VANNESSA PIÑEIRO-MONTES, PRESIDENT
Vannessa Piñeiro Montes is VP and Manager of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Compliance for Banco Popular de Puerto Rico. Ms. Piñeiro has ten years in the banking industry as CRA Compliance Manager with experience in consumer protection, compliance, consumer and commercial lending, microfinance, construction and secondary markets, investments, banking operations and other Federal and Local laws and regulations. Ms. Piñeiro has experience in community development, government, entrepreneurship, empowerment, NGOs, capacity building and sports and recreation. She holds a BA with a concentration in Comparative Politics and a Certificate in Latin American Studies from Princeton University, NJ. Ms. Piñeiro performed graduate studies in public administration from the Rutgers University, New Jersey and a Master's Degree in Sports Management from the University Claude Bernard Lyon, France. She is Founder and President of the Board of Directors of Vitrina Solidaria, President of the Governing Board of the Office of Model Forest of Puerto Rico and member (Past President) of the CRA Committee or the Puerto Rico Banker’s Association and the Consortium for Economic Community Development of the Puerto Rico Community Foundation.
CARLOS HERNÁNDEZ, ESQ
Carlos Hernández Burgos is a former Senior Attorney at Reichard & Escalera, and is currently partner at Suero & Hernández. He has served as advisor for SMEs, NGOs, trade associations and companies on regulatory compliance, risk management and consumer affairs, among other areas. He has also handled commercial cases at state and federal courts, served as lecturer and provided counseling in commercial agreements, labor & employment, consumer rights, regulated markets, antitrust, real estate, government and legislative affairs, and ethics. Mr. Hernández has served in the Board of Directors of Mentes Puertorriqueñas en Acción and worked for Vitrina Solidaria’s Adrenalina for Sustainable Tourism project. He holds a J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico’s Law School, is a certified mediator, and has a B.A. on Comparative Studies from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
MERANGELIE VALENTIN, ESQ
Merangelí Valentín Santiago specializes in public policy and environmental justice issues. She has worked as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, working on bill revisions, environmental laws and agency regulations. She also served as Executive Director of the Natural Resources and Energy Commission of the Senate of Puerto Rico, directing and leading the administrative and legal analysis activities associated with Puerto Rico's environmental and energy policy. Currently she works at Aponte, Aponte & Asociados, LLC. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering, a certification in Environmental Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and a JD from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.
FELIX APONTE-GONZALEZ, PHD
Félix Aponte González has over 10 years of experience on urban planning, environmental management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development. He has research experience at the Graduate School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and the School of Environment and Development at the University of Manchester. He served as Special Aide to PR-DNER Secretary, leading the agency’s efforts on climate change, coral reef management community-based sustainable development, and integrated water management. He also worked for the Directorate General for Climate Action at the European Commission supporting the preparation of the EU Adaptation Strategy in 2012. He holds a B.A. in Geography from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, an MA in Planning from the Graduate School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras and a PhD in Planning and Environmental Management from the University of Manchester in UK.
ALEJANDRO SILVA-DIAZ, FACILITATOR
Alejandro Silva Díaz is Executive Director at Mentes Puertorriqueñas en Acción, freelance consultant with specialty on Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Design, and currently is Project Manager for Vitrina Solidaria’s El Yunque Emprende Program. Previously he worked as a Research Assistant at Estudios Ténicos, Inc. as a Program Associate at Grupo Guayacán, and facilitator for Vitrina Solidaria’s Adrenalina for Sustainable Tourism Project. He has a Master's Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School at London, a BA on Cognitive Media Technologies from Cornell University in NY and an Entrepreneurship Development Certificate from the University of Puerto Rico, at Río Piedras.
EDUARDO M. QUIJANO-SEDA, COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
Eduardo graduated from Metropolitan University with a Bachelor's Degree in Media Management and Digital Production. Aside from his academic background, he has worked with various communications companies such as Univisión, USDA Public Affairs Office and Arteaga & Arteaga Advertising, among others. Throughout his professional experience, he has juggled different roles of the media spectrum from audiovisual production, advertising campaign development to public relations. Also, he has collaborated with other non-profit organizations, such as March of Dimes, and did audiovisual work for them.
HECTOR M. CORTES-RAMIREZ, PROJECT COORDINATOR
Héctor Cortés Ramírez has worked for the Planning Secretary of PR's Housing Department as Special Project Officer and Coordinator of the Community Revitalization Administration's Quality of Life Congress. He was Community Development Specialist at the Special Communities Office and Consultant for the training team for the Self-sustainability Project and Social and Community Entrepreneurship of the Municipality of San Juan. Additionally, he has been Professor for the Community Engagement Center at the Universidad de Sagrado Corazón, co-founder of El Post Antillano, and Vitrina Solidaria. He currently works at the Natural and Environmental Resource Department, leading economic development projects for communities surrounding natural resource areas. Mr. Cortés has a Master's degree in Non-Profit Management from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Santurce, PR, a Master's degree in Planning from the Graduate School of Planning of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras and a Certificate on Entrepreneurship Ecosystems from Georgia Institute of Technology.
RAQUEL SKERRET ESCALERA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Executive Director of Vitrina Solidaria since May 2016. Thanks to her leadership, Vitrina Solidaria signed a cooperator's agreement with the USDA Forest Service for El Yunque Emprende Initiative in El Yunque National Forest. Successfully coordinated all administrative, development and program efforts for the organization including: Bazar C for Vitrina's participants in PR's largest shopping mall; trainings, boot-camps, etc. Raquel has a master’s degree in Physical Education from the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico. Her previous experiences include: instructor, training coordination, program monitoring and event planning.
JOAQUIN ALONSO, INSTRUCTOR
Professor at the University of Puerto Rico's Biology Department in Humacao. Founding Director and President of Harimau Conservation, an international charitable organization, that has developed a community-based ecological monitoring project in the Gunung Leuser National Park; a naturalist training program for community members; and an education program (ESL) for village children in Batu Katak, North Sumatra (Indonesia). In Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region offers ecological monitoring (data collection), restoration, conservation and education consulting services. Joaquin has more than twenty years of experience in ecological monitoring and scientific evaluation in a wide range of ecosystem types, including Caribbean land and marine habitats. He has worked for Federal Agencies (DOI: Everglades Vegetation Map Manager), County Regulation Departments (DERM), and several NGO’s and private environmental consulting firms.