Meet the Team

Soledad Quartucci | Executive Director

Soledad is the founder of Latina Republic and is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Soledad lived the immigrant experience in the US, which shaped her as an advocate for immigrant rights. Her passion for the immigrant experience in the U.S. led her to pursue a PhD in US immigration history. She enjoyed over a decade of her professional career in academia, but was pulled in a new direction when she learned about Friends of OC Detainees through a student. She was immediately inspired to volunteer and visit women held in detention in Orange County. By learning about their struggles and the motives for leaving their home countries in Central and South America, Soledad saw a need to understand and communicate the regional causes that pushed migrants outside their homes. By staying in touch with women who were deported to Central America, Soledad gained insight into local problems and encountered leaders and organizations in Central America that were dedicated to making their communities stronger, safer, and self-reliant. What started as a forum for storytelling in an effort to destroy stereotypes that depict migrants in an inaccurate light, turned into a nonprofit formed to help support courageous leaders and organizations that work hard every day to improve their countries. The study of migrants fleeing to the US, led Soledad to develop an equal passion for advancing the rights of Latinx families in Southern California where the stigma of public charge and a pattern of immigrant single-headed households necessitates action steps, information and local partnership. Soledad is an oral historian with a passion for human rights.

Juan Manuel Henríquez | Board Chair

Juan Manuel Henríquez, is a Chilean professor of mathematics, and as professor of religion and morality. Henríquez obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Management at the Metropolitan University of Education Sciences (UMCE). He took courses in solving mathematical problems at the Complutense University of Madrid, and educational applications at the Catholic University of Chile. Each year he is improving himself in the different areas that make up his professional profile in recognized universities of the country. He is interested in maintaining contact with professionals in education and management; giving and participating in contributions to exchange ideas, and generate projects that can make education a fundamental role in the growth of people. Between 2014 and 2015, he volunteered as a teacher to help admit vulnerable students to higher education. Between 2016 and May 2018, he served as an Academic Coordinator of the EFIES (Training School for Higher Education Income), “Forming Chile” corporation (non-profit). As of June of this year, he is part of the Advisory Board of the same entity. Currently, he works at the Colegio Cumbres de Santiago (since 2005), where today he is head of the department of mathematics of the entity, with high school courses and courses designed to prepare students for admissions exams for higher education.

Allan Quartucci | Treasurer & Secretary

Allan Quartucci has over twenty years of experience in the computer networking hardware industry in the areas of Marketing and Web Development. A 1994 B.F.A. graduate of California State University Fullerton, Allan studied graphic design and web development, and has gained additional eCommerce experience over the last five years. A son of a chemistry teacher father and piano teacher mother, he is a lifelong resident of Orange County in Southern California. Allan is married to his wife Soledad, and they are the parents of three adult children. Allan also has had the additional role of webmaster for Latina Republic since the original website, which launched in 2015. He always enjoys looking for ways that Latina Republic can serve up great articles in new and interesting ways.

Katherine Canally | Board Member

Katherine Canally is a graduate of Villanova University with a degree in Political Science. During her time at Villanova, she studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco where she interned at a non-profit that helped enrich students in the local community via education and arts. In Salé, Morocco, Katherine strengthened grant proposals to USAID, and The Bill Gates Foundation. She developed outreach and a growth plan for the Rabat and international community, taught English to and developed lesson plans for students aged 8-32. Katherine has also served as a Medical Volunteer in Léogane, Haiti where she implemented improvements to demographic and medical examination forms after surveying and organizing medical clinics in Haiti. Katherine provided basic medical evaluations to hundreds of Haitian patients under a certified doctor. She has also served as the Massachusetts State House intern, working for Representative Cory Atkins on policy and constituent outreach, specifically in areas of tourism, art, and cultural development. She supported Representative Atkins in a successful re-election bid for November 2014. In One for the World in Villanova, PA, she promoted poverty awareness on campus as a Student Ambassador through tabling and social media outreach. Under the Nourish International in Washington, DC, she organized ventures to fundraise for non-governmental organizations globally and supported a travel team who worked in various countries with communities on sustainable development. For the National Charity League in Middlesex County, MA she volunteers with several charities in the greater Boston area including Access Sports America, Red Cross Food Bank and Open Table. Since joining Latina Republic, Katherine has co-developed the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative including reaching out to community partners, drafting portions of the grant application based on research, and implementing administrative needs via allocation of resources. She identifies funders and drafts grant applications on behalf of nonprofits in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Erika Lim | Board Member

Erika is a first-generation college graduate who is passionate about improving the lives of immigrants. Her senior capstone uncovered and analyzed the lives of a population of undocumented immigrants that many do not know exist; undocumented Asians. The capstone discusses the history of the term undocumented, the history of Asian immigration to the US and to understand and analyze the experience and challenges associated with being an undocumented Asian immigrant. After graduating from Soka University of America with a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, Erika went on to serve her nation through AmeriCorps as a FEMA Corps member deploying to three major hurricanes including Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. After completing her service term, she returned to New York City and is currently the Development Manager at Green City Force, an AmeriCorps program that prepares young adults aged 18-24 who reside in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for careers through green service.

Verónica Quezada | Board Member

Verónica Quezada is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. As Xicana and part of the 1.5 generation, she has always identified with and fought for La Causa, for the immigrants. Her parents were undocumented for a long time, she has witnessed the injustice against and invisibility of this community. Now, she would like to help raise awareness and exalt all the great deeds accomplished by Latinx immigrants in this country. Verónica obtained a doctorate degree in Latin American and Chicanx/ Latinx Literatures from the University of California, Irvine. She is an Assistant Professor at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, in the Language and Culture Program where she teaches all levels of Spanish and Learning Clusters on Chicanx Studies and other topics.

Jessica Torres | Board Member

Jessica Torres graduated from Soka University of America, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. During this time, she had the opportunity to complete a fieldwork project in Guatemala where she and her classmates studied the environmental impact mining had on local communities and families, while also being in the presence of community leaders who were creating change. It was experiences like these that further inspired her to uplift and empower those whose voices go unnoticed, whether they’re animals or people, her work in advocacy was just beginning. For the years following, she focused on increasing her involvement in the nonprofit sector, which led her to volunteer, intern, and be employed at several organizations throughout Los Angeles. Soon after, she was motivated to continue her education and graduated with her master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University. She learned not only the ins and outs of the nonprofit system but also how to create greater impact as a leader. She believes in the value of creating empowered communities, educating others, and creating an inclusive space for all. In doing so, she now works at Families In Schools where she is not only passionate about supporting students and their families, but truly believes in educational equity and the importance of eliminating barriers. Her most current work focuses on community engagement, with great attention to building a bridge for students, families, and communities to access resources. Jessica has experience in development, direct service, humane education, advocacy, community outreach, communications, programs, and youth mentorship. As a compassionate leader, she strives to build connections through collaborative efforts and create positive experiences for others.

Journalists for Latin America

Astrid Chang | Correspondent for Panamá

Astrid Chang has a degree in Journalism with an Emphasis in Audiovisual Production. Since 2018, she has been a journalist at La Estrella de Panamá. Her work in the newspaper was initially as an intern, where she developed in the area of sports, nationals, social networks and the web. Later, she was hired to lead the themes for World Youth Day and to be a presenter for the segment “Flash Economy.” She later became part of the Café Estrella team, a new content proposal by ‘La Decana’. In this booklet she has written articles on the environment, technology, health, sports, society, music, culture, sexuality, art, fashion and tourism. Likewise, she has organized and directed projects with visual artists for the International Book Fair of Panama. She too, was sent special to cover the Lima 2019 Juegos Parapanamericanos, and currently she is the coordinator of sports issues in the newspaper. She has training in journalistic leadership.

Mauricio Alexander Cáceres García | Correspondent for El Salvador & Latin America

Mauricio Alexander Cáceres García is a Correspondent for Latina Republic focused on El Salvador and Latin America. He is a renowned Photojournalist and Documentarian from El Salvador. Migration is personal to him. His father and family moved to the United States as migrants. His work showcases the power of human stories. Among his specializations, Cáceres has reported on “The migrant route” of the Guatemalan border, Mexico and the United States. He personally completed the migrant route to the US on four occasions. Cáceres has a degree in Migration from the Universidad de Centro América, UCA. Cáceres has served as an Editor of the newspaper Más, EDH and He has extensive experience in national and international news coverage, studied journalism and has won several photography awards throughout Latin America, including second place in a photographic contest centered on the migrant woman, and earning the Santa Clara de Asís prize for his report on the migrant route.

Milton Omar Turcios | Correspondent for Honduras

Turcios graduated from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. He is a News Presenter on Paradise TV, in Santa Bárbara, Honduras. He enjoys telling stories of overcoming, solidarity and perseverance of the “tierra adentro” peoples of rural communities, their way of life and how they work after their dreams. Turcios is also featured in Honduras’ daily news and #Mundo. He is a former public relations officer for UN Women in Honduras, promoting campaigns in support of women in politics.

Rebecca E. Schwimmer Rodríguez | Correspondent, Honduras & Central America

My name is Rebecca E. Schwimmer Rodríguez, I am a journalist focused on Honduras and Central America. My mother is Honduran and my father is American. He has lived in the country for more than 30 years. I am close to graduating with a degree in journalism from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras and I have had the opportunity to work for a local digital newspaper in Tegucigalpa that has encouraged me to cover issues of politics, health, migration, entrepreneurship and culture , one of the areas that I am most passionate about. My inclinations are to know the dynamics and preservation of culture in its different manifestations, art, cultural heritage and photography. I would like society and Honduran authorities to recognize the importance of identity construction, artistic appreciation and sensitivity and the development that this knowledge can promote in a nation.

Grant Writer & Development Internship

Dashiell Allen | Peer Mentor & Grant Writer

Dashiell is a senior at Reed College studying Latin American and Peninsular Spanish literature. He is currently writing a thesis on the literary and political production of the Frente de Liberación Homosexual in Argentina during the 1970s and is interested in studying feminist and LGBTQ+ movements in Latin America. At Latina Republic, Dashiell intends to elevate the voices of activists and organizers that work to promote human rights and immigrant rights throughout Mexico. He is excited to contribute to the organization’s mission of breaking stereotypes and bringing attention to underreported stories throughout Latin America.

Immigration Writer Internships

Valeria Lopez | University of California, Riverside

Valeria is a junior pursuing a major in Political Science/Law and Society with a minor in international relations. Coming from two immigrant parents who were born in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico, she has seen first hand the hardships immigrants face when moving to America. Seeing the difficulties immigrants deal with on a daily basis in America, it has inspired her to pursue a career as an immigration and civil rights lawyer. She has a passion for fighting for the rights of not only immigrants but for individuals who face racial and social injustices. She wishes to raise awareness about immigration issues such as the inhumane conditions children and adults experience in detention camps as well as helping families attain their documents to be able to work and live in the U.S. In the future she would like to start a charity that helps immigrant families overcome the difficulties that come along with living in a foreign country that is not always welcoming to immigrants. Valeria hopes that her work as an immigration writer will allow her to spread the stories of immigrants and that her career in immigration and civil rights law will allow her to create change for the Latino immigrant community.

Family Resource Specialists

Fatima Alfaro | University of California, Los Angeles

My name is Fatima Alfaro, I am an undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology this upcoming Spring of 2021. I am also minoring in Community Engagement and Social Change because I am passionate about using my education and research to study the best approach to give back and create resources for the Latinx community. I am a proud born and raised Salvadoran who migrated to the United States at the age of 15, and my experiences as an immigrant have shaped who I am as a student in higher education as well as my professional career interests. I am committed to earning a Doctorate’s degree in Clinical Psychology and working particularly with members of the Latinx community who may have a harder access to mental health resources. I would like to specifically focus on providing resources to have and manage healthy relationships in the form of a podcast or presentations that can be easily accessible to all generations. I hope that my story and my experiences can guide me in a way that can help me be of service to many other immigrant families like mine.

Valeria Flores | University of California, Los Angeles

My name is Valeria Flores, I am Mexican, and the daughter of immigrant parents. Also, I am the first to go to college in my family. I study at UCLA specializing in Spanish and linguistics. I am in my last year of college and will graduate in July. As part of my future plans, I would like to be a university professor, as well as take part in research on issues related to bilingual individuals. For now, I work as a children’s Spanish teacher, but outside in my free time I really like literature, and writing poetry.

Youlhee Cho | University of California, Los Angeles

My name is Youlhee Cho, and I am a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Spanish, Community and Culture. Growing up in Mexico, I was privileged to form personal relationships with diverse groups of people from different states of Mexico. These relationships have shaped my identity and passion for Latin America. I am interested in the education of the children and adolescents of the Latin American countries because education is crucial for the awareness and protection of one’s human rights. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility to provide children and adolescents the resources necessary to pursuit an education, including academic and emotional help. As a student who has immigrated from Mexico, I hope to be of help to students who have difficulty adapting to the education system of the United States.

Latin American Correspondent Internships

Noelani Bernal | University of Chicago

Noelani is a rising senior at UChicago, pursuing majors in Global Studies and Romance Languages with a particular focus on Latin America, Spanish, and Portuguese. Originally from Southern California, her interest in studying Latin American culture cultivated while she was enrolled in a K-12 Spanish immersion program. Since then, Noelani has worked to expand access to higher education in Mexico and Brazil through EducationUSA, taught English to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking communities, studied Portuguese and Brazilian culture intensively in Rio de Janeiro, and conducted research on the cultural impacts of rapid environmental change on vulnerable communities primarily in the Brazilian Amazon. As a Latin American Correspondent, Noelani hopes to shed light on grassroots movements that give a platform to communities who face the brunt of environmental change, all while making their stories more accessible and relevant to U.S. readers.

Laura Czerniecki | University of California, Los Angeles

Laura is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, pursuing a major in Spanish and Portuguese. Her passion for Latina America first stemmed from her personal connection to Brazil. Although she was born and raised in Europe, her mother is Brazilian, and she is a native Portuguese speaker who grew up frequently visiting Brazil, and considering it home. As a high schooler, Laura developed a keen interest in social problems, and specifically the role of NGOs in working towards their solution. She had the opportunity to volunteer at an educational NGO in Paraísopolis, a favela in São Paulo, over two summers, an experience which highlighted the discrepancy between the reality of favelas and their sensationalized depictions in the media, as well as the underreported work of individuals within the community to create educational opportunities despite their socio-political marginalization. Laura’s study of Spanish throughout middle and high school piqued her curiosity about Latin America beyond Brazil, and once in college, she embraced the opportunity to further connect with her Brazilian heritage, while diving into the greater region academically, studying its history, cultures, literature, art, and social problems. As a Latin American Correspondent, Laura hopes to bring stories about the intersection of art, resistance, and social change to the forefront, as well as to highlight non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and community leaders working to solve social problems in the region.

Hannah Fontaine | Harvard University

Hannah is a senior at Harvard University studying the History and Literature of Latin America, Government, and Spanish. She’s currently writing a thesis about the connection between the state-sponsored violence of the Guatemalan Revolution and the lack of prosecutorial and judicial success for women who are survivors of sexual violence in the country today. When writing about communities she isn’t a part of, Hannah emphasizes their voices and experiences, telling their stories as they want them to be told and highlighting the successes of organizations and movements working to make their communities better. Hannah wants to go to law school and practice some form of social justice law; whether that’s immigration law or criminal defense with a social justice lens, she wants to focus on using her privilege to help marginalized folks get the justice they deserve. She currently volunteers with a bilingual preschool program, La Escuelita, near her hometown in Wisconsin and works with the Small Claims Advisory Service to offer legal information to Spanish speakers in Massachusetts going through the small claims process. As a Latin American correspondent, she hopes to further her understanding of women’s movements and legal advocacy in Guatemala, as well as elevate the stories of survivors of sexual violence through articles and her own thesis.

Nancy Ortega | University of California, Davis

My name is Nancy Ortega and I am a current undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Animal Science and Spanish, but began my studies at Rio Hondo College. I am the proud daughter of two immigrants and the sister of a Dreamer. My interest in Latin America emerged due to the passion from my high school Spanish teacher. I became interested in the variety of cultures, the unique people, and the history still to be uncovered from underrepresented countries. In Latina Republic, I want to expand the beauty and complexity of Latin America and enrich my mind, as well as that of the readers, throughout this new experience. I look forward to meeting interesting individuals, hearing new stories, and coming out with a fresh mind set.

Mya Parra | Florida International University

Mya Parra is a junior at Florida International University, majoring in International Relations and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Growing up in a Venezuelan household and in a predominately Hispanic community, Mya has always been surrounded by stories of past lives in Latin America before the American Dream inspired Latino immigrants to migrate to Miami, Florida in hopes of a better life. It is through the continuation of story telling that Mya understands the significance of bridging first and second generation Hispanic Americans closer to their roots. Wanting to connect more with her Venezuelan heritage, Mya decided to pursue a career in expanding her knowledge of the history and current socio-political climate in different Latin American countries in hopes to contribute in improving vital institutions throughout the region. As a Latin American Correspondent, Mya looks forward to tethering the United States and Latin America together through highlighting positive stories of efforts made by individuals in their given countries as well as contributing to Latina Republic to continue amplifying significant local voices to larger audiences.

Alejandra Perez | Florida International University

My name is Alejandra Perez, and I am currently completing the last year of my Masters of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Florida International University. Born in Colombia but raised in the United States, I have always sought out ways to connect with my heritage and broaden my understanding of Latin American. Having lived most of my life in Miami, FL has exposed me to a variety of Latin American experiences and allowed me to gain further appreciation for its diverse cultures overall. This interest is what led me to pursue an academic career focused on Spanish and Latin American studies. I have always been intrigued more so by the humanities and look forward to continue using the power of storytelling to promote Latin American culture in a way that allows others to appreciate the richness of the region. As a Latin American Correspondent, I hope to focus on civic engagement geared towards advocating for the Latin American community within and outside the United States.

International Consultants

Bernardo Méndez Lugo | Mexico

A Mexican Diplomat retired, he has been executive director of Promigrant Foundation based in Mexico City since March 2017, with a worldwide network of volunteers in more than 100 cities. He was founder Professor at Universidad Autónoma Metrópolitana Xochimilco campus and did teaching & research for 20 years. In 1990, he joined the Mexican Foreign Service and was Consul in Montreal, Atlanta, San Francisco, Tucson, San Salvador and Chicago. He has published hundreds of articles and coauthored more than ten books and has been international Consultant for UN PAHO-WHO for public health, World Bank, OECD and UNIDO. He has delivered courses, workshops and lectures in many countries and Mexico. He is currently giving lectures on Covid-19 and international migration.

Maribel Justina Moya | El Salvador

My name is Maribel Justina Moya. I am 62 years old. I have four children and eight grandchildren. I live in a community called Asuchio, in the municipality of Zaragoza, Department of Libertad, El Salvador. It is an organized community that was formed after the armed conflict and the 1991 peace accords. The community has a Women’s Association, in which I hold the position of president on the board of directors and, in addition, I am president of the Fundación CORDES Association for the period 2019-2021. My work within the CORDES Foundation is more in the part of management and administration and also in the part of institutional management. Within these processes, my work is to guarantee the management and coordination with the other coordinators of programs and projects such as the elderly, the gender unit, the agricultural program, the youth program and the advocacy program. Coordination is carried out with all the community and municipal associations where CORDES has an intervention. For its part, within the community and the women’s association there is a close relationship and alliance with the CRIPDES association and with the communal leadership of the same community. Within all this process and these coordinations I like to seek support for women and the community itself, mainly for agricultural production. We seek to guarantee the food security of families. Along these same lines, in 2013 I organized different community savings groups, in which I sought to generate a saving habit in each person; in such a way that the families can have a new support mechanism, because the members of the groups can use the money to make loans among themselves, which allows them to solve any economic situation of their families. Personally, I am a dynamic person who likes to have her own chickens and hens. I also like agricultural and the growing of corn, and beans.

Luis Enrique Contreras Reyes | El Salvador

Political Analyst for Salvadoran TV and Academic and Opinion Columnist for several newspapers in El Salvador. Consultant in Public, Citizen and Police Security, and Founder and President of PROSEDE Consulting (Protection, Security and Defense) a company that offers consulting services and training in crime prevention and security. From 2005 to 2019, I was an instructor for the National Academy of Public Security (ANSP), a police training institution in El Salvador. Accreditations include, International Certification in Citizen Security, Level III Expert from Costa Rica. International Certification in Police Intelligence Methods, Costa Rica. Criminological Approach and Crime Prevention Training; Certification as a Specialist in Police Tactical Defenses; Diploma in Police Models for the Prevention of Crime and Violence and Research Center for the Prevention of Violence (CIPREVI) Guatemala.