Our TEAM

Board Members Biography

Maricela

Maricela Torres
President and Executive Director

Maricela believes in the power of education to transform lives as well as the importance of serving others by volunteering in the community. Co-founder of Esperanza Community Center, She was born in Michoacán, Mexico. She was ten years old when she came to the United States with her mother and siblings. Maricela grew up in Northern California and experienced firsthand the hardships and challenges facing immigrant workers. As an undocumented teenager, She worked as a migrant worker picking grapes in California and cherries in Oregon. Maricela moved to Florida in 1997.  She has a bachelor of science in Organizational Management and a masters in Psychology. Currently, Maricela serves as the Executive Director of Esperanza Community Center.  Maricela serves on the board of Neighborhood Renaissance, a non-profit development corporation dedicated to building and supporting strong economies and diverse communities. She was appointed by Mayor Keith James to be a member of the City of West Palm Beach’s Real Estate & Housing Committee. The committee is tasked with making recommendations to the City of West Palm Beach about “Policy and Funding sources available to address systemic patterns of racial and ethnic inequity” facing renters and homebuyers in the city. Past volunteer work includes serving on the board of directors of El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center. At El Sol, Maricela volunteered as an Adult Literacy Teacher; a Legal Services Program director; and as “Te Escucho” where She directed a peer counseling program. Maricela has also volunteered as a Child Advocate with the 15th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem program in Palm Beach County, where she sought to provide a necessary voice on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children.

Jill Hansin

Jill Hanson
Esq., Vice President

Co-founder of Esperanza Community Center, Jill has been an attorney for over 40 years. Most of her practice was in labor and employment law. Since retiring, she has devoted much of her time to activism on behalf of immigrant rights. Jill is co-founder of El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center; served on its board for 13 years, as president of the board from 2009-2011, and continues to provide pro bono legal services to its clients. She is also on the board and past president of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

Jill is a board member of PEACE, an ecumenical Palm Beach County social justice program, and is a member of its statewide criminal justice collaborative. Many years ago, Jill served on the ACLU Legal Panel and has been on the board of its chapter for two terms. A member of the Palm Beach County Coalition on Immigrant Rights and on the board of PRIDE Integrated Services, Inc., Jill was honored to receive the Harriet Glasner award and also received the Chief Justice Jorge LaBarga award from the Hispanic Bar Association of Palm Beach County; as well as the Women in Leadership Volunteer of the Year award from the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches. She attended Manhattanville College (B.A. 1967), Brooklyn College, and Rutgers Law School, (J.D. 1981, with honors).

Jill was admitted to the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the states of New York and Florida, as well as several federal courts.

Dora Valdivia

Dora Valdivia
Director

Co-founder of Esperanza Community Center, Dora earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Universidad de Lima and a master’s degree in business administration from Universidad del Pacifico; She completed the Program for Business Executives at the University of California, Berkeley, California. Dora also completed a certificate in Non Profit Management from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dora served as Associate Director of El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center, for over ten years. At El Sol, she supervised labor and vocational, as well as educational and legal programs, computer classes, and workshops.

Dora assisted with development, management, planning, and advancement of El Sol’s mission. Dora is currrently employed with the School District of Palm Beach County.

Sylvia Moffet
Director

Sylvia served as a City Commissioner for District 1 from 2011 through 2018. While Commissioner, she served as President of the Commission for two years; served by appointment to the Palm Beach County Tourism Development Council; was a member of the Palm Beach County’s Early Childhood Cabinet; Chaired Palm Beach County’s Reentry Task Force; served in the Metropolitan Planning Organization; and was the City Commission liaison to the West Palm Beach Criminal Justice Advisory Council.

She is past President of the Old Northwood Steering Committee and represented Old Northwood on the North End Coalition of Neighborhoods. Sylvia served as Vice President of the Friends of the Mandel Public Library and as a reader for the “Let’s Read” program. Before becoming City Commissioner, she was Mayor Frankel’s designee on West Palm Beach’s Charter Review Committee.

Sylvia has degrees from Maryland Institute College of Arts (BFA) and Connecticut’s Wesley University (MA). She has worked in education as an art teacher and program coordinator. Sylvia lives in Old Northwood and has been married for 41 years to her husband John; they are proud parents of two children and two grandchildren.

Betsy Dorn
Director

Long time resident of the Northwood area, Betsy has volunteered with various non-profit groups over the years, as well as managing the Mango Festival several years in a row.

Betsy is a consultant with Circular Matters LLC, which provides consulting services to business, trade associations, and government clients in developing circular economy and sustainable materials management solutions. She is an avid runner and nature lover.

Betsy has a bachelors in Biology/Biological Sciences, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Enid Cochran
Treasurer

School counselor and elementary school teacher. Works with students and their families in order to establish educational goals and the steps needed to reach them. Extensive volunteer work with her church, volunteer with the Americans for Immigration Justice group, which provides free or low-cost legal services to those in need. Ph.D. in Education, and M.S. in School Counseling and Guidance Services. Certified Life Coach.

Joan Waitkevicz
Secretary

Joan Waitkevicz is a physician specialized in internal medicine. While a resident at Lincoln Hospital, Bronx, New York, she learned Caribbean Spanish from the interpreters hired by the City of New York following community demand.

For eight years Joan volunteered at the People’s Health Center, in the Bronx, seeing patients and teaching a Community Health Workers course where people learned medical skills and how to recognize common illnesses. Many graduates of the course went on to earn degrees in nursing, midwifery or acupuncture and now serve as health professionals. As a member of the St. Mark’s Women’s Health Collective, a free lesbian clinic in Manhattan, Joan provided the first medical care in the United States to many refugees who arrived from Cuba on the Mariel boatlift. Joan retired from private practice in New York and has lived in the Northwood area for 18 years. She now serves as President of the Democratic Women’s Club of Palm Beach County.

Joan was privileged to travel to Tijuana in December 2018 with Maricela Torres, and a group of volunteers organized by the Florida Immigrant Coalition. They worked side by side providing needed medical service and legal referrals to asylum seekers from Central America, under the supervision of an attorney.

Promotes a harmonious integrated community in which all people can achieve their highest potential, and seeks to be a model for other communities dealing with day laborers.

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