Meet The Team That Makes Things Happen

Dr. 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. In 2022, he received an honorary doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa in Anthropology) from Universidad CUGS, Mexico. For his leadership, innovative and entrepreneurial effort as well as 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.

Albert Jimenez, LCSW

Chief Program Officer

Albert was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic where he lived until the age of 20 and moved to New York City in 2007. He started his higher education at Bronx Community College facing the classic immigrant experience of learning a language in which he was also learning a career. Those challenges and experiences provided him with the clear purpose of making a career and a life pursuit of helping others in similar or worse circumstances. As a Cisgender Afro-Latino male, he has made a personal goal to advance the cause for people who are gender none-confirming. Albert first graduated from Bronx Community College in 2013 and immediately transferred to John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he graduated in 2018 earning a BS of Criminal Justice and a minor of Public Administration. Lastly, Albert graduated from Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work with an MSW. Albert has experience and trainings of Individual & Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for PTSD, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy, Ego Modifying Therapy and Substance Abuse Counseling.

Raul Vidal, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

Raul has over 20 years of experience in international banking. He has held senior capital markets roles at SMBC Nikko Securities, Banque Heritage and ING Bank, and been responsible for the origination and execution of cross-border debt issuance for private corporations, public institutions and governments in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. Throughout his career, Raul has helped issuers raise billions in US$ via public and private debt issuance, which included Samurai bonds, public and private placements, and structured debt. Raul is a graduate from the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City and holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, PA.

Karen Sotolongo

Media Manager

Professional Film Director, Editor, Art Director, Executive Producer and Actress graduated from the Spanish Metrópolis Education Center, the Catalan Barcelona´s International Film School (ECIB) and the Cuban San Antonio de Los Baños Film and TV School (EICTV). She has worked in more than twenty musicals with renowned companies such as the important Cuban group Teatro El Público and Teatro di Binari in Italy, achieving recognition for her work in and outside her native country; as well as with her films at the Austin International Art Festival, the New York International Women Festival, the International Human Rights Film Festival of Barcelona, the Hollywood International Golden Age Festival, the San Francisco Independent Short Festival, the London Independent Short Festival and the most recently award for Best European Film Director at the Sweet Democracy Film Awards in Rome.

Alicia Rando Ibañez

Youth Ambassador (Spain)

A former TDN Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellow (2020-2021), Alicia actively participated in our organization’s initiatives and projects, where she led a virtual colloquium with youth from all continents to get ideas and perspectives regarding education and gender equality. She also re-developed TDN curriculum as a in-person/virtual educational space where music is used as a tool in our preventative health strategy to engage young people. She has written several research and opinion articles for Transdiaspora Network, which are available on our blog, and has represented the organization in various seminars and forums organized by the United Nations, such as the ECOSOC Youth Forum, the 60th session for the Commission on Social Development, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN75 Youth Plenary and the New Shape Forum 2021. Alicia finished her Bachelor of Music at the Conservatory of Music of Aragon in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2015, and she obtained the Master in Solo Performance (MIS) at the Katarina Gurska's Centre in Madrid. She has recently acquired a Professional Studies Certificate (Doctorate level) at Manhattan School of Music of New York. In 2019 she represented Spain at the “International Students Concert and Gala” of Manhattan School of Music in Miller Hall in New York. She has participated in several radio programs of Aragon Radio and television reports for the Chanel 2 of Spanish Television, Aragon Television and the "Young Soloists" program of Spanish Television. She won the award for Best Artist of stringed instrument and the second prize in the 7th National Contest of Interpretation "Intercentros Melómano", having won the first prize in the regional phase of Aragon. In 2009 she was awarded with the third prize at the XI International Violin Competition "Villa de Llanes" in the category up to 16 years. In 2010 she won the first prize in the Third National Violin Competition in memory of Marcos Pedro Moreno held in Cabra (Córdoba) and the first prize in the VIII International Violin Competition "Violins for Peace" held in Torres (Jaen). In 2018, she has been Finalist in the "Musical Youths of Spain" Competition. An important part of her academic training was the Master in Solo Performance that culminated in the presentation of her Final Research Project based on the results of the academic intervention proposal on the influence and survival of children's stories in Prokofiev's work and, specifically, in his Concerto for violin and orchestra no 1, op 19. Thanks to this project, she obtained the highest grade and finished her Master's Degree with honors.

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.

Cosmo Coen

Blog Contributor

Born and raised in New York City, Cosmo is an aspiring journalist with passions for urban studies, cultural anthropology, and child development. He is a graduate of New York City's Stuyvesant High School and is currently a student at Brown University working towards two degrees in linguistics and media studies. Having worked with children and adolescents in diverse communities in cities like New York and Providence as well as internationally, he is particularly interested in the cross-cultural patterns regarding what child well-being looks like, and how these translate and coexist with the racial and class structures embedded in societal framework. He is also particularly invested in issues relating to the equality of access to arts education. An avid musician, Cosmo is a pianist of sixteen years, and an alum of the Manhattan School of Music's Precollege program. He hopes to regularly contribute to TDN's blog and other written communications in the coming years.

Jehan Antia

Social Media Associate

Jehan is a high school senior student from Newton, Massachusetts. who got connected with Transdiaspora Network (TDN) a few years ago. He is passionate about racial justice, climate change, and wealth inequality. He started with the organization when he was 15 years old, and helped us create and manage our social media account. Through our social media platform, TDN has been able to increase its online presence, and maximize impact and outreach to a younger audience.

Demian Garcia (USA)

Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellow

In 2020, Demian graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science with a Concentration in Latin American Studies. He has working experience as a tenant organizer at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, where he mastered online organizing techniques like hosting Zoom meetings, Google file sharing, and creating and sustaining WhatsApp group chats to educate tenants on housing law and tenant rights, fight for rent reductions, and organize rent strikes. Demian actively participated in Housing Justice For All coalition meetings to understand strategizing how to leverage their policy demands, disseminating city wide legislation information, and ultimately winning a statewide eviction moratorium.