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Latino Policy Institute

Anna Cano Morales, Director

Anna Cano-Morales, a Central Falls native, has extensive experience in social services work and policy in Rhode Island. Anna earned a Bachelor of Science Degree - Human Development, Counseling, and Family Studies, with a minor in Latin American Literature, from the University of Rhode Island in 1991.  In 1999, she received a Master’s of Social Work – Policy, Administration, and Systems from Rhode Island College.

Anna’s interest in children and families led her to volunteer in several community-based organizations for many years. Throughout the span of twelve years, Anna worked at several key nonprofits in Rhode Island like Providence Community Health Centers, Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education (RISE), Women and Infants Hospital, and SStarbirth Residential Program. Anna enjoys mentoring and advising rising young community leaders. She often meets with them and brokers relationships across sectors.  

Currently, Anna is the Chairwoman of the Central Falls School Board of Trustees. In 2008, Governor Carcieri appointed her to the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education where she served until February of 2011. In July 2009, the University of Rhode Island Foundation elected Anna to the Executive Board of Directors where she served a three year term. She has also served on the boards of directors of Gateway Healthcare, the RI Latino Political Action Committee and RI Civic Fund, and RICAN.

For a decade, Anna worked as the Associate Vice President for Grant Programs for the Rhode Island Foundation.  There she led the Hispanics in Philanthropy initiative and managed a team of Program Officers in the Program Department. Currently, Anna is the Director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and the Director of University Outreach & Engagement at RWU.

Board of Directors   2015

Domingo Morel, Ph.D., Co-chair

Domingo Morel is co-founder and co-chair of the Latino Policy Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Brown University and is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research interests are in the fields of American politics with a focus on racial and ethnic politics, urban politics, and the politics of urban education. 

Paola Fernandez, Co-chair

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. 

Peter Wilbur, Treasurer

Peter B. Wilbur is Vice President for University Outreach & Engagement at Roger Williams University. He previously held senior positions in proprietary education and industry as president and principal of a manufacturing facility; immediately prior to arriving at RWU he served as controller, assistant dean and eventually president of the Katharine Gibbs School in Providence, R.I. In 13 years with the University, Mr. Wilbur has been a senior-level contributor in finance and administration, human resources, strategic planning and community and government relations. He accepted his current position in 2011 and has played a key role in launching significant RWU initiatives such as the Community Partnerships Center, the Latino Policy Institute and more. Mr. Wilbur earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and completed a master’s of public administration degree at Roger Williams. He is a member of the American Society for Public Administration and serves as the vice chair of the Exeter, R.I., Fire District while he’s not at the University.

Jorge Armesto, Ph.D.

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.

Andrew Bramson

Andrew Bramson is the Deputy Director of The Providence Plan – one of several leadership positions he has held with the nonprofit since 2001. Andrew is an accomplished grant writer who has secured more than $65 million in grants for education, workforce training and youth development programs in Rhode Island. Andrew is knowledgeable about the state’s changing demographics and the challenges Rhode Island faces. Andrew has spent the past few years becoming proficient in Spanish and strengthening his knowledge about the issues facing the state’s Latino community. Before moving to Rhode Island, Andrew spent four years living in Duluth, Minnesota, where he worked on community development issues along Lake Superior. A Massachusetts native, he also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Hungary in the 1990s – working to teach environmental education to middle and high school students. Andrew is married to Kate Bramson, a reporter for The Providence Journal. They have two children who attend public schools in Providence.

Adriana I. Dawson

Adriana I. Dawson is the State Director for the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at Johnson & Wales University. Ms. Dawson is responsible for the oversight and execution of a statewide multifaceted program which provides high quality management counseling and educational training programs to small businesses in Rhode Island through a statewide network of service centers, business experts, JWU faculty and student talent. Prior to joining the RISBDC, she served as Deputy Director of the Affirmative Market Program for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a program designed to increase the utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses on statewide contracts. 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

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, Ph.D.

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.

Veronica Paricio

Veronica Paricio is Assistant Dean of Career Development at Roger Williams University School of Law. Prior to RWU Law, Ms. Paricio worked in the Career Development Office at the University of Colorado Law School, where she held several positions including Career Counselor, Director, and Assistant Dean. She previously worked at two large law firms in New York City, recruiting law students and lawyers. Ms. Paricio is the Law School Professional Chair of the National Advisory Committee for Equal Justice Works as well as the NALP Liaison to Equal Justice Works. She is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association and Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Paricio is also a member of the Board for the Feinstein Institute for Legal Services. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Dartmouth College.

Katiuska Perez

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. 

Paola Prado, Ph.D.

Paola Prado is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Digital Media in the Communication Department at Roger Williams University, where she specializes in digital inclusion, digital journalism, and multimedia production. Her research focuses on the adoption of information and communication technologies for development and social change in Latin America. Dr. Prado is co-creator of the Community Communicators journalism and multimedia workshop program, which trains community reporters in under-resourced rural areas in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. She is the author of journal articles and book chapters on topics related to digital inclusion, media diversity, and the impact of the Internet on gender roles in Latin America. A pioneer in online media, Dr. Prado directed content for the Latin American and U.S. Latino arm of RealNetworks and led U.S. operations for the Latino community portal El Sitio. She began her professional career at the Reuters television news agency, where she produced and licensed world news coverage for television broadcast. She went on to head affiliate relations for the pan regional cable news network CBS TeleNoticias and later, for the Weather Channel Latin America. Dr. Prado holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Miami, an M.A .in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Cinema from Denison University. She is fluent in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Rick Quiles, M.D.

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. 

Manuela Raposo

Manuela Raposo is the President of the RI Welcome Back Center in Providence, RI. Having graduated from Universidad Iberoamericana in the Dominican Republic with a degree in Medicine and living and working in the Dominican Republic for ten years, she has always been passionate about public health, in particular community based initiatives. As President of the RIWBC, she is highly engaged in identifying ways to provide the necessary resources that will help internationally educated professionals enter the workforce in a capacity that is worthy of their education and training. Manuela is a tireless advocate for professionals educated in other countries, creating strategies to help them address barriers and policy issues that prevent them from full participation in the workforce and in our communities. Manuela currently works for the RI Department of Health and has worked in research, advocacy and direct services in a range of areas including leadership and civic engagement, mentorship, community development and asset building. Among her many community involvements, she serves on the RI Kids Count Board, Latino Policy Institute Board, The Immigrant Professional Integration (IMPRINT) Steering Committee, The Welcome Back Initiative Board, Providence Minority and Women in Business and Enterprise Board and the RI Professional Latinos Association (RIPLA) Board. Manuela has two children and lives in Providence, RI. 

Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, Sc.D.

Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon is a clinical assistant professor at Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a research associate at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center, Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon is committed to reducing health disparities that plague underrepresented minority groups. Her research interests include understanding families' perspective of the illness experience and the factors within their daily context that impact illness management and health maintenance. Her research explores preconception care and the risk factors associated with poor birth outcomes among African American women. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoo's research team is developing a web-based health education system that assesses the health risks of young African American women, and then delivers tailored, evidence based, health interventions aimed at minimizing the prevalence of preterm births, low birth weight, and infant mortality among African American women. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon was raised in Providence, RI, where she attended Classical High School. She then went on to earn Bachelor, Master's, and Doctorate of Science degrees from Boston University.

Jeshua Zapata

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.