Wisconsin’s 46 Most Influential Latino Leaders, Part 3


    This is the third in a five-part series. Part One is here and Part Two is here.

    Nora Gonzalez Carvajal is Cultural Adviser for the Appleton Area School District, though she will soon move on to Reach Counseling where she will be a anti-human trafficking and exploitation advocate. Originally from Mexico City, she moved to Appleton in 1997. She has been working for the Appleton Area School District since 2001 in a variety of different roles. She started as a Spanish Interpreter for Title I preschool in 2001 and progressed until she assumed the cultural adviser role in 2014, a role that exists due to a partnership between the school district and Fox Valley Technical College. Her passion has always focused mostly on helping the Latino Community in one way or the other. As a Cultural advisor, she focused on working with all students of color helping them manage any obstacle to successfully graduating from high school and pursuing post-secondary education. She also currently serves as one of the Board of Directors for Court-appointed Special Advocates. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc and an associate’s degree in early childhood from FVTC. 

    Roberto Partarrieu is executive director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of LaCrosse. He’s  worked for the Catholic Church since 1998 in different positions both in the United States and in his native Chile. In Chile, he worked in the private sector for a number of years before joining the management team of a Catholic Congregation, becoming the General Manager of an Institute and later Principle of a large K-12 school. When he and his family moved back to the United States, he worked in fundraising and as Vice President for Finance and Administration at a Catholic Graduate School of Psychology in Arlington, VA. He graduated with a Bachelors and a Master’s Degree in Economics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

    Joe Hankey is Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at CUNA Mutual Group, where he advises leaders on ways to foster open, trusting and inclusive work environments; identifies organizational risks and develops training opportunities. He also leads the company’s network of Employee Resource Groups responsible for representing employees’ with shared interests. Before coming to Madison in 2014, he worked in variety of roles, including Director of Programming, at Casa Norte in Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from St. Louis University in 2001 and a master’s degree in counseling from DePaul in 2008.

    Monica Cliff is the creative mind behind Inventiva Works and Teatro ñ. She is from a small town in Mexico named Zacatepec, Morelos. She holds a degree in Scenography from the National Institute of Fine Arts Center, National Theater School of Mexico and a master’s degree in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership from Edgewood College. 

    Dr. Raul Leon is Assistant Vice Provost for Student Engagement and Scholarship Programs at the University of Wisconsin, where he leads a portfolio that includes some of the largest scholarship programs in the country offering opportunities to talented and diverse students that continue to be leaders locally and nationally. Dr. Leon is an expert on strategic diversity management and his work has been nationally recognized as influential in effectively guiding retention and degree completion initiatives. Dr. Leon is an active researcher with over 40 scholarly contributions and has shared his policy-relevant work locally, nationally, and internationally in over 70 conferences.  Dr. Leon has received a number of prestigious awards through his career. At EMU, Dr. Leon was the recipient of EMU’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Research. This is the highest award given to a faculty member at EMU. Dr. Leon was the first faculty member in his department in over 35 years to obtain this award for his research contributions. Dr. Leon also received EMU’s Distinguished MLK Humanitarian Award. This award is given to an influential member of the campus who has contributed to build a better community. This award recognized Dr. Leon’s efforts founding and directing the BrotherHOOD and SisterHOOD Initiatives, living and learning communities on campus designed to foster success for students of color. In 2017 the BrotherHOOD Initiative received the “Outstanding Men’s Program Award” from ACPA’s Coalition on Men & Masculinities. Dr. Leon is a graduate of the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) doctoral program from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Dr. Mariana Pacheco Ortiz is a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin. Her research focuses on meaningful opportunities for bi/multilingual and English Learner students to use their full linguistic resources for literacy learning and self-determination. She employs ethnographic and anthropological methods to understand sociopolitical and sociocultural processes related to language, teaching, learning, and curriculum. Her work contributes to theorizations and empirical knowledge of policies, programs, pedagogies, and practices that amplify what ‘counts’ as knowledge and that enhance bi/multilingual students’ academic potential through asset-based and strength-based educational practices, particularly for Chican@/Latin@ students. She is a former elementary bilingual (English-Spanish) teacher in Southern California and a proud alumnus of the Migrant Education and Upward Bound Programs. She earned a bachelor’s degree at California State University-Long Beach in 1995 and master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA.

    Amanda Avalos is co-executive director of Leaders Igniting Transformation, an advocacy and activism organization in Milwaukee. She is also vice-chair of the Milwaukee Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. Avalos is a graduate of Marquette University, the Emerge Wisconsin program, the Harvard Business School Young American Leaders Program, and Public Allies (twice). She is a co-Founder of Milwaukee Beautiful, a Legal Observer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, and an activist committed to seeing Milwaukee thrive.   

    Samantha Maldonado is Senior Manager for Diversity & Inclusion at Kohl’s, based in Milwaukee. She joined Kohl’s in 2020 after two years at Principal Financial Group and nearly six years in leadership roles at Northwestern Mutual. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Alverno College, where she earned both a bachelor’s degree and MBA. She is also on the board of the Milwaukee Parks Foundation, the  United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Leadership Council and is vice chair of the board of MobiliSE, formerly known as the Regional Transit Leadership Council. She was president of the Milwaukee chapter of Prospanica.   

    Blanca Gonzales is executive director of technology training nonprofit i.c.stars, which provides a rigorous technology-based workforce development and leadership training program for underserved adults, connecting them with career opportunities in Milwaukee and growing their professional network. Blana stepped into that role last year as the next step in a career in nonprofits that has included leadership positions at Neighborhood House of Milwaukee and Boy Scouts of America.

    Part Four coming tomorrow!