The board of directors is an executive committee with expertise in the community and supervises the activities of Latina Rise. The Board works on committees and work 100% as volunteers.

Board Members

President & Founder
Lisa Guadalupe Clarke
Vice President
Gabriel Vaca
Karen Quintanilla
Kim Knight
Director of Marketing
Esteban Galarza
Director of Community
Shantell Wilson
Director of Educational Programming
Albert Assad
Director of Corporate Relations
Gulliana Goehring
Director of Health and Wellness
Dr. Josephine Almanzar
Director of Public Relations
David J Gacsko
Board Member
Rosa Marroquin
Board Member
Stephen Hewitt
Board Member
Marietta D Murton


Sophia Shoate
Maggie Mers
Maria Peck
Grace Fricks
Tonya Hicks
Pierluigi Mancini
Rudy M Beserra
Do Good Deeds

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Lisa Guadalupe Clarke is the Founder and CEO of ATL Search Group, a Women, DBE, and Minority certified staffing company focused on Bilingual Talent, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She was born in Long Island, New York and raised in Jucuapa, El Salvador during the Civil War. Coming from a Single-family home, her mom immigrated from El Salvador to provide Lisa with more opportunities and a better future.
Lisa has over 28 years of experience in Staffing and Human Resources. She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta Class of 2022 & Leadership Georgia Class of 2019. She currently sits on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board, and was named as one of 75 Latinas to watch in the US by ALPFA National & One of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia. Her company, ATL Search Group, received a State Resolution by the Representative of District 9 Georgia House of Representatives for the service she provides to the community.
Lisa’s leadership is recognized throughout the entire Southeast Region of the US. She served as President of ALPFA, the largest Association for Latinos Professionals in America for the Atlanta Chapter. Her passion is to help the underserved communities, and women entrepreneurs by providing better jobs opportunities through her company.
Community Volunteer Experience:
  • President and Founder of Latinas Rise
  • Graduate of Leadership Atlanta, 2022 and Leadership GA, Class of 2019
  • Board Member for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce
  • Advisor Board member of Hispanic Scholarship Fund Atlanta Chapter
  • Chair for Staffing group for the MBEIC(Minority Business Entreprise Imput Committee)
  • Served as President for ALPFA Atlanta Chapter (Association of Latinos Professionals for America)
  • Served as the Co-Founder & President for the Women Breakfast Series in English and Spanish EME for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as a Board Member
  • Leader in the Hispanic community for the U.S. Southeast region
  • Advisory Board Member for the Goizueta Foundation, Inc. & the Gwinnett County Public Schools Advisory Board Member for the Hispanic Mentoring Program
  • Television, Radio and Media panel discussions in English and Spanish
  • Educates small business through community based events under Work Together ATL
  • Active member of the Salvadorian community in Georgia

Awards Recognition Received:

  • 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • One of 50 & 75 Latinas to Watch in The US by ALPFA National
  • Latina Business Women of the Year by the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association
  • Latinas Business Women of the year & Small Business of the year by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of commerce
  • Servant Leadership award from ALPFA National at their National Convention in Vegas
  • Best Employment Agency in Gwinnett County by Gwinnett Magazine
  • Mentioned Honoree for the Latina Style Magazine Top 50 Award Ceremony & Diversity Leaders Conference
  • Business Women of the Year By the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Small Hispanic Business of the Year by Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Diversity Award from Women of Golf Mean Business
  • Distinguished Service Award from the National Minority Trucking Association
  • Recognized as an active member of the Salvadorian community in Georgia for her passion to give back to the community
  • Co Author for the Hipanic Starts Rising Volume III
Gabriel Vaca is the Founder and President of Vaca International, LLC. The firm provides international and domestic strategies for growth as well as business structure, business plans, business advisory and mentoring for those businesses wanting to grow and expand internationally and into the Hispanic market. He is currently a Vice President of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Vice President of Latinas Rise an organization that provides support to Latina established businesses. He is also Executive Vice President for Corporate Development and Student Affairs of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) Atlanta Chapter and Board Director of DEI for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Certified Business Mentor for Prospera specializing in Latino small businesses in the areas of startups, sales, marketing, business structure and international expansion.
Mr. Vaca has experience in strategies for international and domestic expansion, community engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as small business mentoring and coaching. He is an expert in Corporate Employee Resource Groups advising corporations in their formation and growth. In addition, he has expertise of supporting the growth and international expansion of companies whether they are exporting or importing.
Gabriel Vaca most recently was the Interim President and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC). Prior to that role he was the Executive Vice President and the COO for the GHCC as well as Chairman of the Board and other positions supporting the growth for over 17 years. He was a founding member of the GHCC Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Institute partnering with the University of Georgia and the founder of the GHCC Hispanic Business Accelerator program.
Mr. Vaca retired in 2018 from UPS International after 24 years and was responsible for consulting and supporting UPS’ largest enterprise customers in their global supply chain.
During his UPS tenure he was a founding member of Crecer, the UPS Latino Business Resource Group, which he helped lead in 2017 to win first place at the US Hispanic Chamber Corporate Challenge. He currently is an advisor of small Hispanic businesses, a international speaker in the areas of expanding into international and Hispanic markets.
He has been honored by the Georgia Secretary of State as an “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” and in 2019 he was inducted into the GHCC Hall of Fame Inaugural class which recognizes the most influential Latinos in Georgia as well as in 2019 recognized by the US House of Representatives as a community leader in Georgia. He is also the only Chairman Emeritus of the GHCC awarded in 2016. Mr. Vaca was an entrepreneur and business owner for 15 years in the areas of international importing, exporting and manufacturing before entering corporate America. He is bilingual, born in Mexico City, raised in Washington, D.C.
While pursuing my degree, I began my entrepreneurial journey by starting coaching and consulting individuals in branding and sales. By day, I was working as a Senior Paralegal, creating organization structure, drafting, and researching legal documents for diverse type of cases. I was asked to take the current firm from $22,000 to 2,000,000 a month in sales. I experienced many challenges but focus on design and strategy plan to accomplished said objective. But my vision did not stop there. I continue improving systems, optimalization, scalability, and increased profitability to $22,000,000 per quarter.
The was the shift into being the powerful serial entrepreneur that I am today with more than 16 years of experience.
By working in diverse law firms early in my career. I was able to develop the skills of legal research, applying, and understanding the law. With first-hand experience in how businesses were using the law to legally reduce their tax liabilities. Today, I co-own my tax and accounting firm business that we worked from the ground-up, and with more than thirteen years in business. We have clients from all 50 states and our focuses on helping our clients to build generational wealth by saving in taxes legally and ethically. Through tax strategies, our company has been able to save thousands of dollars.
Kim is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in talent development, risk management, quality assurance, compliance, and sales. Currently serving as a Senior Manager WW Talent Development, Product Assurance & Risk at Amazon, Kim joined the company in November 2021. Prior to her role at Amazon, she held the position of Senior Risk Manager at Amazon’s Transportation Risk & Compliance team in Powder Springs, Georgia from July 2020 to November 2021.
Before her tenure at Amazon, Jane dedicated 17 years and 2 months to Altria, a leading consumer goods company. She started her career there as a Territory Sales Manager in Pensacola, Florida, in June 2003. Over the years, Kim held various positions at Altria, including Unit Manager, Sales Development Associate, Senior Specialist Talent Acquisition, Broker Account Manager, and Manager of Diversity Recruiting.
Throughout her time at Altria, Kim achieved notable accomplishments, including receiving the prestigious 2017 Chairman’s Award for her exceptional leadership in diversity recruiting. She was instrumental in driving initiatives to attract diverse and talented leaders to Altria through partnerships with esteemed organizations such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Association of Latino Professionals for America, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the National Urban League.
With a strong focus on team management and development, Kim successfully led and mentored numerous professionals throughout her career. She demonstrated her expertise in developing comprehensive business and organizational plans, executing effective merchandising and promotion strategies, and collaborating closely with sales management to drive recruitment and hiring strategies.
Beyond her professional endeavors, Kim actively supported campus recruiting efforts at various universities, contributing to the development of future talent in the industry. With a proven track record of success in both the transportation and consumer goods sectors, she brings valuable insights and leadership to her role, making a significant impact on talent development, risk management, and quality assurance initiatives at Amazon.
Esteban Galarza is a highly skilled and experienced industrial designer, web developer, and marketing strategist with more than 10 years of entrepreneurship and brand strategy expertise. He has an outstanding track record of successfully helping more than 65 projects, demonstrating his knowledge of marketing strategy.
As the founder of Trebol Media Group, a marketing consulting agency focused on Latino entrepreneurs, Esteban has had a significant impact on the business world. He has developed many mentoring projects with different local chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations, offering his expertise and guidance to aspiring business owners.
Esteban is passionate about his work and uses his skills to create innovative and effective marketing campaigns that help businesses grow and thrive. He is also known for his ability to develop successful brand strategies that set businesses apart from their competition.
Being an Ecuadorian himself, Esteban understands the challenges that Latino entrepreneurs face and is committed to supporting them in their journey to success. He has made it his mission to help underrepresented communities and empower them to reach their full potential.
Apart from his work at Trebol Media Group, Esteban is an active member of his local community and frequently volunteers his time to support local entrepreneurship initiatives.
His passion for empowering Latino entrepreneurs, make him a valuable asset to any business looking to grow and succeed.
Shantell R. Wilson is the Economic Development Manager of Business Outreach for Gwinnett County Government Office of Economic Development. She is responsible for business outreach, retention, and expansion.
Shantell began her economic development career with the Georgia Department of Economic Development in 2004. During her tenure with the Department, she held positions as Research and Existing Industry Specialist and Operations Manager of the Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program (GMPP). After assisting the Global Commerce Division with major projects such as the Kia Motors Manufacturing facility, Shantell was later promoted to work with GMPP.
In October of 2006 Shantell transitioned from statewide to local economic development as Project Manager for the Savannah Economic Development Authority, where she worked with the Sales & Marketing team to create over 1,600 jobs and approximately $739,000,000 in investment. She was then promoted to the role of Assistant Director of Established Business and Manager of Minority Recruitment. In this role, Shantell was responsible for assisting established manufacturing and warehousing/ distribution companies within Chatham County/ Savannah, providing guidance through the incentives process and access to resources.
In February of 2015, Shantell left Coastal Georgia and joined Partnership Gwinnett, Gwinnett’s premiere Sales and Marketing initiative, as Sr. Project Manager of Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain. During her short tenure with Partnership Gwinnett, Shantell assisted with the location of 4,000 jobs and capital investment north of $250 million.
As Economic Development Manager of Business Outreach, Shantell works alongside business and industry to ensure their success in the Gwinnett community through eliminating barriers, providing access to tools and resources and stronger relationships with County officials. Shantell hosts Coffee and Conversation, a premier networking event for business owners and leaders to get face time and establish relationships with County officials and key partners and allies.
Shantell graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economic Development and holds a Master of Business Administration from Walden University. She is a member of the Development Authority of Gwinnett County, Georgia Economic Developers Association, International Economic Development Council, Gwinnett Young Professionals (Emeritus Board), International Council for Shopping Centers, and sits on the board of directors for the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County (Treasurer) and Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful.
Shantell is a proud resident of Duluth where she resides with her daughter Abeigh Elle.
Albert Assad has 15+ years of experience as a bilingual business consultant for privately held companies in strategy, management and finance. He is the founder of Atlantic Consulting Solutions, a management consulting firm specialized in scaling small and medium size businesses. He has worked with over 220 business owners in the past 7 years in 32 different industries.
He brings extensive skills to clients becoming a trusted advisor for such priorities as corporate visioning, team performance optimization, organizational and financial restructuring, M&A transactions, fractional CFO and COO services focused on accelerated growth which has aided numerous clients to be listed on the Inc. 5000.
He also has international experience in different management and executive roles from non-profits to FinTech.
Albert is a second generation Mexican-American that has lived in 6 countries, speaks 4 languages giving him a multicultural perspective on business, and holds 3 masters’ degrees from universities in Europe and Latin America as well as courses in negotiation at Harvard University and certifications in strategy and finance at The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania).
He is currently a partner in several other ventures involved in a national building company and a real estate fund. He believes in giving back to the community and is an active volunteer serving on several non-profit boards (19% of his time has been pro-bono work). He plays ice-hockey in the AAHL, used to do extreme sports, loves to travel and spend time with his loving family.
Gulliana Goehring is a Managing Partner at Fry | Goehring. She has over 21 years of experience in the legal field as a Paralegal and since 2021 as an Attorney. She enjoys using her knowledge and passion to help the firm’s injured clients.
Gulliana was born in Peru, where she attended Law School before relocating to Atlanta, Georgia in 2002. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in International Economics at Georgia State University, where she graduated Cum Laude. She obtained her law degree at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS), where she served as an elected SBA representative in 2020 and 2021. She was also a Co-Director of the Peer Mentoring Program. Some of the awards she received while attending AJMLS were: the 2020 and 2021 Peer Mentor of the Year Award, the 2021 Outstanding Student of the Quarter Award, and the Business Organizations Cali Award. She ranked 4th in her class and graduated Cum Laude.
Gulliana is an active volunteer with several non-profit organizations in Georgia, as well as a foster mom for the animal welfare group: Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in which she sits on the advisory board. She does Pro Bono work at AJMLS’s Legal Clinic for Veterans. In addition, she is serving as the President of the Peruvian American Business Chambers. She is a member of several professional and legal organizations such as the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, Georgia Bar Association, Atlanta Bar Association, Georgia Hispanic Bar Association, Latin American Chambers of Commerce, and Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to mention some.
In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, traveling internationally, and spending time with her family and friends.
Latest Awards:
  • Top 10, Best Self Magazine, Over 40 and Fabulous, 2022,
  • Latin American Chambers of Commerce’s Community Champion Award, 2022
  • Senator Sonya Halpern’s Salute to Sisterhood Award, 2023.
  • Telemundo’s Mujeres Imparables recognition, 2023.
  • Zona VIP Magazine, Latinas Influyentes en Georgia Award, 2023
Dr. Josephine is a Dominican-American Licensed Clinical Psychologist and owns Oasis Psychological Services, LLC, a private psychology practice in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Almanzar earned a B.A. in Sociology, a B.S. in Psychology, and a minor in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences from the University of Florida and was inducted into the Hispanic-Latino Hall of Fame. Dr. Almanzar then completed her M.A. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Florida School of Professional Psychology. During graduate school, she was awarded the Diversity Scholarship Award from Argosy University and the Olga M. Serraty Memorial Scholarship.
Dr. Almanzar takes a strengths-based approach to psychotherapy and assessment in her practice. In psychotherapy, she has experience treating depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, self-esteem, adjustment issues, suicidal ideation, and self-harm in adolescents and adults. In assessment, Dr. Almanzar comprehensively evaluates individuals for mood disorders, learning differences, and ADHD.
Passionate about mentorship and teaching emerging clinicians in psychology, Dr. Almanzar is a Clinical Supervisor for the Internship Training Program at the Georgia State University Counseling and Testing Center. Dr. Almanzar also has a clinical and research interest in racial and ethnic identity development among Latinxs. She is a published chapter co-author exploring colorism among Black, Black Latinx and Indigenous Latinx adolescents in the book Colorism: Investigating a Global Phenomenon.
Dr. Almanzar is active in her professional community. She is a Georgia Psychological Association board member and represented the state association as the 2023 Early Career Psychologist delegate at the American Psychological Association Practice Leadership Conference. Dr. Almanzar is also a part of the 2024 Class of LEAD Atlanta.
David Gacsko is an accomplished creative leader whose contributions to the advertising and marketing industry have been recognized through numerous awards and accolades. With a career spanning several decades, Gacsko has worked in various industries, including film, television, CPG, retail, technology, banking, design, fashion, and beauty.
As the Founder and Executive Creative Director of Hierarchy Inc, David has established an independent creative agency renowned for its innovative and inclusive approach to advertising. In addition to leading his team at Hierarchy, Gacsko is also an avid mentor committed to fostering the growth and development of emerging creatives.
Beyond his professional accomplishments, David is known for his dedication to civic leadership and his unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is an active member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and has served as President of the Out Georgia Business Alliance. In recognition of his contributions to the community, he was recently named a Civic Diversity Champion by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and appointed as Ambassador for Goodwill of North Georgia.
Gacsko’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and ethical workplace is reflected in his professional credentials. He holds Inclusive and Ethical Leadership certifications from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Cohort (10KSB). He is a graduate of the Art Institutes and the American Academy of Art.
Through his work, mentorship, and community engagement, David Gacsko has established himself as a visionary leader dedicated to driving innovation and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the advertising and marketing industry. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA, where he continues to inspire and empower those around him.
In his limited free time, he enjoys taking in the beauty of global architecture as he conquers one continent at a time.
Rosa Marroquin is Georgia Power’s Community Relations representative with over 20 years’ experience in the energy industry. In her current role, Rosa works with businesses and community leaders to enrich and empower diverse communities across Georgia through education, advocacy, leadership development, and meaningful connections; and actively participates in multiple external organizations.
Rosa serves on the Atlanta Regional Commissions’ Advisory Council on Aging, and Ser Familia’s board of directors. Previously, Rosa has served on multiple Chambers of Commerce such as Paulding County, Henry County, and South Fulton. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Mercer University and two master’s degrees in business administration and human resource management with honors from DeVry University. In addition, she is a graduate of the United Way’s VIP Program, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Leadership (CHLI), and Georgia Association Latino Elected Officials’ Leadership program (GIL). Currently she is a participant of Douglas County’s Leadership program.
Stephen Hewitt is the Marketing Director for the Diverse Customer Segment at UPS. His team works to empower women-owned and/or minority-owned businesses with access to capital, coaching, educational content, and other resources to help them scale.
Stephen graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication.
He began his career as a coordinator at the East River Development Alliance (since renamed Urban Upbound). In this role he worked to build programs to support citizens in the community. These programs included food pantry programs, youth sports, planning for a local library, GED training, and CDL license certification programs, among other programs.
Stephen eventually transitioned to Bank of America, where he became one of the top performing Business Specialists nationwide. In the role he worked to serve small business owners in downtown Manhattan.
This role affirmed his passion for entrepreneurship and ultimately led him to pursue a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Upon graduation Stephen started his career at UPS in 2014 as a Senior Analyst in Segment Marketing for the Retail Segment, working on demand generation programs and strategies to help small business scale through e-Commerce. He transitioned to a similar role in the Automotive segment, focusing on growth strategies for dealerships and the automotive aftermarket. In 2016, Stephen accepted a role in Product Marketing, working on reporting and analysis for UPS’ domestic air network. In 2019 Stephen joined the Corporate Strategy team, where he worked to assess growth opportunities and emerging threats for the organization. In 2021, Stephen joined the Diverse Customer Segment team, where he supported the organizational strategy to drive engagement with diverse business communities through strategic partnerships (National Urban League, National Association of Women Business Owners, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), dedicated programs (UPS Ignite), and other activities.
Outside of work, Stephen is an avid chess player. He has also released the first of a series of picture books to promote financial literacy among children.
  • Partnering with internal stakeholders to secure a dedicated sales resource to capitalize on small package opportunities aligned to DCS engagements
  • Held introductory call with Rolling Out, a media platform focused on urban culture, to discuss potential partnership opportunities in 2024
  • Met with W2G to discuss status of potential partnership with Saltbox, a Black-owned 3PL
  • Conducted final preparations for DCS to support UPS efforts to recruit diverse MBA talent for 2024 internship opportunities
  • Agreed to partnership with Black in Ecom, an organization dedicated to supporting Black etailers. UPS will have a speaking opportunity, booth setup, and serve as judge for pitch competition at conference in Atlanta in August.
Marietta D. Murton is the Small Business Loan Officer for Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs.
She helps Latino entrepreneurs reach their full potential by providing capital and access to the resources they need to ensure business growth and success.
Marietta is a community leader with almost 20 years of combined experience in the banking industry and the Latino community non-profit organizations. With a background in banking and lending, Marietta has developed a deep understanding of Latino-owned business’s financial, cultural, and socio-economic barriers.
Background and Experience:
Marietta grew up in Peru; she is a proud graduate of Georgia State University and is currently ACE’s Small Business Loan Officer. She began her career with Bank of America in 2004, followed by Regions Bank, where she became a Branch Team Leader.
Before 2022, Marietta worked with the Department of Commerce Census Bureau as part of the strategic team for the Hispanic Initiative as a partnership specialist. Marietta’s commitment to her community has led her to hold leadership positions for Latino non-profit organizations. In 2018, she became the Director of Events for the Association of Latinos Professionals of America (ALPFA). In 2021, she was invited by Gwinnett County Public School System to be part of its Hispanic Mentoring Priority Programs as a board member.
Marietta brings experience navigating and understanding the Latino Community’s social and economic stratification, creating and nurturing relationships with government agencies, diplomat corps, local and state authorities, chamber of commerce, and business and community leaders.
As President of Enterprise Sales, Sophia leads a team focused on providing unique supply chain solutions and logistics for our large global accounts.

Sophia’s 30+ year UPS career includes leading a national sales team, generating more than $20+ billion in revenue, overseeing an international, technology-based business unit as well as various positions in sales leadership, marketing, new product development, sales planning and performance, sales support, and sales training.

As a Cool Girls, Inc. board member, Sophia is passionate about working with community organizations and mentorship. She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta class of 2022 / Leadership America 2012 and previously served as board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters (Dallas, TX).
A native of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Sophia graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in business management and marketing.
Maggie has demonstrated leadership in the AAPI community for the past 30 years. She has supported many Chinese and Asian community organizations for the wellbeing of the community. Maggie is currently serves as Senior Vice-President of National Association of Chinese Americans (NACA). She is an active participant in the Leadership Atlanta 2020-2021 class.
Maggie utilized her leadership skill and leveraged her logistic assets to assist both China and the US with the pandemic. Over 1,000,000 medical mask airlifted to Wuhan, China during the height of the pandemic and also helped released over 1 million masks in JFK was held up by the FDA at JFK airport.  Her leadership paves the way for over 65,000 surgical masks to be donated to the local hospitals, nursing homes, and police stations. On behalf of NACA, she made generous contribution to the GSU students emergency fund and local school kids that in needed help during the pandemic crisis.
Maria “Mayte” Peck was born in New York City, raised in Peru, and returned to the United States to cultivate relationships, educate others about Latino culture, and offer a unique perspective on her roots.
The daughter of a serial entrepreneur, Maria’s first venture honored the Peruvian food of her childhood: Sweet Devil Moon tapas bar. She successfully developed the concept for the restaurant and was personally responsible for coordinating and managing the finances, marketing, and staff for more than six years. During that time, a need for additional funding led her to become a national microlender. She eventually joined Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, a non-profit lender, as a Small Business Loan Officer. During her tenure at ACE, she was the Founding Director for the SBA ACE Women’s Business Center and the Director of Hispanic Strategies and Lending.
Maria has made it her life’s mission to educate and prepare women and minorities for access to capital; she works tirelessly on community outreach initiatives, coaching, financial education programs, one-on-one business consulting, and lending. Woven into her efforts are several vital goals. They include a focus on data collection and analysis to provide identifiable and quantitative results and target areas of improvement. She believes our responsibility is to provide the tools necessary to ensure that Hispanic businesses realize their full economic potential.
As a former chair of the Latino Community Fund of Georgia, she led the organization’s Board of Directors from a startup to a nationally recognized one in 2020 during a time of change, significant impact, and monumental challenges. She was also an advocate and contributor to the first-ever 2018 Georgia Latino Entrepreneurship Study.
She is currently the President of SheLends Consulting. In 2022 she was recognized as one of Georgia Trend’s 500 Most Influential Leaders in Georgia. In 2021 she was recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia, and when she’s not working, she enjoys travel, cooking, meditation, and hiking.
Tonya L. Hicks is the President and CEO of Power Solutions, Inc. and the Managing Principal of Women Do Everything, LLC. Ms. Hicks is a serial entrepreneur and journeyman wireman electrician in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). She became the first woman to become a journeyman wireman in Local 917 of IBEW in her hometown of Meridian, Mississippi and the first African American woman to become an IBEW journeyman electrician in the State of Mississippi.
Ms. Hicks specializes in robotics, building automation, and high voltage equipment installation and repair. In 2000, at the age of 28, Ms. Hicks founded Power Solutions, Inc.; an electrical contracting and facility maintenance company specializing in renewable energy, electrification, and smart city technology implementation. In 2015, Ms. Hicks launched Women Do Everything LLC; training and promoting women in male dominated industries through employment and entrepreneurship. Tonya serves on the boards of C5 Georgia Leadership Foundation, Georgia Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Black Owners of Solar Services (B.O.S.S.), and Board Chair for Partners in Action for Healthy Living (PAHL).
In November 2019, Ms. Hicks was featured in Forbes Japan for expanding her business in Singapore and March 2020 in the New York Times for her progress as a tradeswoman and business owner in the construction industry. Ms. Hicks is a Leadership Atlanta Class of 2022 Alumni and a Sustainability Ambassador for the City of Atlanta. Tonya is a graduate of the inaugural classes of the City of Atlanta Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), Women Export University by UPS, The Bridge Accelerator by Microsoft, and the African Diaspora Network (ABLE) Program.
Ms. Hicks has received several honors and awards. She was honored in 2021 with the Minority Contractor of the Year award by the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC)- Atlanta Chapter. Ms. Hicks is a highly respected Climate Change Expert and was recently featured in Project Drawdown’s Drawdown Neighborhood Series for Atlanta, Ga. Tonya was recently chosen by Leadership Women to participate in the 2023 Class of Leadership America. Ms. Hicks resides in Atlanta, GA with her two sons, Rashadim (29) and Vincent (16). She enjoys golf, cooking, and gardening.
Dr. Pierluigi Mancini is a national and international consultant and speaker about mental health and addiction specializing in cultural and linguistic responsiveness, immigrant behavioral health, social and racial justice, health equity and health disparities. His new book “…And Healthcare for All – How to become a high- performing, equity-centric organization: A Practical Guide for Health Care Leaders’ has just been published and is being heralded as a timely and important book. It is available now in English and soon it will be available in Spanish at
As a national consultant, Dr. Mancini has provided expert content on immigrant behavioral health and cultural and linguistic responsiveness to clients at the local, state and federal level. As an international consultant, he has provided guidance, mentorship and internships to psychology students in Mexico, has consulted in underage drinking prevention programs in Italy and consulted in Cuba, Mexico, Kosovo, Kuwait, Colombia and Argentina. He also led a project to train clinicians in Latin America who are taking care of the over 4 million displaced Venezuelans arriving in Colombia, Perú, Ecuador, Brazil, Panamá and other countries.
Dr. Mancini’s public service announcement and documentaries addressing Latino underage drinking, suicide and prescription drugs have won a combined six (6) EMMY ® awards. Dr. Mancini has been honored with the 2023 Advocate of the Year Award, the National Latinx Psychological Association Star Vega Distinguished Service Award; the UnidosUS (NCLR) – Helen Rodríguez- Trías Award for Health; and the Mental Health America “Heroes in the Fight” Award and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia.
He is the Chair-Elect for Mental Health America National Board of Directors, serves on the Board of Directors for R.I. International and the Advisory Council for The Center for Victims of Torture.
Rudy M. Beserra, is the Senior Vice President, Latin American Affairs at Vensure, where he leads the organization’s growth in the Latino market.
Rudy is a former Senior Vice President, Office of Latin Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company, where he strengthened the company’s bridge to Latino organizations and small businesses. He served as an advocate and voice for the Latino community for the organization.
One of his career spotlights was his tenure with President Reagan’s administration, where he was instrumental in what is known today as Hispanic Heritage month. Rudy was a special assistant to President Reagan in the Office of Public Liaison. His insights were valuable in creating The Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s (HHF) Hispanic Heritage Awards. The awards were established by the White House to commemorate the creation of Hispanic Heritage month in the United States.
For the past 30 years, the Hispanic Heritage Awards have honored Latino leaders in various fields who have made a positive impact in the United States and around the globe. In Sept. 2017, Rudy was honored with the Leadership Award at the 30th Anniversary of the Hispanic Heritage Awards.
In 2016, Rudy was featured in Latino Leaders magazine’s “101 Most Influential Latinos of 2016”, recognized as one of the “exemplary individuals” who “have dedicated their lives to education, culture and the success of generations to come.”
Rudy has been recognized by many organizations and received awards for his dedication to the Latino community. Awards include, Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, the Hector Barreto “Con Ganas” Award from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and the Executive of the Year Award from the Association of Latin Professionals in Finance.
Rudy is an active member of a number of prominent Latino-focused organizations, including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI), of which he is a founding member; and he serves on the board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). He has also served as chairman of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF).
Rudy is a native of Albuquerque, and a graduate of the University of New Mexico. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Lois, and two daughters.