Every year since our founding in 2015, we have recognized Wisconsin’s most influential Black and Latino leaders, and we are very proud now to also begin to recognize Indigenous and Asian American leaders. These lists have become the most anticipated thing we do. Every year, I’ve intended these lists to highlight the beauty of the diversity across our state. I want kids here in Wisconsin to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it’s possible for people of color to achieve great things here.
This week we shine a statewide spotlight on the dedicated leaders of Wisconsin’s Latino communities. These are richly diverse communities with roots that represent a massive geographic area. The people we highlight this week are elected leaders, business leaders and community leaders, doing difficult, important work.
We are also aware that this list, like every other, is not comprehensive. There are, without a doubt, more than 40 influential Latino leaders doing good work in Wisconsin. We hope you will let us know about people in your community whom we can include on future lists. For now, though, we just want to introduce you to a few of the people doing the work, often behind the scenes and without the accolades, across Wisconsin.
You might know a few of these names, but there’s a good chance that most of them will be new to you. I urge you to get to know them. Reach out to those living and working in your communities. Learn from them, network, create partnerships. And spread the word — let others in your network know that we have people of all ethnicities living and working across Wisconsin to make this state a good and prosperous place for all.
And one more note: Many of the people on this list — and on previous lists — will gather November 6 and 7 at the sixth annual 365 Leadership Summit. You’re welcome to come, too, to meet, network with and learn from this dynamic group!
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Jack Dávila is a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 2002. After college, he served in the U.S. Army as a Spanish linguist. He then attended Marquette University Law School, graduating in 2011. Following law school Dávila was an attorney at Tabak Law Firm and the Previant Law Firm, where he represented plaintiffs in personal injury and workers compensation cases. In 2020, Governor Tony Evers appointed Dávila to the circuit court after appointing his predecessor, Maxine White, to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Dávila was elected in 2021 after running unopposed.
Vanessa Vasquez is the director of the Caroline Scholars Program at Mount Mary University. She previously worked at Carmen Schools of Science & Technology, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Alverno College. She volunteers with multiple Milwaukee-area organizations. She was recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal (MBJ) as one of the 2019, 40 Under 40 Award recipients, the 2018 UMOS Hispanic Woman of the Year, and the 2016 Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM) Future Leader Award. She served as the 2013-2014 Ambassador representing the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation/Mexican Fiesta Inc. She is a News414/Noticias414 ambassador for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, forging connections on Milwaukee’s South Side, where she grew up. Vasquez earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Alverno College as a first-generation student.
Savion Castro is the youngest ever to serve on the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education. He is the operations workgroup chair, overseeing an over $500 million budget process, district policies, operations, and building services. During his time on the board, MMSD passed a historic $317 million referendum, expanded early childhood education, arts programming, and worked to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. In addition to serving on the Board of Education, Savion is a teacher and student mentor for First Wave hip-hop and urban arts scholarship program in UW-Madison’s office of multicultural arts and initiatives. Savion is a doctoral candidate at UW-Madison’s education leadership and policy analysis, as well as an education fellow with the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Education Sciences program at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
Jasmin Hernandez Treske is the program and events manager at the MKE Tech Hub Coalition, an organization looking to inclusively double the tech talent in Milwaukee by bringing awareness, education, and opportunity to underserved communities. A Milwaukee native, she began her banking career as a part-time teller, grew into management roles, and later joined BMO Harris’s Commercial Banking team. She joined the Tech Hub team in 2021. She earned a degree in communications from UW-Milwaukee in 2018.
Rosamaría Del Aguila Laursen is the director of multilingual programs for the Verona Area School District, a role she took on in 2022. She began her career in banking but shifted to multilingual education after five years. She has worked in multilingual education for 17 years. She has taught second and eighth grade in bilingual classrooms in Milwaukee Public Schools and English as a second language in Janesville. Most recently she spent 11 years as the Biliteracy Instructional Coordinator in Beloit. She earned a degree from the UW-Madison in German Linguistics, a master’s in education from UW-Whitewater.
Lissette Cruz-Jiménez is the director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center at Lawrence University in Appleton, where she aspires to provide a welcoming, inclusive, and creative space for all students, staff, and the community. It’s her second stint at Lawrence; she was Grants and Special Gifts Coordinator from 2015-2017. She went on to Thrivent Financial and then shifted into DEI, joining the Appleton Area School District as DEI office manager and later DEI coordinator. She volunteers as a member of the Appleton Police Department Community Advisory Board, the board of Casa Hispana and a member of the IDEA Committee for Girls on the Run International. As a first-generation student, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Crown College in Minnesota.
Faustina Bohling is vice president of people operations at Education Analytics in Madison. She previously worked in DEI and human resources at United Way, the University of Wisconsin and American Family Insurance. She was elected to the Sun Prairie Common Council in 2021, representing the city’s northwest side. She served on the mayor’s ad-hoc committee on diversity and inclusion. She is an alum of the UW-Madison, where she earned a degree in sociology.
Patricia Tomanguilla is director of lending systems at UW Credit Union, a role she took on earlier this year after more than 11 years in progressively senior roles at the credit union. She also managed Madison Futsal for four years. She earned a degree in economics from Universidad Ricardo Palma in Lima, Peru, and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Analisa Crawford is a bilingual mindset coach, national speaker, and a leader in the Wisconsin community. She grew up in Panama and moved to Wisconsin in 2015. And she quickly became a pillar in the Latino community, working with several organizations, such as Mercadera, Latinas Connect, BizStarts, Negozee, Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee and Poderosa Collective. She often volunteers her time as a coach to support Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, especially women, on how to scale their business and improve their mindset. She is also Supply Chain and Trade Compliance Import Specialist at CNH Industrial in Racine. She earned a bachelor’s degree in maritime logistics at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá and a master’s in project management from Universidad Interamericana de Panamá.
Manuel Santiago is director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, a role he’s held for more than nine years. He spent the previous 21 years at Marquette University, as coordinator of multicultural programs and associate director of the Health Careers Opportunities Program. He serves on the board of directors of the Wisconsin chapter of the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Universidad de Puerto Rico and a master’s in educational administration and leadership from Marquette.
Edgar Hernandez has been senior manager of multicultural business strategy at TruStage (formerly CUNA Mutual Group) since 2017. In that role, his goal is to collect, analyze and share multicultural consumer insights to help credit unions retain and attract new members with relevant products and services. He previously spent nearly 10 years in several roles at American Family Insurance and two years as associate director of La Casa de Esperanza in Milwaukee. He volunteers as a bilingual finance coach at Lighthouse Church, where he also serves on the board of directors. He earned a degree in finance at Iowa State and an MBA at the University of Wisconsin School of Business.
Jorge Antezana is interim CEO of the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce, a role he assumed earlier this year after serving as vice president of operations. He is also a technology education consultant for DANEnet and owns his own consultancy. He came to Madison after many years in business, technology and finance in Lima, Peru. He volunteers as a business mentor with SCORE and previously served on the board of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. He earned a degree in computer and system engineering at Universidad de San Martín de Porres and MBA at Universidad del Pacifico, both in Lima.
Selena (Trejo) Rzepiejewski serves Appleton Area School District as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator at the middle school level, a role she just took on earlier this year. After earning a degree in social work from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2017, she worked for several non-profit agencies, helping people to navigate various struggles and obstacles such as Substance Use Disorder, Mental Health, the Criminal Justice system, the Child Welfare system, and Domestic Violence. She recently joined the Latino Fest planning committee and the Latino Professionals Association of Northeast Wisconsin.
Amanda Hernandez is Vice President, Community Accountability Officer at Associated Bank. She took on that role in March 2022 after eight years as director of program development at the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network. She serves on the board of VIA Community Development Center and the enrollment committee of St. Joan Andita High School in Milwaukee.
Taheréh DeLeón has been principal for five years at Hawthorne Elementary School in Waukesha. She served as Principal at Whittier Elementary for one year, five years as dean of students, and seven years as a second grade dual language teacher. She was one of just 16 principals in Wisconsin selected for the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Principal Leaders Award this year. She earned a degree in multilingual education from UW-Milwaukee and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Marian University in Fond du Lac.
Robert Cordova is chief technology and strategy officer for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he is responsible for the design, commissioning and operation of the award-winning Fiserv Forum arena, home of the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks; while building and enabling IT, cyber security, data analytics and digital disciplines for the business and front office. Before joining the Bucks in 2018, he spent seven years as Principal Architect/Regional Chief Technology Officer for AT&T and many other roles over a 40-year career in technology. He was named CIO of the Year for 2019 by the Milwaukee Business Journal. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from Yale University.
Arturo ‘Tito’ Diaz is director of the University of Wisconsin School of Business Multicultural Center, a center he helped launch in the fall of 2021 as an inclusive gathering place for students in Grainger Hall, making Wisconsin one of the first business schools in the nation to offer a dedicated space to support underrepresented students. He started that role after five years as a program coordinator and organizational development specialist at the UW Multicultural Student Center. He graduated from UW in 2015 with a degree in community and nonprofit leadership and earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership and change from Edgewood College in 2022.
Christian Chaney is a striker for Forward Madison, the city’s professional soccer team. One of the splashiest off-season signings in USL League One, Chaney joined Madison after a season with Central Valley Fuego in his hometown of Fresno. It took him just 21 games to become Madison’s all-time leading scorer with 11 goals. His eight-year pro career has included four years in the second-tier USL Championship with Sacramento Republic and Fresno FC and a year in the National Independent Soccer Association with LA Force. As we go to press, Chaney is one of the key components that has Forward Madison poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2019.
Dominique Hyatt-Oates is public health nurse coordinator for the City of Milwaukee’s Health Department. Prior to becoming a nurse she got a bachelor’s degree in athletic training at Washington State.She returned to the Midwest to work at a bilingual physical therapy clinic and then joined Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master’s of Science in Nursing program, graduating in 2018. She started her nursing career in a post-op orthopedic unit. She has also served as an adjunct instructor for Alverno College and initiated a Black African American Employee Resource Group for the City of Milwaukee. She is on the board of the Greater Milwaukee chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.
Joseph Rosas is interim principal at Badger Rock Middle School on Madison’s south side. A product of Madison schools – he attended Lake View Elementary, Black Hawk Middle, and Madison East High – he went on to Madison College and the University of Wisconsin. He spent the second year of his master’s degree in social work as an intern at East, then served Wright Middle School as school social worker. He earned a graduate degree in educational leadership at Edgewood College and was named to the top job at Badger Rock this fall. He said he was most attracted to the job due to the school’s commitment to social justice and urban agriculture.
Megge Casique is coordinator of the Milton Youth Coalition in Rock County. The coalition aims to establish and strengthen community collaboration to support local efforts in helping Milton children avoid using illegal substances, and to improve children’s mental health and wellness. She took the helm in 2022 after 11 years of working with the coalition specifically on substance abuse and misuse. The coalition was able to bring her on as full-time coordinator thanks to a grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She is a certified health education specialist and earned a bachelor degree in community health education at UW-La Crosse.
Zianya Saldaña is Director of Equity and Community Initiatives at the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, a role she took on this past summer after more than 13 years at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Starting as a multicultural intern and then as a part-time grants assistant, she moved into full-time roles in student support and advising. In 2020, she led the creation of NWTC’s Women of Color Network Employee Involvement Group. She serves on the board of the NWTC Alumni Association and previously volunteered as a tutor with Literacy Green Bay. She graduated from UW-Green Bay with a double major in political science and public administration and expects to graduate from UW-Milwaukee with a master’s degree in higher education administration later this year.
Erika Rosales Garcia is an undocumented immigrant and a DACA recipient. She is also an immigration activist, an artist, and dancer who believes that art is medicine that heals us. Currently, she is the Director of the Center for Dreamers at UW-Madison where she supports undocumented individuals throughout the state of Wisconsin. She also currently works at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research leading organizational social justice work. Additionally, Erika is a 4W Director of Immigration and Human Rights. Erika is also passionate about supporting folks, especially BIPOC folks, with their individual healing and decolonizing journey through a community-centered approach, weaving her somatic healing practices, mind-body knowledge, spirituality, and social justice expertise. She most recently joined the nINA Collective as an affiliate to enhance this work.
Diana Gutierrez is a journalist and weekday morning anchor at WISN, Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate. She started her career in 2016 as a general assignment reporter in South Bend, Indiana before returning to her hometown of Chicago as an on-air reporter for WCIU. She is secretary of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and as a student at DePaul University, served as publicity coordinator for the school’s Society of Professional Journalists and Online News Association chapters. She is also a member of the executive board of the Daisie Foundation.
Maria Padilla is Diverse Small Business Manager at the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce. The role was created last year as the result of a partnership between the City of Green Bay and the Chamber intended to focus on the region’s minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned businesses, working to connect resources to businesses fostering a sustainable small business sector. Before joining the Chamber, she worked in finance for several years. She earned a degree in marketing from UW-Green Bay in 2019.
Mathias Lemos Castillo is the Board Chair of the Latino Professional Association of Greater Madison. After graduating from Edgewood in 2018, he worked as a personal banker at Associated Bank, then joined Local Voices Network as a community builder. He now runs his own leadership development consulting firm, MLC Consulting, and has worked with major organizations such as United Way of Dane County.
Abby Andrietsch is CEO of St. Augustine Preparatory Academy, a multi-denominational Christiaion 4K-12 school in Milwaukee. Prior to stepping into that role in 2019, Andrietsch was co-founder and executive director of education nonprofit Schools That Can Milwaukee, a position she held for eight years. She has also served in executive positions at Husco International and the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, and also holds Master’s degrees in Business and Education from Stanford University.
Megan Diaz-Ricks is Community Partnerships Director with Community Shares of Wisconsin where she works with the many corporate donors who help to impact the work of Community Shares’ 70 non- members. The daughter of Chicano migrant workers, Megan was born and raised in Madison and comes from a long lineage of activists and advocates. Megan attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a returning student with a young child and graduated with a degree in Sociology in 2018. Later that year she joined Common Wealth Development as Coordination of Care Specialist. The next year Megan was promoted to the role of Director of Economic Development, where she worked to support the Economic Development section of Common Wealth Development through the COVID-19 pandemic, and later to Director of Communications and Fund Development. This work helped her to be recognized as one of InBusiness Magazine’s 2021 cohort of 40 Under 40 Young Professionals in the greater Madison area.
Jose Villa is a commercial loan officer at Fox Communities Credit Union. Headquartered in Appleton, the credit union serves members from Green Bay to Oshkosh and Manitowoc to Clintonville. A native of Sturgeon Bay, Jose earned degrees from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and UW-Green Bay, and this spring completed his MBA through St. Norbert College. Villa has offered workshops to first-generation students at UWGB and recently joined the board of directors for Casa ALBA Melanie, where he had volunteered for years and started a financial literacy program. Villa also serves on the Green Bay Botanical Garden board and is an active member of the Latino Professional Association of Northeast Wisconsin. He was named one of Insight Magazine’s 40 Under 40 for 2023.
Cristina Carvajal is founder and executive director of Wisconsin EcoLatinos, a nonprofit organization founded in 2021 that works to mobilize Latinos in south central Wisconsin to protect the environment and advocate for environmental justice. A native of Colombia, Carvajal moved to the U.S. more than 25 years ago — first to the east coast, then to Janesville and Madison. Volunteering with environmental advocacy organizations while raising her children reignited a passion for Carvajal who has always considered herself an environmental activist. She serves on the Sustainable Madison Committee, Lake Monona Waterfront Ad Hoc Committee and Wisconsin Environmental Equity Tool Advisory Committee. She earned a degree in petroleum engineering from the Universidad de América in Bogotá in 1994 and attended graduate courses at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Ana Berrios-Schroeder is a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County. She became the first Latina judge to serve Branch 13 in 2023 after more than 21 years as a family court commissioner. Ana was born and raised in Milwaukee, and is a lifelong resident, other than three years in Puerto Rico as a child and her years in law school in Madison. Berrios-Schroeder earned her bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in criminology, sociology and social philosophy with a minor in theology, her Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, and a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
April Leon is Nursing Education Manager at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, where she leads the clinical nurse mentorship program and facilitates a graduate nurse residency program, which supports newly hired graduate nurses and assists them with the transition from student nurse to professional nurse. She recently helped develop a nursing leadership course on unconscious bias for her fellow Advocate Aurora team members and represents the organization in various Hispanic community initiatives. She earned an associates degree in nursing from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, a bachelor’s from UW-Green Bay and a master’s in nursing education from UW-Oshkosh.
Fausto Rivera is a community lender at Forward Community Investments. He joined FCI two years ago after more than eight years as a commercial lender at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Agency here he administered and managed $10 million in Loan Guarantees, $35 million in New Markets Tax Credits, $22 million in State Small Business Credit Initiatives, $6 million in Loan Participation and $12.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits. He’s also worked as a small business loan officer at the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation and a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual. A native of Honduras, he earned a degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin in 2008.
Gloria Castillo Posada is Customer Engagement and Community Services Manager at MGE, a role she took on last year after nearly two years as a commercial account representative. She joined MGE after stints as the Race and Gender Equity Coordinator at YWCA Madison and Sustainable Communities Director at Sustain Dane. She earned a degree in ecology from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and a master’s degree in environment and resources, as well as a certificate in gender and women’s studies, from the UW-Madison.
Gerardo Jimenez is a realtor and real estate developer with The Enz Jimenez Group, and affiliated with Sprinkman Real Estate. He’s been one of the Madison area’s top realtors over the past 10 years. In addition to brokerage, Gerardo has built and remodeled over 100 homes in collaboration with builders and clients. Gerardo graduated from Penn State in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry.
Denisse Pachuca is senior regional manager of the Zero Barriers to Business program at BMO Harris Bank, where she works to equip Black and brown business owners with access to capital, educational resources and partnerships with other local organizations. She’s worked with BMO for more than 10 years as a branch manager and business banking relationship manager. Prior to joining BMO she spent four years at Associated Bank and four years at Wells Fargo. She earned a degree in mathematics from Marquette University in 2003.
María Díaz is founder of Ballet Folklórico de María Díaz, a Madison-based troupe that started when she taught two local girls the folk dances that she had learned as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Now the group has about 15 members at a time, touring the region and performing for public and private events. Born in Minnesota, she graduated from Madison East High School, where she has worked for the past 25 years. She is currently the assistant lead for school security there.
Alejandro Roldán is a nurse practitioner at Advocate Aurora Health and an adjunct faculty instructor at Marquette University. He is also a member of the board of directors and academic liaison for the Greater Milwaukee chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses Milwaukee. With his wife he has his own custom t-shirt business and is starting a nonprofit to address neurodiversity in the Latino community. He earned his nursing degree from Herzing University and master’s degree at Concordia.
Amanda Martinez is a program and engagement coordinator at Kids Forward, representing the Madison-based organization in Northeast Wisconsin. As a first-generation and proud daughter of immigrant parents, she was the first in her family to navigate various systems, learning firsthand how those systems often work against allowing communities of color and immigrant communities to thrive. These experiences inspired her to enter the field of social work. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the UW-Oshkosh and Master of Social Work from the UW-Madison with a focus on child, youth, and family policy.
Maria Amalia Wood is a textile artist and art teacher at Lighthouse Christian School. For the past seven years, Maria Amalia has been creating paper and textile objects that refer to memories of lived experiences. While constantly honing her ability to intelligently compose, Maria Amalia has developed a process for manipulating the wet pulp that allows her to work freely, creating marks and passages that evolve organically through a repetitive process of building an image with layered, ripped, painted, and collaged forms resulting in complex surfaces that carry rich color and texture passages. She was the inaugural Artist in Reisdence at Pinney Library in Madison in 2021. She holds a bachelor’s degree in General Art with a minor in Visual Communications from Judson University and an MFA in Textile Art and Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before earning her MFA in 2018, she accumulated more than 15 years of experience working with craft communities in Latin America in product development.
Who’d we miss? Let us know who should be on next year’s list by emailing [email protected]!