Meet the Committee

We are truly a "grassroots", hard-working Committee, and there continues to be so much that we would like to do, and so many lives that we would like to touch. With the support of our sponsors we can meet this challenge.

 

Melisa Martinez
Chair - Member Since 2015

Melisa Martinez

Melisa arrived in the U.S. in the late 1980s from Venezuela.  She has worked for the City of Tampa for over 13 years as Development Services Coordinator in the Construction Department.  She has worked in the construction industry for the past 22 years.  

In 2015, she joined the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee (MHHC) and was fortunate to be appointed vice-chair for the 2018-2021 terms.  In 2017, she was appointed by Mayor Bob Buckhorn as City Liaison for the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council; she used the next four years to build relationships between civic, business and service providers with members of the Hispanic community. 

Cindy Toselli
Vice Chair - Member Since 2001

Cindy Toselli

I  was born and raised in  West  Tampa and  I  am of  Spanish and  Cuban descent.   I am a graduate of Tampa Catholic High School and received my bachelor’s degree from St. Leo University through the City of Tampa’s tuition reimbursement program.

I began my career with the City of Tampa in January 2001 in the Housing and Community Development Department.   In 2003, I transferred to Economic Development where I spent most of my City career until 2012 when I transferred to the Revenue and Finance Department.

I have been a member of the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee since 2001.  In 2004, I was elected and served as Chairman for two years.  In 2007, I was elected as Treasurer and continued to serve proudly in this position until 2019 and currently serving as Vice-Chair.

Appointed by Mayor Buckhorn in 2012 as the City Liaison for the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council and served for five years.

Under Mayor Iorio’s term in 2004, I was nominated as an ‘Outstanding Employee’ in the Civic Pride Campaign.

Duane Estilette
Secretary - Member Since 2017

Duane Estilette

I was born in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain and I moved to Tampa, Florida when I was six years old. I have been married for forty years and have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. I currently live in Town & Country with my wife Rosalia and my two dogs King and Tucker.

I am retired from 30 years total military service having spent 14 years with the Air Force and 16 years with the Army including 8 years active Florida Army National Guard. I have attended several military specialty and leadership schools including Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Nuclear Biological Chemical Specialist, Air Defense Artillery Specialist, Internet Technology Specialist and Communication Security Specialist. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to visit 47 countries during my career, including returning to Spain where I met my wife.

I have been employed with the City of Tampa since October 2016.

Alicia Ortiz
Treasurer - Member since 2016

Alicia Ortiz

I am originally from the Dominican Republic and immigrated to New York City when I was 11 years old.  I moved to Tampa about 6 years ago and started working for the City of Tampa in September 2016. 

I joined the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee in November 2016 and I have been the Coordinator for the Desoto Elementary Holiday Social for the past three years.  I have been elected multiple times to serve in my current role of Treasurer,

At my previous corporate job, I enjoyed volunteering my time working with seniors and children so when a coordinator was needed for the Desoto Elementary Holiday Social I did not hesitate to take over.  I love bringing joy to kids especially around the holidays.

Member Since 2018

Julio Barrera

Born in Brooklyn New York; lived in Tampa Florida since the age of 5 years old. His Cuban father and mother owned sandwich shops throughout Tampa. He started working for the City of Tampa as a summer lifeguard while attending Plant High School. Received full-time employment in 1988, and have worked in Parks and Recreation for 31 years.

Julio was a Pro wrestler for 16 years with GWF, NWA, WCW, and WWF. Was able to travel the world and experience different cultures and ways of living, and compare them to the custom and ways here in the United States.

Julio was elected as MHHC Chair for the 2018 – 2021. 

Michelle Estevez
Member since 1992

Michelle Estevez

I was born and raised in West Tampa, still live in West Tampa and I love it!  My parents are both of Cuban/Spanish descent and I am proud to be Hispanic.  I am a Jefferson High School Alumnus, go Dragons! 

I have worked for the City of Tampa for over 31 years, the majority in the Purchasing Department.  As a Procurement Specialist, I enjoy working with the many vendors in our community and have chaired many trade shows for our local Tampa Bay Area Chapter of NIGP while part of the Purchasing Department.

I am honored to have been a part of the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee since 1992, holding all positions including Past President for many years.  I am proud to be one of the only original members left still on the committee.  As a member, I spearheaded the Desoto Elementary School gift drive for countless years and was part of the student scholarship endowment program with HCC and USF.

I plan to continue my hard work and dedication to ensure that the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee continues its success within our agency and provides great support to others in our community.

Lydia E. Pizarro
Member Since 2000

Lydia E. Pizarro

Born in Brooklyn, New York of Puerto Rican descent, Lydia moved with her family to the beautiful City of Tampa during the summer of 1977.   She joined The Tampa Police Department June 1996 and has honorably served for over 23 years within the TPD 911/Communications, Crime Prevention/Community Affairs Outreach, and currently in the TPD Special Operations Division. 

In 2000, Lydia received the COT MHHC “Hispanic Employee of the Year” Award. Upon receiving the award she joined the committee and has since served as a vital contributing member.  Today she is one of only a few of the members who have been active for almost two decades.

Lydia also coordinates many of Tampa Police Department’s Annual events and serves on multiple planning committees, contributing and serving as a liaison for the Tampa Police Department such as the TPD Black History Committee, TPD Memorial Committee, Sun Coast Crime Prevention Association, Sykes Our Heroes Luncheon Committee and Dress for Success Tampa Bay/Professional Women’s Group.

Member since 2014

Carmen Marcano

I was born and raised in New York City and moved to Tampa, Florida on October 2003. I am what others refer to as a Nuyorican.  I made the choice to move to Tampa after 911.  It has been a huge change from the big city but I learned to adapt from the fast pace.  After living here for about one year, I started working for the City of Tampa.   I had the honor of working in various positions and meeting some awesome people. 

I joined the MHHC about eight years ago.  I wanted to be part of a group that enjoyed celebrating our heritage.  It has been a pleasure to be part of a group that makes a difference in the lives of others that are less fortunate during the holidays.  The emotional joy that one feels when bringing happiness to another is unexplainable.

I serve as a volunteer as a Sunday school teacher for catechism at St. Lawrence Catholic Church. 

I am a people person and love interacting with the citizens in our community.  My goal is to serve and educate our citizens so that they can enjoy the wonderful city we live in.

Luz E. Combe
Member since 2018

Luz E. Combe

I was born in the Republic of Panama, arrived in the U.S. in 2016.  I have worked in the petroleum industry for 30 years.  In June 2016 I joined the City of Tampa as a temp for the Wastewater Department.  In 2018 I received a full-time position at the Solid Waste Department as a Commercial OSS III.

I joined the MHHC in October 2018 and really enjoy contributing to the committee while representing the Solid Waste Department. 

I like to help people and get involved with a life change. 

Mariela Gomez
Member since 2017

Mariela Gomez

I have been working for the City of Tampa for 3 years. I have 27 years of experience in civil engineering serving the private and public sectors in the Tampa Bay area.  I am responsible for managing Capital Improvement and in-house projects for the Stormwater Engineering Division.

I am originally from Venezuela and moved to Tampa in 1992. I joined the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee in 2017. Our team members come from various Hispanic backgrounds and work fields, which gives us different perspectives and great contributions to our group.

Leta Perez
Member Since 2017

Leta Perez

I moved to Tampa, Florida five years ago and have been working with the City of Tampa for the past year and a half.  Before that, I worked for the Florida Dept. of Revenue as the Admin for two service centers.  With Minority and Small Business Development, I have the opportunity to have contact with many different people through outreach.

I have had the privilege to travel throughout Latin America and Mexico through business, missions work, and pleasure and have made many friends from many different cultures.  Because of my love for the Latino people, I joined the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee a year ago.

One of my passions is helping others.  I have been able to help others through my job, through missions work, and through Bikes for Christ.  I am chairman of the board for Bikes for Christ, a non-profit charity that provides bicycles for transportation to Veterans and those in need who are trying to better their situation as well as children of needy families.  Bikes for Christ partners with close to 50 organizations across 4 counties like Salvation Army, Metropolitan Ministries, Tampa Crossroads, & Veterans Resource Center provide referrals of clients who would benefit from a bicycle.

The Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee is just another way for me to give back to our community.

Detective Rose Angelakopoulos
Member Since 2021

Detective Rose Angelakopoulos

Rose Angelakopoulos was born in the Dominican Republic and migrated to the United States at the of age 9. After graduating High School, she joined the USA Army Reserves and deployed to Afghanistan shortly thereafter. Upon completing her tour, she joined the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office as a Detention Deputy and worked there for almost 6 years. In 2014, Rose joined the Tampa Police Department where she currently holds the rank of Detective and serves as the Hispanic Liaison for the department. As the Hispanic Liaison, she created Spanish social media accounts for the Tampa Police Department to facilitate direct communication with the Hispanic community. In addition, Detective Angelakopoulos implemented the Desk Officer Reporting System in Spanish, enabling Spanish-speaking Tampa residents to file reports online in Spanish.

Detective Angelakopoulos is currently in her 15th year with the Army Reserves and is a happily married mother of two beautiful girls.

Jose D. Sanchez-Sanchez
Member since 2021

Jose D. Sanchez-Sanchez

Mr.  Sanchez-Sanchez is currently the Senior Engineering Inspector at the City of Tampa Wastewater Department Engineering Division, Member of the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee, Tampa, Florida. Also, Sanchez-Sanchez is Staff Sergeant Emergency Manager of the US Air Force Reserve 927th Security Forces, MacDill AFB, and a Gulf War Veteran.

Mr. Sanchez was born in the Dominican Republic on March 10th, 1981. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management in May 2018, pursuing his Master of Science in Public Administration, graduating in May 2021.

In his off time, he’s Project Manager of a Catholic Church Missionary group that deploys to help third world countries reconstruct churches, schools, and nursing homes. Sanchez-Sanchez has always shown sensibility for those in need and the necessity to give back to this wonderful country that has opened the doors to so many people. He says that until he dies, he will be working towards a better community, better society, better life but only being proactive and leading by example.

Rugina Castillo
Member Since 2021

Rugina Castillo

Growing up, I had the opportunity to closely interact with immigrants from Mexico by working in the fields as a migrant worker.  I fell in love with the culture (history, music, language, and food) and happily married a Mexican man who insisted that I visit his family as much as possible to learn more about the culture and country.  And those moments were more than pleasurable.

I have worked in the field of education and served in various roles which always included advocating for the rights of underrepresented students and their families in the areas of education, housing, health care, and employment.

I joined the City of Tampa’s Human Resources team as the Talent Acquisition Coordinator/Diversity Recruiter in February 2021, and I bring a rich background to this role.  In addition, I am looking forward to serving on the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Committee.

Naomi Candelaria
Member Since 2021

Naomi Candelaria

Naomi began working with the City of Tampa in May of 2020 as a Human Rights Investigator and became a member of the Mayors Hispanic Heritage Committee in January of 2021. She has been a proud Tampa Bay resident for more than 20 years.

She moved to Tampa for college attending the University of South Florida (USF). While at USF she majored in Criminology and minored in Political Science. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Upon her graduation, she left the Bay area for 3 years then returned. She started her career as a Fair Housing Advocate for the City of New Britain, CT, and has continued to advocate for Human and Civil Rights as well as Affordable Housing. In her pursuits, she attended Law School at Thomas M. Cooley Law School earning her J.D. 

In her spare time, she enjoys engaging in community service activities and frequenting the many diverse areas throughout the Bay Area, including attending outdoor festivals, concerts, and museums. 
 


Updated: 02/01/2022