanic Corporation.

Mr. Velazquez began his career at Desarrollo Empresarial Mexicano (DESEM), an entrepreneurship program in Mexico City (also known as Junior Achievement Mexico), where he was a member for ten years. The program teaches entrepreneurs how to start, manage, and operate a new business. Mr. Velazquez has a wealth of experience assisting U.S.-based companies in expanding internationally and foreign companies seeking to develop their local and international markets. His specialty is market entry strategies and market penetration. Mr. Velazquez's involvement in the Latino community of Pittsburgh has been since 1998. He has served as a board member of various organizations such as the Community Justice Project, the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, LACU - Latin American Union Culture, and COESA, the Brazilian Association of Pittsburgh. Mr. Velazquez also serves as a commissioner of the LGBTQA+ Commission of the City of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Velazquez has worked at Nissan Motor's Headquarters Office in Mexico City, the World Trade Center Pittsburgh, and Conco Services Corp as Manager for Latin America. Guillermo Velázquez has an MBA in Global Management and Business Administration from Point Park University and a Bachelor's Degree in Business Relations, Marketing, and International Business. Furthermore, he also holds a diploma in computer systems and an English diploma as a second language. He is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and English.

Howard Alvarez

Programs Administrator

Howard Alvarez is the Programs Administrator of the PHDC Housing, Employment, and Community. He collects data to report the impact of these programs on the Latino community in the greater Pittsburgh region. He also manages educational activities at PHDC to inform and create advancement in the Hispanic community.

Howard has a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Affairs from the Central University of Venezuela. Howard enjoys involving himself in community issues to help and empower others. He has a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Affairs from the Central University of Venezuela. During his studies, he was captain of the AUDAS - International Team of Spanish Debate - and faculty advisor of delegations for models of the United Nations in Venezuela, and other countries. Howard Alvarez is fluent in English and Spanish.

He has been working with public and private foreign affairs in Venezuela with intergovernmental organizations as United Nations, international development banks, and funds as CAF - Latin American Development Bank, IDB - International Development Bank, OFID - OPEC Fund for International Development, or The World Bank, integration mechanism as MERCOSUR, bilateral and multilateral agreements, and Venezuelan and Colombian companies. Diplomacy, industry, commerce, finance, and public international law are his sectors of interest.

He is originally from Venezuela, likes to play tennis, and his passions are travel, debates, communications, and human rights.

Louisiana Figueroa

Business Analyst

Louisiana Figueroa is the Business Analyst of the PHDC Incubator Program. She assists Hispanic entrepreneurs with the creation and incorporation of their business by performing SWOT analysis, business capital advising, permit and license processing, translating, and overall clientele administrative support in their business journey.

Louisiana looks forward to getting more involved with the Pittsburgh Hispanic community, offering her knowledge and experience as a way to keep making progress in the development of the Hispanic community. Being raised in Peru has led her to understand the hardships Hispanic people go through in Pittsburgh, which allows her to work with the community in Pittsburgh.

She enjoys playing instruments, going on hikes, and is very passionate about being an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights.

Lorena (Lola) Jimenez-Ficarra

Housing Navigator

Lorena Jimenez Ficarra is a Housing Navigator at the Pittsburgh Development Hispanic Corporation. As Housing Navigator, she assists the Latino Community to connect with Landlords to obtain access to rental properties. She also works with Real Estate Agents assisting in the process of homeownership.

Lorena has experience in Real Estate Managing, providing services to Latino families for over 6 years, which has led her to better understand the needs of the Latino community. Lorena’s ability to connect with members of the community is key to the success of the housing initiative at PHDC.

Lorena has worked as a Regional Manager for a multinational company and supervised several offices in different counties - such as Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. She was responsible for the operations at those locations.

Lorena has a Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design and Landscape from the UPSA - Santa Cruz Private University. Her background in arts is also reflected in her passion for teaching Tango, Bachata, and Salsa. She developed a love for dancing at the age of 22 years, acting in different scenarios and stages internationally.

Lorena is originally from Argentina and likes Yoga and Piyo. She is fond of outdoor activities and contact with nature, along with cooking and being related to different cultures.

Dubraska Figueroa

Employment & Community Navigator


Dubraska Figueroa Soto is a Community Navigator at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC). She works with the Housing and Community Initiatives mainly assisting the community with matters related to the services that PHDC offers. She helps individuals to navigate with access to apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) as well as to connect with authorized providers to file taxes. She also helps households of the community with housing matters such as apply for rent assistance programs and assistance with transferring utility bills.


She studied Law at the Central University of Venezuela. During her university studies, she was an intern at the School of Law, collaborating in social assistance programs that offered free legal advice to low-income communities. She was also a member of the Competitive Debate Team (AUDAS-UCV).

She is a lawyer with experience in the public sector. She has a background in legal research, analysis, and development of legal documents and sentences. She likes to take on challenges that lead to innovative solutions and the success of all those involved.

From Venezuela, Dubraska enjoys running, she has participated in two marathons and several races. She also likes astrology, reading, and enjoying outdoor activities.


Edel Arzuaga Birriel

Business Analyst Coordinator

Edel is the Business Analyst Coordinator and Navigator. As the Business Analyst Coordinator he works to provide overall assistance to the Business Analyst. While also focusing on certifications and permits relating to the Health Department and other special events.

Edel was born and raised in Puerto Rico, he recently moved to pursue his undergraduate career at Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently majoring in Statistics and Machine Learning and plans to complete an additional major in Computer Science. In addition, he is currently serving as a mentor for students that are from low socio-economic backgrounds and historically marginalized communities by helping them navigate the higher educational system.

During his time with PHDC, Edel looks forward to developing sustainable ways to assist Hispanic business owners by empowering them with the necessary knowledge and tools to succeed in today’s world.

Ernesto Peroche

Membership, Media & Marketing Consultant

Ernesto Peroche is the membership, Media & Marketing Consultant with the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. He helps to improve technology and financial evaluations for rising and existing businesses in Pittsburgh's Hispanic and Latino communities.

Ernesto is from Santa Fe, Argentina, where he studied Industrial Engineering at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral. He is also a professor at the same university and works as an entrepreneur in different software for organizations. He is involved in digital transformation projects for public and private organizations. Outside of work, he loves hiking, outdoor activities, and traveling.

Ernesto looks forward to getting involved in the Pittsburgh Hispanic community, offering his knowledge and experiences with the aim of enhancing local entrepreneurship, improving his English skills, and building his professional and technical skills in business analysis while volunteering at PHDC.

Lizeth Villa

Business Consultant

Lizeth Villa is the Business Analyst of the Business Incubator Program at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. She aids startup businesses with SWOT analysis, business acceleration, economic development, community reinvestment, clientele administrative support, permits, and licensing processing, business capital advising, financial aid, and entrepreneurship education.

Lizeth has a Bachelor’s Degree in Doctor of Laws from the UGMA university in Venezuela and a Master in International Contracts Specialist in Italy. She managed a law firm in Commercial and Civil Law in Venezuela, and her experience in the insurance industry also complements her career.

Lizeth looks forward to getting more involved with the Hispanic community and collaborating with Latin integration. She loves to meet new people from different cultures, and she enjoys spending her free time volunteering as a Neuro-Linguistic Programmer Therapist and learning more about Neuroscience and quantum physics.

Alexandra Segura

Business Consultant

Alexandra Segura joined PHDC in 2021 as a Business Consultant Coordinator. She works as the Manager of Las Velas Mexican Restaurant in Market Square. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where she majored in Business Management with a minor in Marketing. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

As a Business Consultant, she dedicates herself helping entrepreneurs to succeed in opening their businesses. She hopes to become a true industry expert in this field through successful end-to-end project management practice and hands-on experience. She looks forward to continuing learning about new cultures and hopes to provide her knowledge to the community. She values time, respect, and freedom.

Her passion is to help others find a light that will lead to self-discovery.

Current Interns

Jack Kiggins

Community Engagement Intern

Jack Kiggins is working part-time with the Community Engagement sector at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. He will be primarily helping with housing coordination, organizing local events, and assisting the Latino community with navigating the Pittsburgh area.

Jack is from Atlanta, Georgia and recently completed his first year at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Ethics, History, and Public Policy. He plans to eventually pursue a career in law, but wanted to first gain some experience working with the Latino community in Pittsburgh. Jack has some background with Spanish through high school, but is eager to learn more and plans to develop his communication skills over the summer. Beyond work, Jack enjoys playing football and often watches European matches in his free time — his favorite club is Arsenal FC in London.

While interning at PHDC, Jack hopes to develop his skills in bilingual communication to help as many in the Latino community as possible.

Past Interns

Franco Chiappori

Business Analyst Coordinator

Franco Chiappori is currently working part-time with the Business Incubator at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Corporation. He helps to conduct business and financial evaluations for rising and existing businesses in Pittsburgh's Hispanic and Latino communities.

Franco is originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida but attends the University of Pittsburgh, where he majors in Economics and minors in Hispanic Language and Culture. Franco learned Spanish through his immediate family, which is originally from Lima, Peru. Outside of work, Franco is also involved in the University of Pittsburgh's Air Force ROTC program, where he hopes to serve his country proudly as a contracting officer.

Franco looks forward to getting more involved in the Pittsburgh Hispanic community and expanding upon his professional and business skills while working at PHDC.

Sofía Galván

Community engagement/ business analyst intern

Sofia Galvan is currently working as an intern in PHDC in the programs of Community Engagement and Business Incubator. She assists in carrying out the activities that conduct housing, employment and community; as well as helping with the financial, administrative, and marketing operations, SWOT analysis, optimization assessments, and entrepreneurship boosts for new or existing business owners in Pittsburgh's Hispanic and Latino communities.

Sofia is from Mexico and studies at Tecnológico de Monterrey where she majors in Engineering in Business and IT. She currently lives in Mexico but often visits Pittsburgh since she came to live here from 2011-2014 while her dad was doing his PhD at CMU.

From this internship she hopes to contribute to the Hispanic and Latino communities in Pittsburgh and learn new skills from working with PHDC clients that look to better their businesses.

Pamela Junqueira

Business Analyst Intern

Pamela Junqueira is currently volunteering part-time with the Business Incubator at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Corporation. She helps to conduct market and general research as well as business and financial evaluations for rising and existing businesses in Pittsburgh's Hispanic and Latino communities.

Pamela is originally from São Paulo, Brazil but attends the University of Pittsburgh, where she majors in Finance and is pursuing a certificate in International Business. Pamela is fluent in English and Portuguese. Outside of volunteering, Pamela is also involved in Women in Business, the Undergraduate Finance club, and Delta Zeta Sorority which are all student organizations at the University of Pittsburgh.

Pamela looks forward to getting more involved in the Pittsburgh Hispanic community and expanding upon her professional and business skills while volunteering at PHDC.

Alexander Gonzalez

Business analyst

Intern

Alexander Gonzalez is currently working as a Business Incubator intern at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. He assists in conducting financial, marketing, and operations research, as well as evaluations for Latino owned businesses in the Pittsburgh area.

Alex is originally from Ashburn, Virginia, but is currently enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh where he majors in finance and operations management. He learned Spanish through his grandparents who are originally from Quito, Ecuador, and Asturias in Spain. Outside of his internship, Alex works as the Club Lacrosse Social Chair, and as a part time employee at restaurant here in Pittsburgh.

Alex looks forward to getting more involved in the Pittsburgh Hispanic community, while expanding on his professional and business skills.

Karla Tejeda

Community Engagement Intern

Karla Tejeda is currently working part-time for PHDC as a community engagement intern. She assists in carrying out activities regarding housing, community, and employment for the Pittsburgh community.


Karla is originally from Dallas, Texas but currently attends Carnegie Mellon University where she majors in Applied Multilingual Studies and is minoring in Hispanic Studies. Karla is also fluent in English and Spanish. Outside of her internship, Karla is Events Chair in First Together, the first generation undergrad student organization, and SALSA, the Hispanic student organization at Carnegie Mellon University.


Karla looks forward to getting more involved in the Pittsburgh Hispanic community and expand on her professional skills while interning for PHDC.


Cecilia Mendoza

Business analyst Intern

Cecilia Mendoza is currently working as a business analyst intern for the PHDC. She uses her organizational and analytical skills to help conduct business analyses in the Hispanic and Latino communities in Pittsburgh.


Cecilia is originally from Mexico and immigrated to the United States at a young age. Now she resides in Southern California but currently attends Carnegie Mellon University. She is majoring in Information Systems and plans to minor in Global Systems and Management. Throughout her time at CMU, she has volunteered and helped at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Asides from her academics and internship, Cecilia is also involved and has participated in the executive board of First Together, SALSA (Spanish and Latin Student Association), and SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers).


Cecilia looks forward to expanding her communication and professional skills while connecting with the Hispanic and Latino community in Pittsburgh.


Past Volunteers

Selene Alvarado

Communications Consultant

Selene Alvarado Cuevas Is a Consultant at PHDC, she has experience in Marketing and Communications. Currently, Selene is coordinating and deploying the Communications Entrepreneur Training Series of the Business Incubator program. Her bilingual skills and experience are important in the educational programs of the organization.

She has a degree in Communication Sciences and a teacher in Philosophy and Social Sciences from ITESO, a Jesuit university in Guadalajara. She has developed professionally in areas related to communication, advertising, and institutional relations. In Mexico she worked for companies such as LALA Guadalajara, MAVI de Occidente and ITESO. She currently serves as deputy director and head of advertising and social media for the digital magazine Drakma.

She is of Mexican origin. Her favorite sport is swimming. She learned how to crochet by watching videos on YouTube. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and riding a bicycle.

Hannah Schoenig

Community Engagement Volunteer

Hannah Schoenig, the Community Engagement Volunteer at Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, is currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. She is majoring in anthropology, minoring in Spanish and getting a certificate in Latin American Studies. After college, she wants to teach in Latin America and go to school to be an immigration lawyer.

Outside of school, Hannah works as a barista and she is involved with the improve team at her university. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, exercising and spending time with friends and family.

From this internship, she hopes to gain a better understanding of the experiences of the Hispanic population in Pittsburgh.