Our Story

In February 2000 at a planning retreat organized by a group of Latino community organizations from East Palo Alto, with the support of the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, and a consultant, community representatives developed an agenda to evaluate the political, economic, and social context of East Palo Alto. The retreat produced a work-plan which permitted us to address the major challenges facing immigrant Latino residents in the community and to contribute in a more organized way to the future development of East Palo Alto.

The result of this effort was the creation of Nuestra Casa in the year 2002, the only grassroots community organization in East Palo Alto with a board consisting primarily of local, Latino leaders. Today, Nuestra Casa offers a variety of educational and leadership development programs, and participates in a host of community projects that impact the lives of our local families. Annually, our programming directly serves over 5,000 people throughout San Mateo County. 

Our Team

 
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Andrés R. Connell, Executive director

Andrés has been our ED since January 2009. He is a seasoned nonprofit administrator who has dedicated his career to working with immigrant Latino communities. Andrés is recognized as a dynamic and collaborative community leader, and he currently sits on numerous advisory boards and steering committees throughout San Mateo County.

During his tenure at Nuestra Casa, Andrés has received leadership and community advocate awards from the following partners: Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), One East Palo Alto (OEPA), and the Latino Community Foundation. In addition to his extensive nonprofit and community building experience, Andrés also volunteers his time to advancing grassroots philanthropy in the Latino community.

Andrés holds a BS in Sociology from UC Santa Barbara, a Project Management Certificate Degree from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), and a Master in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.

 
julio

Julio Garcia, program director

With over 25 years in community grassroots organizing, he is well tuned to the needs of the community, particularly regarding immigrant issues and community education.  As a Program Director with  Nuestra Casa, Julio Garcia combines his advocacy for health care with the education and social service needs of families in our diverse community. Responsible for management, development, implementation and evaluation of the Nuestra Casa Programs, curriculum development, implementation and evaluation of the Promotoras Red Comunitaria Program. In charge of the community outreach efforts and individual presentations of the Asset Building (Secure Future$ Program) a financial literacy and asset-building program designed to educate our low-income families in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City. Responsible for the Parent Academy Series In collaboration with the Ravenswood City School District that  provides a culturally competent Parent Academy in both English and Spanish in 3 separate cohorts that fit the demographics of East Palo Alto’s diverse communities.

 
 
  Yazmin Lopez  Pease has been our ESL Program Director since August 2016. Our English as a Second Language program provides English classes for the parents in the Ravenswood School District, and the community of the surrounding areas. Yazmin has many years of experience teaching languages. This experience has helped her understand the problems that language learners have to face. Due to this observation she has been working on creating a program with a great language experience for our community of learners.    Yazmin strongly believes that when given an opportunity, individuals can achieve great things. Yazmin considers that the ESL program offered by Nuestra Casa is that opportunity, because students not only learn about language rules, they learn about the culture, they build a community, and the most important thing they start getting more confident.    Yazmin holds an English Teaching degree and a Masters in Spanish from Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México

Yazmin Lopez Pease has been our ESL Program Director since August 2016. Our English as a Second Language program provides English classes for the parents in the Ravenswood School District, and the community of the surrounding areas. Yazmin has many years of experience teaching languages. This experience has helped her understand the problems that language learners have to face. Due to this observation she has been working on creating a program with a great language experience for our community of learners.
 

Yazmin strongly believes that when given an opportunity, individuals can achieve great things. Yazmin considers that the ESL program offered by Nuestra Casa is that opportunity, because students not only learn about language rules, they learn about the culture, they build a community, and the most important thing they start getting more confident.
 

Yazmin holds an English Teaching degree and a Masters in Spanish from Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México

Yazmin Lopez

 
  Roxana Franc  o  is a Family Advocate who works alongside families to help prepare them in case of being deported, detained or any other emergency. Roxana personally meets with families one-on-one and helps them with the process of putting in order their Family Preparedness Plan and gathering important documents so that all of these documents are in one safe place together. Roxana truly believes that by helping families put in place their Family Preparedness Plan, it will help alleviate the stress for families that are not prepared for any emergency. Roxana knows the importance it is for families to be prepared beforehand and not wait until the last minute.      Roxana has always been passionate about being able to work with the Latino community in order to help them strive and achieve their dreams. From tutoring elementary aged children after school, to mentoring middle school aged children, Roxana's drive and passion for helping others has guided her to truly find what it is she wants to do in life. By working with these families, Roxana hopes to educate families on the importance of being prepared and what steps to take in order to be prepared.  Roxana holds a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from San José State University.

Roxana Franco is a Family Advocate who works alongside families to help prepare them in case of being deported, detained or any other emergency. Roxana personally meets with families one-on-one and helps them with the process of putting in order their Family Preparedness Plan and gathering important documents so that all of these documents are in one safe place together. Roxana truly believes that by helping families put in place their Family Preparedness Plan, it will help alleviate the stress for families that are not prepared for any emergency. Roxana knows the importance it is for families to be prepared beforehand and not wait until the last minute.    

Roxana has always been passionate about being able to work with the Latino community in order to help them strive and achieve their dreams. From tutoring elementary aged children after school, to mentoring middle school aged children, Roxana's drive and passion for helping others has guided her to truly find what it is she wants to do in life. By working with these families, Roxana hopes to educate families on the importance of being prepared and what steps to take in order to be prepared.

Roxana holds a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from San José State University.

Roxana Franco

 
 A Latina woman who is very cosmopolitan in her outlook; Iliana’s greatest strengths include her open mind, her leadership, and especially her profound passion for advocacy and commitment for serving our underserved Latino population. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Latin American & Latino Studies/Sociology, Iliana joined the Nuestra Casa team and is now our Program Manager. She manages the grassroots Leadership Promotora Core Program, coordinates the Parent Academy and assists with the development of curriculum and programs.  Iliana is committed to refining her leadership skills in order to have a greater impact in underrepresented and underserved communities in the San Mateo County. In 2018, she completed the Leadership Program through the Redwood City Chamber (Class of 2018). This program gave her greater exposure to the various systems within our county and through her engagement she built relationships and interacted with more seasoned professionals in leadership. Through these and many other endeavors, she is passionate about making an impact in her Latino community by advocating for more access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families.  With her education and non-profit experience, Iliana holds a strong personal commitment to community empowerment and is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

A Latina woman who is very cosmopolitan in her outlook; Iliana’s greatest strengths include her open mind, her leadership, and especially her profound passion for advocacy and commitment for serving our underserved Latino population. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Latin American & Latino Studies/Sociology, Iliana joined the Nuestra Casa team and is now our Program Manager. She manages the grassroots Leadership Promotora Core Program, coordinates the Parent Academy and assists with the development of curriculum and programs.

Iliana is committed to refining her leadership skills in order to have a greater impact in underrepresented and underserved communities in the San Mateo County. In 2018, she completed the Leadership Program through the Redwood City Chamber (Class of 2018). This program gave her greater exposure to the various systems within our county and through her engagement she built relationships and interacted with more seasoned professionals in leadership. Through these and many other endeavors, she is passionate about making an impact in her Latino community by advocating for more access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families.

With her education and non-profit experience, Iliana holds a strong personal commitment to community empowerment and is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Iliana Garcia

 
 

Our Board 

 

Kelly Hunt is an independent consultant based in Redwood City, CA. She joined the Board because Nuestra Casa is an organization that gets things done. It has a proven track record of improving policies on behalf of the local Latino community. And, Nuestra Casa hires great people to run great programs. These policies and programs build local leadership, and Kelly believes that's how change happens.

Kelly is a former philanthropy executive. Her work experience includes six years at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a Research Officer, and nine years at New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) as a Senior Program Director and Chief Program Learning Officer. During her career, Kelly co-founded the first statewide health foundation in New York, starting from the ground up. She developed evaluation frameworks for programs including NYSHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund. She developed and managed over $30 million in research and evaluation grants. And, she’s published peer-reviewed articles, chapters, reports, and blogs. If you ask her, she’s most proud of the oral health work she co-led in New York that that led to passage of protective legislation for community water fluoridation, a population health intervention highlighted by the CDC as one of the top 10 public heath improvements of 20th century.

Kelly is currently building a second career that uses her writing and analytical skills. Outside of Nuestra Casa, Kelly is raising her daughters to be fierce young women. In her spare time, she teaches art at Nesbit Elementary School in Belmont. And, she is a volunteer philanthropist through the Latino Community Foundation's Giving Circles. She holds a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Villanova University. 

Kelly Hunt (Secretary)

Miriam Torres-Acosta has been serving youth and their families in the bay area for over 10 years. She’s been able to serve youth and their families by working in school districts, schools, non-profits, and government. Miriam loves learning. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies with an emphasis on Immigration and Social Justice from UC Santa Cruz. Currently she’s a part-time student at Chabot College working towards a degree in Early Childhood Development while also temporarily working full time at Hayward Unified School District as a Substitute Child, Welfare, and Attendance Outreach Worker. Miriam grew up in East Palo Alto and is very passionate about serving the community she grew up in. She joined Nuestra Casa as a board member in 2010 after doing a six-month internship with Nuestra Casa. She fell in love with what Nuestra Casa does for the community, and has been with Nuestra Casa ever since. Miriam enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially with her very active two year old daughter. 

Miriam Torres-Acosta

Maria Salamanca is a venture capitalist at Unshackled Ventures, activist leader and advisor at Swing Left, fellow at Higher Ground Labs and founder at Making a Techie newsletter. Unshackled Ventures, a fund that fills a unique space in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, funding teams with immigrant founders at the earliest stage of pre-seed.

Maria is not only a leader but key figure in the pre-seed investment community, supporting underrepresented founders just like herself. In 2018, she was first Latina named Forbes 30 Under 30 for Venture Capital and Business Insider’s Under 30 Rising Stars. She is deeply involved in supporting the Latino entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is this strong support and investment in her community that won her the 2017 California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Shark of Year. Previous to joining Unshackled, Maria worked at FWD.us an immigration lobbying group founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

She immigrated to Orlando, FL from Colombia at age 7. She attended UC Berkeley and received a double bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Legal Studies. She is a mentor at Year Up, IDEO, Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Founders Institute.

Maria Salamanca

 
  Miriam Yupanqui  is a Program Manager with Family Connections where she manages a K-12 education program that supports underrepresented students in the Peninsula.  Miriam has a passion for driving change and making a difference in local communities and this compelled her to join the Nuestra Casa Board in 2008.  Miriam grew up in East Palo Alto and her background makes her a good fit to serve as a Board Member with Nuestra Casa.  Miriam is an accomplished professional with 10+ years of diverse experience in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Miriam's self starter work ethic have excelled her career forward in the areas of evaluation design, program management, and research.  Miriam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from UC Berkeley and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. 

Miriam Yupanqui is a Program Manager with Family Connections where she manages a K-12 education program that supports underrepresented students in the Peninsula.

Miriam has a passion for driving change and making a difference in local communities and this compelled her to join the Nuestra Casa Board in 2008.  Miriam grew up in East Palo Alto and her background makes her a good fit to serve as a Board Member with Nuestra Casa.

Miriam is an accomplished professional with 10+ years of diverse experience in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Miriam's self starter work ethic have excelled her career forward in the areas of evaluation design, program management, and research.

Miriam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from UC Berkeley and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. 

Miriam Yupanqui (CHAIR)

  Diana Luis , sales and marketing coordinator at State Farm. She immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico to California at age 3 with my siblings and parents. She grew up in East Palo Alto. Her first job was at EPA CAN DO (a housing development organization in East Palo Alto) where I discovered my passion for community. She got her insurance agent license in 2007 and started her career in sales and marketing for insurance companies  Diana decided to join the board in 2013 because she had a strong desire to be deeper involved with creating positive change in my community. Growing up in East Palo Alto she experienced firsthand that our Hispanic community in particular had inadequate representation, lack of resources, services and access to healthcare. She felt joining Nuestra Casa was a perfect fit because it tackled all of these issues.  She strives to serve as a consistent and evolving role model for my 10 year old daughter and through action pass along the desire to serve others.  

Diana Luis, sales and marketing coordinator at State Farm. She immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico to California at age 3 with my siblings and parents. She grew up in East Palo Alto. Her first job was at EPA CAN DO (a housing development organization in East Palo Alto) where I discovered my passion for community. She got her insurance agent license in 2007 and started her career in sales and marketing for insurance companies

Diana decided to join the board in 2013 because she had a strong desire to be deeper involved with creating positive change in my community. Growing up in East Palo Alto she experienced firsthand that our Hispanic community in particular had inadequate representation, lack of resources, services and access to healthcare. She felt joining Nuestra Casa was a perfect fit because it tackled all of these issues.

She strives to serve as a consistent and evolving role model for my 10 year old daughter and through action pass along the desire to serve others.  

Diana Luis (Vice CHAIR)

  Rigo Rosas,  is a Clinical Program Supervisor at Rebekah’s Children Services (RCS) a mental health non-profit providing care to at risk youth and families with a mission and commitment to seeing our community flourish by building pathways to hope, happiness and wellbeing. Rigo is also a 2018 fellow for the New Leader’s Council, the premier leadership institute in the country for progressive leaders. He is also a graduate of the Latino Board Leadership Academy which provided him training to serve on the Board of Nuestra Casa.    Rigo is an experienced mental health professional committed to serving under-privileged communities in Silicon Valley. In his current role, Rigo works on ensuring services are provided via a family-centered, strengths-based, needs-driven process designed to stabilize the family unit. Rigo’s work has focused on preventing, reducing, and eliminating the impact of mental health conditions on families in Silicon Valley. Rigo is passionate about making an impact in our communities, increasing the access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families. Moreover, Rigo is committed to improve his leadership and professional development skills to continue to serve as a leader to represent communities in need.  Rigo is an immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico and has resided in California since his arrival at age 12. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. degree in Psychology. He also completed his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Santa Clara University.

Rigo Rosas, is a Clinical Program Supervisor at Rebekah’s Children Services (RCS) a mental health non-profit providing care to at risk youth and families with a mission and commitment to seeing our community flourish by building pathways to hope, happiness and wellbeing. Rigo is also a 2018 fellow for the New Leader’s Council, the premier leadership institute in the country for progressive leaders. He is also a graduate of the Latino Board Leadership Academy which provided him training to serve on the Board of Nuestra Casa.  

Rigo is an experienced mental health professional committed to serving under-privileged communities in Silicon Valley. In his current role, Rigo works on ensuring services are provided via a family-centered, strengths-based, needs-driven process designed to stabilize the family unit. Rigo’s work has focused on preventing, reducing, and eliminating the impact of mental health conditions on families in Silicon Valley. Rigo is passionate about making an impact in our communities, increasing the access of culturally and linguistically competent services to Latino families. Moreover, Rigo is committed to improve his leadership and professional development skills to continue to serve as a leader to represent communities in need.

Rigo is an immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico and has resided in California since his arrival at age 12. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. degree in Psychology. He also completed his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Santa Clara University.

Rigo Rosas (Treasurer)

  Ana Maria Pulido  is a local asset that will add much value to the SUHSD community. She comes with multilayered experience in community relations and is always looking for ways to enhance her skills and talents to better serve the people and communities she is involved with. Ana has a Bachelor’s in Science Degree in Business from San Francisco State University and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. In her previous capacity she served as the Chief Operating Officer for One East Palo Alto. A local non-profit agency and community convener focused on equipping and building the capacity of individuals with a mission to enhance the lives of the community at large.  Born and raised in the City of East Palo Alto, Ana has dedicated her life to pursuing her passion of helping those who are underprivileged and underserved. Ana has garnered an insight on how to best serve the most necessitous by drawing from lessons learned from her own immigrant family. Through her public service, she continuously advocates for families who are misrepresented and ignored by serving and participating in many organizations. Currently, Ana is serving as the President of the board for the Ravenswood City School District. Ana’s spare time is also focused on community involvement and advocacy. She is a board member of the Bay Area Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (BALEO) and Nuestra Casa. Both organizations advocate for the improvement and betterment of issues impacting underserved Latino populations.  Additionally, Ana is part of the A.C. Nava Scholarship Foundation oversight committee whose mission is to aide and provide scholarship funds to individuals and families who would not otherwise qualify for financial aid. Lastly, Ana is the Community Outreach/Engagement Director for a local faith based organization whose objective is to create events that are geared and focused on serving disadvantaged populations.

Ana Maria Pulido is a local asset that will add much value to the SUHSD community. She comes with multilayered experience in community relations and is always looking for ways to enhance her skills and talents to better serve the people and communities she is involved with. Ana has a Bachelor’s in Science Degree in Business from San Francisco State University and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. In her previous capacity she served as the Chief Operating Officer for One East Palo Alto. A local non-profit agency and community convener focused on equipping and building the capacity of individuals with a mission to enhance the lives of the community at large.

Born and raised in the City of East Palo Alto, Ana has dedicated her life to pursuing her passion of helping those who are underprivileged and underserved. Ana has garnered an insight on how to best serve the most necessitous by drawing from lessons learned from her own immigrant family. Through her public service, she continuously advocates for families who are misrepresented and ignored by serving and participating in many organizations. Currently, Ana is serving as the President of the board for the Ravenswood City School District. Ana’s spare time is also focused on community involvement and advocacy. She is a board member of the Bay Area Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (BALEO) and Nuestra Casa. Both organizations advocate for the improvement and betterment of issues impacting underserved Latino populations.

Additionally, Ana is part of the A.C. Nava Scholarship Foundation oversight committee whose mission is to aide and provide scholarship funds to individuals and families who would not otherwise qualify for financial aid. Lastly, Ana is the Community Outreach/Engagement Director for a local faith based organization whose objective is to create events that are geared and focused on serving disadvantaged populations.

Ana Maria Pulido

  Bernardo Huerta

Bernardo Huerta

Bernardo Huerta