Nathaly Rubio-Torio, LMSW, Executive Director, originally from Peru, is a licensed Social Worker working in the field of HIV in the Latino community for over 15 years. She received her Bachelors in Psychology from Queens College, served in Peace Corp. Ecuador working with homeless and abandoned children and youth, and received her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work. She was recognized as a Mujer Destacada (Prominent Latina Leader) by El Diario La Prensa in 2010. Ms. Rubio-Torio’s experience ranges from working with homeless youth at Covenant House, to community organizing in East New York, to working at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office with victims of crime, in particular victims of domestic violence. She served as Director of Operations for the South Bronx and Queens sites at the Hispanic AIDS Forum from 1999 to 2004. In 2003, as a result of her research as a student at Columbia University, she learned there was a lack of culturally sensitive programs and a gap in services for immigrant Latinas living with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Rubio-Torio founded Voces Latinas Corp, a non-profit organization targeting immigrant Latinas living with and at high risk for HIV/AIDS and immigrant Latinas experiencing violence. Ms. Rubio-Torio takes the issue of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community very seriously as Latinos continue being one of the highest groups getting infected with HIV and the fastest progressing to AIDS at disproportionately alarming rates. In September of 2006 she received the NYC Social Justice Fellowship which allowed her to dedicate time and develop Voces Latinas into a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Voces Latinas is a grassroots, culturally and linguistically centered organization in Jackson Heights Queens New York, often known as the epi-center of immigrant Latino settlement. Voces Latinas reaches over 2000 immigrant Latinas/os and their families per year providing them with life-saving information on HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and other health risks.
Denys Salas, MS, Assistant Director, is a non-profit administrator working in the field for 13 years. She is originally from Ecuador and currently living in Brooklyn. She received her Bachelors in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, served in AmeriCorps *NCCC and AmeriCorps State in Mississippi working with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the US Gulf Coast, served in Peace Corps Mozambique working with at risk youth and women living with HIV and AIDS. She received her Masters of Science in Childhood Studies from the school of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK. She interned for Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) where she assisted in the development of the State of Children’s rights Report 2013. During her graduate studies, she wrote a thesis: “What does education mean to me? An exploratory research project on the views on education about institutionalized and non-institutionalized children in Petropolis, Brasil” where she conducted focus groups and individual interviews with orphan children and children with families in Petropolis, Brasil. Ms. Salas has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and education since 2008. Her program management experience ranges from building homes for individuals who were affected by natural disasters, coordinating a nutritional food program and emotional support groups for women living with HIV and AIDS, developing an after school arts program for high school students in rural Mozambique, providing shelter for homeless youth, and coordinating services for individuals affected by domestic violence. Ms. Salas is currently the Assistant Director of Voces Latinas where she oversees all programs, assists with the agency’s operations, and supervises the diverse team at Voces Latinas. You can follow her on twitter @salas_denys
Sandra Gonzalez, Office Manager, was born and raised in Honduras where she obtained her Accounting degree on 1977. She has worked with different organizations in New York City such as Home Energy Assistance program, which aims to help households with electric bills payments, DYCD (Department of Youth Community Development) Citizenship program, dedicated to assist immigrant to become US Citizens and worked in the unit of fair hearing as well as in HRA food Stamp office. In June 2011 she started in Voces Latinas as office manager. Currently, Sandra works as Human Resources in VL but she is also the data entry specialist (E-Share.) Part of her responsibilities is to ensure that the office remains in order and supervise staff daily operations and official procedures. Sandra hopes to keep working and growing as a professional.
Jessica Ramos, Program Assistant, started as a volunteer at Voces Latinas in 2012. In 2013, she officially started working at Voces Latinas as a Program Assistant. She has grown in this position by helping, educating, and informing the mission of Voces Latinas to the community members that come to the agency on a daily basis. Jessica is responsible for engaging clients, educating them about Voces Latinas’ programs, and providing referrals to other services. She assists the Office Manager to ensure that the office is always organized and completes clerical work such as filing, record keeping, and appointment scheduling. In addition, she enters program data and analysis clients’ feedback on Voces Services. Jessica feels that working at Voces Latinas it’s a great opportunity to be aware of high risk behaviors and learn about resources for the community.
Paola Gonzalez, MSc., QA/Database Specialist, is a Data Scientist with 7 years of experience providing data analytics methods, tools, and solutions in areas including applied statistics, data visualization, models and training for consumer goods and financial services companies. She received a Master in Statistics from the University of Nottingham in England, UK. After moving to the U.S., she volunteered with two non-profits working in education and validation of degrees for professionals from other countries to work in the U.S. Paola is now working in Voces Latinas as Data Base/QA Specialist where she is driving the transition from paper data collection into a business intelligent database – Efforts to Outcomes. When Paola is not working with data, which she loves, she is cycling around NYC and traveling the world.
Lidia Flores-Bush, LMFT, Women’s Services Program Manager, is a Licensed Family Therapist with experience working with family, immigration and trauma. She is originally from El Salvador where she studied a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Her passion to work with families led her to study a Master’s degree in Family Therapy at Pontifical University of Comillas, Madrid, Spain. Her professional background includes working with individuals, couple, families, and groups in the clinical setting. Lidia has experience in teaching at college level, conducting research on veterans from the civil war in El Salvador for her undergraduate thesis. She participated as a researcher with the Tokiwa International Victimology Institute on Victims of Domestic Violence in Spain. She did an internship at Roberto Clemente Center in New York City, with emphasis in the Family Therapy with Latino population and the factors related to immigration and acculturation that led to Mental Health needs. She has continued her professional development at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies and has completed a Program in Integrative Trauma Studies in New York City. Currently, she is working in the certification of EMDR, a specific therapy to work with trauma. Lidia has experience working with population from different cultures and backgrounds, especially with vulnerable, immigrant population in the areas of domestic violence, and mentoring. She is also the Co-author of the book “El Salvador Violencia Intrafamiliar” that was published in 2005 in El Salvador.
Angela M. Sanchez, B.A., Case Manager, began a new life in the United States relocating to the state of New York in 2006. Upon starting her new life in the US, Angela was confronted with many barriers such as the language, cultural differences, and the processes of living in a new country. In 2016, she obtained a B.A. with Concentration in Management at Farleigh Dickinson in Hackensack, New Jersey – with academic honors. While completing her degree, Angela was involved in furthering her career with the Latino community providing social services and conducting fundraising activities. In 2011, she worked in Corazon a Corazon Fundacion Infantil in Queens for three years as an assistant to the president, an agency that helps children with heart diseases that live in Colombia. She continued to volunteer with agencies that serve the Latino community. Those organizations included the Lions Club, Primero lo Primero, Fund Children International, Colombian Consulate and Corazon a Corazon Fundacion Infantil. A time later she worked in Public Health Solutions as a Community Health Worker promoting insurance and health programs to the Latino community in Queens. In October 2015 she started working in Voces Latinas as Case Manager in the Women’s Services program. In this role, she supports Latinas who are experiencing Domestic Violence. Her services includes case managing, connecting clients to obtain public assistance, mental health services, insurance, legal services to obtain U-visa, T- visa, VAWA, and educational programs. Her work with Voces Latinas has allowed her to work with others communities including the LGBTQI. In March 2017, she received a recognition from the Consulate of Colombia in New York for her work and commitment for the empowerment of Latina women in Queens. As a result of her work experiences, Angela has become a support to the women and families she serves. When Angela is not working at Voces, she is contributing to the community in many way including fundraising event for charity, vigils, and individual support. In addition, Angela is an avid dancer and enjoys exploring new cultural and social networks.
Emma Medina, Women’s Services Coordinator, is originally from Peru, her experience ranges from working with at risk men and women living with HIV/AIDS, to children and families experiencing violence. In Peru, she was committed to bringing primary care to the most underserved communities. After immigration to the Unites States, Emma began her role as a Health Education Specialist and HIV Tester at the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC) where she worked for 12 years. As an HIV tester, Ms. Medina provided education and raised awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention. As a Health Education Specialist, she conducted community presentations and trainings on HIV prevention. In addition, she promoted programs, recruited participants, and provided case management services. Currently, Emma is the Women’s Services Coordinator at Voces Latinas where she helps Latinas to achieve their goals and obtain the help they need. In this role, Ms. Medina faces a wide variety of issues that affect the Latino community. However, she focuses her efforts in providing the guidance according to each client’s needs in the area of domestic violence and mental health. Emma aspires to continue to working in empowerment and leadership development for Latinas.
Hugo C. Ovejero, Coordinator of HIV Prevention, is originally from Argentina. He has more than 20 years of experience working with people who are HIV+. His experience include one on one counseling, education, preventative care of HIV/AIDS and STD’s, and educating individuals on the different treatment options, access to medical care and medication, and coordinating support groups. Hugo is an activist and is constantly working to advance the sexual rights of minorities and the Latino community in general. During his career as an activist, he has received significant awards and recognitions both in Seattle and New York City. In 2004, the Seattle LGBT Community Center presented him with “The Banana Award” in recognition for his activism within the LGBT Community (Fruit Bowl Awards Seattle 2004). In addition, he received a recognition from the Queen’s Borough President, Helen Marshall, for his leadership in the Argentinean Community in 2008. In 2011, he received the “He (El)” award from El Diario, a Spanish newspaper of New York City, for being one of the most influential Latinos in the area of New York. Recently, Hugo joined the HIV Planning Group (HPG) of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). His goal is to contribute to end the HIV transmission in New York City.
Omar Zapata, Program Assistant, is a Community Health Worker originally from Colombia. He is known around Roosevelt Avenue as the “the big guy with the condoms.” At the age of eight he led a group to collect groceries around his neighborhood to give it to families in need located in his home town in Colombia. During his young life he was member of several community groups. Sometime after he graduated from university Omar immigrated to Jackson Heights, New York to start, as many others, a new life filled with limitations, challenges, and achievements. Today as Voces Latina’s Program Assistant he has the opportunity to proceed with his passion for serving, educating the Latino Community which he relates and understands.
Marisol Ramirez, Outreach Specialist, began her work as a leader and activist for the rights of the LGBT community in her native country, Colombia. She arrived in the United States as an immigrant “Mojada” in 1993. Due to her personal experience as an undocumented individual she understands the realities and the needs of the immigrant community. In 2007 she joined Voces Latinas as a Promotora where she outreached and provided social support to women experiencing violence and at high risk for HIV. Since then, Marisol dedicated her life to educating and empowering the Latino Community on issues such as HIV and Domestic Violence. During her time as a Promotora she learned about HIV Testing and outreach and subsequently was hired as the Outreach Specialist. Currently Marisol works in different programs such as Community Mobilization and HIV/AIDS services. Her main goal is to become a Social Worker in order to help people in the USA and in Colombia. Although Marisol is now a documented immigrant, married and has three amazing children, her life experience as an undocumented immigrant laid the foundation to work with kindness and love while remaining humble. Her favorite hobby is music and she has been a Julio Iglesias fan since 1968. In 1980 she was president of his fan club in Colombia
Néstor Ardila, BA, Case Manager, earned a BA in Psychology from Queens College University in 2013. After graduating from his undergraduate degree, he served as a volunteer in different non-profits organizations in New York and Colombia including Queens Pride House and La Hora del Cuento. He currently works at Voces Latinas as Case Manager where he assists people living with HIV to get linked to medical care and support services. In addition, he provides counseling to clients, conducts HIV testing, and facilitates an Mpowerment Project called “Holatinos” – and intervention project that is designed to address the needs of young gay and bisexual men. His interests include to advocate for those in need and to serve his community.
Ariel Diaz, Patient Navigator, was born and raised in Colombia. Since a young age, Ariel has been working with the LGBTQ community as an activist where he had the opportunity to participate in protests. He worked at “Colombia Diversa” (Diverse Colombia), an NGO that fights for legal and human rights for the LGBTQ community in Colombia. In 2016, Ariel obtained a certificate as Pharmacy Technician and worked at “Tu farmacia Latina” (Your Latin Pharmacy) where he learned about anti-retroviral medication for individuals with HIV. Ariel is currently working at Voces Latinas as a Patient Navigator where he assist clients connecting them to HIV prevention services such as PrEP, PEP, STDs and other supportive services.
Patricia Restrepo-Simkus, Patient Navigator, is a native of Colombia. Her bi-cultural, bilingual background, and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and leadership roles in the community. Some of the organizations that she has been involved with are the American Diabetes Association, American Indian Community House, Learning Leader at PS 89Q, and Chaplains of America. She studied to become a Community Health Worker at La Guardia Community College. She successfully graduated from the NY Theological Seminary as a Christian Minister in 2016. She has improved and enhanced the spiritual well-being of the Latino community as a minister. Patricia is currently a State Certified Patient Navigator at Voces Latinas, providing in person assistance to individuals applying for health insurance coverage, both at the time of initial application and annual renewals. She offers information on the many types of health insurance programs available through the NYS Marketplace Exchange. Her background working as a Customer Service Representative and Medical and Dental Billing Specialist has allowed her to grow into her current capacity with a strong knowledge base and outstanding interpersonal skills. She truly enjoys working on a personal level with her clients. She makes an effort to understand the issues that affect the clients and their families on a daily basis. Her reward for doing this work is providing inspiration to others to improve their lives.
Derick Mendoza, BA, Patient Navigator/Outreach Specialist, originally from California; earned a B.A. in Political Science from The City University of New York, York College. Mr. Mendoza is currently working at Voces Latinas as a Patient Navigator/Outreach Specialist. He has been working with the Latino immigrant community in New York City for over 3 years. In 2013, he worked at the New York State Assembly District 39 office as an Intern where he had the opportunity to assist constituents, and organize and promote community events for Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Mr. Mendoza wrote his thesis about “Sex trafficking on Roosevelt Avenue” and the “Chica chica” bill sponsored by Assembly member Moya. This bill was projected to combat sex trafficking along Roosevelt Avenue. During his research, Mr. Mendoza visited Voces Latinas to collect information, and learned about sex trafficking along Roosevelt Avenue and Voces Latinas’ efforts to reduce high risk behaviors in the community. This experience ignited a strong desire to join the mission of the organization in the future. In 2014, he worked on the NYS primary elections for New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton and Assembly Member Felix Ortiz coordinating their political campaigns for the Latino community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mr. Mendoza offers home and community-based services to youth with special health and/or emotional needs and their caregivers as a Waiver Service Provider at the Jewish Child Care Association. As a Patient Navigator he assists and enroll clients with Health Insurance through the New York State of Health marketplace. Furthermore, he conducts HIV prevention campaigns, and HIV testing with the outreach team at bars, streets, outside the train stations and community parks along western Queens during the night. As a future plan Mr. Mendoza aspires to become a diplomat and work on projects that combat poverty, and social exclusion in Latin America.