Edu-Futuro is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Arlington and Fairfax Counties founded in 1998.
Edu-Futuro’s vision: Realizing the potential of immigrant youth and their families.
Edu-Futuro’s mission: To empower immigrant and underserved youth and families through mentorship, education, leadership development and parent engagement.
In 1998, a group of Bolivian parents and the Bolivian Ambassador met with the Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools to establish an academic enrichment program that would meet the needs of Arlington’s growing immigrant Latino population. Since then, Edu-Futuro has grown to support and empower Latino and other immigrant families through educational programs and leadership development while teaching the broader community about the Latin American culture.
We have significantly expanded our programs, and have grown from a group of less than a dozen volunteers to a recognized non-profit organization with an established central office, a Board of Directors, and over 15 staff and dozens of volunteers dedicated to the mission of Edu-Futuro.
Edu-Futuro has developed a research-based inter-generational approach that ensures immigrant youth and families attain postsecondary goals, improve long-term financial stability, and strengthen interfamily cohesiveness.
2016 – 17 CLIENT PROFILE
CLIENT AGE RANGE
FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS
Jorge E. Figueredo, MPP
Mr. Figueredo has extensive experience leading organizations and programs committed to providing social services, advancing social justice, and advocating on behalf of immigrant communities. Mr. Figueredo was the Executive Director of the Hispanic Committee of Virginia, a local non-profit, which he transformed into a regional multi-million dollar organization. He conceptualized and founded Security One Bank (today known as John Marshall Bank) with 13 other members. He was also the director of the ACLU of Virginia’s Racial Justice and Immigrant Rights Project. Most recently, he worked for The Centech Group, Inc., and the National Federal Contractors Association (NaFCA). He is a native of Colombia, received his bachelor’s degree from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia, and his master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland at College Park. He has two young daughters who attend Arlington Public Schools. Mr. Figueredo is excited to focus on providing educational opportunities for our immigrant youth, which in his experience as an executive, advocate, and an immigrant himself, is critical for having a long-term impact in our communities.
Director of Programs
Natalia Montelongo is a first-generation Mexican-American from Oklahoma. She received her M.Ed. in Educational Studies from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK in 2016. Before arriving to Washington DC, she worked as a Program Coordinator for Aspiring Americans, a program focused on providing financial aid assistance, mentorship, and academic counseling to undocumented students in the Oklahoma City metro area. Most recently, she worked for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants as a Program Officer with the mission of providing resources and tools to children and families who were in need of legal protective services, access to education, and help adapting to their new country. Natalia is currently a Masters of Public Administration and Policy candidate at American University, in hopes of learning and growing as a young professional so that she can continue helping the community. She hopes to continue to equip herself with more tools to continue to fulfill her mission and passions of empowerment, engagement, and education with Edu-Futuro. From 2017 to 2019, Natalia served as Chair of the Edu-Futuro Associate Council.
Administrative and Operations Coordinator
Norka was born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and moved to the U.S. in 2010 along with her daughter. She graduated from the Higher University of San Simon with a Bachelor’s Degree as a Public Accountant. Norka’s past experience at the Airport Administration AASANA in Cochabamba has given her the opportunity to join Edu-Futuro’s team as the Administrative and Operations Coordinator. Norka admires Edu-Futuro’s strong mission and she is always willing to help other immigrants and their communities.
Jacqueline A. Smith
Workforce Development Specialist
Originally from La Serena, Chile, Jacque graduated as an ESL teacher from the Universidad de La Serena, before going on to study at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) to obtain a Masters in Language and International Trade. In Michigan, she worked as Administrative Assistant at EMU, and later at University Microfilms International (UMI), as an International Sales Assistant. Back in Chile, Jacque taught at high school and college levels, including volunteer work at under-privileged schools in northern Chile. Upon returning to the U.S. in 2018, she began volunteering in immigrant support services at the Prince of Peace Church and School, as well as Hogar Immigrant Services. Jacque also worked for Fairfax County Public Schools as an Interpreter. She joined Edu-Futuro as a Facilitator in November 2018, assisting in programs including Strengthening Families, Padres Comprometidos, and Computer Basics. Jacque became a full-time staff member at Edu-Futuro in August 2019.
Maria del Carmen Mateus
Parent Support Specialist
Born and raised in Ecuador, Maria obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Loja where she majored in Middle School Education with a thesis focused on Diagnostics of the Intellectual Capacity of Elementary School Students in Quito, Ecuador. In 2000, she moved to the U.S. with her husband and two children where they made Fairfax their home. Shortly after, Maria began her career with Fairfax County Public Schools. For the past 14 years with FCPS, she served as an assistant teacher for children with special needs, speaker and presenter for Drug and Alcohol Prevention Parent Workshops, and as Parent Liaison for elementary and high schools. Maria has always found passion working with the immigrant community and has made it her mission to lead and engage families to successfully navigate the educational system. She joined Edu-Futuro in September 2016.
Olga L. Oliveros Vega
Parent Support & Workforce Development Specialist
Born and raised in Colombia, Olga joined Edu-Futuro in October 2017, two months after she moved to the U.S., as a volunteer in the Saturday Spanish Program and later on evolved into a facilitator for programs such as Families Reunite, Strengthening Families, and Padres Comprometidos. She became full-time staff as Parent Support and Workforce Development Specialist in July 2019. Olga also worked for Fairfax County Public Schools as Instructional Assistant for Kindergarten during the school year 2018-2019. With more than fifteen years in management work, her experience working in programs that improve the life of those in need has roots in the work she did in Colombia, where she led a USAID-funded project at Best Buddies Colombia, finding jobs for people with cognitive disabilities, supporting them in the work place and ensuring their adaptation and proper performance. Olga studied Industrial Design at the National University of Colombia, and then she specialized in Management for Non Profit Organizations and Project and Strategic Management.
Youth Programs Coordinator
Jordan joined Edu-Futuro’s staff after completing an AmeriCorps service year as an Emerging Leaders Program Facilitator with the organization in 2018-2019. She is a native of Northern Virginia, having lived in both Fairfax and Loudoun counties. She graduated from James Madison University in May 2018 with a B.A. in International Affairs and French, focusing her efforts on refugee resettlement, community service, and empowering under-served youth. Jordan is very passionate about serving immigrants and youth, and is excited to continue doing so in her role as Youth Programs Coordinator.
Eduardo López is the Founder/Producer of Línea Directa, one of the nation’s longest-running Spanish-language television programs dedicated to Latino public service and community outreach. Since 1990, the weekly series has provided thousands of immigrant families living in the Washington metropolitan area with information on important education, health, legal, and social service issues. The program airs each Saturday morning on the capital region’s leading Spanish-language television station, Telemundo 44. Eduardo is also the co-director of Harvest of Empire, an award-winning documentary focusing on immigration.
AmeriCorps Member/STEM Robotics Club Facilitator
Manuel joined Edu-Futuro in September 2019 as a member of the Moving Forward! AmeriCorps program. He graduated with a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Stetson University in 2018, after which he served as an urban educator through AmeriCorps in Newark, New Jersey. As a first-generation student in the Northern Virginia area, and as a son of Salvadoran immigrants, the opportunity to be actively involved with Edu-Futuro’s mission and its beneficiaries resonated highly with his background. He looks forward to inspiring, educating, and motivating the next-generation of Latino and immigrant youth to pursue their interests in STEM as Edu-Futuro’s STEM Robotics Club Facilitator.
AmeriCorps Member/ELP Facilitator
Micaela Sanders joined Edu-Futuro as an AmeriCorps Member/ELP Facilitator in September 2019. She graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Micaela grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Blacksburg, Virginia, two small college towns located in the mountains on the western side of each state. She is committed to advancing social justice and educational opportunity, and is passionate about youth development.
AmeriCorps Member/Parent Support and Workforce Development Facilitator
Mollie Montague is one of Edu-Futuro’s 2019-2020 AmeriCorps members, and serves as our Parent Support and Workforce Development Facilitator. Originally from southern, Tidewater Virginia, Mollie graduated from Dickinson College with a dual degree in Spanish and Sociology, with a particular interest in polarization, immigration, and rural inequality. Mollie joined Edu-Futuro’s AmeriCorps program to expand her experience mentoring students and coordinating programming, while sharing her passion for social justice and education through her service year.
AmeriCorps Member/Volunteer Coordinator and Co-Facilitator
Rachel Palermo is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and International Studies, graduating first in her major. She continued at VT in order to complete a master’s degree in Political Science. As a student, Rachel worked as a student mentor for Prince William County’s English Language Learner Summer School. Rachel is passionate about Edu-Futuro’s mission, and looks forward to serving as a Moving Forward! AmeriCorps member.
Saturday Spanish Classes Coordinator and Administration Specialist
Johana López was born and raised in Cali, Colombia and moved to New York City at the age of 12. Johana serves as the Saturday Spanish Classes Coordinator and Administration Specialist at Edu-Futuro. To this organization, she brings over seven years of classroom experience as a literacy instructor for adults and dual-language teacher for elementary students. In addition, she brings over 5 years of administrative experience as Assistant Registrar/Interim Registrar at Carlos Rosario International PCS and as Experiential Education Advisor at University of Maryland. Johana is a certified K-6 New York State teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Elementary Education from CUNY Queens College & a certified reading specialist with a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland. Johana is passionate about helping the immigrant community navigate life in the United States successfully.
Saturday Spanish School – Administrative Assistant
Luz Marleny Plazas arrived in the U.S. in 2000 from Tolima, Colombia. She graduated from the University of Bogota Jorge Tadeo Lozano, with a bachelor’s degree in Food Engineering. She has worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years, specializing in providing great customer service. Marleny has been working for Edu-Futuro as an Administrative Assistant since January 2019, focusing on such tasks as taking attendance and updating student records. In her leisure time, she enjoys taking classes in kickboxing, zumba, and pilates.
Samantha O’Leary, Board President (2017-2020), is the Director of Policy for UnitedHealthcare Community & State, the Medicaid business of UnitedHealthcare that serves more than 5 million members throughout 25 states. Previously she has worked as Director of Strategy, Chief of Staff, and Consultant across the UnitedHealth Group and as Policy Analyst for the US Government Social Services Administration. She currently serves as policy expert on Medicaid and health reform, developing enterprise positions on serving complex populations and modernized Medicaid programs. A devoted community advocate, she is a leader with the Junior League of Washington and previously served on the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women. Ms. O’Leary holds a master’s degree in Public Policy (Health Policy Focus) from American University School of Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from Gettysburg College. This is her first Board term.
Dr. Phillip Church, Board Vice President (2014-2017, 2017-2020), is Senior Economist at DevTech Systems, Inc. where he provides technical advisory and training assistance on the strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of USG international development assistance projects and programs. Most recently in Central America he supervised and trained staff in the monitoring and evaluation of USG grants to organizations working to get child laborers out of work and back into school. Before joining DevTech, Dr. Church served for 25 years as a Foreign Service Economic Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). His international development career has led him to work and live in several Latin American and Asian countries. Dr. Church holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oregon, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Stanford University, and an A.B. in Economics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Church is fluent in Spanish and proficient in French. This is his second term on the Board.
Bill Maher, Board Treasurer (2016-2019, 2019-2022), has been the Chief Financial Officer of Arlington Community Credit Union, serving the people who live and work in Arlington, Virginia, since 2009. He has served in volunteer positions with Leadership Arlington, the Greenbrier Learning Center, the Metro Auburn Alumni Association, Children’s Miracle Network and Arlington Neighborhood Villages. He has been active with the Arlington Democratic Party, coached in the Arlington Youth Basketball Program and read for the Drew Model School African American Celebrations. Originally from Massachusetts, Bill moved to northern Virginia in 2009. This is his first term on the Board.
Jeanne Balcom, Board Secretary (2018-2021) is an innovative leader with over 20 years of experience in international securities market regulation and financial services consulting. She has designed and implemented projects in over 30 countries. Most recently as Senior International Director for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, she spearheaded the founding of the Americas Chapter of the International Forum for Investor Education to share best practices across Latin America. Ms. Balcom holds a bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in Latin American Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University. She is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese. The is Ms. Balcom’s first term on the Board.
Chris Falcon (2018-2021) is the Civil Division Supervisor, Legal Counsel and Deputy Clerk of the Arlington Circuit Court. He is also the founding attorney and owner of The Falcon Firm PLLC, focusing his practice on business consulting and estate planning. Mr. Falcon serves on the Fairfax County Human Services Council. He was previously appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, which he served on from 2014-18. Mr. Falcon received his J.D. from the Widener University Law School and B.B.A. from James Madison University. This is first term on the board.
Betsy Jaffe (2018-2021) is a public affairs executive with more than 25 years of experience serving corporations and trade associations. She is founder and president of Amplitude Strategies, a strategic communications firm serving the audiovisual industry. Previously Ms. Jaffe served as senior vice president at AVIXA – the Audiovisual Integrated Experience Association where she worked in communications, government affairs, conferences, sales and social media. Her work has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today and numerous business journals and trade publications. Ms. Jaffe holds a bachelor’s degree from American University and a master’s degree from George Washington University. This is Ms. Jaffe’s first term on the board.
Cara Santos Pianesi (2015-2018, 2018-2021) has helped organizations communicate clearly to garner attention for issues of international development for more than 20 years. She is currently a Communications Lead at the World Bank Group. She previously worked at the United Nations Development Program, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Amnesty International. She moved to Alexandria, VA from Miami where she concentrated on private-sector communications vis-à-vis Latin America with Foote, Cone, and Belding. Cara has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. in International Studies and Economics from the University of Miami. This is her second Board term.
Kavita Jain (2019-2021) is a strategic planning and risk management professional with over twenty years of experience in finance, FinTech and regulation. In her current role as a Director in FINRA’s Office of Financial Innovation, she identifies and analyzes significant innovation-related developments in the securities industry and coordinates with various stakeholders to develop appropriate strategic responses. She leads several FinTech initiatives at FINRA including those related to blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, RegTech and online capital-raising platforms. Prior to that, Kavita has held key positions in risk management, finance and strategy. Kavita was named as one of the leading women in FinTech by Innovate Finance and was included in the “Women In FinTech Powerlist 2018.” She has an M.B.A. from the University of Southern New Hampshire and a CRCP Certification from the FINRA Institute at Wharton.
Celina Penovi recently retired from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group, where she served as Senior Legal Counsel. At MIGA she handled international transactions in countries around the world and interfaces with government authorities on issues relating to foreign investment. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked in law firms in Argentina and San Francisco, California where she received a service award for her pro bono immigration work with Hispanic clients. She is a strong advocate of bilingual education and has published several bilingual children’s books. Ms. Penovi received her J.D. from the University of Buenos Aires and a Masters of Law in International Transactions (LL.M.) from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She has served two terms on the board, most recently as Board President.
Robert Panfil has over 30 years of experience working with transportation and infrastructure projects throughout Latin America, South Asia and the South Pacific regions. During his 25-year career at the World Bank, he undertook sector and program lending and project procurement and supervision. As infrastructure manager in India, he was responsible for the development of one of the World Bank’s largest highway sector lending programs. He also served as senior advisor to the Australian Foreign Aid Agency. Mr. Panfil has a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in Finance and an M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. He has served 3 non-consecutive terms on the Board and has been Treasurer.
Dr. Katharine Panfil has worked in education over 30 years in the US and abroad, including Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina and Tanzania. During her career with Arlington Public Schools (APS) where she began as an ESOL teacher, she was Foreign Language Supervisor, Principal of Key Elementary School where she led the development of APS Spanish language immersion program, and Principal of Randolph Elementary School at the time it became the first Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate in a public school in the DC metro area. Dr. Panfil holds a Ph.D. in Education from George Mason University. She has served 4 non-consecutive terms on the Board and has been the President and Vice-President.
Connie Church was the Director of Finance and Administration for the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) until her retirement in 2009. At APTR she was responsible for all accounting, financial reporting to the board and government partners, human resources and office administration. She is currently a tax accountant for private clients. Ms. Church grew up in Mexico and lived and worked abroad for several years; in Bangladesh, she served as Vice President of the American International School Board; in Guatemala she was the co-founder and treasurer of an adoption agency. Ms. Church holds a B.A. in History from Stanford University and an M.A. in Accounting from George Washington University. She has served two terms on the Board, part of that time as Board Treasurer.
Edu-Futuro’s Associate Council is comprised of young professionals in the DC area who volunteer their time to support the mission of Edu-Futuro.
The Associate Council at Edu-Futuro’s 20th Anniversary Celebration on October 19, 2018. L-R: Diego Soto, Tran Tran, Natalia Montelongo, Kaitlin Wynne, Zachary Paget, Ricardo Espitia
Zachary Paget (Chair) (2018-2019) is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, where he concentrated in Information Technology and Finance with a minor in Spanish. Zachary currently works for Accenture as a Technology Analyst, where he uses his educational background to solve problems at the intersection of technology and business for the federal government. During college, Zachary took part in many extracurricular activities, including being the President of the 250-person University Salsa Club while also helping to organize Madison House’s ESOL program, where UVA students provided tutoring to younger students for whom English was a second language. In between years of college, Zachary spent a summer working for a nonprofit in the Dominican Republic and another working for a litigation consulting firm in D.C. When not working, Zachary is often running, playing soccer, or traveling to a country where he can practice his Spanish. He is currently serving his first year as Chair of the Associate Council.
Tran Tran (2018-2019) arrived in the U.S. at 16 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and was the first in her family to attend an American university. Tran graduated from Louisiana State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and minors in Business and International Studies. During this time, she spent one semester as an exchange student at La Universidad de Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her experience as a first-generation college graduate in the U.S., along with an interest for exploring and bridging cultures, forms the basis of her social mission to empower immigrant communities across backgrounds through education. Tran is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and currently works as a consultant at CrossCountry Consulting, based in McLean, VA. She currently serves as the Public Relations Officer for the Associate Council.
Diego Soto (2018-2019) was born and raised in Honduras. After graduating from high school he moved to Costa Rica to study Law at Universidad de Costa Rica. During Law School, he worked at the law firm Arias & Muñoz and was in charge of managing a Pro-bono account, “Un Techo Para Mi Pais” today called “TECHO” which is a major foundation that provides habitation solutions and organization of communities, throughout Latin-American countries. In 2013, he became a Board Member of the Costa Rican Association for International Law and was appointed Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee for the Law Students Association at the Universidad de Costa Rica. In 2014, he moved to the United States. Since moving to the U.S., Diego has been invited to be a Guest Speaker at the Latino Youth Leadership Conference for his role as Chapter President and later State President of Junior Chamber International. He also volunteers as an Editor for WH Español. Since 2015, he has been working at the World Bank Group and he currently works in the Legal Affairs and Claims Group at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
Ricardo Espitia (2018-2019) has 8 years of public service experience in facilitation, program design, operations, training and nonprofit administration. He currently works at Peace Corps Headquarters where he supports overseas programming and training efforts. He is a Masters of Development Management candidate at American University. Ricardo served as a Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines from 2014-2016 where he partnered with his position counterparts to service first generation college students, develop a high school leadership program and participate in multiple USAID projects. Outside of work he serves on the board of the PCAFPD which provides full scholarships to need based, high achieving Filipino students. Over the years he was involved in program administration for the National Hispanic Institute and has served as a Student Supervisor and Executive Team Leader for various student leadership academies. Ricardo is from Austin, Texas and holds a B.A. in International Relations and Urban Geography from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish, Kinaray-a (Filipino dialect), and Tagalog (Filipino). His passion involves enhancing human capacity, student programming, training, diversity and youth development.
Isaac Branaum (2019) is a business strategy professional with experience working in corporate venture capital, partnership development, and product management. His career has afforded him the opportunity to work in tandem with business and technology R&D groups while also gaining exposure to a diverse range of clients spanning various industries across 10+ industries and 10+ countries on over four continents. After completing research on the economic viability of public investment into private sector clean energy technology development as a U.S. Fulbright Junior Research Scholar, he joined SK Innovation, a Global Fortune 500 energy firm, to develop and implement global growth strategies primarily through the acquisition, application & commercialization of renewable, chemical, and semiconductor technology assets over the next five years. Currently, he is a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton where he assists commercial and federal clients navigate data analytics, data science, and software development. He hopes to leverage his business experience, technical skills, and global background to help build up his local Northern Virginia community by supporting educational empowerment at Edu-Futuro.
Karina Solis (2020) is a native of Northern Virginia, and grew up in the Fairfax County Public School System. She later attended Louisiana State University, where she majored in Mass Communication with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism. While in college, Karina worked as a reporter for the campus news channel, and interned at news stations in Baton Rouge, LA and Washington, DC. After graduating, she remained in Louisiana for four years while working with various nonprofit associations doing marketing communications and member services. In February 2018, she returned to the DC area in hopes of broadening her knowledge and abilities in a larger market setting. As a member of the Associate Council, Karina hopes to use her nonprofit experience and communications background to help further Edu-Futuro’s reach in the local community. She currently works at a civil engineering firm, coordinating plan submission packages to local jurisdictions. Outside of work, she enjoys freelance reporting, traveling, and volunteering for Edu-Futuro programs and events.
Rick Alcantara (2020) was born in Lima, Peru in 1984. His dad was a Naval Intelligence Officer and his mother was an elementary school teacher. He moved to the United States in 1989, where he attended public school in Loudoun County, Virginia. He graduated from Stone Bridge High School in 2003, and shortly after joined the United States Marines, which he served for the next six years and where he received meritorious promotions and awards. He then proceeded to earn his Bachelors Degree in Business Management from George Mason University in 2012. Upon graduation, Rick went to work for Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. In 2015, he decided to join his family in the construction and real estate business, which he continues to develop today. Rick enjoys spending time with his dog Max, hiking, and attending racing events around the world.
Andrea Cristancho (2019) is a multilingual International Development Practitioner with an MA in Sustainable International Development from The Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She has over five years of experience in building business pipelines, developing professional relationships with partners, and conducting research and fieldwork in developing communities domestically and abroad. Andrea’s experiences have solidified her contract and grant writing skills, her ability to build project timetables and monitoring progress, and capacity to transcend language and cultural barriers to complete projects. She is a value-driven, optimistic team leader who thrives in empowering others and excels at soliciting the ideas of others especially in cross-cultural environments.