About Us

Board of Directors

Carlos-Manuel-Perez

Carlos Manuel Perez

Co-Chair

Mercantil Bank

Carlos Manuel Perez is Vice President, Commercial Lending Officer for Mercantil Bank, one of the largest banks in South Florida serving its community for over 35 years.

At Mercantil Bank, Perez is responsible for developing new business and focusing on portfolio growth while establishing and cultivating relationships throughout the local communities.  Perez also serves business owners and entrepreneurs by providing them with in-depth market analysis and financial alternatives designed to help them reach their full potential. 

A seasoned commercial banking and finance professional, Perez was previously Vice President at Florida Community Bank, where he was part of a team that spearheaded and reviewed all commercial loans to ensure it complied with the bank’s financial policies. Prior to joining Florida Community Bank, Perez worked for Mercantil Bank and served as a Special Asset Officer and Corporate Credit Underwriter.

Perez graduated from the Commercial Credit Training Academy at Mercantil Bank in 2007. He also attended Florida International University (FIU) and earned an executive master of science in taxation (EMST) and a graduate certificate in accounting and auditing. He is also a cum laude graduate of FIU, where he also received a bachelor’s degree in finance.

Evelio-Torres

Evelio Torres

Co-Chair

Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe

Evelio C. Torres has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties in Florida since January 2, 2007.  The ELC is Florida’s largest nonprofit organization charged with supporting and expanding access to high-quality early education programs for preschool children living in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, including children with special needs.  The ELC administers the state’s Voluntary Prekindergarten and School Readiness programs, as well as an Early Head Start grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The focus of the ELC is to improve educational outcomes for children, their health and well-being and the services they receive from early care and education programs.

Prior to joining the ELC, Mr. Torres served as Senior Vice President for a national nonprofit human services agency.  While there, Mr. Torres established services for the agency’s newest market in Florida.  Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Mr. Torres worked in state government for 20 years where he held a number of leadership positions.

Mr. Torres holds a master’s degree in public administration from Florida International University where he taught public administration courses for 13 years.  Mr. Torres serves as co-chair of the ELC Foundation which is a direct support organization for the Early Learning Coalition.

Cristal-Cole

Cristal Cole

Vice-Chair

AT&T

Cristal Cole serves as AT&T Regional Director of External Affairs for Northeast Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade County School Board. Cole is responsible for a variety of legislative and community affairs initiatives. She assists with technology deployment and infrastructure investment, collaborating with community, legislative and business leaders.

A graduate of Florida A&M University in Public Relations, Cole previously served as the Director of Community Engagement for the Foundation for Excellence in Education/Foundation for Florida’s Future, and Marketing & Public Relations Manager for Tenet Healthcare.  She currently serves as the President of the Miami Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and is a member of The Links, Incorporated, Greater Miami Chapter.

Cole serves on the Executive of the Miami Rescue Mission-R.I.S.E. Initiative, and was a Founding Member of the Friends of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Miami Executive Committee.

Nadieshda

Nadieshda (Nadia) Gonzalez

Director

Insurance Agent, born in Havana, Cuba. Happily serving South Florida community since 2008 offering Health, Life insurance and financial services. Graduated from Law School in Cuba, 2001, Nadia came to the United States in 2002. Obtaining a paralegal certification in FIU in the year of 2005 and a Bachelor Degree in Law, Nadia has been dedicated to help families with their insurance needs, she has always been involved in school programs and charity works.

Her experienced has also earned in sales and customer service.

Raul-Morales

Raul Morales

Director

Raul practices in the areas of Complex Business, Real Property, Construction Litigation, Personal Injury, and Insurance Defense. Moreover, Raul also practices in the area of Banking, Creditor’s Rights, Real Estate, and Community Association Law.

Raul has litigated as former in house counsel to an insurance company and developer as well as represented community associations, developers, general contractors, sub-contractors, material suppliers, and homeowners in real property disputes. In addition, Raul counsels a wide range of business clients on litigation matters and commercial disputes. A trial attorney, Raul has tried several matters on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants, in a variety of cases.

Furthermore, Raul also represents lenders and borrowers in structuring and documenting credit transactions.

Eduardo-Pelaez-Molina

Eduardo Pelaez-Molina

Director

After a long career in the import-export business, Pelaez retired three years ago and focus on building a new lifestyle, based on those things that he is passionate about.

That is how he opened his 122 Studio in Historic Coconut Grove, remodeling a beautiful house of 1930 into a space for colors and friends. Painting for Pelaez went from a hobby to a serious process of creativity.

He also owns an art gallery in the new and vibrant Design District and a Realty Company that specializes in high end buyers, providing a concept of boutique services.

Joaquin-Sole-Nido

Joaquin Sole Nido

Director

Joaquín has more than 10 years of audit experience providing a variety of client services across various industries in Miami, Puerto Rico and the Americas.

Joaquín’s audit experience includes providing services to both public companies and private businesses ranging from start-ups to well established entities. His experience includes assisting clients with SOX Section 404, FDICIA attestation, employee benefit plan audits, agreed-upon procedures and internal controls projects.

Alex-Soto

Alex Soto

Director

International Finance Bank

Alex Soto is a financial professional with over 11 years of experience in Commercial Banking, who is a self-starter and proven leader/manager. Known for taking initiative and skilled at meeting challenges and deadlines. He is a team player who is attentive to detail and produces quality results. Continually developing analysis skill set by leveraging industry standards with emerging practices and concepts. Have led teams up to 18 individuals and worked with other departments to make bank changes.

A graduate of Saint Thomas University in Business Administration, Soto previously earned a Bachelor Degree of Arts in History and Philosophy at Florida International University.

Soto serves on FIU Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is a Board member & Chair of Legislative Committee at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami Dade/Monroe.

Pamela Hollingsworth, M. Ed.

Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and program Development

Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe

Pamela Hollingsworth, an early childhood content expert, is Sr. Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Program Development for the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Pamela has served at the Coalition for more than eight years, beginning as the inaugural Director of Quality Counts, Miami-Dade’s Quality Rating Improvement System. As Director, Pamela brought Quality Counts to national stature and continues to provide technical assistance and oversight to the project. In her current role, Pamela has oversight for agency development and a diverse array of innovative prevention and intervention programs impacting thousands of children and the significant adults in their lives.  Strategically, Pamela’s focus is identifying best practice trends and facilitating unique partnerships to promote early childhood success. Current projects include: READY4K! a two year randomized control study with Stanford University with more than 20,000 families, The Neighborhood Place for Early Head Start, Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing (in partnership with Too Small to Fail and the Clinton Foundation), The Jonathan Project (a preschool anti-expulsion program), My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative, Let’s Move Childcare and HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters).

Pamela holds a Master’s Degree in the Social Foundations of Education. She serves on the Boards of The Children’s Trust, Health Start Coalition of Miami-Dade and the Miami Dade College Early Childhood Advisory Council. She was recently named an “ELAN’ fellow as part of a three year program focused on improving outcomes for children of color. She travels nationally in her role as child advocate, participating in panels, think tanks and as technical advisor to a diverse array of early childhood institutions and agencies.

Luis Mechoso

Director

Seaside National Bank & Trust

Luis A. Mechoso is a private banking executive and sales leader at Seaside National Bank and Trust, with more of 35 years of experience in private banking, business development, sales management and team building.  Well known for being a great listener, Mechoso regularly consults with customers on needs, devise creative solutions and communicate issues to cross-functional teams. His experience includes building a new division from scratch at Gibraltar Private Bank’s Residential Lending Division and extensive knowledge of the South Florida professionals’ network.

Mechoso attended high school years at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School where he received the fundamentals of his education. He graduated from Florida International University where he received a Bachelor Degree in Marketing with a Minor in Management Information Systems.

Living and working in the Miami / Coral Gables area for over 50 years, Mechoso is passionate about helping his community. He serves at the Marco A. Sainz Jr. Foundation’s Board of Directors, and is a supporter of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Matthew Bruno

Director

Mercantil Bank

Staff

Rafael-Pineyro

Rafael Pineyro

Managing Director

Office of the Mayor, City of Doral

Rafael Pineyro was born in Caracas, Venezuela in July 20th of 1984. In 1999, at the age of 15 he and his family arrived in Miami, Florida with hopes for a better life. Soon, during his time at Miami Coral Park Senior High School, Rafael was chosen to be a “Take Stock in Children” recipient and was assigned a volunteer mentor, who took an important role in Rafael’s life to help him envision his professional pathway to college and career.

In 2004, Rafael started attending the Miami Dade College, where he obtained an Associate’s Degree and in 2007 he transferred to Florida International University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration.

In 2010, achieved a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Lipscomb University, and later became a member of the International Honor Society in Psychology and of the American Psychological Association.

It is in 2014 that Rafael moved back to Miami, Florida and started working for the City of Doral, considered the fastest growing city in Miami-Dade County and the third in the USA by percent. In May of 2015, Rafael started his new endeavor as “Chief of Staff” to the Mayor of the City of Doral where he continues directing day-to-day operation of the Mayor’s office.

Today, Rafael is a leader in his community with more than ten years of public service experience, helping his fellow citizens in the community to create and build partnerships for a better future.

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We make a difference in the lives of the children and families we serve.