Adriana Villavicencio, PhD



Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is Deputy Director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, NYU. In this role, she develops and leads multiple research projects, including an evaluation of a citywide effort to increase college and career readiness for Black and Latino young men. She holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University, an M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Having served on LAACU's board for six years as Communications Chair, she is honored to take on the role of President for the 2015-2017 term. She hopes to capitalize on the growing momentum among LAACU members and the energy of the new board to establish a long-term strategic plan for the organization.


Carlos V. Cruz

Vice President


Carlos majored in Economics and held leadership positions in the Chicano Caucus among many other campus groups. After working as admissions officer at Columbia, he embarked on a career in retail with roles in product development and merchandising. He is currently a Director of Global Production at Gap. He loves to run, hike, do yoga, and still enjoys reading economic studies


Michael Barrientos

Vice President


Michael Barrientos is SEAS '12 alum and currently a Civil Project Engineer working with hi-rise forming and shoring designs at Engineered Devices Corporation. Last year, Michael reconnected with his high-school and founded the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction Alumni Association Inc., a nonprofit organization which aims to narrow the gap between growing market demands for engineers and college ready graduates who have an interest in engineering. Outside of engineering and his interest in information technology, for Michael there’s no better way to pass the time then by burning up the dance floor.


Yesenia Miranda



Yesenia Miranda is a SEAS alum with a B.A. in Chemical Engineering, and an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in medical physics from Stony Brook University. Her curiosity has led to her pursuit of a career in research through several capacities: from the lab bench to radiology to her current position facilitating research in healthcare policy. Yesenia has been active on the board for two years, initially as a committee member and now Secretary. Outside of her professional life she is a podcast junkie that loves cosmetics, fashion, and styling.


Jason Tejada





Ely F. Santoni, CFRE

Development Chair


Ely F. Santoni is the Director of Development & Planned Giving (College of Humanities & Social Sciences) at Montclair State University (MSU). Ms. Santoni also worked as vice president of philanthropy at Bon Secours Health System and spent 10 years at Columbia University Medical Center raising funds for the health sciences. She received both her B.A. in Spanish Literature and Language and a Master of Science in Fundraising Management from Columbia University and is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) since 2005 to present.


Hernán Ortiz

Communications Chair


Hernán Ortiz has been an educator for over 10 at various private schools across the city. He holds a B.A. in Spanish from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in Organization & Leadership ('15). Hernán has taught and provided our youth with the support they need to further advance in their educational endeavors. Last year a former student of his graduated from Columbia University; this year, two former students will do the same. Seeing former students graduate from the same university he once did, is a source of pride for Hernán. Hernán is currently enrolled at Brooklyn Law School. He enjoys working out, watching Suits, and going to brunch!



Tatiana Vera

Student Relations Chair


Tatiana Vera has recently graduated this past May from Barnard College of Columbia University (class of 2015). She is currently working as Project Coordinator at Montefiore Medical Center in the Department of General Internal Medicine assisting Dr. Alain Litwin’s team of professionals with “Patient-Centered Models of HCV Care for People Who Inject Drugs.” Currently, she is seeking to expand her knowledge on mental/sexual health awareness for the Latino community and is interested in being involved in similar projects in the future with racial-ethnic communities in preparation for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. As Student Relations Chair of the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University, she is hoping to facilitate the dynamics between students and the LAACU board. She cannot wait to meet you all!


Marilyn Valenciano, DSW

Student Relations Chair




Krystal Kaplan

Events Chair


Krystal Kaplan has extensive experience in fundraising and event planning, teaching individuals in under-resourced communities and developing programs for at-risk youth and dislocated workers. As Events Chair, she combines her experience with the Latino community at Columbia and across New York to engage alumni, support current students, and recruit volunteers. Through events such as El Regreso and new ones to be created, she hopes to expand LAACU’s visibility and celebrate its ongoing vibrancy.


Elisa Charters

Mentorship Chair


Elisa Charters (SIPA ’01) is currently principal of EAC Business International, LLC, a consultation firm specializing in Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategies and Vice Chair of the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority; she formerly founded Toussa International LLC, a wholesale distribution and sourcing company of children’s apparel imported from South America, and previously served The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) for 13 years in executive management, most notably as a lead negotiator of major real estate development and operating agreements (World Trade Center/Freedom Tower post 9/11). Ms. Charters dedicates time to non-profit organizations advocating for Latinx and the underserved (Latina Surge, Surge the Brown Out, Junior League of Montclair-Newark), and enjoys life at home with family -- Remy, Lucian, Brian (CBS ’98), prima Manuela & 4 dogs (Bailey, Coco, Hershey & Nutella).


Armando Lozano

Mentorship Chair


Armando Lozano (CC'15) graduated with honors with a degree in Political Science and Ethnicity and Race Studies. As an undergraduate, he was very active in Chicanx Caucus, the Columbia Mentoring Initiative - Latino Family Tree, and the overall Latinx community on campus. Armando currently works at Oliver Wyman as a management consultant based in the New York Office. He hopes to continue to law school to study immigration law in the future.



Advisory Board



Olson Aguirre



Christine G. Ortiz


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