Rosita M. Romero was born in the Dominican Republic. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of New Haven. Presently, Rosita is the Executive Director and co- founder of the Dominican Women’s Development Center. She has considerable experience in the areas of community organizing, advocacy, coalition building, housing, women’s issues, immigration, health, and family matters.
Ms. Romero has been a presenter at many conferences in colleges and other major institutions throughout the United States speaking about the situation of Latinos in general, and Dominican women in particular. She has been a guest speaker on television and radio shows and appeared on several newspaper articles in relation to this topic.
She has received over 40 awards and is recognized as a strong leader committed to social justice. In the process of becoming a leader she has motivated, helped, and inspired many others. Ms. Romero was profiled as a Hispanic Role Model on WCBS-TV in September, 2003 during Hispanic Heritage Month; she was selected by the New York Post as one of the 25 Most Influential Latinos in the City of New York in October 2003; and in February 2004 she was selected by Univision as an Unsung Heroine in the Dominican Community during Dominican Heritage Month. Ms. Romero has been featured in Latina Magazine, The Cut, and Quisqueya Life highlighting successful Dominican Women.
Chief Financial Officer
Ben Rodriguez is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years of senior leadership experience in operations, finance, development and strategic planning in the housing, youth, social services, health, and education sectors. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Corporate Finance from Fordham University and a MBA in Financial Management from Pace University.
Since 2007, Ben has been the CEO of Consultants Just for You, Inc. - providing advisory, consulting, and analytical services to non-profits, housing syndicators, and small businesses in areas related to financial management, operational efficiency, strategy development and execution, administrative oversight, and real estate development and asset management.
He has been DWDC’s Chief Financial Officer since 2016.
Uniqueka Black is currently the Fiscal Manager of the Dominican Women’s Development Center, overseeing the fiscal day-to-day responsibilities of the accounting department, which has a $5.2M budget with nearly 80 staff members. Uniqueka has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Touro College in Business Management and Administration and is six courses away from completing her Master’s degree in Business Administration at Ashford University.
Uniqueka has been with DWDC since October 2019. She came to the organization with over 10 years of knowledge, skills, and experience in the accounting field.
Uniqueka loves working in the nonprofit sector because she believes that community-based organizations have a powerful impact on the underserved communities in which she was raised. In her spare time, Uniqueka enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family.
Mama Tingo Early Head Start Program Director
Carolina Capellan graduated from Iona College in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in social work and obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work from Wurzweiler School, Yeshiva University in May 2014. She has worked as a school Social Worker, individual parent counselor, and Early Head Start Family Worker. She has obtained certifications in Motivational interviewing, Infant massage, Parent-Child interaction relationship, and Ackermann Institute Bright Beginnings and Personal Best.
In 2015 she joined the Dominican Women’s Development Center as Educational Manager of the Mama Tingo Early Start Program and transitioned as Program Director in ????. Carolina believes that everyone deserves quality service and every child should have the opportunity to excel and reach his/her full potential.
Mama Tingo Child Care & Learning Center Program Director
Simona Santos-Ruíz was born in the Dominican Republic. She has a Bachelor's degree in Education from SUNY Old Westbury and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Mercy College. She began working for the Board of Education as a kindergarten bilingual teacher in the South Bronx until 2003. Fully aware of the disparity her community was facing, Simona decided that it was time to go back to the community where she grew up, Washington Heights, and began to work, as an Educational Director of La Familia Unida, Alianza Dominicana, a non-profit organization.
In 2015, Ms. Santos began to work for the Dominican Women’s Development Center (DWDC) as a Program Director for the Mama Tingo Child Care and Learning Center, where she helped with the licensing process.
As a Director, she guides and supports the 110 families in the community. She also helps the families with food insecurity and educates and empowers them to defend the rights of their children. She provides the community with resources that allow them to have access to what they need, such as DV, HRA, food pantry, etc.
She was recently awarded by The Children’s Aid Society with the ‘Dignity and Influence’ Award for her good character, values, and empowering many others in the community.
Mama Tingo Child Care & Learning Center Administrative Director
Felix E. Arias is a hands-on professional, with a successful record of accomplishments in the human services field, program administration, and early childhood education personnel management. His experience includes: strong leadership, excellent communication skills, competent, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and all other administrative tasks. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from City University of New York.
He is currently the Administrative Director of the Mamá Tingó Childcare & Education Center of the Dominican Women’s Development Center, providing early childhood education to 110 children since 2015. He was the Administrative Director at La Familia Unida Daycare Center of Alianza Dominicana, Inc. for 21 years.
Nuevo Amanecer/New Dawn Program Director
Karina was born and raised in Mexico City, where her social-political development and sense of justice began. For the past 18 years, Karina Bernabe has been an advocate for battered women. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM). In 2006 she migrated to New York. She experienced firsthand the challenges of being a first-generation immigrant.
Through volunteer work at a nonprofit organization in Queens and later as a staff member at DWDC, Karina has developed a strong understanding of the challenges, gaps of services, and needs of immigrant communities. Karina has been part of the DWDC family of the Nuevo Amanecer anti-domestic violence Program team in several roles since 2008. She became a Program Director in 2015. As Program Director, she has a deep respect and passion for working with women and for women.
As Program Director of Nuevo Amanecer/New Dawn Program, she also co-organizes the Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk, also known as the “Brides’ March,” which memorializes the countless victims who have lost their lives to this violence.
Healthy Families Program Director
Danisha Feliz is a Dominican American New Yorker who lived in Inwood most of her life. She identifies as a feminist, a mother, a wife, a sister, and a daughter of an immigrant, all values that shape who she is and what she has to offer to the community that raised her. Danisha is proud to have earned her BS at SUNY Binghamton and her MSed at CUNY City College. She started her professional career as a founding member of a charter school in Harlem, where she developed into a middle school ELA teacher. In order to broaden her skills, Danisha became a birth and postpartum doula and co-founded a doula cooperative in which she supports birthing women who have the knowledge and skills to birth their way.
Danisha has been with DWDC since 2016 in a supervisory role at the Mama Tingo EHS program in which she supported families receiving early intervention services. Most recently, she has been leading the Healthy Families Washington Heights program by supporting birthing women and families in reaching their family goals and enhancing healthy parent-child interactions. It is Danisha’s goal and commitment to continue to support her community in the coming years through the maternal and developmental support of families and children.
Health Promotion Program Director
Samuel Gilbert is the Program Director of the Health Promotions Program. He earned a Master’s of Social Work degree from Columbia University, School of Social Work and completed one year of legal studies at Vanderbilt University. He has worked with the Dominican Women’s Development Center and the Washington Heights community since 2015. He began his career as an intern in DWDC’s Early Head Start program, then transitioned to coordinator of DWDC’s center for LGBTQ homeless youth, and is now the Program Director of DWDC’s Health Promotion Program.
Samuel is passionate about the rights of marginalized communities and has tremendous experience working with communities of color, the LGBTQ community, women, and low-income folks. He is always looking for ways to improve the services of the Health Promotion Program in order to meet the evolving needs of the community. In the past year, he has expanded the program’s services to include access to free or low-cost mental health services.