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.
Rossana Rolón Grau
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.
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. Nayda joined el Circulo de Puerto Rico, Inc. in 2020.
Carmelo Saavedra was born and raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He graduated from the American Military Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Carmelo has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with a major in Management from the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus. Carmelo worked at The Parole Board of Puerto Rico as a Budget Analyst. In 2009 he moved to Leesburg, VA. Carmelo is married to Ana and they have four children together. Carmelo works for LCPS as Special Needs School Bus Driver and is also the Director of the Fleet and Operation of a non-profit organization, Mobile Hope. Carmelo loves to spend time with his family, and he loves music. Carmelo is the Choir and Musical Director at Saint Gabriel's Episcopal Church and the lead male vocalist of the salsa band Edwin Ortiz y La Mafia del Guaguanco.
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.
Assistant Director of Programs and Activities
Enid Santana is originally from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and currently lives in Alexandria, VA. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus, a Master’s Degree in Demography from the UPR Medical Sciences Campus - Public Health Graduate School, and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University. Enid is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and have a Citation in Business Analysis from Duke University.
She is passionate about events’ planning, life coaching, serving the community and providing learning opportunities to those who may need it. Enid served for four years as the Director of the Children’s Ministry of her church where she supervised a large team of volunteers who loved and taught children every Sunday, coordinated the curriculum platform, developed guidance on security measures for the building and classrooms; and training for all volunteers.
Enid currently works as a Survey Statistician for the U.S. Census Bureau since 2007. She has more than 14 years of experience managing large-scale programs/projects, providing executive communication guidance, and facilitating internal/external engagement at the local, state, and federal levels in the Washington, DC Metropolitan region, and Puerto Rico. Enid is also a former teacher who taught math courses in Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Calculus I, Calculus II, and Statistics to undergraduate students at the University of Puerto Rico among other earlier teaching experiences.
Director of Membership
Ana Rolón was born in San Juan and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Papa Juan XXIII High School. Ana graduated in 1997 Cum Laude as Administrative Assistant. After graduation she worked as Administrative Assistant at the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, Human Resources Area in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. In 2008 she worked at the Court House in San Juan. In December 2009 she moved with her family to Leesburg, VA. She married to Carmelo Saavedra and has four children together. Ana loves spend time with her family and also she loves to bake. Ana joined El Circulo de Puerto Rico, Inc. In 2022.
Director of Education Grants and Scholarships
Dave Holmes who resides in Fairfax Station Virginia is a retired federal government Senior Executive Service member, and a US Army veteran. Dave was born in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Recinto de Rio Piedras. Upon graduation from UPR, Dave began his career in the US Army and lived in the Panama Canal Zone. He subsequently started his lengthy career in federal law enforcement when sworn in as a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent. He retired from federal service in 2012. Dave is the proud father of four children who are all members of CPRI, and four grandchildren. After retirement, Dave offered his volunteer services to the Ecumenical Council Helping Others (ECHO) in Springfield VA where he is a counselor. He has been a long-term member of CPRI and was also a former board member in the University of Puerto Rico Alumni Association (UPRAA) in Washington. DC.
Director of Social Media
Lia Vasquez is originally from San Salvador, El Salvador. She currently lives in Damascus, Maryland. Her education includes an associates degree in American Sign Language from Montgomery College and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Special Education from the University Of Maryland. Lia is currently finishing her masters degree in Special Education for Severe Disabilities birth to 21, at the University Of Maryland. One of her passions is to teach students with different abilities in a way that is fun but meaningful. Lia is also a certified Yoga instructor who specializes in yoga for children and children with neurodiverse needs. She teaches her students to regulate their sensory needs through different breathing and mindfulness techniques. Some of Lia’s other passions include traveling and learning about different cultures. In 2017, she fell in love with Puerto Rico and it people. Lia visits the island often and has lived on the island while doing volunteer work. She brings different skills to CPRI which include marketing, social media management, event planning specifically related to fundraising events. She leads food drives, and clothing drives. Lia is also an active member at her church and loves to help whenever there is a need. She currently works for Montgomery County Public Schools as an autism teacher and is eager to be part of CPRI.
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.
Carol Acosta was born in Westchester County, NY and raised in Bayamon, PR. Her father is from Quito, Ecuador and mother is from Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. Ms. Acosta earned degrees from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in San Juan, PR in 1993 and from Augusta State University in Augusta, GA in 2002, and holds teaching licenses in both Virginia and Texas.
Carol is currently an English as a Second Language (ESOL) educator at Covington-Harper Elementary School in Dumfries, VA. As an ESOL educator, Ms. Acosta works with and supports students and families that are new to the county, state and/or country with a primary language other than English. She has also taught kindergarten and second grade. Ms. Acosta has been an educator for 20+ years and loves it!
Besides teaching, Carol is actively involved in her church and serves in different roles within its Hispanic community. She loves running and is an active member in several running groups in her community. She has completed multiple races including a 50K and several full and half marathons. For Ms. Acosta, being involved and helping her community, comes from a sense of appreciation for all those that once helped her as a military spouse, mother and/or educator. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and traveling
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.