It is organized for charitable, educational, cultural and civic purposes and it is a
non-partisan and non-sectarian organization.
Mariel Ocasio, was born in San Juan and raised in Bayamón; both of her parents are from Corozal, Puerto Rico. In 1988, she moved to San Diego, California to attend the San Diego State University and a year later her family decided to move from Puerto Rico to Virginia, where she has resided since 1989. Mariel graduated from George Mason University with a B.A in Psychology and an M.A in Organizational Development. Currently, she works as a Social Wor Supervisor in Fairfax County, where she also has worked as a Child Care Specialist Supervisor and Social Worker for many years. Mariel has been helping the community since she was a teenager working as a bank teller, when she would volunteer for every community event where she could help the Hispanic community in the area and when clients would line up to wait and do business with her, the only Spanish speaker teller in the bank at the time. In Fairfax County, she has years of experience working with county residents and community-based organizations that help with different needs. Mariel is very active in the organization she works at, involved in many initiatives as part of the organization’s strategic plan, which are geared to enhancing services and developing staff. She has years of experience working closely with agency directors and management teams to successfully implement measures that have resulted in an increase in efficiency, enhanced customer service, and accuracy. Mariel’s passion to help others and her love for Puerto Rico and it’s culture are the reasons she decided to join Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. (CPRI) in 2014. As a board member of Círculo de Puerto Rico she has connected hundreds of Puerto Ricans and their friends through cultural events and fundraisers and created our the popular and fun “Octavitas”, an annual holiday event that features traditional holiday food and music from Puerto Rico and where we receive about 200 of our closest friends and supporters. In 2017, she successfully led efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, effectively raising funds and collecting goods that were sent to Puerto Rico’s hurricane victims. Mariel is married to Jose Calero, has two adult daughters, Tatiana and Erika, a son in law, and a granddaughter. She loves spending her time with family and friends.
Joel Ramos was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. He graduated high school from Colegio Santa Rosa. He studied construction drawing at the Tomas C. Ongai Vocational School in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. In 2008 he graduated as an architect from the Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico, where he was a member of the A.I.A.S. (American Institute of Architectural Students). Joel has been helping the community for many years, he was part of Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico until he moved to Virginia in 2017. He has collaborated with Jaime Suárez and Jorge Rigau in various architectural and sculpture projects and has had some of his projects published in several architectural books. Joel works as a Construction Project Manager as well as provides architectural services. He resides in Arlington, Virginia and his passion for helping the community attracted him to the Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. where he serves as the Vice-President.
Gilmarie Rodríguez, was born in San Juan and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences with a minor in Accounting from the University of Puerto Rico. Gilmarie has worked as an accountant for several industries such as oil, construction, manufacturing and government instrumentalities, such as the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority. In 2017, she moved with her family to Bristow, Virginia and is currently working as an accountant in a construction company. During her free time, she enjoys contributing some of her talents and experiences to non-profit organizations that their main goal is to aid communities with social challenges or supporting education on public safety and security matters. Some of the organizations that she has served as part of their directing board are the United States Power Squadrons (Puerto Rico Chapter) and the Boy Scouts of America (School Troop 82). Gilmarie’s passion in aiding the community is the reason why she joined el Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. in 2017.
Tomás Esterrich was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, but lived most of his life in Puerto Nuevo, Puerto Rico. After graduation from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus with a bachelor’s in business administration (accounting) degree and the Reserve Officers Training Corps, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in U.S. Army Finance Corps. Tomás also holds a Master of Science degree in Logistics Systems Management from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. He fulfilled a variety of prominent military roles all over the world and the U.S. Army recognized his outstanding service with numerous high military honors. After his retirement from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Tomás went back to Puerto Rico and served as senior finance and administration director for Bromon Aircraft, Chase Manhattan Bank, Luis Acosta, and Nestlé. In 1994, he moved to Vienna, Virginia, where for 12 years, he was the Founder, President and CEO of T.E. Systems, Inc. He also served as senior strategic consultant at Toffler Associates. Tomás was a key player in the rapid financial growth of MicroTech from 2008 to 2012. For his distinguished service, he received the Chief Financial Officer of the Year Award from 3 different news media organizations and was finalist in two others from 2009 to 2012. Tomás has over 50 years leading and managing organizations as Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer in private and not-for-profit organizations at national and international levels. He has been a strategic consultant to various businesses seeking rapid growth and expansion in the national and international markets. Tomás has not forgotten his heritage and his community service reflects that selfless philosophy. He has been actively involved in numerous cultural, educational and charity organizations and has been an active member in various veteran’s organizations. Tomás joined the Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. (CPRI) in 1980 and has been an active member since then, supporting fund raising and charity activities. Since September 2017, Tomás has led the reorganization of CPRI in Virginia and Puerto Rico. He has been married to Miriam A. Collazo-Tellado for 50 years and they have two daughters, a son and five grandchildren.
Francis Rios was born and raised in New Jersey, the daughter of a Honduran mother and a Puerto Rican father from San Sebastian. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Spanish from Bethany College in West Virginia, and a Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies from American University. Francis works in the language services industry, providing translation/interpretation management services for federal and commercial clients. She resides in Falls Church, Virginia with her partner, daughter and cat. Her hobbies include reading, watching true crime shows, and working on her family tree. She has always loved connecting with her roots and culture, which is what motivated her to join Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. in 2019.
Director of Programs and Activities
Johanna Maldonado was born in Caguas and raised in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. She graduated from José Campeche High School. Johanna graduated in 2011 Summa Cum Laude as a Surgical Technician from EDIC College. After graduation she worked as a surgical technician at the Menonita General Hospital in Cayey, Puerto Rico. Years later Johanna returned to EDIC College as a Surgical Technician Professor until 2014, when she moved with her family to Ashburn Virginia. She loves to contribute to the community and help with noble causes such as the relief efforts for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The involvement of the Circulo de Puerto Rico in the relief efforts and Johanna’s love for the puertorrican culture is what motivated her to join this organization as the Director of Program and Activities.
Rossana Rolón Grau
Deputy Director of Programs and Activities
Rossana Rolón Grau is originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. In 1992, she was selected to work as a guide/hostess in the Puerto Rico National Pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Seville, Spain. As the spouse of an Army Officer, Rossana moved to Germany, where she worked as an editor for the Stars and Stripes newspaper. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Baylor University School of Law, in Texas, and graduated in the top 1/3 of her class. Rossana was selected to the Baylor Law Review, where she served as an Executive Editor. She has been practicing law since 2004 and has been admitted to the Texas and Virginia state bars. Rossana worked for the Department of Homeland Security as an Assistant Chief Counsel in San Juan, Puerto Rico and as an Assistant Legal Advisor in Washington, D.C. In 2010, she was selected for a prestigious detail with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, where she worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. In June 2012, she moved with her family to Arlington, Virginia, and in September 2013, she opened her own law firm where she offers legal services to the immigrant community. In 1995, Rossana married Lieutenant Colonel Richard Marzan (U.S. Army Retired) and they have two sons. She joined Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. in 2017 and is the Secretary of the Board of Directors since 2017.
Rosa G. Rodriguez
Director of Membership
Rosa Rodriguez was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with major in finance from the University of Puerto Rico in May 2002. Rosa moved to Virginia in 2003 when she joined the Federal Government. Rosa began her Federal career in January 2003 with the Defense Supply Center Richmond-Defense Logistics Agency as a contract specialist. In September 2003 she was selected for a two year Financial Management Internship in the HQ Corps of Engineers Resource Management Directorate Budget Office. Then permanently placed there as a budget analyst. Her major duty include oversight of the OMA, OPA, OMAR, RDTE & FMS appropriations while in HQ. In May 2018 she was selected for her next assignment in the Management Integration Office (MIO), Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL), ERDC-Alexandria, VA as the Team Lead Budget Analyst to manage GRL’s direct projects. Rosa is also an active member of the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) and the Círculo de Puerto Rico, INC in which was a former treasure back in the years 2008 and 2009. Rosa lives in Dumfries VA, with her husband Carlos Alicea, who is also from Puerto Rico and works as an auditor in the Naval Audit Services, Navy Yard. They have two daughters, Sofia and Amanda. In her free time she loves spend time with family and friends. Also love to dance, especially salsa. She is very happy to have joined the Circulo de Puerto Rico, Inc. for a second time, she was the treasurer of CPRI many years ago.
Deputy Director of Membership
Nayda Forteza was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and moved to Washington, DC in 2006. She has a Bachelor of Science Business Administration, Major in Accounting from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR), she has achieved Level 3 DoD Financial Management Certification Program, (Washington, DC) and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. Nayda is employed with the federal government, working in the Financial Management & Comptroller and Manpower and Reserve Affairs areas, currently holding the position of Audit Manager responsible for completing audit services in accordance with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAO Yellow Book). She previously worked as a Coordinator for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), leading a successful campaign plan which exceeded campaign goal by 24%. Nayda was awarded the “Most Valuable Fundraiser” and “President Award” and is a former member of Toastmasters International, served in the following capacities as club Vice-President of Education, club President, and Area D2 Governor for area Clubs. She is married to Richard and has a daughter, Rebeca, son-in-law Shad and a grandbaby. Nayda enjoys playing dominos and board games, going to the movies, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and volunteering to serve others. Mayda joined el Circulo de Puerto Rico, Inc. in 2020.
Director of Communications and Social Media
Gladys Collado-Colón was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. During her college years, she worked at “Nilda Maldonado y Asociados,” a family business where she specialized in medical billing while also working as an administrator of a pediatrics office, “Juan Rodriguez Pediatrics,” where she worked prior to moving to Philadelphia, PA. Throughout her time in Pennsylvania, Glady’s priority became family life with her four kids. Three years later, she moved to Virginia, where she now lives, maintaining focus on her children, one of which is married with a baby, two are in college, and the last one is getting ready to join them. Gladys is a hardworking woman who truly enjoys getting involved with the community and helping others with projects; she has the “GreyLove Project,” inspired by her grandson as a way to give back to the community and supporting others going through tough times. This project focuses on giving care packages to parents whose children are being kept in NICU. Most recently, she has joined the Circulode Puerto Rico as the Director of Communications and Social Media.
Immediate Past President
Gregorio Vázquez is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with family roots in the towns of Caguas and Gurabo. He completed his degree in Electrical Engineering in Mayagüez campus of the University of Puerto Rico and has Master’s in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Project Management from the University of Maryland in College Park. Professionally, he has worked with NASA, Harris Corporation, General Electric, BAE Systems NA, and FAA among others. Gregorio is currently a branch manager in the FDA developing and operating information systems for Drugs, Biologics, Medical Devices and Tobacco products regulation. He has been collaborating with CPRI since 2005 and he has a genuine interest in seeing the Puerto Rican community in the DC metro area thrive and have access to as many opportunities as possible, while keeping the cultural identity and traditions of our island. He has been actively involved in numerous cultural, educational and charity organizations and is the immediate past president of Círculo de Puerto Rico, Inc. Gregorio successfully led the reorganization, recruiting efforts, and fundraising events of the organization.