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Our Team

Ilana Dubester
Executive Director & Founder

Ilana was born and raised in southern Brazil and has lived in Chatham County since 1991. She founded The Hispanic Liaison in 1995 to help address the unique needs of the growing Hispanic community. Ilana has over 20 years of experience in non-profit management, program development and implementation, capacity building, fundraising, public policy, community organizing and advocacy. She left The Liaison in 2008 and returned in 2016 to revive the organization, which had closed its doors in September 2015. Her former organizations include Hispanics in Philanthropy, miraclefeet, the NC Cooperative Extension Service, El Centro Latino, and The Center for What Works. Since 1995, she has been devoted to advancing the rights of Hispanic/Latinx families at the local and state levels. Ilana is a state certified Spanish/English court interpreter and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew. She attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem and has an Associate Degree in Social Studies.

Delfino Benitez
Covid-19 Project Manager

Delfino Benitez is originally from Sanford and of Mexican descent. He moved to Siler City in 2015. In 2011, Delfino joined the US Army as a Combat Medic (Healthcare Specialist) and has since worked in the health care field, on the clinical and administrative side. He completed studies in Emergency Management, Biopharmaceutical Technology, and is working towards a B.A. in African American Studies and Diaspora with a minor in Human Development, Sustainability, and Rights in Africa. His previous roles include Senior Administrative Assistant, EMT, and Medical Assistant. He serves as a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Second Bloom of Chatham County, and Team Rubicon Disaster Relief. His goals are to help the community receive the medical attention they need and advocate for increased access to mental health services for rural and underserved populations. Delfino lives in Siler City with his wife and 3 children.

Hannia Benitez
Deputy Director, Lee County Office

Hannia is originally from Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and moved to Siler City with her family in 1998. Hannia graduated from Jordan Matthews High School, and in 2014 earned a certificate as a Certified Nursing Assistant from CCCC. Hannia spent most of her life in Siler City but also lived in Sanford for several years after she got married. Hannia joined The Liaison’s board of directors in 2016 and served as Board President for the past 3 years. After years of helping the community through volunteer service, Hannia is thrilled to lead the new Hispanic Liaison office in Sanford and advance the rights of Latinxs at the local and state levels. Previously, she worked as a bilingual case investigator for Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, as a general manager for MJ’s Staffing Inc., and as a site manager for Community Management Corporation. Hannia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience including business management, human resources, housing management and healthcare. Hannia is fluent in English and Spanish. She lives in Siler City with her husband and three children.

Keyla Ferretiz
Digital Marketing Associate

Keyla Ferretiz was born North Carolina of Mexican parents. She earned a B.A. in Media and Journalism from the UNC Chapel Hill in 2019. Keyla is a graphic designer and marketing professional based in Greensboro. She specializes in social media marketing strategies and design for small businesses and
entrepreneurs. She has worked with clients from a variety of fields including nonprofits, attorneys and podcasts. In her free time, Keyla enjoys painting and spending time with her dog.

Elena C. Gonzalez
Program Coordinator, Workers’ Health & Safety

Elena Gonzalez is originally from Suchiate, Chiapas, a town on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. Elena grew up in Mexico, but also lived for many years in Guatemala. She moved to the US in 1986 and to Siler City in 1999. As soon as she arrived in Siler City, she found The Hispanic Liaison and an opportunity to get involved in the community. Ever since then, Elena has been a part of El Vínculo, first as a client, then a volunteer, and she served as a member of the Board of Directors for 10 years. Elena has also volunteered with Mujeres Mejorando el Futuro, Chatham Together and El Pueblo. In 2009, she received the United Way’s Volunteer of the Year awards at the local and state levels, she was nominated The Liaison. Previously, Elena worked as an Assistant Nutritionist at Siler City Elementary and was the Breast Cancer Prevention Coordinator for El Pueblo in Raleigh for 3 years. She graduated from CCCC’s Natural Chef Program, and has been a trained chef since she lived in Mexico. Elena is honored for the opportunity to support our community and fight for the rights of workers. She lives in Siler City with her husband Juan Carlos Gonzalez.

Selina Lopez
Program Director, Orgullo Latinx Pride Youth Program

Selina is originally from Mexico, born in Xaltianguis, Guerrero. She immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was a child. In 2016, she became a U.S. citizen. She grew up and attended school in the small town of Vaughan, in Warren County, NC. Selina completed her high school at the School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. In 2017, she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in psychology and Hispanic Literature and Cultures. Selina is the first person in her family to attend and graduate from a university. During her undergraduate studies at UNC, Selina was a co-director for NC SLI for the Families United for Education Initiative, where she taught classes for parents, in Spanish, about the college enrollment process. She was also the co-director for SOAR (STEAM, Outreach, Achievement, Recreation), a program for Latinx youth at McDougle Middle School in Carrboro. Selina has dedicated her time helping the Latinx community and advancing the opportunities for Latinx families and youth to pursue a higher education.

Will Mendoza 
COVID-19 Project Manager

Will is originally from Bolivia and has lived in the US since 2007. His work experience is in Strategy Consulting for the healthcare and IT sectors. Will has over 10 years of work experience in Product and Project Management, Market Research, and COVID-19 relief efforts for underserved communities. He is passionate about mentoring and technology-enabled business transformation. Will holds an MBA from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and also a graduate degree in Economic Development from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Noemi Mora Marcial
Program Assistant

Noemi was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but raised in Siler City her whole life. Her family’s origins are from Mexico; her mother is from Veracruz and her father is from Oaxaca. She graduated from Jordan Matthews High School in 2019. During her junior and senior years she participated in Orgullo Latinx Pride, El Vínculo’s youth leadership program. During her time in the group she became passionate about volunteer work and giving back to the community which inspired her to start an internship after her graduation. She now serves as a consultant for The Hispanic Liaison while studying at Central Carolina Community College where she is getting an Associates to later transfer to a four university to major in Social Work.

Alejandro Peña
Director of Communications & Advancement

Alejandro is originally from Argentina and moved to Durham from Spain in 2018. Previously he lived in Florida, Mexico, Panama, and Sudan. His passion is for fostering trusting relationships in the philanthropic sector. His humanitarian experience in Darfur, Sudan, was pivotal to his career choice in communications and fundraising. He holds Master’s degrees on International Development from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain; and Fundraising, Cultural Philanthropy & Advancement from the FRAME Social Change School, Italy. He completed his post-graduate studies with an intensive course on Communications and Mediation. Alejandro speaks English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Janet Ramirez
Program & Volunteer Coordinator, Chatham County

Janet is a native of Michoacán, Mexico, and moved to Siler City with her family in 2000. Janet graduated from Jordan Matthews High School in 2013. She is the first generation in her family to attend college receiving a certificate in Electronic Engineering Technology from CCCC. Janet decided to change her career after meeting Ilana Dubester in April 2016 while she was working as an intern at Chatham Habitat for Humanity under the WIA program. The Hispanic Liaison had helped her mother and family in the past, and Janet wanted to give back to her community. As a child, Janet was an avid listener of The Liaison’s weekly youth radio show “Teen Shout”. Janet joined our staff in May 2016. She is a fluent in English and Spanish.

Gabriela Sanchez Vega
Program & Volunteer Coordinator, Lee County

Maria is originally from Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. She moved to Florida in 2013 when she was 16 years old. She has lived in Cameron, Harnett County, since 2018. During her time in Nicaragua, she volunteered for church projects – feeding the homeless, coordinating a weekly food kitchen for low-income children, and organizing an annual Christmas toy drive. In Florida, she volunteered at a nursing home where she coordinated recreational activities for the residents. Maria graduated from High School in Miami and obtained a phlebotomy certification in Fayetteville, NC. She is currently enrolled at Fayetteville Tech Community College and wants to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology. Before joining The Liaison, Maria worked as an account manager for All American Fire Protection, and as a customer service representative for Kelly Connect and E-Clerx. Maria’s past volunteer service helped her realize that her life’s calling is to serve her community. In her free time, Maria enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

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