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 currently serves on the following boards; Board of Trustee of the Allegheny County Community College, the Community Justice Project, and PublicSource. Mr. Velazquez also serves as a commissioner of the LGBTQA+ Commission of the City of Pittsburgh and an active member of the Pittsburgh for Shared Prosperity group.
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 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.
Lorena (Lola) Jimenez-Ficarra
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.
Business Loan 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 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.
Food Certification 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.
Diana Andrade is an Administrative Assistant at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC). She works helping the office staff, making sure not to leave out any details, and managing all phone calls, emails, and correspondence. she is aware of the business start-up process, and ideas that people bring to PHDC every day in search of help or guidance.
Diana studied Law at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in Mexico. During her studies, she did an internship at the Michoacán State Attorney General's Office. She joined PHDC to learn and be able to contribute to the Latino Community improving and having a better life quality of life in this country.
She likes to spend quality time with her family and friends. And she wants to learn new things every day from the people who come to the corporation. She is very grateful for the opportunity she has been given by PHDC, and she plans to continue helping in the process of business incubation for her community, which is the Latino community.
Leila Vazquez is the Portuguese Navigator at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, a recently established position aimed at providing the Brazilian community with the same resources and opportunities offered to the Hispanic community. In her role as the Brazilian Navigator, Leila will focus on the three key pillars of the PHDC - Employment, Housing and Business incubator - providing valuable assistance to Brazilians as they strive to achieve success in their personal and professional endeavors as immigrants in the USA.
With over 20 years of experience working with immigrants as a teacher, translator and service coordinator, Leila is perfectly suited to use her wealth of knowledge to support the Brazilian community that has been lacking in initiatives such as those provided by PHDC. Her degree in Portuguese and English as a second language from the esteemed University Gama Filho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, along with her specialization in translation, make her a valuable asset to the community she serves.
During her free time, Leila enjoys reading, physical exercise, and sharing healthy meals with family and friends. Her love for travel and exploring new countries and cultures, especially historical sites and diverse cuisine, speaks to her adventurous spirit and eagerness to learn and grow.
Bilingual Employment and Community Navigator
Bilingual Employment and Community Navigator
Aurora Pinto is a Bilingual Employment and Community Navigator for PHDC. She is responsible for
connecting community members with employment opportunities in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.
She also identifies and connects community members in need of legal assistance, employment inquiries,
and coordination of job applications with employers. She also assists the Program Manager in
coordinating activities with partners related to tax preparation for the Latino community, as well as
various community events.
Aurora has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric (Communications) from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where she has taught various courses in the area of Communications. At the same University, she obtained her Master's degree in Corporate Communication, and in her native Venezuela she graduated as a Social Communicator at the Andres Bello Catholic University, in Caracas.
Aurora has extensive experience in the area of Corporate Communications in the petrochemical industry
in her country of origin, as well as in advertising and public relations.
Aurora enjoys outdoor sports such as hiking, jogging, and bicycling. As an art lover, she regularly
participates in various Urban Sketching groups in the city of Pittsburgh.
Business Analyst Coordinator & Navigator
Kiara is a Business Analyst Coordinator and Navigator. Through this position she aids her fellow Business Analyst Coordinator with time sensitive deliverables. She also acts as a translator for business documents and provides support to the time wherever needed. Currently, she has been focused on helping business owners with permit applications ranging from health permits to building permits.
Kiara is originally from Connecticut and is in Pittsburgh studying Business Administration with a concentration in Strategic Management at Carnegie Mellon University. Outside of work, she is often creating student events as the Internal Outreach Chair of Carnegie Mellon’s Spanish and Latino Student Association. Because of her background in non profit organizations and the arts, she is passionate about applying her studies to supporting marginalized communities.
During her time with the PHDC, she hopes to empower the Latino entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh by finding them the tools they need to succeed. She also hopes to apply her knowledge from classes at Carnegie Mellon to aid in the upward mobility of PHDC as a whole.
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.
Valeria Silva Yepez
Valeria Silva Yepez is the current Community Engagement Intern at the PHDC, and her work includes assisting with translation and interpretation of documents, coordination of events, and developing community engagement strategies.
She is originally from Venezuela, currently attending the University of Pittsburgh and is pursuing a double major in Psychology and Spanish, a certificate in Latin American studies, and minors in Portuguese, Gender Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and Studio Arts. She is also a board member of the Luso-Brazilian Student Association (Brazil Nuts), and has completed individual field research in Colombia as part of The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) Seminar and Field Trip Program at Pitt.
Being raised in Venezuela, and moving to the US at a young age has allowed her to understand the issues immigrants can face, inspiring her academic focus and work with the community. Valeria looks forward to working with the Latin community of Pittsburgh, and helping them navigate business, employment, and community related inquiries.
Business Analyst Coordinator
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.