Meet The Team That Makes Things Happen

Ariel Rojas, MS, MA

Chief Executive Officer / Founder

Ariel founded Transdiaspora Network in 2007. 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 in-depth knowledge of the Caribbean and Latino communities in the New York metropolitan area and their cultural nuances. He 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. Ariel holds a Masters degree in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University, and a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Social Psychology from the University of Havana. He has earned Master-level credits at Columbia University with a concentration in Social Enterprise Management, where he presented an independent research entitled "Cross-cultural Study of HIV/AIDS and Preventive Strategies." For his leadership, his innovative and entrepreneurial effort, and his social commitment to raise HIV/AIDS awareness, Ariel is the recipient of the New York State Department of Health Commissioner's Distinguished Service Award provided by the AIDS Institute. Publication: Article "Enabling Culture for Effective Responses to HIV/AIDS" (Real Life Times Newspaper, January Issue, 2014).


Lissette Marrero, MSW

Chief Operating Officer

Lissette’s most recent endeavor was as the Regional Resource Consultant supporting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s HIV/AIDS Resource Network Program for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health to create a coordinated effort in the federal response to HIV and Viral Hepatitis and work on a multi-tiered level to provide technical assistance, training, education, outreach and support within Region II (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). She also served as the Deputy Director and Administrator at the Adolescent AIDS Program (2001-2016). During her 15 year tenure Lissette provided hundreds of trainings and direct outreach to The Bronx healthcare providers, youth and community residents on HIV/AIDS, reproductive rights of minors, cultural competency and the health and wellness of communities in the Bronx. Lissette created Adolescent AIDS Program’s first peer education program in 2002 to promote HIV counseling, testing and advocacy of underserved and marginalized Bronx youth. She coordinated Adolescent AIDS Program’s Health Resource Center and programmatic oversight for the Umbrella Program providing comprehensive medical and mental health care to youth and family support. To honor her work and dedication in the field of public health and human rights she was presented with the Brendan Upson Award for Outstanding Leadership and Dedication in Bringing HIV Awareness to the Latino Community in 2009; the Making a Difference Award for Dedicated Years of Outstanding Service to the Latino Community in 2012; the Luis Freddy Molano-Polanco Advocacy in Health Award for Compassion, Caring and Innovative Care of the LGBTQ Communities in the Bronx in 2015; and the Community Hero Award NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project in 2016. Lissette received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the City College of New York and a Master of Social Work from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.


Dr. Anil Kabrawala, MD

Senior Consultant Physician

Anil earned a degree in Neuroscience at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, with a focus in health sciences. There, he was able to build community through various fundraisers and events. After college, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a physician. He enrolled at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies. In Grenada, he continued to reach out into the community by arranging several health fairs in order to provide basic preventative medicine and medical screening to the local citizens. He also provided care and assistance to the abused and neglected children of two orphanages in Grenada. After medical school, he enrolled into a residency training program in Internal Medicine at Stony Brook University Hospital in Long Island, NY. He has traveled widely throughout Europe and Asia, and one day plans to open up free health care clinics around the world. He is now a GI Fellow at SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, one of the nation's leading urban medical centers. From the moment he joined our team, Dr. Kabrawala has participated in community health fairs, has co-authored several articles and has refined TDN health promotion model.


Jonathan Zacks

IT & Digital Strategist

Jonathan received his BA in Computer Sciences from Vassar College in 2002 and has over a decade of experience in the IT field as a tech, programmer, web designer and A/V consultant. He oversees the organization’s IT and digital procedures, and puts out all technology fires to increase the visibility of our work. He divides his time between helping Transdiaspora Network and running Mac Help NYC, where he brought together a network of like-minded consultants to form his IT solutions team. Together, they provide full service technology consulting to the greater New York City area. During his time with the organization, Jonathan has been invited to career events at local high schools, where he empowers students to be more proactive in the use of technology as a tool to positively impact their life and their own communities.


Cory Provost, MA

Community Associate

Cory Provost is currently the Democratic State Committeeman/District Leader of the 58th Assembly District, serving the neighborhoods of East Flatbush, Brownsville, and Canarsie – holding this position since 2012. Recently Cory served as the Brooklyn Field Director for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Prior to that Cory was elected to serve as a Presidential Delegate for Secretary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. Cory further served the residents of New York City as the Brooklyn/Caribbean-American Liaison for the Office of the New York City Comptroller. Cory graduated from CUNY-Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Philosophy and a M.A. in Urban Policy and Administration. While completing his studies at CUNY, Cory was honored to serve as a Trustee for the University.


Genesis Aquino

Community Associate

Genesis is a fierce community organizer and human rights activist. She is the daughter of factory and domestic workers. She migrated from the Dominican Republic in 2001. She attended local public schools en NYC, and in 2012 she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Social Work & Urban Community Development from Lehman College, becoming the first college graduate in her family. After being left stateless by the Dominican government, Genesis became involved in the fight against denationalization in her native Dominican Republic where thousands remain in stateless status due to racist xenophobic policies. In 2012, she founded Empowering Sunset for Reproductive Justice, a project focused on reproductive justice and health for young women of color in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She currently serves as a Vice Chair of her local Neighborhood Advisory Board.


Dafne Murillo (Peru)

Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellow

Dafne is a young scholar and researcher, who graduated with a double major in Economics and Latin American Studies from Columbia University in 2019. Originally from Lima, Perú, and with roots in San Martin, located in the Amazon region, she’s the co-founder of Tarpuy Warmi, an NGO that serves high school aged girls in the Peruvian Amazon. In college, Dafne served as the Co-President of the Columbia Univeristy Student Organization of Latinxs and volunteers with UndoCU, an undocumented support group that provides college application clinics for undocumented youth in the NYC area. Dafne is currently a Bridge Scholar with the Columbia Bridge to Ph.D. program with the hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics. Her academic interests include Latin America, sustainable development, and immigration, looking at the intersection of poverty, climate change and forced-displacement of vulnerable populations in the Global South.


Maicol Londoño (Colombia)

Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellow

Maicol is from Cali, Colombia. He is the co-founder of the Colombian Association for State Protection Reinsertion, which works to empower and strengthen the processes of young people who are on the road to autonomous and independent life. In 2016 he was a beneficiary of the “Youth Leadership, Tools and Methodologies” scholarship from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since then, he has been advocating for young people in different forums as a guest speaker to raise awareness of the problem experienced by young people without parental care around the world, especially in Colombia.


Chika Matsuoka (Japan)

Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellow

Chika has a Bachelor in Economics and Business Administration from Seikei University, Musashino-shi, Tokyo, Japan. In 2017, she was part of the student exchange program at Korea University, Anam-dong, Seoul, South Korea, and is currently enrolled at Columbia College Visiting Student Program in New York City. She has experience working in educational settings as an English Teacher Assistant at Seikei Elementary School in her native country. At Seikei University, Chika was the recipient various awards: the 2017 Prize Fellowship, the 2018 Shimizu.Corp Scholarship and the 2019 Prize Fellowship for Academic Excellence.