Diana Susi, President and CEO, MSW, MFT, CMHP Project Director

Masters level Social Worker, 40+ years experience as Projects Director, Executive and CEO of AYUDA guiding staff, board and families to provide excellent service to clients. Has started and directed clinics for special needs populations and ensured that inclusion programs prevail in school settings. Has advocated for human rights issues in Miami-Dade County, has mentored, taught and supervised Bachelor and Master level Mental Health and Social Work Interns. Has written grants that get regranted since 1990. Implemented and protects the value system of AYUDA as an agency that serves its client base from infancy to the end of life with dignity and respect.


The passing of our dear Board Chair DeAnne Connolly-Graham has left a void in many lives and organizations. We are grateful to have had her championing our cause for over 18 years, she has left a magnificent legacy. AYUDA has created the DeAnne Connolly Graham Legacy Fund to continue her essential work in the community.

Alison Davis Gerits, Board Chair

Alison was born in Colombia and raised there and in Argentina. She graduated from Colby College in 1993 with a degree in International Relations. That year she joined DDB Advertising Agency in New York City. Over the next twenty years she worked on American Airlines, ExxonMobil and McDonald’s in NY, Dallas, Miami, Buenos Aires and Jakarta. In 2022, Alison founded her own online lifestyle business City Life Guru. She is also a Board Member of Jewish Community Services of South Florida.

Anne-Marie Tristan, Board Vice Chair

With over 40 years of development/fundraising experience, Anne-Marie is happy to be grant writer for AYUDA. Anne-Marie is originally from Brooklyn, New York and has lived in Miami since 1992. She has a Bachelors in Music with a minor in Art History and a Masters of Business Administration from The American University. She began her career as a High School teacher
before becoming an administrator and grant writer. She enjoys painting (mostly watercolor), playing piano and is an animal rights advocate. She fostered 9 children and adopted her daughter and is glad to have three beautiful grandchildren.

Esther Dollar, Board Secretary

Esther joined Ayuda in 2014 after years of dedicating time to the organization as a volunteer. As a Board member, she developed a youth empowerment program focusing on self-esteem for teen girls. Esther is a model and pageant titleholder. Additionally, she can be seen regularly on Univision in lifestyle and entertainment segments.


DAVID SEXTON, Board Member

David Sexton is an (almost) 30 year resident of Miami Beach. While living here, he has owned a gym (South Beach Ironworks) and an art studio (Painting with a Twist), worked for MARVEL Comics, produced shows and plays and events. He currently owns the Art/Event company Normandy Arts LLC (www.NormandyArt.net) and is the President of the Normandy Fountain Business Association www.NormandyFountain.com ).


KIMBERLY HILLERY, Advisory Board Member

Kimberly Hillery was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. and relocated to Miami in 1997. She received her law degree from Temple University and has devoted her career to public service positions. She is currently an assistant chief counsel with the Department of Homeland Security. Ms. Hillery joined the Board of AYUDA in 2016 in an advisory capacity and provides Pro Bono legal advice. She enjoys working with others to improve the lives of South Florida families and making positive contributions. In her spare time, she enjoys piano playing, interior design, and foreign travel.

Liliana Martinez


Liliana Martinez, a native of Colombia, has lived in Miami Beach for 22 years. Martinez is an activist, supporting causes that help the needy and underserved in Miami Beach, and is a member of the City’s Hispanic Affairs Committee. Over the years, she has become the go-to person for campaigns in need of voter outreach. Political operative Liliana Martinez has worked for eight campaigns in Miami Beach’s 2021 elections, including those of Mayor Dan Gelber, Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, and the political committee opposing a 2 a.m. alcohol sales ban. She has received several recognitions from the City Commission for her avid activism in this City.
Liliana was the catalyst for the City Commission recognizing and honoring the Mount Sinai nurses and doctors for their dedication and their heroic efforts to treat all patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Liliana is one of those patients, fully recovered today, thanks to the medical treatment and emotional support she was given at Sinai when her family could not be by her side.



Linda Baumel Cohen has a Master of Science in Counseling. Twenty-three years experience as a Counselor, Pre-K through 12 at Hebrew Academy, Miami Beach. Six years of experience as a Counselor at Biscayne Beach Elementary, K – 5.

Lucia Baez Geller

Lucia Baez-Geller

Lucia Baez-Geller was elected November 2020 to represent District 3 in the Miami-Dade County Public School Board. She has been a part of the community she represents for over 30 years, working tirelessly to give its residents a better education.
For over 15 years, Lucia has dedicated her life to education by teaching thousands of students. Her advocacy efforts are far reaching beyond the classroom with her involvement with education initiatives in Miami-Dade County, Tallahassee, and Washington, DC. She was awarded the title of 2013 Political Advocate of the Year by the National Education Association. Lucia has worked with United Teachers of Dade, Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, Educational Excellence School Advisory Council, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Media Ambassador for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and served as the Education Chair with the League of Women Voters.



Melina Almodóvar, also known as La Muñeca de la Salsa and La Chica Del Bling, is a Puerto Rican salsa singer, songwriter, dancer, and entertainer. She has also performed in many festivals and clubs all over the United States and the world. Her main stage has been Hollywood Salsa Festival, an event that she produces herself with her production team ALMODOVAR MUSICA PRODUCTIONS. Thousands come every year to the City of Hollywood, Florida on the first Saturday of April to enjoy salsa music from the best salsa musicians, dancers and DJjs in the world. This event has become the highest attended festival of Florida dedicated exclusively to the salsa genre. Melina has also produced the Miami Beach Salsa Festival . In 2021 The Miami Beach SalsaFest was a benefit for AYUDA. Melina is dedicated to ensuring that the joy of Salsa is accessible to all ages and cultures.

Marjorie York

Marjorie York is a community activist who is on many Boards in Miami Beach and throughout the County. I especially enjoy helping to plan events where everyone can gather to exchange ideas and discuss legislative issues. It is very gratifying to witness people receiving needed services provided by AYUDA.

Brian Burlingame

As CEO of JeffreyGroup since 2015, Brian has led a company of more than 130 professionals in seven offices across four countries. The recent acquisition of JeffreyGroup by Hill+Knowlton Strategies doubles H+K’s footprint in Latin America. Brian will lead H+K’s Latin American operation, encompassing the two legacy businesses. He holds a MBA and Masters in International Business from the University of Miami, and speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese. Brian is a passionate supporter of AYUDA and its vital services to the community.