Paola Fernandez was born in Argentina and arrived in Rhode Island at the age of 10. She is the Director of Public Policy and Government Relations at United Way of Rhode Island where she is responsible for the development and coordination of public policy strategies and partnerships with local, state, and federal government. Her career in the nonprofit sector has been focused on social issues and spans across grant allocations and management, outcomes and performance management, advocacy campaign development, lobbying, coalition building, research and documentation of community needs, facilitation, and planning community events. Prior to her current role, she served as the Coordinator for the RI After School Plus Alliance, a statewide public policy and research organization, where she was responsible for development and management of activities promoting quality out-of-school-time programs and the support needed to ensure that children have access to these programs. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management with a concentration in Human Resources from Johnson & Wales University. Paola is active on various boards, and most recently became co-chair and one of the founding members of the newly created Asociación Argentina de Rhode Island. She resides in Cranston with her husband and two children.
Jeshua Zapata, Co-chair
Jeshua Zapata is president and co-founder of Xzito Creative Solutions LLC, an online marketing firm that has won numerous awards including the 2007 Hispanic Business of The Year, 2013 SBA Young Entrepreneur of The Year, and inclusion in Diversity MBA Magazine, Top 100 Leaders under 50. His career began with MetLife Auto & Home Insurance, where he established the project management, process review and information technology skills that laid the foundation needed for his role as President at Xzito. Mr. Zapata has served on the Board of Directors for the Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, and English for Action. He is a graduate of Central Falls High School and Bryant University, where he earned a degree in Business Administration focused on Computer Information Systems and a minor in Communications.
Andrew Bramson, Treasurer
Andrew Bramson is the President and CEO of The College Crusade of Rhode Island, the state's most comprehensive college-readiness and scholarship program for middle school and high school students in low-income urban school districts. In this role, Andrew is responsible for setting overall goals and operational priorities that advance The College Crusade's mission. Prior to joining The College Crusade, in 2016, Andrew spent 15 years at The Providence Plan where he held senior leadership positions including Deputy Director and Director of DataSpark. Before coming to Rhode Island in 2001, Andrew was Senior Planner for the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission in Duluth, Minnesota. Andrew currently serves as a trustee of Temple Beth-El and is a member of the Career Pathways Advisory Board for the Governor's Workforce Board. Early in his career, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Hungary, where he taught environmental education and advised nonprofit organizations. A graduate of Leadership Rhode Island's Class of 2015, Andrew holds a B.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an M.A. in Management from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.
Jorge Armesto is a bilingual (English/Spanish) and bicultural clinical and forensic psychologist. He is the founder of the Latino Psychological Institute, Inc., a mental health practice that provides multilingual and culturally informed psychological evaluations and treatment to children, adolescents and adults. His clinical work assists individuals, attorneys, corporations, nursing homes and government agencies answer psychological questions to legal matters and help determine disability, worker’s compensation, fitness-for-duty, diminished capacity, and vocational rehabilitation needs. Dr. Armesto also serves as a member of the State of Rhode Island Parole Board. Dr. Armesto holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. He completed post-doctorate work in forensic psychology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School/Bridgewater State Hospital and the Massachusetts Treatment Center. Dr. Armesto also holds a Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Children and Adolescent at Risk from Harvard University. He is licensed as a clinical psychologist in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Dr. Armesto has served as a clinician in correctional, school and community settings. He completed an administrative fellowship through the National Association of Community Health Centers focusing on decreasing health disparities in economically, culturally, and linguistically diverse communities. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Armesto has authored and collaborated on numerous articles focusing on gender identity development and exploring best practices in conducting capacity evaluations with older adults.
Adriana I. Dawson is the Assistant Dean of Professional Education & Employer Outreach and Engagement at the Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies. In this role, she is responsible for the Professional Education Center. Ms. Dawson has received numerous awards, including the "Providence Business News 40 Under 40" in 2008, the nationally recognized Small Business Development Center's State Star Award, and most recently the 2013 Hispanic United Development Organization (HUDO) Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. Ms. Dawson mentors a number of talented youth in local high schools and sits on several boards, including the International Charter School in Pawtucket. She holds a B.A. from Northeastern University in Communication Studies and an M.A. from Emerson College in Management Communications. Adriana resides in Providence with her husband and daughter.
Diony Garcia was born in the Dominican Republic and arrived to the United States at the young age of 6 months. He has been a resident of Rhode Island since the age of four. Diony was educated in the Providence Public School System from head start, to graduating from Classical High School in 2004. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2008, and has more recently graduated from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2012. Diony is now a licensed attorney in RI and Mass, and currently works for the Providence City Solicitor's office.
C. Morgan Grefe is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Society. She has been at the RIHS for nearly ten years serving as the Director of the Goff Center for Education and Public Programs for 6.5 of those. In the Summer of 2011, she took the helm of the RIHS. Her work as a historian focuses on U.S. social, cultural and public history, with special attention on R.I. She holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown and a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in the same. Her recent publications include, “ ‘Jews, Turks, and Infidels:’ How Rhode Island’s Lively Experiment Helped Chart the American Way” and “Sourcing a Rhode Island Legend: The Story of Kady Brownell.” She lectures widely on topics relating to Rhode Island’s social and cultural history, as well as the history education crisis in our state and nation. She has lived in Rhode Island for more than sixteen years and makes her home in Pawtucket with her spouse, Gage Prentiss.
Katiuska Perez is Principal Policy Analyst for the Rhode Island Senate Policy Office where she focuses on economic and workforce development. Previously, she was Director of Community Relations for the City of Providence where she served in a number of roles related to urban development and community empowerment. While completing her graduate degree, she administered the University of Rhode Island’s study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain. Katiuska attended Providence Public Schools and holds a BA in Political Science and Economics as well as a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island. She is a 2013 graduate of the Rhode Island Latina Leadership Institute and a current board member of the Providence Human Relations Commission as well as a 2015 New Leaders Council Fellow.
Rick Quiles is a pediatrician whose practice serves approximately 4000 children in Rhode Island. His practice provides primary care for a diverse and underserved patient population that is predominantly Latino. Dr. Quiles is a proud community leader devoted to urban minority youth, serving on the Advisory Board of RI-CAN, and supporting several community organizations, including Latino Dollars for Scholars, Make a Wish RI, Manny Mota Hispanic Softball League, and Cal Ripken Little League. Dr. Quiles is the 2013 Medical Champion Prescribe a Book Award recipient from Reach Out and Read RI. His literacy campaign was highlighted in an interview with Lucia Navarro of CNN Espanol on Cafe Latino. Dr. Quiles is also a founding Board member of Hermandad Health, providing free medical mission healthcare services to poor underserved Latin American countries worldwide. A graduate of Brown University, Dr. Quiles is father to two sons who attend Highlander Charter School.
Jamie E. Scurry is the Dean for Roger Williams University’s School of Continuing Studies where she directly oversees the academic program and business operations of the school. She is considered a leader in adult education and her innovative reforms are making Roger Williams University a premier institution for continuing studies. Prior to her work at Roger Williams University, Ms. Scurry was the Co-Director of College Unbound, a Big Picture Learning higher education initiative that integrates students’ own purposes and visions for learning with the needs of their workplaces and communities. She also worked as the Director for Policy and Research at the New England Board of Higher Education and as a Research Associate for The Futures Project: Policy for Higher Education in a Changing World, based at Brown University. Ms. Scurry holds a Masters Degree in American Civilization from Brown University where she also was an Adjunct Assistant Professor, teaching Leadership and Organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Management with a concentration in Marketing from Bentley College. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Academy for Career Exploration (ACE), the Latino Policy Institute (LPI) and Housing Works RI. Ms. Scurry’s work has been published widely since 2002.
As Domingo Morel, Co-Founder and previous Co-Chair begins an exciting new chapter;
LPI core members and community colleagues wish him well! #BuenaSuerteDomingo