The Council of Hispanic Business Professionals -CHBP-, has named it’s 2020-2021 Board of Directors. It is made out of professionals and business owners, some relatively new members of the organization, as well as sine veterans thereof, as follows:
Mercedes Fonte – President
Mercedes joined the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals’ Board of Directors in March of 2019. She has a shared goal of promoting Hispanic businesses and professionals through partnership and uniting our community.
Her professional experience is in Wealth Management, as well as previous experience in hospitality and event management. Mercedes is a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. She assists clients with financial and portfolio planning in order to achieve customized financial, family, charitable, estate, and legacy goals.
Mercedes is of Cuban decent and was born in Miami, Florida. She has been a resident of Naples, Florida, since 2005. Mercedes is a proud graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree. She also holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ designation. Mercedes pursues her passion of empowering women and young professionals through her involvement with the Shelter for Abused Women and Children and the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals.
Betsy Silva – Vice President
Betsy is a global executive with expertise in the areas of diversity and inclusion, cultural agility, organizational change, employee engagement, multi-cultural marketing, talent management and community engagement. The breadth of her twenty-five year career encompasses a variety of industry sectors, which include Global Fortune companies focused on hospitality, manufacturing, finance, health care, pharmaceutical, privately owned corporations, and government-sponsored enterprises. Betsy has experience serving as a direct member of a Senior Executive Leadership Team, reporting directly to the CEO. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish her third start up, Silva Advisors, a boutique consultant practice. Betsy is also a frequent conference speaker and a published author on a variety of topics.
In addition to leading Silva Advisors, Betsy serves as the Americas Director of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture and Engagement for Boehringer Ingelheim. In this role, she leads strategies that serve to create a Culture of Inclusion. Betsy collaborates with cross-functional leaders to augment the alignment and integration between business priorities and Diversity and Inclusion. This includes Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, Marketing, Learning, Business Resource Groups, and the implementation of Diversity and Inclusion strategies in South America, Mexico, Canada and Brazil. Betsy also serves as an advisor to several of the organizations Global Centers of Excellence including Talent Acquisition, Leadership Development, Organizational Development, and Diversity and Inclusion.
Her prior leadership experience includes Global Chief Diversity Officer for American Express, Global Chief Diversity Officer for Sara Lee Branded Apparel Group, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield and Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Sodexo. As Global Chief Diversity Officer, she collaborated with the C Suite to strategically establish the Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence aligned to business priorities, positioning these organizations to be recipients of several prestigious awards that include the Catalyst Award, Best Companies for African American, Latinas, and LGBT and for Working Mothers and country specific awards. As Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Sodexo, she led the implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion Consulting strategy, the evolution of the organizations Business Resource Groups, expanded the Diversity and Inclusion Learning Strategy to include virtual learning as well to offer the learning in culturally relevant Spanish language. She also led the implementation of Diversity and Inclusion Strategies in South, Central and Latin America.
As an active member of the community, Betsy is a board member of the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals in Naples, Florida. She is a former board member of the National Center for Healthcare Leadership, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Urban League, Commissioner for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Human Relations Commission, and the National Disability: IN. She is also co-founder and former Chair of the Hispanic League of the Piedmont Triad (HLPT) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has served on a non-for-profit focused on the advancement of Latinas.
Betsy earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Business Administration from Inter-American University in Puerto Rico. She is a 2005 National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) Fellow, completing the Executive Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Betsy holds a certification in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University and is certified in Emotional Intelligence Assessment, Myers-Briggs, Intercultural Diversity Inventory (IDI), and the multi-rater 360-degree feedback instrument PROFILOR, Unconscious Bias, and several leadership courses.
Malcolm Gianella – Treasurer
Malcolm joined the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals’ Board of Directors in July of 2020. His professional experience is primarily in Home Loans and expertise on Cash flow, and previously in hospitality and coordinating events. Malcolm is a Financial Center Lender Consultant for Bank of America. He primarily focuses on assisting clients with lending insights to help them achieve their goals.
Malcolm is Italian with Spanish decent and was born in Torino, Italy. He has been a resident of Naples, Florida, since 2005. Malcolm is a very proud graduate of Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid Spain, where he earned his Bachelor of Business degree. Malcolm strives to empower Business owners, the LGBT community and young professionals through his involvement in the community.
Maria Botana – Director, Board Member
Maria Botana is the Vice President Branch Manager of Iberiabank in Golden Gate, Naples Fl. Maria was born in Cuba and has been a resident of Naples Florida since 1968.
She graduated from Naples High School, and started her banking career when she was a Junior in High School as part time teller. She has since, continued her banking career until the present day.
Maria has been involved in many organizations through the years, Including LABPA (Latin America Business Professional Association) and Golden Apple Selection Committee for 3 years.
She is one of the founders, along with many other Hispanic Leaders of the Community and the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, of the Council of Hispanics Business Professionals.
She is married to her High School sweetheart for 46 years and has three children and three grandchildren.
Gabriel A. Véliz – Director, Board Member
Gabriel A. Véliz is an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan.
Mr. Veliz is bilingual and of Ecuadorian descent. He takes pride in helping members of the Hispanic community navigate the legal system.
As of today, he has been able to help hundreds of members of the Hispanic community through the legal system.
Mr. Véliz joined the Council for Hispanic Business Professionals in 2019 and through his participation in the council, he hopes to promote and advance the unique needs of the Hispanic community in SWFL.
Richard Torres – Director, Board Member
Richard joined the Council of Hispanic Business professionals in July of 2020.
His professional experience is hospitality, specifically hotel sales and marketing. Richard has worked for more than 25 Years in the Hospitality industry and is now the Director of Sales at the brand new HOME2 Suites by Hilton in Naples
Richard is Dutch and moved 5 Years ago from the Netherlands to Orlando, Florida. He recently moved to Naples in January of this year and is eager to get involved in the Naples community. Richard has a passion for diversity and inclusion. He believes in the gift a smile can bring, spreading good energy and acceptance to all. One of his goals in our community is to share happiness with others and help them feel welcomed no matter what race or color. In his free time, Richard enjoys working out and spending time with is partner and 2 dogs.
Yamirka Suyi – Director, Board Member
Yamirka joined the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals’ Board of Directors in July of 2020. She has a firm belief of empowering Hispanic businesses in our community by providing resources and education.
She is the founder and owner at Suyi CPA and Associates, a certified Public Accounting Firm, offering accounting and tax planning services to Individuals and Business owners.
Yamirka was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to the States in the year 2000. She has been a resident of Naples, Florida, since 2011. Yamirka holds her Certified Public Accountant designation and she is also a proud graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, where she earned her Bachelor and Masters Degrees on Accounting and Taxation. Yamirka’s philosophy of empowering business owners and individuals is put to work every day on her professional practice.