our 2017-2019

Advisory Committee

An Advisory Committee of individuals deeply connected to Puerto Rico was set up after the storm to carry out the mission of the Maria Fund. The committee is made up entirely of Puerto Ricans and aims for 50/50 representation from individuals based in Puerto Rico and individuals in the United States. All committee members are volunteers united by the vision of the Maria Fund.


Yulissa Arce

Ms. Arce is a committed individual with a deep passion for community service and environmental stewardship. She serves as the Central Florida Regional Director at Organize Florida, where she focuses on electoral organizing in Orange and Osceola counties, and has also served as the Florida State Coordinator for Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. Ms. Arce holds a Bachelors of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.

Teresita Ayala

Lah Tere, a Chicago Native and first generation diasporic Borikena, is a global teaching youth ARTivist, Real Time Results Facilitator, and Co-Founder of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen. As an ASPIRAnte she implements Dr. Antonia Pantoja’s philosophy of Awareness, Analysis, and Action in all of her life’s work. Her fervor is fueled by helping youth shift their misfortune into a positive energy, turning trials in triumph.

Karina Claudio Betancourt

Karina is a program officer on Puerto Rico matters with the Open Society Foundations. She is an organizer with extensive experience empowering workers, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and people at the intersection of these identities. Prior to OSF she was the Senior Director for community engagement in the office of NYC Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Before this, she oversaw the LGBTQ and Long Island organizing work at Make the Road New York. Karina grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Xiomara Caro Díaz

Ms. Caro Diaz is part of the Organizing and Capacity Building Team at the Center for Popular Democracy and provides support to social movements in Puerto Rico struggling against the debt and austerity measures proposed by a Fiscal Control Board. She holds a Juris Doctor from the Law School of the University of Puerto Rico and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida.

José Garcia

Mr. García is a Program Officer on the Future of Work(ers) team at the Ford Foundation. Prior to joining Ford, he served as Program Officer for Strong Local Economies at the Surdna Foundation. Earlier in his career, José also served as Associate Director for the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos, where he authored dozens of reports on household debt and co-authored the book Up to Our Eyeballs: How Shady Lenders and Failed Economic Policies are Drowning Americans in Debt.

Jesus González

Mr. Gonzalez was one of the founding members of Make the Road New York, a city-wide organization that builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and by providing survival services. In 2011, Jesus became the youngest person to run for the NY State Assembly.Mr. Gonzalez is a Bushwick, Brooklyn native.

Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi

Mr. Jacobs-Fantauzzi is an award-winning filmmaker. A graduate of UC Berkeley, he received his MA degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He is the founder of FistUpTv and the Co-Founder of the multi-media platform Defend Puerto Rico. His dedication to his craft is deeply connected to his commitment to social justice and the belief in the transformative power of storytelling.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan

Ms. Bannan is an Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, focusing on working with low-wage Latina immigrant workers. She graduated from CUNY School of Law, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review. Ms. Bannan is President of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation’s largest and oldest progressive bar association, and Co-Chairs its Subcommittee on Puerto Rico.

Tristana Robles

Mrs. Robles is one of the producers of Zapatero Films and won Two Latin Grammy Awards. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico where she received her degree in Public Communication and has been an ally of the social justice movement in Puerto Rico for more than a decade.



Maria Fund Staff:

Xiomara Caro-Díaz

The Maria Fund
Project Director

Raquela Delgado-Valentín

The Maria Fund