Who We Are
Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to promote responsible citizenship, educational attainment, and active engagement in the improvement of the health, environment, and financial well-being of Hispanic families throughout the United States.
We design and implement data-driven initiatives that combine the strength of new and traditional forms of media with grassroots outreach to transform information into action.
Working with and through our strategic partnerships with faith and community organizations, we are dedicated to providinggreateraccess to vital information and community resources to the U.S. Hispanic population to improve their health and quality of life. HAF brings a unique and effective process of grassroots education outreach that can mobilize thousands of individuals in virtually any city in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
HAF is built upon the values of a strong work ethic, responsibility, respect, integrity, community, volunteerism, innovation, diversity, faith and leadership. Our vision is that one day every Hispanic individual in America will enjoy good physical health, a healthy natural environment, a quality education, economic success, and civic engagement in their communities with the sum of improving the future of America.
HAF brings the strength of our network of Latino Catholic and Evangelical partners and our database of over 17,000 community-based and Hispanic-serving organizations throughout the country that offer bilingual, affordable and culturally appropriate services. Since its founding, our Helpline has assisted more than 100,000 individuals in their search for information, support, and affordable services in the communities where they live.
Our Board of Directors
Marcela G. Garcini, Bishop Dunne High School
Velma Montoya, Ph.D., University of California Regent Emerita
Mar Muñoz-Visoso, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Paula Neira, First Book
Marta E. Sanchez, Ph.D., Loyola Marymount University
Roberto Salazar, Government Executive and Chairman of the Board
Armando E. Rodriguez, United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Maite Arce, Chief Executive Officer
Maite’s family emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in search for work and a better life in the 1970s. She was raised in Southern California. While working in the nonprofit sector for many years, she realized how much easier life could have been for her parents had they had access to information, resources, and personalized guidance to help them navigate the surroundings of their adopted country upon their arrival to the U.S. Her family has since become naturalized citizens, active voters, and engaged in community service. Maite is the Founder of Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), a national nonprofit organization that helps individuals, particularly those with limited language proficiency to transform information into action. She has fifteen years of experience developing innovative outreach strategies that effectively mobilize underrepresented populations working with faith and community based leaders with whom she designs and executes data driven and measurable outreach initiatives. Ms. Arce formerly served as Vice President of Operations for the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO) increasing Latino parental involvement in education, and public policy participation among Latino faith and community leaders. In 2007, Ms. Arce received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Logos Christian College in Jacksonville, Florida.
Jill Wheeler, Director of Programs
Jill joined Hispanic Access Foundation with over ten years of experience as a grant-maker dedicated to supporting grassroots organizations in Mexico and Central America. She served for over five years as representative for Mexico at the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), handling a portfolio of grants in areas such as remittances and microfinance, small enterprise, environmental conservation, health and agriculture. She conducted outreach to immigrant organizations across the U.S. to build bi-national partnerships supporting economic and social development projects in migrant-sending communities. As regional director, she managed the IAF’s Central America and Mexico team and oversaw awards totaling about $7 million annually.
Jill previously worked at Fundación Natura, a Panamanian environmental foundation, and taught high school social studies in El Salvador. She has collaborated with and advised U.S. community leaders opening charter schools, and consulted for the National Council of La Raza in the design and early implementation of its charter school development initiative. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Harvard University and a master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University.
Rosio Gonzalez, Senior Community Outreach & Partnerships Manager
Rosio has dedicated her professional life to finding solutions to end poverty. Her passion has been working with low-income and Latino families providing services to critical needs and advocating for social justice. Rosio holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a Bachelor of Social Work from San Jose State University in California. She is the first in her family to graduate from college. Rosio grew up in Gilroy and Santa Cruz, California. Her father was a farmworker and she herself worked in the agricultural fields as a child.
As a professional social worker and leader for the last 22 years, Rosio has worked in child welfare, foster care/adoption, early childhood education and community-based multi-service organizations. She has a background working in state, federal and local programs with extensive experience in management and supervision, organizational and program development, strategic planning and community engagement. For the last three years, Rosio served as Department Head for Pastoral Offices at the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas overseeing the ministerial offices.
Rosio has also served on numerous local and national non-profit boards in social services, Hispanic issues, homelessness, child welfare, immigration, healthcare, and housing.
Liz Neuenschwander, Operations Manager
Liz is from La Paz, Bolivia; her family emigrated to the U.S. when she was nine years old. Liz earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Florida International University. She is an experienced financial management professional with over eight years of accounting and audit experience specializing in the accounting and finance needs of nonprofit organizations. Liz began her career as an auditor for BDO Seidman, LLP and then worked at Raffa, PC. She has performed financial statement audits and OMB circular A-133 audits for numerous nonprofit organizations. As someone who experienced the promise of the American Dream firsthand, her desire for a more fulfilling career that reflected her passion for serving the Hispanic community led to her joining HAF in 2011. As the operations manager of HAF, Liz now has the opportunity to help the Hispanic community by working with a team that is striving to pave new inroads for Hispanics to realize greater opportunity, equality and justice.
Sara Benitez, Community Outreach & Partnerships Manager
Sara grew up in Idaho and Colorado where she was raised by her Mexican-American mother and Venezuelan father. Her family’s unique background inspired her commitment to learning about and serving the Latino community. Sara comes to the Hispanic Access Foundation from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), where she carried out policy research and advocated for the U.S. Latino community. While at NCLR, she developed a new method for using qualitative research to put a human face on policy by telling the story of how specific issues impact Latinos’ daily lives. She has carried out multicity research projects on a range of topics affecting the Latino community, including, job quality, hunger and nutrition, access to financial institutions, disaster response, and nonprofit advocacy. She brings her experience working with the Latino community throughout the United States, federal public policy, and advocacy combined with project coordination, and outreach to the Hispanic Access Foundation.
Sara received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jenny Brandt, Community Outreach & Partnerships Manager
Jenny has a proven track record for program development, implementation, and fundraising. Jenny is Filipino American who learned Spanish at the University of Hawaii and through her travels to Argentina, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Jenny has worked for several years empowering immigrant communities as an ESL educator, women’s advocate for victims of domestic abuse, and she has served as a specialist for a crisis hotline and national information and referral helpline. Jenny is passionate about empowering undeserved communities, environmental justice, and eliminating violence against women and children.
Michelle Neuenschwander, Community Outreach & Partnerships Manager
As the daughter of Bolivian immigrants, Michelle’s understanding of their experiences allows her to truly appreciate the hardships of Latino immigrants who come to the U.S. in search for a better life and more opportunities. Michelle is a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in community health from George Mason University. Her coursework provided a strong base of knowledge and skills to address the local, national, and global health needs of diverse communities and populations. She developed a solid understanding ofissues such as health-related education, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation within a community setting. Her academic training and fieldwork has contributed to a thorough understanding of health issues faced by Latino communities and other populations at national and international levels. Prior to joining HAF, she interned at Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) for the Sustainable Development and Environmental Health department and assisted with research related to road safety legislation and health public policy initiatives.
Christine Gutierrez-Syphers, Executive Assistant
Christine was born in Cibolo, Texas and was the third of six children raised in a predominantly German farming community. Her parentsinstilled in her and her siblings values, which she has had the privilege of imparting to her three children and grandson, such as a strong work ethic, commitment, and the importance of family.
Christine has served as an executive assistant and legal secretary to a San Antonio law firm for fourteen years and then went on to work for six years under the Chairman of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. She has received formal training in working for executives and has dedicated her career to the field of administration.