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Who We Are : Who We Are


The PEAS Collaborative was organically formed by a group of educational leaders who have extensive knowledge, experience and commitment working directly with Latinx students and families. We are a multi-year, multi-sector, statewide education collaborative with shared leadership and representative diverse membership of the Latinx population in Massachusetts.


Our primary goal is simple: center the Latinx student experience to shape, unite, and guide systemic change.


Our work not only highlights the unique barriers facing Latinx students, but also to engages diverse perspectives and explores promising practices that will collectively enable us to align efforts and work collaboratively toward equity across multiple sectors.


Our mission is to work toward equitable and accountable education systems, institutions, and leadership to ensure student success.  We are committed to centering the Latinx student experience to shape, unite, and guide systemic change.

Steering Committee

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Marta Rosa

President, MTR Consulting Services, senior strategic advisor and experienced, innovative, visionary leader. Sought out for her ability to provide inclusive leadership, vision and support to institutions and individuals. Marta has worked in government, education, human services and philanthropy. One of the first three elected Latino public officials in the state of Massachusetts, Marta become the first Latina elected in the city of Chelsea, MA, serving nine years on the School Committee and on City Council. Marta has received numerous leadership and political awards in recognition for her life’s work as a pioneer, elected official, advocate, activist, community leader, senior executive and mentor.

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Mary Jo Marion

Mary Jo has a track record of innovative education management, program development/implementation and assessment, research coordination, public policy analysis, community relations and team leadership that result in broad achievement gains, operational efficacy and successful education reform initiatives during 18+ years in progressively challenging higher roles in CBOs, K-12, Community Colleges, State Universities, and the University of Massachusetts-Boston.


Dr. Carmen Veloria

Carmen has been an educator in the P-16 system and college access program administrator. Her advocacy, research and community service work focuses on issues of race, ethnicity, and language usage with respect to youth, schools and community.

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Dr. Viviana Abreu-Hernandez

Dr. Viviana M. Abreu-Hernández is the Associate Vice President for External Affairs at Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) in Worcester, Massachusetts. In this position, she is responsible for developing and executing major strategic, legislative, and funding initiatives, including fostering strategic partnerships through engagement with external groups such as industry sectors, governmental agencies and elected officials, nonprofit and community based organizations.  She is also responsible for expanding QCC’s presence in Worcester, in Massachusetts and in the country while advocating for the population that QCC serves.  She oversees government relations, grants administration, community engagement initiatives and activities, advancement and development, the QCC Alumni Advisory Board, and provides support to the QCC Foundation.


Nyal Fuentes

Nyal Fuentes strongly believes in the power of data usage to improve student outcomes and close achievement and opportunity gaps. He is a college and career readiness coordinator in the Office of College Career and Technical Education at Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (DESE). In this role he supports many different college and career readiness initiatives, including work with MassCoreEarly Warning Indicator System (EWIS) and other data sources, and high school graduation initiatives. 


Rosemary M. Hernandez

Rosemary Montero Hernandez is a dynamic leader in the field of early childhood education.  For over twenty years her experience has been as parent – provider counselor, classroom educator, center director, administrator, professional development trainer, college educator and advocate for the field.  Her passion is in Early Childhood Education to improve the lives of children and families including diverse communities and low-income families.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UMASS Lowell and a double Masters in Business Administration and in Project Management from Southern New Hampshire University.

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Rita Lara

Rita has over 25 years of local and global nonprofit sector experience. Now in her fifth year as the Director of Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS), Rita has managed  through a pandemic year, pivoting to distributing 50,000 lbs of food per month to East Boston and working with the Boston Housing Support Coalition to pilot the first housing support station in East Boston. She was recognized for her work in 2020 with a Boston Community Champion award from the city of Boston. Prior to coming to MLCS she served as Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for Corporate Accountability International, an advocacy organization that safeguards human rights and the environment. Locally, she has worked with several Boston organizations serving Latinx communities. Rita has an Ed.M. in Human Development & Psychology with a concentration in Risk and Prevention from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Tufts University.


Dr. Celina Miranda

Celina Miranda is executive director of Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), a youth development organization located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.  Before joining HSTF in August of 2016, she was senior program officer at the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, where she managed grants in education and economic mobility.  Prior to the Smith Family Foundation, Celina was vice president and charitable giving manager for BNY Mellon Public Affairs office in New England.  Among her accomplishments at BNY Mellon, she is most proud of her leadership role in the development of a multi-year initiative focused on youth aging out of foster care.  Celina began her career in philanthropy at The Hyams Foundation, where she managed grants and provided leadership on initiatives in the teen development area.  Celina is a trustee of the Rutland Corner Foundation and an adjunct lecturer at Boston University School of Social Work in macro practice.

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Cynthia K. Orellana

Cynthia K. Orellana is the Director of the Office of Community Partnerships at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  Her trajectory is encompassed by a passion and commitment for inclusive and collaborative practices, social justice and racial equity, bridging the opportunity divide, and driving systems change.  With over 15 years in the public and non-profit sector, her professional experiences include community organizing and advocacy, community development, voter engagement and campaigns, governance and social policy, cross-organizational partnerships, and the development of startup initiatives.

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Elena Quiroz-Livanis

Elena Quiroz-Livanis is the Chief of Staff and Assistant Commissioner of Academic Policy & Student Success at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. She oversees the system’s efforts to develop a strategic framework focused on equity, create a unified system of transfer, and transform developmental education. Quiroz-Livanis is also a doctoral student in the Higher Education program at UMass Boston.


Dr. Lorna Rivera

Dr. Lorna Rivera is the Director of the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development & Public Policy, and an Associate Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.


Dr. Fabián Torres-Ardila

Dr. Fabián Torres-Ardila is the Associate Director of the Mauricio Gastón Institute. Dr. Torres- Ardila holds a PhD in mathematics from Boston University. He has many years of experience providing professional development workshops to STEM teachers who work with English Language Learners. At the institute, Dr. Torres-Ardila conducts research that examines the current issues facing Latino communities, such as Latino participation in the STEM pipeline and socio-linguistic factors in K-12 education. As part of the Institute’s team, Dr. Torres-Ardila diligently works to ensure that the Institute supports the development of Latino community leadership through partnerships with local groups.


Stephannie Barboza

Stephannie is an experienced academic advisor with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry.  She worked at Suffolk University for over 15 years in various administrative roles, including overseeing a mentoring program for first-generation college students. 

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