BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ramon is a foreign-born Cuban-American, having emigrated to the U.S. in 1962 when he was 8 years old following Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba. Raised in Tampa, Florida, Ramon came to New Orleans in 1976 to pursue an engineering career with Shell Oil Company after earning a BS Degree in Civil Engineering from M.I.T. and an MEng Degree in Civil engineering from Cornell University. He retired from Shell Oil Company in 2014 after a successful 37.5 year career having served in multiple technical, managerial, human resources and research positions with Shell. He currently lives in New Orleans and serves as VP of the Cuban Club of New Orleans, serves on the Board of Directors of Sociedad Española, serves as member of the NOHHF Mentoring Committee and is Co-Chairman of the Entertainment Committee of the NOHHF Azucar Ball.
Ana Ester Gershanik, the former writer of the "Nuestro Pueblo" weekly column for The Times Picayune, was born in Rosario, Argentina. She has undergraduate degrees in Elementary Education and in Political Science, a master’s degree in Secondary Education, and a degree in Piano. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Loyola University and is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America, 1981. In 1997, she was selected as one of the 1997 Role Models by the Young Leadership Council; the same year she was recognized by Family Service of Greater New Orleans as one of the 1997 Ten Outstanding Persons and in 2000 she was selected as a YWCA Role Model. She was also the recipient of the Victor Rivers Community Activist Award by the N.Osotros publication. Currently, she is the Chair of the Board of Agenda for Children and serves on the Boards of Trustees of Anti-Defamation League, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, National Council of Jewish Women, and United Way's Women United and Young Audiences. She has been a consultant in arts education and developed music enrichment programs for Caddo Parish Schools and for schools in the New Orleans area. Ana and her husband Juan have been very active in working with Latinx students in Orleans and Jefferson Parish Public Schools implementing programs aiming at self-esteem, motivation, and prevention of alcohol and drug abuse.
Dr. Maria Calzada joined the Loyola University New Orleans faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in the fall of 1991. After moving through the
academic ranks, she became Dean of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences in 2013, now known as the College of Arts and Sciences. She served as Interim Provost
from April of 2018 until July of 2020. Her research interests include mathematical computations with an emphasis on applications in statistical quality control. Her teaching interests include all levels of undergraduate mathematics, but she has a special affinity for freshman level calculus. She hopes that college students will learn, understand, enjoy, love, and use calculus as a base for deeper mathematical and scientific explorations. In 2004 she received the Loyola Senate Teaching Award for her efforts to improve student learning in calculus. Calzada earned an A.B. in Economics and Mathematics from Boston College and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Tulane University. Dean Calzada was born in Panama, Republic of Panama and lives in Metairie, Louisiana with her husband. Their two Latina daughters are Loyola educated and are part of the rich and diverse Latinx Louisiana community.
Deputy Director of Programs for the Office of Youth and Families. Prior to joining the City of New Orleans, Anamaria worked for 10 years at the Broadmoor Improvement Association as the Wellness Director and Clinical Supervisor. In that role, Anamaria developed and supervised the mental health internship program, wellness services, a
food pantry and professional development workshops. Additionally, she is a trained translator and interpreter for Spanish speaking families. She looks forward to using her skills to enrich the lives of all Latino youth and families across the greater New Orleans area.
Peggy Mendoza is the co-founder of Hernandez Law Group and Business Advisors (HLGBA), she serves as Chief Business Advisor for various small business, entrepreneurs, and organizations with a focus on those owned and run by minorities and women. Peggy’s career has been defined by her civic and professional leadership in service to our community, and guided by her beliefs in the power of diversity, inclusion, and community. Prior to HLGBA, Peggy was the founder of New Pathways New Orleans, spearheading the mission to build cross-sector solutions for New Orleans youth with significant needs in Special Education, Mental & Behavioral Health and Juvenile Justice and she was the Executive Director and Vice President of City Year New Orleans, a service organization devoted to keeping public education students in school and on track to graduate. Before assuming those roles she held executive positions in the private sector for over 20 years with T-Mobile, The Body Shop, and Paul Harris Stores. She currently serves on the Board of the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI), Puentes, Raphael Village, and WWNO, the local National Public Radio station. Throughout her career, Peggy has been appointed to, and served on, numerous local advisory bodies. Peggy is a first generation American and the proud mother of two sons, Christopher and Alessandro. Peggy completed her education at Tulane University.
Originally from Colombia Marla is a retired Audit Administrator of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, New Orleans Branch and a Puentes Board member for last three years. She was involved in many non-profit organizations for the last 40 years in various capacities including but not limited to Board Chairman of the March of Dimes - New Orleans, Trustee for the Botanical Garden Foundation, President of Loyola University New Orleans Alumni Association Board, The YMCA, Colombian Volunteers of NOLA, Young Audiences, Casa Argentina, just to name a few. Recognized by Loyola University of New Orleans her Alma Matter, as the Most Distinguished Alumna by City College. She also received the Circles of Excellence Outstanding Alumni by Delgado College, the Order of St. Louis King of France by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the March of Dimes Freda Lupin Butterfly Award for philanthropy and community service. Besides Puentes, Casa Argentina and Colombian Volunteers of NOLA, Marla is also a board member of El Centro. Marla's motto is: be kind, safe and compassionate.
Monica L’Esperance is an accomplished Senior Organizational Development Professional with over two decades of expertise in steering organizational strategies across diverse sectors, including education, utilities, law, accounting, and startups. As a change management expert, this leader has excelled in driving revenue-generating initiatives, implementing DE&I programs, and fostering operational efficiency. Her impactful roles at Entergy, including Senior Change Management Lead and diverse project management, underscore their ability to spearhead large- scale transformations. Armed with an Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership and a Master's in Learning Sciences, her commitment to fostering growth, diversity, equity, and inclusion aligns seamlessly with the ethos of Puentes.
A native from Colombia he completed Medical School training in Cali and subsequent specialty training at Tulane and Ochsner where he staid on as Staff Physician in the Dpt. of Medicine and Section on Nephrology. He retired after 35 years having served in multiple leadership positions. He has served on the boards of the National Kidney Foundation, HAMAL, Alumnii Association of the Universidad del Valle, Latino Health Acces Network, CADA and New Orleans Photo Alliance. Served as faculty member of the Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication and Baxter Peritoneal Dialysis Consultant Group. Since retirement he has rekindled his love for travel and photography having had multiple exhibits in the last several years. He is fluent in Spanish and has working knowledge in German. He remains very active as a volunteer in the N.O Photo Alliance and PhotoNOLA festival.
Andre was born and raised in Gretna, Louisiana. His parents were both from Puerto Rico. He received a Navy ROTC scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with Information Technology. He deployed on the USS Benfold (DDG-65) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He served in the United States Navy for five and a half years, as a Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer. He started a job at SailPoint Technologies as a manager in their Professional Services organization and over the next six years, he grew the
organization from 8 people to over 100 employees, bringing in $20M in revenue annually. He later made a lateral move inside of SailPoint to work as the Head of Product Operations where he helped modernize SailPoint's software packaging and pricing before retiring with 10 years of service to SailPoint. He is married and has twin 11-year-old boys Andrew and Lucas. After his retirement, they moved back to New Orleans to be closer to family. He firmly believes that without the support and guidance of family, friends, and mentors, he would not have achieved a fraction of what he has.
Richard is a lawyer and a partner in the Corporate Practice Group, and a member of the Jones Walker board of directors. He focuses on transactional matters, representing clients in complex land use and zoning matters, public finance, and economic development projects. As the firm's Chief Diversity Officer, Richard collaborates with firm leadership and the firm's Diversity Committee, whose mission is threefold: to increase awareness of the importance of diversity within the firm, to foster mutual respect and appreciation for different perspectives and experiences, and to develop and implement strategies to recruit, retain, and advance lawyers and staff from diverse backgrounds. Prior to returning to Jones Walker in 2013, Richard served as executive counsel to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu from 2010 to 2011 and as city attorney for the City of New Orleans for three years. As city attorney, Richard was responsible for directing and supervising legal affairs for the City of New Orleans and was part of the team that negotiated the New Orleans Police Department consent decree. Prior to his public service, he practiced law with Jones Walker for six years. Before practicing law, Richard served as regional director for US Senator Mary L. Landrieu.