Marcela Denniston – SVL Cultura Ambassador


Marcela Denniston is a Brazilian American living in California. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil Marcela moved to New Jersey, United States with her mother at the age of 4.  Marcela is the first person in her immediate family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Computer Information Systems and an MBA: International Business.

At 17, she joined the US Navy where she began her career in Cyber Operations and Intelligence. During her military service, she received several medals, including a Joint Service Commendation Medal and a Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal for her work in the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Center and the National Security Agency.  After leaving the Navy, Marcela worked in several consulting roles, nationally and internationally supporting the growth and development of Cyber Security Operations and Products. Today, Marcela works as a cyber security consultant for government organizations, start-ups and venture capital firms.

Outside of work, Marcela is a passionate social activist supporting equality and inclusion for minority groups worldwide. She is an active member of several organizations focused on establishing meaningful connections between LATAM entrepreneurs and US investors including the Latino Start Up Alliance and BayBrazil. Marcela also participates in empowerment and education of STEM careers for young females through Girls Can Hack and IGNITE Worldwide.

Marcela is also a community contributor; she is a volunteer soccer coach for the American Youth Soccer Association as a girls U10 soccer coach. This opportunity allows her to help young girls build confidence and camaraderie with each other. Her team won the 2016 Hirschel Cup for the U10 girls age group.

Marcela currently lives in Foster City, CA with her husband and two daughters and hopes to continue her contributions to the Latino and female community through an initiative to empower, encourage and educate Latinas in technology and engineering fields called Poderosa. Marcela envisions her efforts will create a movement of young girls looking to pursue careers in technology fields and ultimately change the norm for women’s equality in business.

Cultura Ambassador Laura Gomez takes aim at Diversity Issue


Silicon Valley Latino Cultura Ambassador and Advisory Board Member Laura I. Gómez is part of an amazing team of women who are tackling the Diversity Issue in Tech. Here is yet another article highlighting who they are and what they are shooting for.

How are you taking part in battling this issue?  Share your actions and thoughts here.

Congrats Laura and keep up the great work!
‪#‎Latina‬ ‪#‎LatinaMentor‬ ‪#‎LatinaLeader‬

Ivan Reyes & Gabriel Lomeli guiding Latino youth!


We are delighted to feature the work and involvement of two Silicon Valley Latino Cultura Ambassadors, Ivan Reyes Martinez and Gabriel Lomeli. We are very proud of how Ivan has dedicated his career to supporting and empowering our local Latino youth through the work he leads as the Director of MACLA’s Digital Media Academy and of course Gabriel is often here offering his expertise and support to the program’s youth. Nicely done gentlemen, please continue to inspire the next generations of creative Latinos, we will continue to feature your collective work.

Leandro Margulis – Cultura Ambassador


Leandro Margulis is the Director of Global Strategic Partnerships at Quixey. Prior to that, Leandro opened and grew the Impulsa Business Accelerator’s California office, helping small and medium sized companies with market entry and revenue growth.

Leandro Profile 3 072015Leandro also worked as a Senior Consultant with Deloitte Consulting, where he coordinated international project management efforts and executive relationships between the United States and Eastern Europe. He then worked in the Strategy & Operations practice in Corporate Development / M&A, due diligence and post-merger integration in the United States and emerging markets.

These experiences position Leandro to pursue a career aimed at building companies and capacity through strategic business development and partnerships while leveraging financial capabilities and innovating around emerging market opportunities.

Leandro holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and an Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Florida International University (FIU), where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Specialties: Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Corporate Development, Partnerships, Contingent Contract Negotiations, Sales, Management, Business Case Development, Business Process Improvement and Project Management.

Leandro is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, loves to travel and learn about other cultures through stories, food and exploring. He also loves hiking and  biking in his spare time.


Viviana Leija-Sysak – SVL Cultura Ambassador


Viviana Leija-Sysak is a visual artist born in Mexico City and currently living in the Bay Area. She holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Viviana_Leija_Head_ShotShe is currently working as TV producer at CreaTV San Jose and has produced and edited Health Trust TV, Latino Focus and most recently Valley Politics which ranked #1 TV show in CreaTV this year. Her artistic work has been exposed in many venues, mostly in Mexico and USA. She has worked in the TV industry directing, producing, editing and animating shows and spots for several TV stations and production companies. In 2006 she directed and hosted “Mejora Tu Vida” a KPMR show in Spanish to bring fresh information to the Latino population in the Central Coast. Later in 2008, she produced, edited and hosted “Non-Profit Spotlight” a series dedicated to broadcast the best non-profit organizations in the area of Santa Barbara, CA.

She has also worked as a freelance graphic designer and video editor and joined the Marketing Department at The Metropolitan Transit District in Santa Barbara for a year as main graphic designer and producer.  In 2007, she edited the award winning documentary “The Shaken Tree” at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival and in 2008, she published her first bilingual children’s book “My House is Full of Light“. Viviana has also worked as an art instructor for different organizations and volunteers as a music entertainer for kids.

Her latest artistic inspiration is combining her drawing skills with digital tools and recently initiated an art blog through where she’s planning to post some of her personal artwork and comments about contemporary art and TV production.


Cultura Ambassador – UNAS United Interview Tips


We are delighted to present this great video from three of our Silicon Valley Latino Cultura Ambassadors, Arlene Mendoza, Claudia Hernandez and Janeth Larios Medina, founders of UNAS United. We love the way they took an instructional video and provided great tips while making it entertaining and humorous. Thanks for putting this together for our “Chicas” who are looking to make a move!

Share your thoughts on these tips with us!

Rich Garcia applies Entrepreneur Skills for a Worthy Cause


Silicon Valley Latino Advisory Board Member Rich Garcia just completed riding his bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a total of 545 miles. This was part of the AIDS Lifecyle charity bike ride.  An extraordinary accomplishment, we wanted to know what enabled him to be successful.

“It’s very much like entrepreneurship: taking risks, failing, iterating, and relying on your network to achieve something EPIC. I have never cycled seriously until I started training for this; it was a risk to take this on.  If you don’t take risks, you remain where you are.”

The concepts of “failure” and “iteration” were also key in successfully riding all 545 miles. “I religiously trained for 8 months. I experienced numerous falls, cramps, sprains, bruises, scrapes, discomfort, and energy lapses. Those “failures” and the iterations to correct them resulted in success.”

Garcia admits that he learned these concepts while founding his startup company, a “Live Q&A Platform”. He adds, “what Blyve started as versus what we are now are two different things. We iterated efficiently on what we learned.” The result is revenue streams from some of today’s top brands including the Coca-Cola Company, Shell, and other large content producers.

Rich raised over $3,000 in donations for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation so that he could ride. “Everybody wins. Awareness is raised, people in need are funded, and I get to do something very special. You can’t do EPIC alone.”

Breaking News! Guillermo Diaz Jr. named CIO at Cisco


Silicon Valley Latino is delighted to report that earlier today Guillermo Diaz Jr. was announced as Cisco’s CIO!

Guillermo Diaz Cover PhotoThis is big news for the Latino community and especially for all of our Latino youth who aspire to be Latinos in Tech!  Over the past few years Silicon Valley Latino has developed a close relationship with Guillermo and we have learned that he is the real deal as it relates to being an inspiring leader. We have had the opportunity to meet with many of those on his teams at Cisco as well as with members of Conexion (Cisco’s Latino employee resource organization – Guillermo serves as their executive sponsor). The respect, enthusiasm and collaboration that he inspires are clearly evident. The same can be said for those he touches and works with in the community, just ask the folks at HITEC, Sacred Heart Nativity Schools, Cristo Rey High School and so many others.  As for us at Silicon Valley Latino, the connection was instant and we were inspired by his actions immediately. He was actually the person that inspired the name for our “Inspire Higher Tour” initiative. Guillermo’s phrase for 2014 was “Inspire Higher” and our CEO, Alex Ontiveros, was so moved by how Guillermo evangelized this phrase that we asked him if we could use it for a special initiative that we had in mind, of course the answer was yes. His phrase for 2015 has been “Inspire Exponentially” and it has clearly taken affect with many including us at Silicon Valley Latino.


Guillermo is deeply committed to his work as a technology expert, to being an inspiring and effective leader to his teams. However the element that we appreciate the most about him is his commitment to the Latino community especially our youth. Guillermo we congratulate you on today’s promotion to CIO at Cisco! It’s a very well earned accomplishment. We thank you for being an inspiring leader to many of us and for your commitment to inspiring the next generation of Latino heroes!



We believe this is truly a well-earned promotion based on his numerous professional accomplishments and trajectory as well as the various awards and honors that he has earned over his career. We are also excited to see how he will help take Cisco to the next level by inspiring others exponentially. Adelante!


Jeff Camarillo – SVL Cultura Ambassador


Camarillo is currently the founding Director/Principal of the Luis Valdez Leadership Academy, a new college-prep charter high school in East San Jose, managed by the Foundation for Hispanic Education. Through education, Camarillo’s father and hero, Professor Al Camarillo, was able to break the cycle of poverty in his family and open countless doors for students and faculty at Stanford University and beyond to explore the history and identity of Mexican-Americans and other ethnic Americans. His example inspired Camarillo to work tirelessly for the past 14 years to enhance the educational opportunities for young people from disadvantaged urban communities throughout California.

LVLA_DSC0023BAfter graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Camarillo entered the classroom as an 8th grade U.S. History teacher at Vanguard Learning Center in Compton Unified School District. He also coached boy’s basketball, football and baseball. After three of the most amazing years of his life, Camarillo realized that it was time to advance his teacher repertoire and pedagogical understanding and returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program (STEP) for his Master’s degree and teaching credential.  While at Stanford, Camarillo was introduced to a progressive non-profit organization called the Mural, Music and Arts Project (MMAP), an economic and education empowerment program that seeks to inspire teens in East Palo Alto, CA through the arts.  After serving as an education specialist for MMAP, he began in 2005 as the director of MMAP’s Teen Mural Program, a position he held every summer through 2009.  During and immediately after his time at STEP, Camarillo taught 9th and 10th grade Humanities and served as the founding Athletic Director at the June Jordan School for Equity in San Francisco. In 2006, Camarillo returned to Compton and continued teaching 7th/8th grade history at the school where he began his career, where he taught and coached from 2006-2010. In 2006, Camarillo, along with his younger brother Greg, a former NFL wide receiver, founded a non-profit program called Charging Forward, a mentoring program that sought to reward student-athletes in Compton for their accomplishments in the classroom and respective athletic endeavors.


In 2010, Camarillo began his career as a school leader at the East Palo Alto Academy (EPAA). As the school’s Asst. Principal, Camarillo helped reduce school suspensions by over 40% and created a positive, college going climate for the students and families of the EPAA community. During his first year at EPAA, Camarillo served as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow for the United States Department of Education, where he sought to help bridge the disconnect between the formulation of federal educational policy and on the ground practice in urban schools. In 2012, Camarillo began the Educational Leadership Program at San Jose State University, where he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and an administrative credential in 2014.

In 2014, Camarillo was provided the once in a lifetime opportunity to become the Founding Director/Principal of the Luis Valdez Leadership Academy (LVLA), a position he currently holds. Under Camarillo’s leadership, LVLA has enjoyed a suspension free school year, and the creation a college-going, culturally vibrant climate. The school’s mission promotes culturally sustaining pedagogy, a focus on bi-literacy and preparation for four-year colleges and universities for 1st generation college students. In addition to giving birth to a new school, Camarillo and his life partner, Josephine, gave birth to their first-born child, a baby boy named Jaxson Albert. Camarillo is also a proud son of Al and Susan Camarillo, a Stanford professor and retired school counselor. He is a big brother to Greg, a retired NFL wide receiver and Lauren, a Spanish teacher at Willow Glen High School.

Milpitas High School receives SVL “Inspire Higher Tour”


On Friday April 24th the Silicon Valley Latino “Inspire Higher Tour” made its latest spot at Milpitas High School in Milpitas Ca. This time the featured panelist included Giovanni Rodriquez, CEO of SocialxDesign and Forbes contributor, Elba Moreno Linscott, Senior Program Manager at Intuit, Leticia Pena, Senior Theater Event Services Manager at Team San Jose and Rich Perez, Founder & CEO of Perezidential Homes. Our panel was delighted to have presented to the Spanish Heritage classes, Latinos in STEM Club and the Dream Act Organization. Silicon Valley Latino is proud to have impacted and inspired another 44 eager and enthusiastic students through this tour stop, this brings our total to 333 students this semester. We would like to give a special thanks to Cultura Ambassador, Spanish Teacher and Founding Advisor to both clubs at Milpitas High School, Maria Consuelo Vargas, for her partnership and support as we coordinated this special tour stop. Once again we thank our Inspire Higher Tour sponsors because this initiative would not be possible without their support and partnership Our Champion Sponsor, Cisco Systems, Advocate Sponsors, Microsoft and Perezidential Homes and Amigo Sponsors, Kaiser Permanente and Oracle. We are excited to hold our next tour stop at Scared Heart Nativity Schools early next month!

If you are interested in hosting an Inspire Higher Tour event at your High School reach out to

us via one of our social media platforms or via this website.