We believe that Latina women deserve to live a self-sufficient, safe and authentic life. We provide strong opportunities and tools to achieve these unique goals.
To empower Latina women to make healthy choices and live free from violence
Puertas Abiertas Staff
MS, ATR, LLPC, Founder & ED
Originally from Chile, born in Concepción, Eighth Region of Bio Bio. Andrea is an art teacher and is a graduate of the University of Concepción, Chile. Before moving to Michigan, she lived in Osborne, Kansas, where she learned to speak English, taught art, and taught Spanish. When she moved to Michigan, she continued her studies obtaining a Master's in Psychology and Art therapy/counseling. Andrea worked for two years at Bethany Christian Services in the Transitional Foster Care program for children who cross the border alone. Andrea joined Arbor Circle in 2016 to work as a community therapist for the Southwest Community Campus. Andrea has extensive bilingual and bicultural experience. Her first focus is to serve the children and families of the community. Also, she has worked for the Epilepsy Association and with the Alzheimer's Association.
LLMSW Bilingual Therapist & Clinical Supervisor
Carolina has a bachelor's and master's degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She has a passion for the social work profession, where she can serve and empower members of her community. She is part of Open Doors working part time where she continues to advocate for social justice and bridge the gap for those with limited access to mental health services. In addition to her work with Puertas Abiertas, she is also a full-time therapist at Bethany Christian Services working with adults. In her free time, Carolina enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends.
Bilingual Advocate/ESL Instructor
Jessica was born in Holland, Michigan, but because her parents were seasonal farm workers, she moved to and grew up in Florida. She returned to Michigan to complete her undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. She graduated with a minor in Psychology and a minor in Human Behavior and Social Services. Jessica is currently an instructor for the MSU HEP program that helps adults earn their GED. She is also working with Your Solutions Foster Care Youth Project, which helps youth who have recently left foster care.
LLMSW - Bilingual Therapist
Nicole graduated from Grand Valley State University where she received her Master's in Social Work and a Bachelor's in Spanish, French, and Linguistics. She has worked at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids since 2014 with unaccompanied minors from Central America. She has also worked with adults struggling with substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other issues common to people who have experienced trauma. She is a strong believer in trauma responsive care and takes a relational approach to therapy. Nicole is passionate about working with women from all stages of life and sees therapy as a way to heal from past trauma and empower yourself to create a life worth living. In her free time, Nicole loves to read fiction books, spend time outdoors, eat out with friends, and arrange flowers.
Alvaro was born in Jutiapa, Guatemala. He completed his studies in the City of Escuintla, where he studied accounting at the School of Commercial Sciences and Business Administration and Computer Science at the Francisco Marroquín University. He is also a graduate of the Missionary Theological Seminary with a bachelor's degree in Theology and Sacred Music. In Grand Rapids, his passion for social justice led him to be one of the founding members of Together West Michigan, and since its inception in Michigan and currently working on organizing the Hispanic community in Movimiento Cosecha, which fights for immigrant rights and the human right of the undocumented to have access to driving licenses. His most outstanding achievements and satisfactions have been working as a Youth Pastor at Esperanza Covenant Church and the Lingual Learners Spanish Academy, teaching a group of adolescents. Upon meeting a group of young immigrants and seeing the need for these young people, who have been abused at the border by the political system, to integrate into the community, he decided to found the Project Timothy GR Ministry, which seeks to prepare, connect and integrate to immigrant youth in the community in West Michigan.
Bilingual Admin, HR Director & Internal Auditor
Perla Peralta was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. She relocated to Grand Rapids, MI, in November 1997. For the past ten years, Perla has had the opportunity to serve the Grand Rapids Community as a Public Notary, Interpreter, and Tax Preparer. Perla is married and has four kids and 2 German Shepherds. In June of 2022, Perla joined the Family of Puertas Abiertas as an Interpreter, and now she is the HR Director/Internal Auditor of Puertas Abiertas. She is a constant student and is currently pursuing her Academic goals as she wants to become a CPA. A servant leader at heart, she brings Integrity, honesty, and kindness to serve, support, and encourage the staff and clients at Puertas Asbiertas.
Belkis Sulay Torrez
Bilingual Life Coach
Belkis Sulay Torrez was born in Barquisimeto, Lara, Venezuela. In 2018 she moved to La Paz- Mexico, for one and a half years. In 2019 Belkis came to the United States. She began her university studies in 1978 at the Pedagógica Experimental Libertador (Libertador Pedagogical Experimental University) in Barquisimeto, a city on the Turbio River and the capital of Lara state in northwestern Venezuela. Belkis graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. From 1998 to 2000, she did post-graduate studies at the Centro de Investigación of Psiquiátrica, Psicológica y Sexológica de Venezuela (Venezuelan Psychiatric, Psychological and Sexological Research Center) based in Caracas, D.F., Venezuela. Belkis graduated with a Master of Science in Behavioral Science. From 2002 to 2006, Belkis studied at the Santa María (Holy Mary) University based in Caracas, D.F., Venezuela, graduating with a Doctorate in Education Science. In 2006 she graduated as a Radio Announcer with certificate #38.083; the same year, she was accredited as an Independent National Producer #14.587.
LLMSW - Bilingual Therapist
Rosa was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan. She completed her undergraduate studies at Michigan State University, where she received a minor in Social Work with a minor in Spanish. After her undergraduate degree, Rosa continued her studies at the University of Michigan. There, she completed a fellowship in Interpersonal Practice in Aging Families and Society. Rosa completed her internship working with the senior population at Jewish Family Services in Ann Arbor and West Bloomfield. After earning her Master's in Social Work, Rosa worked with people with Alzheimer's and other Dementias at Dimondale Nursing Care Center in Dimondale, Michigan. In addition, she worked as a mental health and substance abuse therapist at the Cristo Rey Counseling Center in Lansing, Michigan. Currently, she works with children at Cesar Chavez Elementary School as a KSSN therapist.
Born and raised in the City of Grand Rapids, but Mexican at heart from both parents from Morelos and Jalisco. She is currently a student at Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor's in Social Work, working towards her Master's in Social Work (MSW) and a minor in Spanish and Psychology while doing a lot of extracurriculars towards her community. Daniela plans to learn more about West Michigan and the Latinx community with one more year left in school. Daniela likes to spend time with her family and her adorable son but also likes to go out to the community and spend time with clients that require assistance, specifically with elder groups and kids. She has been working at Puertas Abiertas for almost a year. After learning so much, Daniela loves what she does. She is highly tech-savvy and manages to use many software programs at her school and work setting. Daniela would love to share her knowledge with others.
Born and raised in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico. In 2002, she arrived in Illinois, where she learned English at Triton College. She has five beautiful children and a grandson. Julieta enjoys taking her dog Nato for walks and has recently adopted her cat Kika which she adores. Julieta acquired management skills while working at Start Sampling Inc. and other companies. In 2011, she moved to the city of Grand Rapids, MI, where she gained personal management skills in different capacities, managing over 60 employees. Julieta has always had a passion for giving back to the community, and in 2019, as a client of Puertas Abiertas, she began the journey. Julieta started volunteering for the organization and had the opportunity to intern at the Kent District Library, doing outreach in the community. Currently, she serves as the Program Manager at Puertas Abiertas, bringing a significant number of opportunities to the clients through community partnerships and addressing their needs.
Sandra Daza León
Sandra is a physical educator who was born in Santa Rosa de Viterbo, Boyacá, Colombia; In 1979 she studied a specialization in sports training pedagogy in Bogotá. She worked for 15 years in the Colombian Paralympic System, starting as a coach and sports methodology, until reaching the technical vice-presidency of the National Federation of Sports for People with Physical Disabilities FEDESIR. She developed sports projects that include productive units in an alliance between the Arcángeles Foundation, the International Organization for Migration and USAID. She achieved a scholarship in 2008 at the University of Leipzig in Germany, where she was certified as a category A Trainer for people with disabilities. She represented Colombia at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro 2007 and Guadalajara 2011 respectively. In 2013, he moved to Mexico where he completed a master's degree in sports science at the National School of Sports Trainers in Mexico City. She developed a swim program for Acuática Nelson Vargas. Since 2016, he has resided in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he created Touch of Life NEM LLC, with the purpose of helping the community develop healthy habits and lifestyles. He gives lectures in partnership with private and public education systems in Colombia, Mexico, Catalonia, and the US. with the purpose of helping the community to develop healthy habits and lifestyles. He gives conferences in partnership with private and public educational systems in Colombia, Mexico, Catalonia and the US. with the purpose of helping the community to develop healthy habits and lifestyles. He gives conferences in partnership with private and public educational systems in Colombia, Mexico, Catalonia and the US.
Nathan has multiple years of experience in business management, administration, and customer service and is the former director of public safety in Northern Michigan. He has a background in helping underprivileged community members seek appropriate medical and mental health services and strives to help all of those in need.
LLMSW - Bilingual Therapist
Melissa Lucas recently joined Puertas Abiertas as a mental health therapist. She graduated from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in 2019 and received a master's in social work. Currently, Melissa works at Bethany Christian Services, working with unaccompanied refugee minors. Before that, she worked in a case management role serving refugees in the foster care population. Melissa is excited to continue serving the community and increasing mental health awareness. She believes in empowering clients to make informed decisions by providing them with the psychoeducation they need to be successful.
Board of DirectorsMeet our Board of Directors
Our seven members' non-profit board serves a vital role in supporting the vision and mission of the organization. Board members also help as volunteers, by raising awareness in the community, and connecting with potential sponsors, donors, and volunteers. All board members also make a personal financial contribution once a year.
Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Campaign Coordinator
Housing Counseling & Education Manager Home Repair Services
Global Segment Leader - Dow Chemical (Global Marketing). IX Shoes LLC (owner, shoe start-up). Grool Rentals (co-owner, rental properties)
Attorney at Michigan Immigrant Rights Center
Vicaress Dominican Sisters
M. Paola Leon
Associate Professor MSW Program Director School of Social Work Grand Valley State University
Innovation Project Manger at Health Net of West Michigan