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Our Team

Ginny Romero.jpg

Executive Director

Gianella Romero, also known as Ginny, is a first generation Mexican-American native to Hickory, NC. She is a strong administrative professional with a passion of advocacy and leadership who has obtained her Bachelor’s degree at Winston-Salem State University followed by her Master of Business Administration at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She is our current Executive Director who is also an alum of Centro Latino. She believes that strong communities are built through education, support, unity and innovation.


Client Services Advocate

Andrea Quijas Arteaga, our Client Services Advocate, was born in Hidalgo, Mexico. She has resided in Newton since 2016 and is a student at Lenoir-Rhyne University where she is earning a double major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is enthusiastic about helping her community with personal growth and respect in order to build better bonds with each other.


Department of Justice Representative in-training

Monica Pagnini-Ibarra, is currently training to become a Department of Justice Representative for Centro Latino. A DOJ representative is an accredited representative which is a non-attorney who has demonstrated to the Department of Justice that they have enough education and experience in immigration law to provide immigration legal services. Monica was born in Venezuela and has resided in Hickory, North Carolina since 2015. She has served as a lawyer in Venezuela where she developed her career in the area of family law. She is sure that when we provide support for the better development of families, our society grows in a safer and more productive way.


Abriendo Puertas Program Director 

Victoria Morales, is from Chile but has been in the USA for almost 20 years. She is a Forestry Engineer with a Master of Science in Environmental Management, an oil paint artist, and a Spanish interpreter among several other things. She lived in High Point for 14 years and now resides in Hickory, places where she has always cultivated her passion for helping others. She has actively worked with Cub Scouts of America, interpreting, teaching Spanish, and participating in local artist events. She believes in making a difference and spreading knowledge about Latin heritage through culture, education, and actions. Different cultures, points of view, and opinions can create synergies that will end up enriching and benefiting entire communities.

Our Team: Experience

Social Media Specialist

Soraya Valdez Place, was born and raised in El Salvador. She immigrated to the United States in 2004 and got a Master’s Degree in Arts at North Carolina State University. Soraya moved to Hickory in 2015 after returning from Panama where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer with her husband for 3 years. She has been a Spanish Professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University since January 2015 and also works in Hispanic Community outreach in the Catawba County Library system and as a Family Liaison with a program called Juntos. As a forever ESL student, Soraya is very committed to making extra efforts to assist at-risk students and their families to stay on track in their educational, personal, and community goals. 


Karate Sensei 

George Place, is a volunteer Karate instructor who makes martial arts training accessible for families who might not otherwise be able to afford the dojo experience. Sensei George has served in the Peace Corp in El Salvador and Panama.

Our Team: Experience

Board of Directors

Board Chair
JoAnn Spees




Jairo Betancourt

George Place

Maricruz McCorkle




Mauro "Rocky" Renteria

Our Team: Experience
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