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. A Business Incubator, Housing, Employment, Investment, Training, and Career Development are 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 is since 1998. He has served as a board member on various organizations such as the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, LACU - Latin American Union Culture, and COESA, the Brazilian Association 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, 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.

Maribel Garcia

Business Analyst

Maribel Garcia 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.

She attended the California University of Pennsylvania, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and two minors, Finance and Tourism. She did an internship for administrative support at Washington D.C with a non-profit organization, Friends of Puerto Rico. Her wandered nature led her to pursue another career after college. She became a massage therapist and holds a license for the state of Pennsylvania. Maribel Garcia is fluent in English and Spanish.

Maribel was born in Mexico and migrated to the United States at the age of seventeen. She loves traveling, volunteering, and learning about other cultures. She has traveled to other countries to learn about social work and humanitarian volunteering. In her free time, she loves to dance, hike, swim, meditate, do yoga, and read.

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 being related to community issues, helping and empowering people. 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,

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 leads her to 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, she 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, she likes Yoga and Piyo. She is fond of outdoor activities and contact with nature, cooking is her greatest passion and she loves being related to different cultures

Dubraska Figueroa,

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.


Interns

Franco Chiappori,

Business Analyst Intern

Franco Chiappori is currently volunteering 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 volunteering, 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 volunteering at PHDC.

Bernardo Vieira,

Business Analyst Intern


Bernardo Vieira is currently volunteering part-time with the Business Incubator at the Pittsburg h Hispanic Corporation. He helps to conduct market and general research as well as business evaluations for rising and existing businesses in Pittsburgh's Hispanic and Latino communities.

Bernardo is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but attends the University of Pittsburgh, where he majors in Marketing and Human Resource Management and minors in Economics, with a concentration in Latin American Studies. Bernardo learned Portuguese through his immediate family, who are also originally from Rio; he learned Spanish throughout his education in high school and college. Outside of volunteering, Bernardo is also involved in the University of Pittsburgh's D1 ACHA Men’s Ice Hockey team.

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



Hannah Schoenig,

Community Engagement Intern

Hannah Schoenig, the Community Engagement Intern 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 improv 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.



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.

Jenny Diaz,

Wellness Volunteer

Jenny Diaz is part-time volunteering with the Wellness Program at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Corporation. She is

supporting the efforts of planning, implementing, and coordinating the wellness activities for the Hispanic

Community.


Jenny is a Medical Laboratory Scientist specialist in Quality Management of Healthcare and Patient Safety.

Her leadership role helped to improve processes, educate and guide the community, employees, and

other stakeholders. In addition to this, she carried out academic practices at the Military Hospital and

Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research (AGROSAVIA) where she had the opportunity to apply

diagnostic detection techniques for clinical and research purposes.


Currently, Jenny is pursuing an Associate Degree in Science at the Community College of Allegheny

County (CCAC). She is passionate about life sciences and is looking toward obtaining a Master’s Degree

in Health Care Administration. She is excited about this volunteer opportunity at the Pittsburgh Hispanic

Development Corporation, where she can share her passion to support the Hispanic Community.


Isabel Vaccarello,

Community Volunteer

Isabel Vaccarello, is volunteering part time at the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. She helps translate documents and works as an interpreter for clients who do not speak English. She also assist in keeping our website updated and organized.

Isabel is from Venezuela, but has spent most of her life in the city of Pittsburgh. She is currently finishing up her bachelors degree in marketing at Robert Morris University. She helped found the Organization for Latin American Students at her university and worked as the club secretary for three semesters. She has experience creating cultural awareness within her community and working as a translator.

She hopes to gain more experience working in a professional environment and to expand her business knowledge while volunteering with PHDC.