Liliana Torres joined our team January 2022 as a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Services Coordinator for our Health Care Partnerships program. She provides patients with nutrition counseling and food resources to help them manage severe diet-related diseases.
Born in Juarez, Chihuahua in Mexico, Liliana’s parents brought her to California when she was about 1 year old. The opportunities her parents opened up for her led her to Project Bread.
“There are a lot of barriers that prevent the Hispanic community from accessing food resources such as the language barrier, resident status, and lack of inclusive spaces and resources. Project Bread supports our community by working to remove these barriers and offering tailored programs that meet our clients’ needs. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to communicate with clients in their preferred language and offer them a range of customizable services.”
Courtney McGarry started in October 2020 and is a Manager of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a third generation Mexican-American who landed on the East Coast because of her father’s military background. She initially worked in clinical nutrition research, but at Project Bread is able to work in a more community-focused setting.
“The hardest part of my heritage has been the fact that I don’t speak Spanish – my parents never taught me! But I certainly feel a connection to the food and love speaking to Hispanic patients about how to enjoy a nutritious meal that can still include rice and beans! I have seen my grandparents struggle and overcome the challenges of being immigrants. It makes me proud to see the diversity of our team where we aim to be able to provide care to clients in their native language.”
Diego Alonso Calderon joined the Project Bread team in February 2020 and is a Manager for our Health Care Partnerships team. For Diego, Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of all Latino/a and Hispanic people that bring diversity, culture, and innovation to all aspects of our everyday life. A first generation immigrant from Peru, Diego has wanted to help others ever since he was young.
“I became a teacher to support young minds and teach them the value of empathy. During my 10 years of working as a teacher and an administrator, I realized I could do more. I wanted to give back the support and love my family and I received by so many in our life.”
As Diego has lived experience of food insecurity, Project Bread’s mission is dear to his heart, and he shares this passion with his mother and brothers.
“Now that I’m a part of this amazing organization, I do everything in my power to help as many people as I can every single day.”
Marirosa Lopez has been working as a FoodSource Hotline Counselor at Project Bread since November 2020 and answers the calls of countless Massachusetts residents who need access to food resources. She was born in Puerto Rico, and likes to say the people have “that Caribbean flavor: Spanish, African and Indigenous ‘Tainos of the Caribbean’ with a very small, good presence of Asians.”
“The work here gives us the opportunity to update American people on who we Latinos are. That our communities are made up differently but we are part of the entire world. Hispanic Heritage Month is that global connection of all those who speak the same language inherited from the motherland "Spain" in combination with other past cultures. It is to honor the history, culture and influence of past generations during conquests which has led us to be what we are today worldwide.”
Yui A. Chang Chusan has been a Nutrition Services Coordinator since April 2021 for our Health Care Partnerships team. Yui is both Chinese and Ecuadorian. She was born and raised in Guayaquil in a lower-income area. Her upbringing was similar to being a foster care child, and she experienced food insecurity before she could fully understand it.
“When I skipped meals because there was nothing in the fridge, or when I made plans with friends to go to their homes so I could eat a home-made hot meal, I was experiencing food insecurity. I was looking for a job where I could tackle nutrition from a policy level and in which I could respectfully help families that – like mine at one point – have language barriers and less access to nutritious foods and opportunities.”
Ashley Villanueva Velasco is a Program Associate for Project Bread’s Healthcare Partnerships team, starting in May 2022. She’s a born and raised New Jersey girl, and her parents are from the beautiful state of Chiapas, Mexico. After being diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), Ashley learned nutrition was vital to her own health. In her work, she supports others with medical issues and offers them help to overcome their difficulties with food insecurity.
“As a Latina, it gives me great joy knowing that I can be that bridge for my Latinx community in helping them secure nutrition and food resources in their language. Hispanic Heritage Month gives me a reminder that, not just for this month, but every month there are thousands of Latinos and Latinas making a difference in people’s lives every day. It gives me hope seeing more and more people who look like me become doctors, lawyers, nurses, and to be in non-profits.”
Zaida Ayala is a Senior Nutrition Services Coordinator who has been with Project Bread since October 2020. She recently started leading cooking for the nutrition classes the Health Care Partnerships Team provides and enjoys sharing a range of healthy, cultural recipes with her clients.
Originally from El Salvador, Zaida has been living in Boston for 15 years. She speaks both English and Spanish, and enjoys helping her Hispanic community every day at Project Bread.
"I work directly with clients that speak my native language, Spanish. I understand and have had personal experience with the economic, language, and food-related barriers that clients experience when they come to the USA. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates our culture, food, language and who we are. Project bread’s mission is so important and offers a lot of support to our community to reduce food insecurity. I’m so excited to be part of a program to make a change to reduce hunger in Massachusetts."
Adriana Mendes-Sheldon joined us in July 2022 as our new Director of Community Partnerships. She develops relationships with organizations across Massachusetts so we can work together to end hunger in their communities. Her background in management consulting and education has shown her the systemic injustice and its impact on families generation after generation. Originally from Brazil, Adriana sees Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to authentically celebrate differences and spread multicultural awareness and acceptance.
“Project Bread's mission inherently impacts the lives of countless individuals and families who are minorities. It feels good to be part of an organization that makes the world a better place.”
Catalina López-Ospina joined the team in February of this year and is our Inaugural Vice President of Engagement. She works with Adriana to reach out to affected communities so we can solve hunger as a team. Born in Medellin, Colombia, Catalina immigrated to the U.S and joined several of her family members already here. For 11 years, she was a public servant right here in Boston, and she finds meaning in helping people who are in the same situation now that she was in when she first arrived in the U.S. 17 years ago.
“Project Bread allows me to support and create opportunities for people experiencing challenges to build solutions that truly meet their needs. Communities of color suffer disproportionately from food insecurity compared to white people. My guiding principles in my anti-hunger work are dignity and agency. I am thrilled to be part of an organization with the same north star. I believe Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of year when we can reflect on how each of us brings something unique to the fabric of this country. It is a time to celebrate our great cultural diversity, and let's not forget the rich gastronomy.”
Valentina Silva joined us in July 2022 as our Graphic Design Manager. She makes our school posters fun and colorful, and our SNAP promotions crisp and informative! Valentina was born in Chile, with Mapuche ethnicity, and after high school, she spent six months traveling through Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru. She studied Multimedia and Graphic Design at Santo Tomás, in Santiago, Chile, and decided that she didn’t want to design to sell products that people don’t need.
“In the world of non-profits, I find the opportunity to contribute positively through my work. I design in an inclusive way, aligned to the values of different communities. I am so excited to be a part of Project Bread and communicate visually to combat today's pressing issues. That gives meaning to my work.”
Maria Gabriela (Gabi) Jorge joined us in Feburary 2021 and is Project Bread’s Senior Manager of Social Media & Digital Content – if you clicked on a link from our Facebook , Instagram or Twitter, she is the reason you’re on this blog! Originally from Salvador, Brazil, Gabi moved around due to her father’s job, mainly across South America, but graduated high school in the United Arab Emirates. She studied at Northeastern University, and afterward made Boston her home.
“Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month is a special time to recognize and celebrate Latin history, culture, food, music, presence, and influence in the world. For me, it's also a moment of reflection and appreciation for the sacrifices my parents made ––uprooting their life and family in Brazil –– for the opportunity of something more.”
Douglas Flores, joined Project Bread in July 2020 and is our Chief Operating Officer. A Mexican-American, he has more than 27 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and served in the Peace Corps in Central America! At Project Bread, he leads our Human Resources department, IT, and manages our East Boston office. He has long worked for missions where he’s had a personal passion, including the elimination of health disparities in marginalized communities, and safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ youth. He also has personal experience with food insecurity and sees the need to solve it permanently.
“It gives me great pride to be at an organization that recognizes the disproportionate impact that hunger has on many in my community and centers them in their work.” Douglas finds Hispanic Heritage Month to be “a time to reflect and give thanks to my ancestors whose courage, sacrifices, and support have laid the groundwork for me to be able to have the life I have and the ability to work on the issues where I have great passion.”
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we also celebrate how our Latino/a staff bring a wide range of skills and experiences to this work! They contribute to the Project Bread team and make it easier for people to access food with dignity.