Board of Directors

Ariel Rojas, MS, MA


As an interdisciplinary cultural entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the fields of mental health, HIV/AIDS, counseling and youth development, Ariel has experience working in New York City’s multi-faceted social service and healthcare industry, delivering culturally competent services, creating inclusive environments and implementing highly effective outreach strategies in diverse communities. He has in-depth knowledge of the local challenges affecting the Caribbean and Latino communities as well. In the field of international development, Ariel played a key role in the intergovernmental negotiation process at the United Nations by constructively engaging in various informal interactive hearings of the General Assembly with NGOs, civil society organizations, major groups and the private sector in preparation for the summit that officially adopt the post-2015 Development Agenda. In collaboration with other U.N. Major Group members, he advocated for the improvement of global policy issues related to youth engagement, cultural diversity, women inclusion, families rights and health promotion; and he has been also invited by U.N. permanent missions to attend various forums where he has promoted more innovative and inclusive partnerships between national governments, non-governmental organizations and local initiatives. In 2015, he was invited as an official speaker to attend the NGO Conference at the United Nations. Ariel emigrated from Havana, Cuba, to the United States in 2000 as the first young Cuban researcher to be unanimously awarded Vassar College's Latin American Culture Fellowship, in the Hispanic Studies Department. He holds a Masters degree in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University, mentored by Prof. Michael Taussig, one of the iconic fathers of Post-modern Cultural Anthropology. Back in Cuba, he graduated with a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Social Psychology from the University of Havana. He has also earned Master-level credits at Columbia University with a concentration in Social Enterprise Management, where he audited a class in International Social Development, and presented an independent research entitled "Cross-cultural Study of HIV/AIDS and Preventive Strategies." Ariel launched TDN in 2007 in response to the lack of culturally relevant HIV prevention programs for youth in Brooklyn. For his leadership, his innovative and entrepreneurial effort, and his social commitment to bring HIV prevention to a new frontier, Ariel is the recipient, along with his TDN team, of the New York State Department of Health Commissioner's Distinguished Service Award provided by the AIDS Institute. He is our premier representative at the United Nations' Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) and an active member of NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene's Brooklyn Knows Steering Committee. Publications: Written Statement on the occasion the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs -E/CN.5/2016/NGO/46-, January 2016); Written Statement on the occasion of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UN Women -E/CN.6/2015/NGO/136- March 2015); Article "Enabling Culture for Effective Responses to HIV/AIDS" (Real Life Times Newspaper, January Issue, 2014); Article "Social Enterprise: Improving Communities' Future and People's Live" (Real Life Times Newspaper, February Issue, 2014); Fact sheet "HIV and Substance Use: Who is at Risk? Our People, or Our Culture?" (National Hispanic & Latino Addiction Technology Transfer Center, Year 2, Vol. 2, March 2014); Webinar Presentation "HIV and Substance Use Among Hispanics and Latinos" (National Hispanic & Latino ATTC, March 2014)

Sophie Cardona, MA, EMIT, LEED


Sophie is a multi-cultural sustainability professional who practices at the intersection of economic development and the environment. With a solid background in economics, she advises clients on how to implement and finance energy efficiency projects. She completed her MA in International Relations and Latin American Studies, with a specialization in economic development and emerging markets from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She also holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from Barnard College, and an Associates Degree from Parsons The New School for Design. She is a founding member of Transdiaspora Network. She speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

Dillon Clark, MSW

Board Member

Currently, Dillon serves as the Director of Operations for Breakthrough Montessori Public Charter School and Research Associate & Special Education Advisor for the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. He has also held multiple program management and school leadership positions with the The District of Columbia Public Schools and District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation. Dillon has worked closely with various local and federal politicians on Capitol Hill, in Albany, on Long Island and in New York City on a variety of issues including education, healthcare, and the environment. He has held posts with Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Steve Israel, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, and in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Special Operations Division. Most recently, he been nominated and recommend for appointment as Tennent Representative and Commissioner to the Montgomery County Commission on Landlord-Tennent Affairs by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. Dillon has a BA in Politics from The Catholic University of America, and a Master's degree in Social Work from Columbia University. While attending graduate school, he was selected to be part of the competitive Law Minor program. He also received credits in Mental Health Counseling at Touro College School of Education and Psychology.

Laura Chen

Board Member

Laura manages assets for high net worth individuals and businesses to help them both navigate the financial market and improve their asset and liabilities side of their financial well-beings. Trust is the foundation between her and her clients. Her areas of focus are financial planning, investment management, lending, business retirement planning, estate and legacy planning. In addition to being a board member of Transdiaspora Network, she is an active volunteer at New York Junior League. Laura graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Economics.

Helen Medina

Board Member

Helen brings her strategic thinking, passion for building partnerships, and effective management of advocacy plans. She has had over 10 years working in non-profit organizations developing policy positions, leading efforts related to influencing global policies, including nutrition and health, and creating relationships with governments, international organizations and other relevant stakeholders. Helen is an effective communicator that welcomes the opportunity to share her experiences and expertise with the Transdiaspora Network Board of Directors. She believes that everyone can play a role in finding solutions to local social, health and economic challenges. Helen is currently Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation at the United State Council for International Business (USCIB), an entity that advances global interests of American business through advocacy that calls for an open system of world trade, finance and investment. Prior to joining USCIB, Helen was assistant director for international affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in international economics and international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Dr. Joyce Shim, PhD

Advisory Council Member

Dr. Joyce Shim is Assistant Professor at Dominican University Graduate School of Social Work. Previously, she was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work and worked for various international organizations including the UN and UNICEF as well as Human Rights Watch. She holds a BA in Political Science from Rutgers-New Brunswick, and earned Dual Masters in International Affairs and Social Work as well as a PhD in Social Policy at Columbia University. She has lived in Korea and Spain and travelled widely in Europe and Asia. As an advisor, she assists with international development and research strategies.

Casey Reckman, MA

Senior Board Associate

Casey works in macroeconomic research and analysis at Credit Suisse. She earned a BA in Public Policy Studies from Duke University, with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Latin American Studies. Later, she received a MA in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University, where she concentrated in Latin American Studies, International Finance and Emerging Markets. She has also conducted analysis for AIG Capital Group in Buenos Aires, taught English in Santo Domingo, and monitored Latin American and European issues for Human Rights Watch. She has traveled extensively within Latin America and also lived in the Dominican Republic. She speaks fluent Spanish and has working knowledge of Portuguese.


  • 09/04/2018 Nelson Mandela Peace Summit - On Sept. 24th, our President/Founder Ariel Rojas will be in attendance as an observer to the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the United Nations headquarters.    
  • 09/04/2018 New ECOSOC President - Earlier this summer, Rhonda King of the Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was voted in as the new President of ECOSOC... >>read more    
  • 08/20/2018 Kofi Annan's AIDS legacy - Mr. Annan characterized the impact of AIDS as the single greatest reversal in the history of human development, the greatest challenge of our generation... read more>>      
  • 07/15/2018 Long Life to the teens! - Note from TDN founder following the statement of soccer legend Pelé... read more>>    
  • 04/10/2018 National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - Only 10% of U.S. high school students have ever been tested for HIV ...>>read more