Our Team

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Gianella Romero, also known as Ginny, is a first generation Mexican-American native to Hickory, NC. She is a strong administrative professional with a passion of advocacy and leadership who has obtained her Bachelor’s degree at Winston-Salem State University followed by her Master of Business Administration at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She is our current Executive Director who is also an alum of Centro Latino. She believes that strong communities are built through education, support, unity and innovation.

Executive Director


Andrea Quijas Arteaga, is our new Client Service Advocate. She was born in Hidalgo, Mexico. She has resided in Newton since 2016. She is a student at Lenoir-Rhyne University to double major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is encouraged to help her community with personal growth and respect, for better bonds with each other.

Client Services Advocate


Monica Pagnini-Ibarra, is currently training to become a Department of Justice Representative for Centro Latino. A DOJ representative is an accredited representative which is a non-attorney who has demonstrated to the Department of Justice that they have enough education and experience in immigration law to provide immigration legal services. Monica was born in Venezuela and has resided in Hickory, North Carolina since 2015. She has served as a lawyer in Venezuela where she developed her career in the area of family law. She is sure that when we provide support for the better development of families, our society grows in a safer and more productive way.

Department of Justice Representative in-training

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Larry Phillips,  is a Pastor and has a big heart for the Hispanic community. Larry is bilingual having lived almost 20 years in Peru as a missionary. He has recently become an Accredited Immigration Representative. He helps our clients with any type of immigration-related need.

Department of Justice Immigration Representative



Soraya Valdez Place, was born and raised in El Salvador. She immigrated to the United States in 2004 and got a Master’s Degree in Arts at North Carolina State University. Soraya moved to Hickory in 2015 after returning from Panama where she served as a Peace corps volunteer with her husband for 3 years. She has been a Spanish Professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University since January 2015 and also works in Hispanic Community outreach in the Catawba County Library system and as a Family Liaison with a program called Juntos. As a forever ESL student, Soraya is very committed to making extra efforts to assist at-risk students and their families to stay on track in their educational, personal, and community goals. 


George Place, is a volunteer Karate instructor who allows for martial arts training to be accessible for families that can't afford the dojo experience.


Board of Directors

President-Eddie Marlowe

Vice President-JoAnn Spees

Secretary-Barbara Gilbert

Christy Lohr-Sapp

Anita Montes 

Maricruz McCorkle

Benjamin Huhn

Jairo Betancourt

Haydee Trejo