Home Wisconsin Sí Se Puede 2021: Wisconsin’s 36 Most Influential Latino Leaders, Part 3

Sí Se Puede 2021: Wisconsin’s 36 Most Influential Latino Leaders, Part 3


This is the second of a five-part series. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Aissa Olivarez is managing attorney at Community Immigration Law Center in Madison, and also an adviser and facilitator at Step Up: Equity Matters. She earned her JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2016 and worked at the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project before returning to Madison in 2018. 

Dr. Silvia Romero-Johnson is Director of Bilingual Programs and Instructional Equity in the Verona Area School District. She has served in the education field in a variety of capacities including: Interim Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent for the Office of English Learners in the Boston Public Schools in Boston MA. As the Executive Director of the Office of Multilingual and Global Education in the Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, WI, she led the district’s transition from transitional bilingual education to dual language immersion education. She was the principal of Nuestro Mundo Community School, MMSD’s first two-way bilingual immersion charter school. Currently, her work focuses on ensuring quality and rigorous instruction for multilingual learners, supporting leaders to become equity focused instructional leaders for multilingual learning, and the strategic planning for the improvement of services and programs for English/Multilingual Learners. She is an active participant of various organizations such as the American Educational Research Association, the Dual Language Immersion Research Alliance at American Councils, and the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education.

Robert Ramerez is director of community services operations at Ascension Health, where he provides operational oversight and strategic alignment for Ascension’s Community Services Clinic Division and leads clinic operations with a focus on strategic partnerships, joint ventures, direct service contracts, and return on investment. A Milwaukee native, he earned an associate’s degree in fire science from Milwaukee Area Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in public health from Kaplan University and MBA from Capella University. He began his career as Regional Trauma Advisory Council Coordinator at Froedtert Health, where he went on to serve as Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator from 2011-12. He joined Columbia St. Mary’s as Community Health Education Coordinator in 2012 and has been with the organization in various roles through its acquisition by Ascension.

Vanessa Llanas is deputy director of Governor Tony Evers’ Milwaukee Office, a role she just stepped into last month after more than five years as the southeast Wisconsin regional representative for US Senator Tammy Baldwin. She previously served as the community outreach manager for the City of Milwaukee and community program coordinator for Children’s Hospital of Wisconisn.

Francesca Mayca-Wegner is executive director of Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing educational, career and leadership opportunities for Hispanics in Wisconsin. Before taking that role in April 2020, most recently served as senior director of development and communications for Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee. She previously served in various roles in Marquette University’s advancement department. A native of Des Plaines, Ill., Mayca Wegner earned her bachelor of science degree and master’s degree in business administration at Marquette University. She also studied abroad at La Universidad de Deusto San Sebastián in Spain. She also serves on the board of directors for the Washington County Humane Society, on the Marquette Hispanic-Serving Institution Advisory Committee and as a mentor in the Nativity Jesuit Academy Mentoring program.

Mayra Pasayes is a Scholars for Success coordinator at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. The Scholars for Success program focuses on the retention and persistence of at-risk, low-income, multicultural students as well as other students who are part of marginalized populations. She was honored in 2018 with the college’s Martin Luther King Award. Before taking on Scholars for Success, she spent 15 years as Hispanic/Latino Cultural Support and Recruitment Specialist for both the Appleton Area School District and FVTC.

Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores is a longtime community activist in the Madison area and currently vice-chair of the new Police Civilian Oversight Board. An outspoken critic of the Madison Police Department, she can often be heard speaking up at Common Council meetings and other venues. She is also a mosaic artist who recently contributed to a massive mural in the Williamson Street neighborhood honoring eight lives lost to violence. She also serves on the board of the Marquette Neighborhood Association.

Part 4 coming tomorrow!