Gladys Vega has dedicated more than three decades of service to the City of Chelsea and La Colaborativa, which she joined in 1990 – just two years after its founding. Gladys was born in Puerto Rico and came to Chelsea with her family at the age of nine. Since that time, she has made a lifelong commitment to the community in which she was raised. Being a mother of two has deepened her commitment to building a better future for families throughout the region.
During her tenure at La Colaborativa, Gladys has assumed increasing levels of responsibility with each passing year, as she moved from receptionist to community organizer to Assistant Executive Director and ultimately Executive Director. She has led La Colaborativa in the Executive Director role since 2006.
Gladys is a groundbreaking community organizer and advocate, working relentlessly and fearlessly to ensure the Latinx immigrant community has a voice in determining how it’s needs and concerns are addressed. She believes that empowerment of the individual leads to empowerment of the community and that social action is the vehicle an empowered community can use to achieve its goals.
Gladys is the architect of nearly all of La Colaborativa’s programs, initiatives, and community organizing campaigns. Her leadership has resulted in expanded rights for immigrants, low-income families, tenants, workers, youths, and people of color across Massachusetts.
Gladys is recognized as one of the region’s most prominent and important community leaders, receiving citywide, statewide, and national accolades for her leadership. When the COVID-19 pandemic created overlapping public health, unemployment, housing, and hunger crises in Chelsea and surrounding areas, Gladys’s leadership positioned La Colaborativa at the forefront of state and local efforts to meet the tremendous needs of Latinx residents across Massachusetts. Her advocacy earned national coverage from the Atlantic Monthly, as well as local coverage in The Boston Globe, CBSN Boston and others.
Recent Awards & Honors
Lifetime Achievement Award, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (2021)
Boston Business Journal’s Power 50: The Movement Makers (2021)
Community Partner Award, El Mundo (2021)
Community Captain Award, New England Patriots and Bank of America Foundations (2021)
Bostonian of the Year, Boston Globe (2020)
Neighborhood Builder, Bank of America (2020)
Barr Foundation Fellowship (2010)
Dinanyili Del Carmen Paulino,
Chief Operating Officer
Dinanyili Paulino is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at La Colaborativa. Dinanyili joined the La Colaborativa team in 2016. As the COO, she oversees the development team, finance team, program directors, and is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day functions and evaluations.
Dinanyili is passionate about working for youth and families starting from an early age and has been involved in youth advocacy. After migrating to the United States from Dominican Republic at the age of 14 Dinanyili became homeless. She credits organizations similar to La Colaborativa for helping her and instilling a sense of advocacy for the Latinx community. Soon enough, she got involved as a youth leader which sparked her passion for youth workforce development. Dinanyili has been passionate about the empowerment of youth and Latinx communities and has been involved in social justice for over 26 years. It is because of her background that she is passionate about helping the immigrant Latinx community.
With Dinanyili joining La Colaborativa, her strategic planning has placed the organization further ahead. Dinanyili has taken the lead in successful financial planning that would bring in more revenue and donors into the organization. With the increase in revenue, Dinanyili has mobilized an addition of staff and programs into the organization. Dinanyili has promoted an intergenerational employment pipeline that is responsible for employing and training youth and adults. She is accredited with the expansion of La Colaborativa’s direct services that connects members toward leadership opportunities and toward systemic change. Her strategic planning resulted in La Colaborativa being one of the pioneers for the Good Jobs Coalition, which promotes city-wide action toward fair labor practices and workforce development opportunities. Throughout the pandemic her work, alongside the leadership of Gladys Vega, has been instrumental in the survival of the Chelsea community.
Dinanyili sits on the advisory boards for Mass General Brigham, MassINC’s ESOL Study, and the Chelsea Virtual Learning Academy. She attended the University of Massachusetts School of Community Planning and Boston University for Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She currently lives with her two children in Hyde Park.
Health Equity Consultant
Cristina Alonso is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) and led the expansion of a robust Health Equity department at La Colaborativa in 2020-21. Cristina partnered with La Colaborativa on her thesis, The Impact and Social Response to COVID-19 in Chelsea, MA, while completing her DrPH at the Harvard School of Public Health. Since graduating, Cristina has designed and implemented rapid responses to public health crises using an eco-social model for Chelsea.
Member Relationship Specialist
Dario is the Member Relationship Specialist at La Colaborativa. His job includes Covid-19 outreach and triaging cases that come to La Colaborativa. Dario came to the US from Columbia in 2020. Before being the Membership Relations Specialist, he was a Case Manager and a Legal Advisor. Dario attended the Catholic University of Columbia where he earned his Law Degree and specialized in Constitutional and Administrative Law. Dario also attended the Universita Degli Studi Di Salerno in Italy where he earned his Master’s in Political Science. He is a published author and has attended academic seminars all over the world. Dario enjoys working at La Colaborativa because it gives him the opportunity to help immigrants. His goal is to work in policy so that he can improve the lives of immigrants.
Norieliz De Jesus
Policy & Organizing Director
Norieliz DeJesus has dedicated 13 years of her life to community engagement, organizing and advocacy. Through her legislative work she has fought injustice and inequality from their roots and addressed community needs through changes to policy and legislation. Norieliz brings the grassroots to the table, having started her career as a youth organizer in 2008 and working her way up to her position today as the Director of Policy and Organizing at La Colaborativa.
Norieliz has traveled to multiple states as part of the national Jobs with Justice coalition, sharing her skills and experience in grassroots organizing with community organizers in California, Missouri, Texas, Washington and more. She has worked on numerous policy and legislation campaigns that directly address the needs of low-income communities of color across Massachusetts. Locally in Chelsea, Norieliz sits on Chelsea Affordable Housing Trust Fund where she works to create and preserve affordable housing for the residents of Chelsea.
Highlights of Norieliz’s impactful community organizing work:
- Redesigned and passed a new Code Enforcement Ordinance in the City of Chelsea, ensuring all housing units are inspected by Code Enforcement before being rented to new tenants (2014)
- Helped pass the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in Chelsea, bringing increased resources to the City for affordable housing, green space, and historic preservation (2016)
- Helped pass the Massachusetts Housing Court Bill which expanded access to housing courts for 84 communities that didn’t have one (2017)
- Mobilized students, parents, and teachers in Chelsea to pass the Student Opportunity Act, directing millions of dollars in new education funding to Chelsea and other high-needs districts.
- Worked across City departments during the pandemic to create the Chelsea Affordable Housing Rental Voucher and Mortgage Assistance program to keep families in their homes (2020)
- Supported youth organizers to advocate for eviction record sealing. The portion of the bill that protects youth was extracted and signed into law by the Governor in 2021
- Helped to launch a pilot Right To Counsel program in Chelsea, partnering with the City of Chelsea to provide free legal aid to residents facing eviction and other housing issues. Norieliz has been a lead voice in the Massachusetts Right To Counsel Coalition working to pass statewide legislation that would support expanded legal representation for tenants in housing court.
Food Pantry Director
Tanairi is the Food Pantry Director at La Colaborativa. Her role has been essential in providing the necessary meals to families. Her role includes running the day-to-day functions of the pantry and ensuring the pantry is stocked. She also manages the workers and volunteers that field the pantry. Before working as the Food Pantry Director, Tanairi worked as Operations Manager and a Store Manager in Guayama Puerto Rico. She also worked at Chelsea City Hall as the City Treasurer. Tanairi holds a Master of Business Administration and Marketing and holds a bachelor’s in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship. Tanairi enjoys working at La Colaborativa because of her ability to help families directly and be a part of an amazing team.
Consumer Protection & RAFT Specialist
Cristina Gonzales joined La Colaborativa as the Consumer Protection Specialist in 2020. She graduated from UMASS Boston with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and uses her education and platform to build communities, support underprivileged individuals, and provide education to low-income neighborhoods. Her skillset has afforded her the opportunity to mentor and train peers. Cristina’s work experience through Home for Little Wanderers included working with youth, providing intensive family therapy, and supporting families with creating social support systems. Cristina is personally and professionally committed to serving communities of color and other marginalized groups. She is passionate about and specializes in helping others while facilitating changes towards a better future. Cristina is a bilingual Venezuelan native who cherishes her bicultural heritage.
Director of Youth Programs
Anna is a bilingual educator, theatre artist and youth organizer who began working with La Colaborativa in 2020. Anna began her career in Guatemala City, where she spent an unforgettable decade working with teens and their families in an urban community on the outskirts of Guatemala City. In Guatemala, Anna helped coordinate and grow a unique program for youth leadership, social justice and community building through arts, education and youth leadership called Peronia Adolescente. Anna taught theatre and ESL in several Boston Public Schools, worked as a Nurturing Parenting facilitator and became deeply involved in creative community-based work as a member of Chelsea’s local Apollinaire Theatre Company. She holds a Master’s in Child and Youth Development from Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala, and a BFA in Acting and Nonviolent Conflict and Change from Syracuse University. In both Guatemala and the U.S., she has devised, produced and directed over a dozen original theatrical works on topics including human rights, environmental justice and gender equality. Her work has been presented at the Resistarte Festival (Honduras), Festival Ixchel, Spanish Cultural Center, Festival Chitik, Festival Encuentro Arte Comunitario (Guatemala), Forum for Youth Violence Prevention (El Salvador) and Apollinaire Theatre Company (Boston, MA).
Workers Rights Organizer
Jasmine is the Workers Rights Organizer at La Colaborativa, overseeing different programs relating to worker’s rights. Before working at La Colaborativa, Jasmine worked in the food industry, starting from managing kitchens as a supervisor to being a cook. Jasmine’s first job was when she was 15 years old with La Colaborativa’s Summer Youth Program. Because of that experience, Jasmine loves working at La Colaborativa because she gets to help people. As a receptionist, Jasmine can directly interact with families in need. She enjoys being apart the community’s growth.
Jillian has been working in the world of non-profits for most of her life. She first saw the impact of community organizations in her hometown of New Bedford and volunteered with many while living in Boston. She has previously worked in communications, development, marketing and public relations roles in public history and non-profit capacity building organizations. Jillian joined La Colaborativa’s development team in the fall of 2021 with a passion for grassroots organizing, accessibility, and social justice. She oversees all social media and marketing at the organization. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, fiber crafts, and volunteering.
German H. Miranda
Case Manager & RAFT Specialist
German is a Case Manager and RAFT Specialist at La Colaborativa. As a Case Manager, German is working directly with families who need assistance and providing holistic solutions. Previously to working at La Colaborativa, German worked at the Urban College of Boston at the Learning Resources Center. He has an associate degree in Human Services Administration and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Human services. German likes working at La Colaborativa because of the energizing and supportive environment that everyone exhibits. He loves how ready and willing employees are to support community members.
Manager of Triage & Organizing
Ambar is the Manager of Triage and Organizing at La Colaborativa. Ambar was raised in Chelsea and graduated from Chelsea High School. She is currently working toward her bachelor’s in Behavioral Psychology. She is trained in Trauma Informed Care and Behavior Management. Previously, Ambar served as a receptionist, group leader, and a peer mentor. Working in those positions enabled her to be a more efficient Case Manager and taught her how to interact and communicate with people of all ages. She is dedicated to working with immigrants and improving their lives in any way she can. Ambar loves working at La Colaborativa because it allows her to work for her community and be a part of its change and growth.
Operations & Evaluation Director
Sylvia is the Operations and Evaluation Director at La Colaborativa. She has worked at La Colaborativa since 2012 and lived in Chelsea for more than 30 years. Within those nine years she has worked as the Workforce Development Manager, the Summer Youth Employment Director, Director of Youth and Families, and was the organizer for the Chelsea United in Defense of Education (CUDE) program. Previously to working full-time, Sylvia was a board member and worked in corporate. Sylvia loves working at La Colaborativa because of the opportunities to network with other organizations and the ability to be a part of a powerful team of women. In her free-time, Sylvia is involved with youth sports and serves as the President of the Chelsea Kiwanis Club.
Nohemi Alejandra Rodriguez
Health Equity Membership Specialist
Alejandra is a trained criminologist by profession with a specialty in Thanatology. Prior to joining La Colaborativa, she provided grieving individuals with accompaniment therapy. Alejandra leads the promotoras de salud, providing direct resources and information to community members both to improve mental and physical wellness as well as additional support through the COVID-19 pandemic. In her spare time, she enjoys running and watching movies with her two teenagers.
Citizenship and Immigration Service Specialist
Originally from Mexico, Hortencia was raised in California and made her way to the Boston Area after receiving a degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She supervises La Colaborativa’s ESOL programs and holds direct service roles in the organization’s Workforce Development Department. Hortencia was drawn to this line of work because she wanted to hear the stories of each person she encounters as each person has their own story to tell. In her free time, she enjoys portrait photography and has recently taken up graphic design to further her creative pursuits.
Patrice got her first taste of non-profit work through a bicycle education program that she helped launch in Hawaii called Bike-Ed, to working with both state and national AmeriCorps programs in leadership and development. Her focus has remained creating opportunities for organizations to get the skills and supports necessary to grow. She works in the complex world of grants and reporting for La Colaborativa detailing our impactful work to funders that support our mission. In her spare time, Patrice loves kayaking, paddle boarding, and anything where she can be near or on the water.
Youth Development Specialist
Peter Lopez is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Boston. He holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a focus on Global Practice working with Refugees and Immigrants. His professional background includes working in refugee resettlement, political organizing, and journalism. Peter joined La Colaborativa because of the organization’s holistic approach to providing healing, belonging, and empowerment to immigrants and the Latinx community in Greater Boston. In his spare time, he enjoys keeping up with the music scene, longboarding, and eating pupusas.
Workforce Development Manager
Philip White is the Workforce Development Manager at La Colaborativa. He assumed this role in November 2020. Phillip graduated from Babson College with a degree in Strategic Management and Finance. At La Colaborativa, he oversees the ESOL and work-readiness programs which promote economic mobility and stability. Prior to joining La Colaborativa Philip gained experience in investment banking, education, and the pharmaceutical industry, which taught him how to complete projects that have tangible and holistic results for community socioeconomic development. Being passionate about dance, Phillip has danced with the Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and the Royal Ballet. Philip enjoys working at La Colaborativa because of the direct impact the organization has on the community and enjoys being a part of a team of people whose goals are aligned.
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