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Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Emilio Buitrago is an Engineer and PMP® certified Project Manager with over 20 years of experience in the Telecommunications, Project Management and Renewable Energy fields. He is the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Democratic Latino Caucus. He is also a Latino Affairs Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Governor. Born in La Guaira, Venezuela, Emilio has been in the U.S. for over 25 years. He is a dynamic leader with uncompromising integrity and exemplary work ethics. Emilio holds an advanced Master Certificate in Applied Project Management from Villanova University, and a certified credential on Scrum Project Management. He is a founder and former president of Casa de Venezuela Philadelphia, where he still sits as part of the Advisory Board.

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Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Dr. Ana Julia Jatar is the Chief Editor of El Tiempo Latino in Washington, D.C. and El Planeta Media in  Boston, Massachusetts. She is the President and founder of Venezuelan Women in Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending women rights in Venezuela, and the President of the Venezuelan American Association of the United States (VAAUS).  She is a Former Fellow at the Center for International Development at Harvard Kennedy School and a Former Fellow and Communication Director at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. She is the author of the book “Apartheid in the XXI Century: Information Technology at the Service of Political Discrimination in Venezuela" (2006). She received her MBA from York University in Toronto, Canada and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Warwick, U.K. 

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Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Council-Member Nancy Navarro is a Venezuelan American legislator, the first Latina to serve on the Montgomery County, Maryland Council. Prior to her service on the County Council, she served on the Montgomery County Board of Education for five years. Before entering public office, Nancy co-founded a non-profit, community-based organization to assist with the economic and educational development of Latino and other immigrant communities. Her office has led the groundbreaking Latino Civic Project, an effort to engage underrepresented residents in the civic process. In October 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Nancy as a member of the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she serves on the Early Childhood Education Committee.

Prior to joining the Council, Nancy was a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, where she served two consecutive terms as the Board’s President. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Fernando J. Torres is a Venezuelan-American activist and advocate. He works as a VP of Operations at Greene, Tweed & Co., a global manufacturer of high-performance products, and integrated material solutions for the Aerospace, Semiconductor and Energy generation industries. Fernando is a member of the Board of Directors of Congreso de Latinos Unidos whose mission is to enable individuals and families in predominantly Latino neighborhoods to achieve economic self-sufficiency and wellbeing. He is also a Board Member at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) where he drives support for manufacturers across the US inspiring the next generation of manufacturing talent.  Recently completed his term as the President of Casa de Venezuela Greater Philadelphia. Former Trustee at the American Helicopter Museum and Educational Center. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University as well as a Master in Business Administration from The Pennsylvania State University.

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Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Carla Bustillos is an American Venezuelan community advocate and political activist, with a degree in Latin American Studies from American University School of International Service.  She is a Founding Director of Visión Democrática (Democratic Vision), a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating the participation of the Venezuelan diaspora in the economic and social development of Venezuela through advocacy in Washington, DC and through partnerships with field operators and stakeholders in Venezuela. She is the current Political Action Director for the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia (Caucus). She served as Regional Co-Chair from Northern Virginia of DLOV in 2018 and 2020. Post her years as a student leader at American University, she held professional positions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Government of the District of Columbia, and supported the U.S. Federal Government in consulting roles for the NAVY, and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

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Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Alfonso Lopez is a lifelong activist with nearly 30 years of federal and Virginia legislative experience on issues critical to the people of Arlington and Fairfax counties. He has served as an Obama Administration political appointee, Kaine Administration cabinet-level appointee, and a five-term member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the people of the 49th District. Alfonso also serves as the Majority Whip of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. Before that, Alfonso served as Governor Kaine’s Director of the Virginia Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. where he directed and supervised all Congressional and Federal Relations for the Commonwealth. As the son of a formerly undocumented father from Venezuela, Alfonso has been a leader in advocating for the rights of the immigrant and New American communities in Virginia. Alfonso graduated from Vassar College and received his law degree from Tulane University Law School. He was chosen as a 2003 Fellow of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. 



Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Diego Scharifker is a Venezuelan pro-democracy activist and a former leader of the country’s student movement. He co-founded the National Federation of High School Students and is the former President of the Federación de Centros Universitarios at Universidad Central de Venezuela, the most prominent student government with important influence in the Venezuelan political arena. In January 2009, He was the target of verbal attacks on a state-run national TV channel where he was singled out for his activism in the student movement and for his Jewish heritage. Since then, Diego has continued to advocate and protest for human rights and democratic principles in Venezuela. Today, Diego is a published author and an outspoken rights activist for the Venezuelan cause. He holds a J.D. from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the George Washington University in Washington D.C, USA.

Samuel Vilchez


Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Samuel Vilchez Santiago is a Venezuelan-American civil and equal rights advocate focusing on immigration reform, voting rights, and equal access to education. His recent work experience includes being the Equal Rights Manager at ActBlue, a non-profit digital platform that helps candidates and organisations raise funds through small-dollar donations, as well as the Florida Campaign Manager at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella coalition of national civil rights organisations. He also recently served as an Orange County Charter Review Commissioner in Florida, being the youngest person to be nominated and serve in a local government commission. Samuel is a graduate of Princeton University, where he majored in Politics with concentrations in Latin American Studies, American Studies and Spanish. He is currently seeking a Master of Public Policy at Oxford University's Blavatnik School of Government. He is a recipient of President Obama's Volunteer Service Award, the US Congressional Youth Award, and an Eisenhower Fellowship Global Scholar. 

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