Luis Granes

A new spotlight section, Latino Like Me, to expand dialogue about the vastness of Latino culture and identity. We hope that by featuring different Latinos from the Pittsburgh community we can foster a thoughtful and constructive discussion about different forms of identity.

Kelly Prestel

1) Please explain what you do for living.

Ricardo Vila-Roger

1) Please explain what you do for living.

I am a freelance actor, director, and activist. I am also a teaching artist in the Theatre Arts department at Pitt.


2) How important in your identity is being Latino?

It is extremely important. I am a proud Puerto Rican—born on the island. Although I didn't live there for very long, I still consider it my home. Most Latino/a folks are a mixture of many races and, although a colonial mentality was forced on us for many years that has caused many of us to deny our African and Indigenous roots, they are as much (if not more) a part of us and our culture as the European portion. It's in our food. It's in our music. It's in our skin. It's in our land. 

Dr. Mónica Méndez

1) Please explain what you do for living.

I’m currently an international consultant who trains corporations, not-for-profits and community groups about gender in the workplace, gender-based violence, and soft skills, like conflict management and emotional intelligence.  

2) How important in your identity is being Latino?

Luis Granes

I’m a Corrosion Specialist, certified by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, here in the USA. I work for Sauereisen, Inc, as the International Sales Manager. I travel around the world, giving sales presentation, training seminars, act as a corrosion consultant and give tech service where people do not speak English.

Hadley Pratt

I manage business operations for a local startup called BoXZY. We make an all-in-one 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC mill - a true desktop makerspace!

Brandon Mendoza

I work for the leading regional economic development organization. I manage federal and local government affairs. But broader than that, I work in economic development.

Angela Defendini

I am a licensed massage therapist and massage therapy instructor.

Louis Irizarry

I manage all of the human resource compliance needs as well as various accounting functions at Bunting Graphics located in Verona, PA.  I also sit on the board of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) Pittsburgh.

Jorge Rojas

I am an attorney in Reed Smith LLP’s Complex Litigation Group. Although my litigation practice encompasses a broad range of commercial cases, I focus on commercial disputes stemming from contractual agreements, class action litigations, restrictive covenants work, and other complex business disputes.

Jose Diaz

I work in nonprofit as a program director for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, where I oversee a program called Hope For All. Funded by United Way, Hope For All is a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and YWCA Greater Pittsburgh to identify distressed households and provide them access to benefits and resources that enhance their quality of life. I have operated in this role since June, 2014; prior to that, I was a community organizer for several years in the community of Homewood working with residents to address issues of safety, education, and beautification. At my core, I'll always be an organizer!

Marilet Martinez

I am a professional actor, teaching artist and improviser. By day, I work for Kaiser Permanente's Education Theatre in Oakland, California, where my team and I use theatre, visual art, and team building to explore mental and behavioral health with teens. I have work in professional theatre for 15 years and have been a part of several world premiere plays dealing with political, social, racial, gender and economic issues. I am also part of an all female improv troupe which is unusual considering the improv/comedy scene tends to be filled with white males.

Yolanda Schuman

I work for BNY Mellon in the Technology sector with Internal Applications, specifically in IT Asset Management.

José Monroy

I am a Partner Operations Lead at Google Pittsburgh, leading the team that provides technical support for our Google Shopping partners worldwide.

Marisela Orta

I'm a playwright. I found my way to theatre a little over 10 years ago. Before that I was a poet. Currently I'm studying at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop--one of the top MFAs in playwriting programs. So I write plays. Almost always my plays feature Latinx characters.

Jesabel Rivera-Guerra

I am Community Health Director at the American Heart Association. I create strategies to improve heart health in Allegheny County. I also volunteer at the Latin American Cultural Union, where I lead our team in creating strategies to increase visibility of the Latino community through collaboration with different Latino-serving organizations, while preserving and enriching our culture through community-based events.

Jeimy Sanchez-Ruiz

I am the currently the Youth Community Outreach Coordinator at Casa San Jose. I am also a Junior at Carlow University with a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology.

David Klinowski

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the area of behavioral economics. I run experiments and other kinds of analysis to explore what motivates human behavior and how people respond to incentives.

Sandra Quiñones

I am an Assistant Professor of Education (Literacy) in the Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education at Duquesne Education. I teach graduate and undergraduate teacher education courses and conduct research about community schools, critical literacy, and Latino/a education.

Jason Mendez

I do a few things for a living. First and foremost, I am a memoirist and interdisciplinary theater artist. My writings unpack a range of moments, which collectively capture my coming of age as a Puerto Rican kid growing in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. For example, I reflect on experiences such as the passing of father from cancer, becoming a father myself, and my time tenure being a (Latino) professor at Duke University. My stories embody concepts like home, trauma, coping, healing, and revolution. As a performer, I enjoy bringing my stories to life. Instead of simply reading sections, I love to perform them. Creating aesthetics experiences that captivate and engage audiences. My performances are like sensory overload emphasizes the smells, sights, and sounds of my stories. I am also co-founder of Sons of the Boogie, an arts collective fusing pop culture with the eclectic style of the South Bronx. I, along with renowned artist and trendsetter P.H.A.S.E. TWO, founded a creative space to represent and preserve our respective cultural histories as South Bronx sons. It's a platform for our work and also a space seeking to collaborate with other artists who share and preserve the stories and histories of the Bronx and other communities whose experiences are often misrepresented or untold.

Monica Ruiz

I am a community organizer at Casa San Jose, a project of the Thomas Merton Center. I work with undocumented immigrants to ensure that they are engaged in both civic and social activities in our community. I am an advocate for immigrant rights, human rights, affordable housing, and equitable development. I have my MSW from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Community Organizing and Social Administration.

Diana Gomez

My name is Diana Gómez-Pereira and I am from Bucaramanga, Colombia. I speak Spanish as my first language and I also speak English at a proficient level and French at a basic level. I came to the United States to study a Master in Education (MEd) with an emphasis in Foreign Language Education. I graduated in the spring of 2010 from the University of Pittsburgh and my undergraduate degree was in Foreign Language teaching at the Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia. After graduating from my bachelors’ degree, I worked at an International School in Bogotá, Colombia teaching 1st and 2nd grade with two teachers from Wales and Ireland. In this international school, I was teaching all subjects in English but I was mainly helping students with learning disabilities.

Tara Sherry-Torres

I am the Founder + Creative Director of Cafe Con Leche. Cafe Con Leche is an experiential marketing and event production company that focuses on the Latino market in Pittsburgh. Our services help companies, nonprofits and institutions curate unique experiences to build authentic brand relationships with Latinos using influencer advertising, events and digital media.

Tom Hoffman

I've been a Salesforce Consultant with Summa in Pittsburgh since September 2015. I work with clients from around the world, assisting them with setting up, customizing, and deploying their Salesforce instances and other associated software applications to maximize business processes and efficiency. For the 5+ years prior to that, I was the director of a medical non-profit organization that provided quality improvement research, education, and charitable surgical efforts in Latin American countries.

Cinthya L. Viñals

I married on May 2016 so I am living with my husband. I am working in H&R Block since December 2016. I was studying English until I found this job. I still want to keep improving my English so I can find a better job in the future.

Maggie Negrete

I am a teaching artist and arts administrator. A teaching artist is a working artist that chooses to share their practice with students. My primary disciplines are illustration and typography, but I also work in visual poetry and have an interactive installation, the Apothecary of Esoteric Panacea. Currently, I work for the Brashear Association as the Education Coordinator, developing enrichment opportunities for the youth of South Pittsburgh, in particular, the young children of Allentown through our Allentown Learning Engagement Center. In the past, I held a position at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council with a focus around events, social media, design and organizing teaching artist initiatives. If I'm not at home drawing or work, I can usually be found at community meetings, organizing the Pittsburgh Zine Fair or supporting my friends who are artists and musicians.

Rachel DeSoto Jackson

I am an educator, scholar, and artist in the field of Theatre and Performance focusing on creating diversity, equity, and inclusion through Applied Theater models for social change. My areas of specialization are in Latinx/Chicanx theatre and performance, Applied Theatre, and Theatre of the Oppressed. My artistic practice, scholarship, and teaching explore Latinx/Chicanx and minority narratives of identity, culture, and social memory. At the intersections of my work is an emphasis on community-building. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Applied Theater at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Director of SPATE (Simulated Patient/Applied Theater Ensemble). I also serve as a Board Member for the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed organization and on the Editorial Board of the organization’s journal.

Brent Rondon

I work for the Global Business Program, Duquesne University Small Business Development Center. I am an international business consultant assisting manufacturers to find new markets overseas. I am currently involved in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce to support U.S. manufacturing companies to increase their business in Latin America. The focus industries are infrastructure, energy, mining, oil and gas, construction equipment and transportation equipment. I meet with the U.S. companies nationwide, translate their business materials into Spanish, organize trips to Latin America to do B2B individual business appointments or buy large spaces at Latin American industry fairs and then I subsidize individual spaces for the U.S. companies. I also run a program for Immigrant Entrepreneurs where I provide business consulting in Spanish talking about how to open a business. I have been meeting Latinos for over 5 years now with much success.

Marla Ripoll

I am a professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh.