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Power moves: So much Latinx leadership buzz!

October 14, 2021 Category: ColumnFeaturedLongPeople

1. Joanna Otero-Cruz named president and executive director of Women Against Abuse.

Women Against Abuse today announced that Joanna Otero-Cruz will take  the helm as the organization’s executive director and president, effective November 8.

Otero-Cruz has been the deputy managing director of community services for the City of Philadelphia for nearly six years.

Before being appointed to her City post, she served as the executive director of Concilio for six years, and as director of the behavioral and family health services at Congreso de Latinos Unidos for 10 years before that.

“Not only does Joanna bring a strong network of partners and the know-how to get things done as a nonprofit executive in Philadelphia; she is also passionately committed to Women Against Abuse’s mission and an inspiring leader,” Leslie Miller Greenspan, board chair of Women Against Abuse, said in announcing the appointment.

Otero-Cruz is an alum of Peirce College, where she studied business administration, management and operations.

2. Nasheli Ortiz González named executive director at Taller Puertorriqueño.

L to r: Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel and Nasheli Ortiz González. (Courtesy photo)

Yesterday,  Taller Puertorriqueño announced that Nasheli Ortiz González has been appointed the organization’s next executive director, effective December 27. She will succeed Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel, who announced in March she would be retiring this year, after 22 years at the helm of the Latinx cultural organization.

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Ortiz González will join Taller from Moore College of Art & Design where she serves as an associate professor and former chair of the fashion design department.

In addition to her position at Moore, Ortiz González is the head designer at Nasheli Juliana, an apparel company focused on social justice, and the cofounder and principal of 22 studio, a women-led transdisciplinary design practice operating in Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S.

Her fashion designs have been shown at Paris, London, New York, and Miami Fashion Weeks, and featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, and Forbes, among other publications.

Prior to joining Moore, Ortiz González worked as a freelance technical designer for eight years in Missouri. Also in Missouri, she served as assistant fashion design professor at Lindenwood University for four years; restoration assistant for Project + Gallery; creative director of Missouri Style Week; and was the owner/technical designer of Minted Design Studio.

Earlier in her career she served as fashion design professor at la Escuela Internacional de Diseño y Arquitectura in her native Puerto Rico; as a senior designer at Gruppo Eppoca in the Dominican Republic; and as a fashion illustrator instructor at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, among other posts.

She is a founding board member of the Philadelphia Fashion Garment and Industry Task Force, and in 2020, she was featured in the Netflix series “Next in Fashion.”

“[Ortiz González’s] academic and real-world experience in fashion and the fiber arts, coupled with her incredible passion for diversity, equity and inclusion, gave both the search committee — and ultimately, the board — great confidence in her ability to lead Taller,” Ellie DiLapi, chair of Taller’s board said in the announcement of the appointment. “More, her deep awareness of the historical and complex relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico is undeniable. Nasheli is the perfect candidate to assume this role and a worthy successor to our long-time and much beloved executive director, Carmen.”

Ortiz González holds an associate’s degree from Altos de Chavon Design School, a bachelor’s degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico, and a master’s degree from Savannah College of Arts and Design.

3. Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates names Signe Espinoza as permanent executive director.

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates recently named Signe Espinoza as its permanent executive director. Espinoza had been serving as the organization’s interim executive director since May 2021.

“I am proud and humbled for the opportunity,” Espinoza said in the emailed announcement. “Like many Pennsylvanians, this fight is personal to me, and I am beyond honored and grateful for the opportunity to lead in this movement at such a critical moment in our state’s politics and alongside movement leaders. Puerto Rico y Nicaragua, presente y pa’lante!”

Prior to becoming the interim ED, Espinoza had served for a year as PPPA’s  director of policy.

Before joining PPPA, Espinoza served as program manager at Susan B. Komen Philadelphia, and as a legislative assistant at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Espinoza serves on the board of the Women’s Medical Fund, and as the chapter advisor of Gamma Phi Beta International Sorority. She previously served on the Leadership Action Council of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Oregon, and a master’s degree from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.

4. Maria Grasso named senior VP of the convention division at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau recently announced that Maria Grasso has been appointed senior vice president of its convention division.

Grasso joined PHLCVB in 1999 as senior director of national accounts and most recently served as vice president of sales and convention services.

Prior to joining PHLCVB, she served as regional director of sales for Vista Host Hotel Management.

According to the announcement of her appointment, “Grasso is actively involved in Philadelphia’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2026™ and serves as the hotel accommodations expert representing the PHLCVB in direct contact with FIFA and U.S. Soccer.” She served in a similar capacity for other significant events including the 2015 World Meeting of Families, 2016 Democratic National Convention and the 2017 NFL Draft, the announcement added.

She is a member of the board of the Corporate Event Marketing Association and the Independence Visitor Center Corporation in Philadelphia, and for 13 years served as the volunteer executive director of the Get Your Rear in Gear colon cancer awareness event.

Grasso is an alum of Rowan University, where she studied hospitality administration and management.

5. Sarah McKinstry-Wu joins Bread & Roses Community Fund as director of grantmaking.

Bread & Roses Community Fund recently announced that Sarah McKinstry-Wu has joined the organization as director of grantmaking.

McKinstry-Wu most recently served as programs director of equity and climate planning at Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

Before that McKinstry-Wu served at the City of Philadelphia for more than eight years — five years as policy and outreach manager of the Office of Sustainability, and more than three years after that as the deputy director of that office.

Earlier in her career, she served as program associate at Seedco; research assistant at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service; policy intern for the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development; and director of seminars and research association at the Environmental Law Institute.

According to the announcement of the appointment, her “organizing experience in Philadelphia includes supporting the Working Family Party’s efforts to win city council seats in the November 2019 elections [and serving] for many years on the leadership team of the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council.”

McKinstry-Wu holds a master’s degree from New York University.

6. Celeste Chatman named VP of diversity, equity, inclusion and talent management at FullBloom.

FullBloom — a provider of special education, instructional intervention, behavioral health, and professional development solutions — recently named Celeste Chatman its vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion & talent management.

Prior to joining FullBloom, Chatman served as director of diversity, equity & inclusion at Stride@K12. Earlier in her career, she held talent-acquisition and diversity roles for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including Tyco, Allergan, Covance, Prudential and the Urban Institute.

Chatman has served as an executive committee member of the National Council of Negro Women — Northern Virginia Section for nearly five years. She serves as a mentor/volunteer at a number of organizations, including: Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Dress for Success Worldwide and Junior Achievement USA.

Chatman holds a bachelor’s degree from Upsala College and a master’s degree from Kean University.

7. Community Legal Services names three new attorneys to its Housing Unit, appoints two new attorneys to board of directors.

Community Legal Services recently welcomed three new attorneys to its Housing Unit: Dominique Wiggins, Sarah Kim Eisenhard, and Lauren Davis.

L to r: Dominique Wiggins, Sarah Kim Eisenhard, and Lauren Davis. (Courtesy photos)

  • Wiggins joins CLS with a  Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc MLK Fellowship after graduating from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. Wiggins was the president of BLSA, interned for the Allegheny Public Defender’s Office, the OGC Department of Environmental Protections, and the Civil Rights Clinic.
  • Eisenhard joins CLS as a recent graduate from Temple Law School. During law school she worked on a research project on default judgments in eviction cases and interned in the SSI Unit at CLS last summer and fall.
  • Davis is a University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School graduate, returning to CLS as an Independence Foundation Fellow. Davis started at CLS as an executive assistant and HR coordinator, before becoming a paralegal in the Public Benefits unit.

In addition, CLS appointed two new attorneys to serve on the board of directors of Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance:

L to r: J.P. Faunes and Keir Bradford-Grey. (Courtesy photos)

  • Keir Bradford-Grey is a partner in Montgomery McCracken’s Litigation Department. Prior to joining Montgomery McCracken, Bradford-Grey was the chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
  • J.P. Faunes is a trial attorney at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP. Prior to joining Feldman Shepherd in 2016, he represented the City of Philadelphia and its agencies as a deputy city solicitor. Faunes is the president of the board of directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania, and sits on the boards of the Homeless Advocacy Project of Philadelphia and Chester Upland Youth Soccer of Delaware County. Additionally, he volunteers with Philadelphia VIP, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and the Supervision to Aid Reentry Program of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

8. ACLAMO names Gloria Lopez-Pesini as board president, and appoints four new board members.

ACLAMO recently announced that Gloria Lopez-Pesini will succeed Dr. Houghton Kane as president of the Montgomery-county nonprofit community service organization’s board of directors.

Lopez-Pesini has served as a private Spanish tutor for the past three years, after having served as a world language teacher at the Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square for nearly eight years.

During her career she’s also served as a long-term substitute teacher at the Agnes Irwin School; foreign language elementary school teacher at the Tredyffin/Eastown School District; project manager at Interlingua Translation Agency; account manager at Interpro Translation Solutions, Inc.; and Spanish translator and caption editor for the National Captioning Institute.

She holds two bachelor’s degrees — one from the Universidad de Salamanca and the other from Marymount University — and a master’s degree from West Chester University.

ACLAMO also announced the addition of four new members to its board:

  • Dr. Sadia Benzaquen, chair of pulmonary, critical care, sleep and allergy for Einstein Medical Center
  • Margarita Villa, mechanical design engineer for Exelon Nuclear
  • Dra. Christine Hagedorn, assistant professor at Rosemont College
  • Dra. Michelle Brown, executive director of enrollment management at Montgomery County Community College.


Power Moves

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