The governing board is responsible for setting the school’s mission and vision, and adopting policies that support this mission.
Our governing board members are:
Sonia Lopez – Ms. Lopez is the Chairperson of the board. She has significant management experience and has direct responsibility for the supervision, management and overall operation and development of all of CNC’s community service programs. She oversees and leads the headquarter operation as well as the remote office location of Union City, New Jersey and Washington DC. She has extensive experience in providing services to culturally diverse communities locally, nationally and globally. Ms. Lopez has a substantial history of more than 25 years in corporate management, contract development and contract compliance. She has a natural ability to lead and develop talent and continuously challenges processes and idea for successful outcomes and accomplishments of programs and personnel involved.
Guarione M. Diaz – Mr. Diaz was born in Havana, Cuba and is currently a resident of Dade County, Florida. He holds a Masters Degree from Columbia University and a B.A. from St. Francis College, in New York City.
At present, Guarione M. Diaz is President Emeritus of the Cuban American National Council, Inc. (CNC), a private nonprofit organization involved since 1972 in policy analysis, leadership development, education, employment, housing, healthcare, financial literacy, and community development. The Cuban American National Council is based in Miami-Dade County, Florida and has regional offices in Washington, DC; and Union City, NJ. CNC serves 5,000 individuals yearly, has a professional staff of 47, and is governed by a Board of Directors from various states who are elected annually. Mr. Diaz was President of CNC from 1978 to 2012.
As CEO, Mr. Diaz’ responsibilities at the Council included the setting of operational policy, direction and administration of agency programs, and participation in national activities affecting Cubans, Hispanics and other minorities.
Before establishing residence in Miami, he held management positions at New York City’s Department of Employment and the Community Development Agency.
Since his relocation in the Greater Miami area in 1978, Mr. Diaz has been actively involved in many community organizations. He has served on the Board of Directors of Children Have All Rights: Legal, Educational, Emotional (CHARLEE); HACR; National Association for the Hispanic Elderly; National Council of La Raza; The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda; The Florida Commission on Education Reform and Accountability; the National Hispana Leadership Institute; and on the advisory committees of the U.S. Census; Burger King; and Verizon. More recently, Mr. Diaz was appointed to the Comcast/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council; and Nielsen Joint Advisory Council.
In 1994, he was appointed as United States Ombudsman/Civilian Liaison at our naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, where he assisted over thirty thousand (30,000) Cuban rafters and 15,000 Haitians interned in camps and provided coordination among the U.S. military, and civilian government agencies, the media, and the public at large.
In the last decade, Mr. Diaz has authored a book on Cuban Americans, edited a textbook on the social and physical geography of Puerto Rico, and written over thirty research and policy papers, as well as dozens of articles for newspapers and magazines.
He is married to the former Teresita Otazo, has two daughters, Cristina and Susana; and two grandchildren, Elisa and William.
Celia Suarez – Dr. Suarez has been a teacher, educator and educational administrator with substantial educational leadership experience and experience in teaching and learning. She has substantial communications skills in culturally diverse settings and has served in positions of leadership in such institutions as the Ruston Baker Educational Institution. Dr. Suarez has a distinguished list of publications and has served on numerous occasions as an expert panel member on educational and education reform issues.
Cristina Santana – Maria Cristina Santana – Ms. Santana is currently the Secretary of the board and Parent Representative. She has extensive experience in providing customer service, organizing and coordinating events and handles a variety of administrative duties and responsibilities at an executive support level. Ms. Santana is an active member of the community. She will be able to represent and express the needs and concerns of the community, the school, staff students and parents as a governing board member. She will also be able to follow up on recommendations and follow through on any initiatives identified. Her dedication will allow her to also make sure procedures are in place for the overall wellness and academic performance of the school. Cristina Santana has been designated as the conflict resolution board member for the school.
Judith Stein – Dr. Judith S. Stein is presently the Executive Director of the National institute for Educational Options at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) which runs the Florida School choice resource center. Dr. Stein’s background is school choice and career education. She was the Principal investigator of the USDOE voluntary school choice grant for the Florida Department of Education for seven and one half years. Dr. Stein served as the president of the consortium of magnets/public choice schools, the state organization for magnet schools/programs. She is the treasurer of the Florida parental school choice consortium presently operating in Florida. She is also the interim executive director of the newly formed Florida Charter School Alliance. In 2009 after a forty year career, she was inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame for Career and Technical Education.
Lisa Capote – Ms. Capote is a general counsel. She represents various corporate clients from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and entrepreneurs with corporate matters, regulatory compliance issues, and litigation. In her litigation practice, she has represented clients in all phases of litigation and arbitration proceedings, including discovery, dispositive motion practice, and hearings. As outside general counsel, Ms. Capote assists clients with contract negotiation, drafting and implementation, including, but not limited to, covenants not-to-compete and restrictive covenants, asset purchase and security agreements, corporate resolutions, annual minutes and by-laws. Being a member of the board, Ms. Capote will bring the expertise needed to negotiate contracts and making sure the school is in compliance with the Charter School Law.
Raquel Switzer– Ms. Switzer (Board Treasurer) has been in the accounting field for over 35 years. She obtained her MBA from St. John’s University. In 1986, she moved to Coral Gables, Florida and started an accounting and tax practice along with her husband and partner that has grown during the years. While in Puerto Rico, Raquel was an auditor with Puerto Rico Telephone Company. Later in New York, she joined AT&T and later New York Telephone Company’s tax department, and then Nynex. Raquel is an active community leader who volunteers her talent and resources to many humanitarian causes and organizations such as at ACE serving as treasurer, The American Cancer Society, The Latin Friends of the Museum of Science and the Cuban Women’s Club. She has served on the board of directors of the Hispanic Heritage Council, The American Society of Women Accountants, The Cookie Rojas Golf Tournament, among others.