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, the oldest Latino membership organization in Pittsburgh with 30 years of existence, and COESA, the Brazilian Association of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Velazquez’s 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 a diploma in English 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 startups businesses with SWOT analysis, business acceleration, economic development, community reinvestment, employment, and entrepreneurship education.

She attended 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 was born in Mexico and migrated to the United States at the age of 17. 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.

Community Manager (vacant)

Howard Alvarez,

Housing Navigator

Howard Alvarez, is currently working as Community Engagement Housing Navigator for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) - Rent Relief Program (RRP) at Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. He likes to be 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 at Venezuela, and other countries.

He has been working with public and private foreign affairs at 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 passion is travel, debates, communication skills, and human rights.

Lorena (Lola) Jimenez-Ficarra,

Housing Navigator

Lorena Jimenez Ficarra, is a Community Engagement Housing Navigator for the CARES RRP (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Rent Relief Program) at the Pittsburgh Development Hispanic Corporation. 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.

She has experience as real estate manager, providing services to Latino families for over 6 years, which leads her to understand the needs of the Latino community. Lorena’s leadership and discipline skills are projected in his work on a daily basis.

Lorena has a bachelor 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 the 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 with different cultures

Denysse Rivas,

Housing Navigator

Denysse Rivas, is currently working as a Community Engagement Housing Navigator in the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation for the (CARES) Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security - Rent Relief Program (RRP). She provides assistance and support to families and individuals that have been affected due to the Covid - 19 Pandemic and are seeking help through the CARES Rent Relief Program. She is detail oriented, finding solutions and assistance for each family according to their needs.

Denysse is from Caracas, Venezuela and has a bachelor's degree in Preschool Education from Jose Maria Vargas University with ten years of experience working in the Education field. She enjoys working with families due to her background as a teacher. Her outstanding patience, planning and organizing skills make Denysse a valuable asset to PHDC.

This experience is giving her a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life of our community. She is delighted to continue assisting and supporting the members of our community. She has been in the United States for over a year, and is very excited about starting a new life here and the opportunity to give back to the community.

Denysse really enjoys being outdoors and traveling, in her spare time she loves going camping and hiking.

Anderson Morais,

Housing Navigator

Anderson Morais Silva is a Housing Navigator at Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC). PHDC is participating in the program called CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security) - Rent Relief and as a Community Engagement Housing Navigator he works as an intermediary between landlords and tenants in order to assist them both through the Rent Relief Program. He provides services in Portugues and English.

Anderson is originally from Brazil and moved to the United States in August 2016 through the Cultural Exchange Program called Au Pair, where he lived with an American Host Family for two years. The Au Pair Exchange allowed him to submerge myself into American culture and improve his English skills. In Brazil Anderson graduated in Business and did a Post Graduation in International

Logistics which is the field he had worked until moving to the United States at 26 years old. He believes in the unique work PHDC has provided to the Hispanic community and knows how important it is to our community to know that we are here for them. PHDC has changed people's lives and he could not have been more proud to be a staff member.

In his free time, Anderson likes to listen to music, watch movies and TV shows, hangout with his friends and travel.

Erick Vergara,

Housing Navigator

Erick had a very active childhood as a group coordinator for the “J.A.C.”, Young Friends of Christ group, traveling around his home country Ecuador. At the age of 24 he moved to United States where he starts practicing MMA, and Chess. At age 27, Erick discovered yoga in Pittsburgh where he explored many styles. He had been looking for a discipline, and this seemed to be it, as this world let us choose our direction, with the only constant of change.

Erick feels the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Incubator has the potential to exceed his expectations and he feels grateful to be a part of its story here in Pittsburgh. As he continues to learn as a volunteer, his appreciation for it deepens. He is happy to share his abilities with others in the Latin Community, after more than 10 years in customer services related work experience and sales. Erick studied ESL (English as a Second Language) at the Miami Dade College University in Miami FL in 2015 and is currently a student of the Bachelor of applied Arts & Sciences Maharishi International University..

Dubraska Figueroa,

Housing Navigator

Dubraska Figueroa Soto is currently working as Community Engagement Housing Navigator for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) - Rent Relief Program (RRP) at Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation. 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.

Alef Buarque,

Housing Navigator

Alef is originally from Brazil and moved to the United States in August 2016 to learn more about EMS, firefighting and submerge himself into American culture. and improve his English skills. In Brazil Alef graduated in nursing(LPN) and Fire Academy at the age of 18, worked in private senior care, as a paramedic in highway rescue and for the city EMS, connecting him with a vast diversity of people.

He believes in the unique work PHDC has provided to the Hispanic community and knows how important it is to our community to know that we are here for them. PHDC has changed people's lives and he could not has been more proud to be a staff member.

In his free time, Alef works as a volunteer FireFighter helping his community in a different spectrum. when not working or fighting fires, he enjoys time with his wife and pets at home.


Isabel Vaccarello,


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.

Franco Chiappori,


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.