Diana-Susi

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.

DeAnne Connolly Graham, Board Chair

DeAnne Connolly Graham has been a Board member with Ayuda since 2006. As the current Chair, her focus is on bringing more awareness and private funding for Ayuda’s programs.  DeAnne is President of ROI Media Consultants, Inc., a company that guides businesses with their media buys and marketing strategies to ensure they achieve a positive Return on Investment.  DeAnne is well known throughout Miami’s hospitality and tourism community and holds leadership roles with a number of influential organizations throughout South Florida.

Alison Davis Gerits, Board Co-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 2012, Alison started her own retail business Beach Life Guru and is based in Miami Beach.

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.

AlexAvellanet

Alex Avellanet

Alex Avellanet is the Principal at Bon+Voix, Corp., a consulting firm based in Miami, FL, since 2015 focusing on government relations, community outreach, partnerships and alliances, and events. Her areas of expertise are in Soccer, Real Estate, and Politics. She is all about promoting a culture of sports inclusion, social responsibility, and environmental education to positively impact local communities.

Diego Caiola, Board Member

Diego Caiola, Born in Argentina but grew up in North Beach. Attended Nautilus Middle School and Miami Beach Senior High. Over 18 years of Marketing/Advertising.  President of CMG, a Consultant, Cross Marketing company. Director of the North Beach Business Organization. Publisher of the Miami Beach Life Magazine.

KIMBERLY HILLERY

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.

Maria Iglesias Ramesar, Board Member

Maria Iglesias Ramesar was born in Cuba, raised and educated in New York City and    relocated to Miami in 1995.  She came down with a Marketing Manager’s position to call on Latin American Banks with a large computer manufacturer (Unisys).  The division closed before she took the position and instead of returning to NYC with her husband, they decided to give South Florida a shot.  After several years in marketing and shortly after becoming a new mom, Maria got certified to teach for the Miami Dade County School Board and has been teaching for 14 years at our neighborhood school, Biscayne Elementary.  Several of the students that have passed her class have also been part of the Happy Kids After School Program.  She understands the value of Ayuda to our community first hand and decided to join our board in 2015.

LAURA SEIGEL, BOARD MEMBER

Laura Seigel received her B.S.W. and M.S.W. degrees from Florida International University. After a long career in law offices for 40 years, Ms. Seigel rejoined her beloved career as a Social Worker where she is working as a Transition of Care Social Worker as well as a Counselor for people with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities at Able to Dream and a Grief Counselor at It’s All Grief. Prior to having children, she worked at Family Resource Center’s Family Preservation Services Project and Crisis Nursery. Ms. Seigel has over 35 years volunteer community involvement at several agencies serving children and families where she earned numerous certificates of appreciation and awards for her service.

Liliana Martinez

LILIANA MARTINEZ, BOARD MEMBER

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

LINDA BAUMEL COHEN, Board Member

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.

Ashley Ward, Board Member

Ashley was born and raised in West Africa, Nigeria. She moved to the United States as a child with her parents in 1997. She spent her middle school, high school, and college years in Atlanta, GA. After graduating with a B.A in Business Administration from Georgia State University, Ashley decided to relocate to sunny South Florida. Ashley works as a realtor in residential and commercial sales, and she works with real estate investors and first time home buyers. Ashley loves to volunteer in her local community helping the homeless with Miami Homes for All. She wrote a children’s book in 2016 “ABC for the Affluent Child”, to help teach positive financial education to children.

DAVID SEXTON

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 ).

MELINA ALMODOVAR

MELINA ALMODOVAR, Board Member

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.

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.

Brian Burlingame

As CEO of JeffreyGroup Brian leads a company of more than 130 professionals in seven offices across four countries. JeffreyGroup is the leading independent marketing, corporate communications and public affairs agency helping multinational companies and global brands engage and influence audiences and stakeholders throughout Latin America.  Brian’s expertise in the Latin American business and marketing landscape has been developed over a 20+ year career living and working in the region. In addition to overseeing JeffreyGroup’s seven wholly-owned offices, Brian manages the firm’s agency partner network that provides JeffreyGroup with local market insights and capabilities across the Americas. He holds a MBA and Masters in International Business from the University of Miami, and speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.