Meet the team

We’re excited to welcome new talent to our team!  Meet our newest members below. 

Meet Mary Lu Schmid, our Policy Coordinator. Originally from southern Germany, Mary now calls Chapel Hill, NC, her home. She draws inspiration from her clients, especially the immigrant youth who received her support as a case manager. “Their resilience motivates me to persist in advocacy and support for others,” she shares. Mary’s expertise lies in immigration policy with a focus on education accessibility for immigrant survivors. Through workshops with refugee and immigrant youth, she has learned the importance of empathy and communication in building cohesive communities. Mary’s favorite book is La Casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende, and one of her favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou: “People will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Meet Sonia Rote Flores, our in-house family advocate, from Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Sonia is dedicated to making a positive impact in the community, finding joy in helping others, and ensuring they have  a good experience. As a Spanish interpreter, Sonia loves enhancing communication between people. Her hobbies include walking, movie nights, seeing friends, and dining out. She believes in appreciating the present moment and is inspired by traditions like building her altar for Dia de Muertos and setting up her Christmas tree. 

Meet Clara Valadares Kientz, our Systems Engagement and Advocacy Specialist from Kansas/Brazil. Clara specializes in Coordinated Community Response teams, gender-based violence prevention, and direct service advocacy. She excels in policy development, social justice, and mentorship. Clara believes strong relationships are key to achieving community goals and is dedicated to reducing violence and improving response services. She enjoys Feijoada (a traditional Brazilian dish), binge-watching TV, and listening to podcasts. Inspired by Maya Angelou’s quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” Clara maintains her Brazilian heritage by always wearing Havaianas sandals at home.  

Meet Bessie Rose Lopez Melendez our Culturally Specific Population Grants Program Coordinator based in San Juan, PR. Inspired by icons like Lolita Lebron and her parents, Bessie believes in the power of balance and the transformative impact of listening. She cherishes her cultural roots, celebrating Christmas with parranda. Bessie’s favorite books are The Vagina Monologues, The Four Agreements, and The Alchemist. Her philosophy of living one day at a time helps her fully enjoy life. 

Meet Liliana Munoz, our Communications Intern from Minneapolis, MN. Liliana Munoz enjoys being at the beach and is inspired by her experiences at college in Chicago and the resilience of her friends and classmates. “Everyone has something to offer and something you can learn from,” she says. Her favorite quote by Kamala Harris, “You think you just fell out of a coconut tree? You exist in the context of all in which you live and what came before you,” serves as a reminder of the Latin@ community and the importance of history. Liliana finds inspiration in this quote because it draws on the strength of those who paved the way before us.  

Meet Adriana Alejandro Osorio, our Chief Advancement Officer from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Adriana feels at home in any space where community is present and at the beach. She enjoys painting with watercolors, trying new recipes, reading poetry, and gathering with friends and family. Passionate about creating positive social change, Adriana aims to leave the world a little better for her family and communities. Her favorite food is Asopao de gandules con bolitas de platano.  She fosters inclusivity, especially with youth, believing that respecting youth voices not only strengthens our work but also ensures that our solutions are truly reflective of the needs and aspirations of our diverse Latin@ community.