who we are

Amistades is a Latino-led, Latino-serving, 501 (c) 3 non-profit community development organization with six focus areas: substance abuse prevention services for high-risk youth and families; family support services for low-income populations; training for health and human services providers; civic participation; policy impact, and cultural enrichment initiatives. The organization was founded in 2006 and has established itself as a leader in the prevention community by developing and implementing programs and activities grounded in grassroots outreach and evidence-based best practices.

Mission Statement

Amistades is a Latino non-profit community development organization committed to providing culturally responsive services, advocacy for social justice, and community empowerment.

Vision Statement

Amistades envisions empowered communities that inspire cultural preservation, social equality, and self-sufficiency.

Guiding Values

  • Foster Latino core values
  • Promote deep cultural pride
  • Create barrios saludables (healthy communities)
  • Champion bilingualism
  • Advocate social justice and racial equity
  • Utilize Latino evidence-based, best practices
  • Acknowledge acculturation
  • Honor multiculturalism
  • Trabajar con corazon (work from the heart)
  • Facilitate community change
  • Lead innovative, cutting-edge initiatives
  • Collaborate in strategic partnerships
  • Implement good business practices
  • Maintain financial sustainability


Our Team


  • Ricardo M. Jasso
    Ricardo M. Jasso was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with...
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  • Claudia Jasso
    Chief Development Officer
    As Chief Development Officer, Claudia keeps Amistades productive and on track to reach its goals. She provides leadership to strategic...
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  • Melissa Gomez
    Senior Project Manager
    Melissa Gomez was born in Los Angeles, California, however has a strong tie to the Tucson community. She holds Bachelors...
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  • Alexandra Boneo
    Project Manager
    Alexandra Boneo is from the Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora border communities. She has over 15 years of experience...
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  • Joseph M. Gill
    Project Director
    Joseph was born in Summit, New Jersey, and graduated from Monmouth University with a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in...
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  • Monica Ybarra
    Project Coordinator
    Monica Ybarra was born and raised in Douglas, Arizona. She is currently a member of AmeriCorps and assigned to the...
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  • Elsa Orozco
    Project Coordinator
    Elsa Orozco was born and raised in the wonderful border communities of Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora. She has...
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  • Patricia Chiquete
    Finance Manager
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  • Karen Blocher
    Staff Accountant
    Karen Funk Blocher is a staff accountant with more than twenty years of experience in a variety of organizations, now...
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  • Mario Cruz
    Lead Epidemiologist
    Mario Cruz Jr. was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona, and has been living in Tucson, Arizona for the past...
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  • Yulisa Olvera
    Project Coordinator
    Born in Arizona and raised in Mexico, Yulisa has been passionate about helping her community from an early age. After...
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  • Denisse Luna
    Project Coordinator
    Denisse Luna was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her associates degree at Pima Community College then transferred...
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  • Fernanda Garcia Rochin
    Fernanda Garcia Rochin was born and raised in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, a small border town dependent on agricultural...
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  • Melissa Suriel
    Lead Navigator
    Melissa was born and raised in Haverhill, MA a suburb north of Boston. Her family is from the Dominican Republic....
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  • Estefany Nidez-Acuña
    Project Coordinator
    Estefany Nidez-Acuña was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Ms. Nidez-Acuña grew up with in the Sunnyside Unified School District,...
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Board of Directors

Carlos Gonzalez, Aztlan Associates

Manuel Medina, Multicultural Associates
Vice Chairman

Juan Ibarra, Owner, The Right Juan, LLC
Secretary & Treasurer

Ricardo M. Jasso, Amistades, Inc.

Steve Torres, AZ Dept. of Economic Security

Magdalena Santos, Becton Dickinson
Ex Officio

Blanca Valera, Community Advocate


Ernie Feliz, Felicia Granillo-Mendivil, Claudia Jasso, Harry Kressler , Francesca LoMonaco, Francisco Moreno, Clara Ortiz, Rene Salgado

The White House Selects Amistades for Bright Spot in Hispanic Education

The White House announced on September 15th that Amistades is one of the Bright Spots in Excellence for Hispanic Education. Amistades was selected because it uses a holistic perspective to support Latino families by building from their inherent strengths and providing them with the resources needed to achieve educational and life success.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative.

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national online catalog visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.

“It is an honor to be recognized alongside other Latino-serving organizations, programs, and schools also fighting for educational equity and fostering educational achievement,” said Carlos González, Chairman of the Amistades Board of Directors.

According to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth. Making sure these young people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams isn’t just the right thing to do- it’s also a matter of our shared success as a country. In just the next few decades, Hispanics will represent nearly one in three American workers. It’s clear; the future of our nation is closely connected to the future of our Hispanic communities. When we lift up the Hispanic community, we strengthen our nation. When we create more ladders of opportunity, we provide the chance for all Americans to reach their greatest potential.

Amistades places a strong emphasis on youth and family engagement in its programming within the school districts and community at large. Racial equity principles for community engagement such as demonstrating regard for other ways of knowing, doing and being and diminishing social and cultural isolation are the foundation for Amistades’ ability to make systemic, sustainable change. For these reasons and the remarkable outcomes, Amistades is a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education in the United States.