LACU Volunteer Officers
Our dynamic board members ensure that all activities are aligned and appropriate for our mission. They plan, implement and evaluate all programs and events, in addition to the recruitment of project volunteers and promotion of events. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guillermo Velazquez | President
I am from Mexico City. When I moved to Pittsburgh I did not know I was going to stay here. I became involved with LACU in the mid 90's performing the "Mexican Hat Dance.” I was fortunate to showcase the Mexican culture at festivals and events that had the intention to promote the Latin American Culture. Due to my previous international jobs in Pittsburgh, I had the pleasure of traveling to Latin America and enjoyed meeting people, eating delicious food and in general interacting with the cultures in Latin America. I very much enjoy learning from all cultures; I speak four languages and I believe our horizons expand when we meet people from other cultures. I hope to lead LACU in a direction where the appreciation of the Latin American Culture grows even more. We live in a world of constant changes and new generations of Latinos in Pittsburgh will continue to make an impact in this beautiful city!
Kenya C. Dworkin |Co - President
I moved from Berkeley, CA, to Pittsburgh, PA in 1993. One of the first things that struck me about Pittsburgh was that there were hardly any Latinos here, and that I heard little or no Spanish being spoken. I need those things! I soon found that organizations like LACU, due to my interest in connecting my institution (CMU) with the community. Thankfully, this has been producing dividends ever since, thanks to all the friends I now have, and all their interesting work and lives. These rewards go beyond any professional-personal need because I am energetically engaged in community building—through LACU. In particular, I thank LACU for giving opportunity to grow and serve in its mission to preserve and promote our cultures, and share and learn with others, so we call build a better Pittsburgh for all. It’s a lot of work, but if you do it with/through LACU, you won’t mind, because you’ll be creating and solidifying friendships and experiences the whole time.
Adriana Sanchez Solis | Vice President & Secretary
I was born and raised in Costa Rica and have been a proud Pittsburgh resident for the past 7 years. However, I have lived in the US for almost 20 years, and this has given me the privilege to interact with people from almost every single country in Latin America, granting me also the opportunity to visit many of my friends in their home countries. I have a professional background in Hispanic Languages and Cultures and also in American Studies, which has allowed me to hone in on the particularities of the vast and diverse cultures that comprise Latin America. I believe in the importance of sharing knowledge with those who wish to learn and see that LACU is an excellent platform to do so.
Joe Weale|Acting Treasurer
I am a CPA, I enjoy all cultures. I am happy to volunteer as acting treasurer for LACU.
Maritza Rivera-Herleman| Membership Coordinator
I am a Freelance Translator/Interpreter and work mostly with families from Pittsburgh Public. Through this work, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful families some of which have developed into very good friendships. My professional background is in the hospitality industry, however, I recently finished my Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration and Management at Point Park University and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to apply my experience and knowledge in the Healthcare Industry.
I love bike riding, kayaking, gardening, cooking and dancing to a good Latin beat. Visiting Puerto Rico during Christmas energizes me, it’s the best time of the year to visit my “Islita del Encanto”. I am grateful and excited to become a part of the Latin American Cultural Union (LACU) team and to continue promoting cultural and ethnic inclusiveness here in Pittsburgh. I look forward to seeing you at one of the many activities LACU promotes.
Sammie Walker | Student Outreach Coordinator
Originally born and raised in McAllen, Texas, I have lived in the Pittsburgh area for six years. I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies and recently completed a Master's in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. I now serve as Coordinator of Diversity & Leadership Initiatives at Washington & Jefferson College. As a Mexican-American woman, I'm excited to be on the LACU board to continue connecting with the Latin American community via arts, music, dance, and friendships.
Carolina Loyola| Performing Arts Advisory Board
I am originally from Chile. I enjoy sharing and learning about Latin American Cultures.
Monica Aveni-Ranii| Fundraising & Event Volunteer
I serve at the LACU board because I like to be involved in helping my Latin community and the idea of unifying people from different Latin countries is a great challenge but not impossible. I have a gift of connecting people and with the help of our new, young and interesting board of directors and coordinators we can make the ordinary "extraordinary". I believe anyone can make a difference just dedicating few hours a month, bringing new ideas to the board, sharing traditions from Latin America and preserving our rich culture. We must continue to teach and keep alive our culture and pass it to the next generations. Since I moved from my country to this city; LACU has been my most precious connection with my Latin heritage, giving me the opportunity to help in what I do best, showcase my talents, make new friends and have a sense of identity just being myself!
Gloria Rodriguez-Ransom | "Kennywood Latino Day" Organizer Volunteer
I have been an active member of LACU for over 20 years. I have served as a member, performer, program director/organizer, dance coordinator, treasurer and vice-president. Every year LACU attempts to bring the community together and support Latinamerican events and people with our mission; to preserve and share the Latino and Caribbean culture with Pittsburgh. Once you make Pittsburgh your home it becomes priority to preserve and share our own heritage for generations to come. It has been a privilege to be able to share my culture not only with my own children but with the community at large.
Jesabel Rivera | Volunteer
I moved from Puerto Rico to Pittsburgh in 2010. Because of the invisible Latino Community at the time, I asked, where are the Latinos? That's how I found about LACU, and the next weekend, I went to their LACU Picnic. There, I met those who today are my new family. After 2 years of my arrival to the city, the opportunity to serve my community came up, and I took it. In 2012 I was elected president of the Latin American Cultural Union. Four years later, I can tell you that we have come a long way and that LACU has been present, either backstage or leading or supporting or starting the more visible and making sure we have a voice. LACU has been a resourceful platform to be the change in this city. This platform is your as well; use it!