Wisconsin’s 46 Most Influential Latino Leaders, Part 5


    This is the fourth in a five-part series. Part One is here, Part Two is here, Part Three is here and Part Four is here.

    Dr. Vitaliano Figueroa is Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UW-Lacrosse. Originally from New York, he was the first of six siblings to go to college. Figueroa has over 20 years of experience in student affairs and higher education. Prior to joining UWL, he was the assistant vice president for student affairs at San Diego State University. Before that, he led a variety of student affairs programs at Valley City State University in North Dakota, the College of Southern Nevada, United States International University in San Diego, Santa Ana College and the University of Rhode Island. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Rhode Island and a doctorate from Argosy University in California.

    Jair Alvarez is a litigation attorney providing corporate and criminal law counsel and representation in Madison, operating his own practice since graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2014. As a law school student, he volunteered at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

    Luz del Carmen Arroyo Calderon is Retention Initiatives and Student Engagement (RISE) Student Success Manager at Madison College. She grew up in a small town in Mexico and was 12 when she moved to Milwaukee with her mom. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 and taught in the Madison Metropolitan School District as a Bilingual Resource Specialist, Bilingual Resource Teacher and Dual Language Immersion Teacher until 2017, when she joined the staff at Madison College. She also holds a master’s degree in bilingual, multilingual and multicultural education from Edgewood College and was one of Brava Magazine’s “Women to Watch” in 2021.

    Galy Montes is owner of Palereria Yayo in the heart of Milwaukee’s south side, and cofounder of Mercadera, a marketplace for Latina women entrepreneurs to sell their wares. What started as a Facebook group of makers supporting each other has become a series of pop-up markets, offering as many as 50 vendors space to be seen and find customers. The Mercadera hosted a number of pop-up marketplace events around the city over the summer and into the fall. The group is also a member of the “Poderosa Collective,” aling with Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, Mujerón Movement, Botanica Galactica, Latinas Connect, and MiVoz.com making up the a collaboration of Latina-founded and Latina-led groups across the area aiming to honor, inspire, empower and lift the voices, contributions, joy and talents of Latinas.

    Luis Hernandez is director of public affairs for Milwaukee County. He previously worked as a staff adviser in the Milwaukee Mayor’s office, deputy director of communications for the Chicago park district and enior account director at MVT, a boutique marketing communications agency  based in Evanston, Ill., that specializes in sports and lifestyle programs. His career has also included  serving as director of marketing for ISE baseball and parts of eight seasons with the Chicago White Sox  organization as director of public relations. Lou has a background in team branding, communications, marketing initiatives and philanthropic  program development. He is a Chicago native and holds a B.A. degree in public relations from  Marquette University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and serves on the MU Alumni Association national board of directors. 

    Eli Rivera and Ruben Gaona are cofounders of The Way Out, which aligns employers with qualified Justice Involved Job Seekers via a comprehensive anti-bias job platform and provides social support services and technologies to help job seekers integrate into new roles successfully. The Way Out provides a robust anti-bias employment platform and self-learning mobile app, that helps remove personal and professional barriers and provides ongoing personal and professional support. Rivera, an experienced restaurant professional, also founded Shyftfly, a digital platform to help restaurant owners and operators manage and communicate with personnel. Gaona, a Navy veteran, is also founder of career consulting firm 2ndChanceWisconsin and a re-entry consultant.

    Maria Harris is Multicultural Resource Center Coordinator at UW-Stevens Point and lead organizer of Fiesta Point, the city’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. A first-generation Latina and Stevens Point native, she earned a degree in psychology from UW-SP in 2016 and worked in customer service at Stevens Point-based software company Skyward for seven years before joining the staff at her alma mater earlier this year.

    John Cheslock is a licensed professional counselor at UW-Green Bay, providing compassionate, client-empowered, trauma-informed counseling with a wide range of university students of all ages. He is retired from a 26-year career in law enforcement and a proud Latino and California native. 

    Kattia Jimenez is the owner of Mount Horeb Hemp LLC, a USDA certified organic hemp farm. Mount Horeb Hemp is breathing new life into the agricultural industry by growing organic hemp and developing products that improve natural wellbeing. Mount Horeb Hemp’s line of products include Full Spectrum CBD tinctures, CBD muscle cream, hemp flower soaps, and hemp flower CBD pre-rolls. She regularly invites community leaders and members to visit the farm and educate her community on Hemp and its potential to create generational wealth for non-traditional farmers, while also improving wellbeing. Kattia holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and is a member of the Hemp Industries Association, Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce. She is a host of the Hemp Can Do It podcast and is a guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural & Life Sciences. Kattia has spent the majority of her career working in public health and has expertise in project management, strategic planning, and marketing.

    Who’d we miss? Email your nominations for next year’s list to [email protected]!