Meet our group of interdisciplinary professionals who put into work our mission.
CEO of Social Holding Company
Eduardo Carrera Morales is a passionate, energetic and visionary leader. His enthusiasm for community service emerged in elementary school, where he learned about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, located in the Las Margaritas Public Housing Project where he excelled in the sports program, specifically in basketball.
Thanks to his skills in this sport, he was named Young Man of the Year in 1993 and later received a grant from Washington & Jefferson College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Business Studies and a minor in Philosophy.
Professionally, he created and served as president of Emergency and Mitigation Corp. In 2000, he joined the family of Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico as Director of Operations, a position he held for six years, later becoming executive vice president for the next seven years. Currently, he is the CEO of Social Holding Company.
His vision, education, professional experience, passion and enthusiasm have been recognized in international forums for the past two years as a presenter in the Mission Driven Management Summit. In addition, he was recruited as a member of the Advisory Committee of the National President of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
He dedicates his free time to those in need, especially the kids at Club Las Margaritas, as a basketball coach. He also visits Haiti every year for 30 days for community service. He currently lives in Carolina, Puerto Rico, with his wife Jessie and his daughters Isabela and Anna.
Amanda Rivera Flores is a leader committed to providing opportunities so that all children and youth in Puerto Rico can develop to their full potential. From being a middle school teacher in the Teach for America program, to director of Development and Community Relations in a school in Harlem, New York; to coordinating a Conflict Management program in 24 public schools in Puerto Rico through the Chana and Samuel Levis Foundation, she has over 12 years of experience working for children and youth, promoting public policy and education research.
She worked as a Public Policy associate in edCount in Washington D.C., where she served as assistant director of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico’s Technical Assistance Project, and authored studies on the cognitive validity of standardized tests and school culture. She has also led efforts of federal public policy focused on issues of child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, homeless youth, among others, through her work in the nonprofit organization Youth Villages, an organization that serves 23,000 young people and their families in 13 states. Additionally, she is the co-founder of Puerto Rican Minds in Action (Mentes Puertorriqueñas en Acción), an entity with a mission to empower a network of young agents of change to create inclusive and effective initiatives for Puerto Rico.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Government and Sociology from Harvard College, where she did her thesis on the implementation of the Special Communities Program in Puerto Rico; and focused her studies on the issues of inequality and poverty on the island. She also received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, with a specialization in Social and Public Policy and a focus on childhood and youth issues.
She recently moved back to San Juan after being part of the diaspora for more than 15 years, achieving her dream of returning to her homeland. Since February 2017, she has been the Executive Director of the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico where she makes her voice heard oh behalf of the most vulnerable people —the island’s children and youth— so that regardless of their current life circumstances, they all have the same opportunities to improve their economic situation and reach their full potential enjoying a happy, healthy and safe environment.
In her free time, she loves to exercise to clear her mind, spend time with her husband, son and family, and enjoy all the island’s beautiful beaches.
Research and Public Policy Director
“Quality research can make a difference in the well-being of children in Puerto Rico. If child poverty can be measured, it can be reduced.”
María E. Enchautegui is the Research Director of the Youth Development Institute. Her career spans through the private, government and academic sectors.
Prior to joining the Youth Development Institute, she was the Acting Director of the Department of Economics and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. Dr. Enchautegui was a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington D.C. and Senior Economic Advisor at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy at the US Department of Labor, under an appointment of President Barack Obama. She was also professor at the University of Puerto Rico.
Enchautegui has provided consulting services to a variety of Puerto Rico’s government agencies including the Department of Labor, the Office of Women’s Procurement, the Department of the Treasury and the Office of Budget and Management. Her most recent publication is a study of the impacts of Hurricane Maria on children, carried out with a multidisciplinary team of the University of Puerto Rico. She has conducted various studies on the effect of the earned income tax credit on Puerto Rican families. She is also the author of Effects of the CCDF Subsidy Program on the Employment Outcomes of Low Income Mothers focusing on US women, for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Her areas of expertise are labor markets, family economic security, gender and migration.
Her research has been published in the Journal of Labor Economics, Population and Development Review, and Social Science Quarterly, among others. She has a Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University.
According to Dr. Enchautegui: “My interest is research with a purpose, to increase awareness and influence policymaking to improve the life chances of the children and youth of Puerto Rico, especially of the most disadvantaged. With over 1 in every 2 children living in poverty, the cost of doing nothing is simply enormous”.
Public Policy Manager
“No human being is greater than he who conquers himself.” –Eugenio Maria de Hostos
Brayan Lee Rosa Rodríguez is our Public Policy Manager at the Youth Development Institute (YDI). Brayan analyzes policy, creates policy briefings and manages relationships with key policy actors in the local and federal policy arena. Prior to joining the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico, Brayan worked as a Tutor Supervisor for the Columbia University’s Tutoring and Learning Center in New York. Brayan has a master’s degree in Public Non-Profit Management and Policy (2016) from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Puerto Rico in Carolina. Brayan is an alumnus of the
Social Sector Leadership Diversity Fellowship for the New York University Leadership Initiative and The SAGA Innovation fellowship.
Brayan is a first-generation college graduate who was born and raised in Sabana Abajo, a public housing project in Carolina, Puerto Rico. These life experiences led him to develop a passion for education and poverty alleviation policy, and how both impact low-income communities.
On his off time, you will find him playing basketball or watching a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game; he’s a fan of Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson. If not basketball, Brayan will be running in the mornings or evenings to train for a marathon. His favorite animal is a cow and blue is his favorite color.
"The goal is to transform data into information; to innovate thru a vision of social and economic well-being for children and youth in Puerto Rico."
Caridad A. Arroyo Quijano is a dynamic professional, passionate about quantitative and scientific analysis, but always from a humanistic and social perspective.
Since January 2013, she’s served as the Statistics Lead and Kids Count Project Manager of the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico, leading the development of the Children and Youth Welfare Index for the first time in Puerto Rico, which serves as an instrument to display the conditions in which children and youth in the island develop. She also worked in partnership with the Multisector Council of Early Childhood and in the government sector in the creation of the First Early Childhood Observatory in Puerto Rico.
She previously worked as a project assistant at the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute and as health data analyst for Triple S Group. Her studies are related to Mathematics, Statistics, Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and she has conducted research in the field of pure mathematics, both at UPR and at the University of Iowa.
“Poverty is about people. Impoverishment supposes barriers to people’s capacities, which implies deprivation of their freedom.”
Vallerie Blakely Vallecillo, our Research Assistant at the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico possess a Bachelor Degree in Social Sciences, with emphasis in Methods & Research Techniques from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras’ Campus (UPRRP).
Born and raised in the north-west municipality of Rincón, and a voracious reader, she is currently working on her master’s thesis in Sociology, regarding poverty in Puerto Rico. Previously, Blakley worked as a professor’s research assistant, and in the Department of Psychology, also in the UPRRP campus.
From an early age she has been concerned about social inequality issues, especially in population sectors that suffer socio-political and economic marginalization.
For Vallerie, being part of the Youth Development Institute’s team means the opportunity to participate in the challenge of creating social transformations from early childhood and youth, fundamentally sustained in research. In her own words: "Considering the socio-economic dynamics that control the world in our times, assuming the commitment to eradicate poverty is a political challenge, a great responsibility and a privilege."
Zeida García Casillas’ role at the YDI is to design and oversee the development strategies that secure the organizations’ resources. A seasoned professional in the nonprofit and government sector, she has managed and secured resources for complex organizations in the fields of disaster management, education and the arts. Her leadership role in designing, implementing and securing resources for new and innovative programs has impacted diverse organizations such as: Lutheran Social Services of Puerto Rico, the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, among other.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music/Business from DePauw University and a master’s degree in Arts Administration from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.
Involved in volunteering since childhood, she has served in grass-roots organization’ board of directors, and currently volunteers in several non-profits dedicated to social change through music.
She plays the violin and performs occasionally as a freelance musician. She loves to spend quality time with her teenage daughter Gisela, her partner Jorge, and her dog Coco.
Mobilization and Advocacy Manager
"Joy to fight; organization to win."
Estela M. Reyes Rodríguez is Manager of Mobilization and Community Advocacy of the Youth Development Institute; she is an energetic community social worker, committed to generate significant changes in the lives of young people and with closing the inequality gaps in our country. Spokeswoman for Human Rights and Social Justice, Estela currently leads the Community Advocacy Mobilization component along with mothers and young spokespersons from different communities in the country.
She completed her graduate studies at the Beatriz Lasalle Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. During her studies, she was part of the University Collective for Access (CUA), where she worked as tutor and research coordinator in programs aimed at facilitating access to the state’s university to young students living under the poverty level. Previously, she worked as a coordinator of the Young Leaders in Action (Líderes Jóvenes en Acción, LIJAC) at the Caño Martín Peña ENLACE Project.
She loves her cultural heritage, especially the Puerto Rican bomba. She loves music, Caribbean rhythms and is very creative. Her passion for the arts allows her to view and channel data in a way that’s accessible to all audiences. Estela, born and raised in Hucamaco, Puerto Rico, has been an advocate for the past decade.
Collective Action and Alliances Manager
“Social changes are in the hands of the people, communities, and in the power of prevention.”
Yesenia Delgado Castillo has a Ph.D. in Community Social Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. Currently, she is the Collective Action and Alliances Manager for the Youth Development Institute.
Previously, she worked at the Mental Health and Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA, by its acronym in Spanish) as manager for the Strategic Prevention Framework Project – Partnership for Success Program. Under her leadership, she held the convention titled, Community Prevention: Innovation and Successful Strategies, where over 40 community coalition organizations were trained following the Strategic Prevention Model.
Yesenia has been a volunteer and mentor in several nonprofit organizations and from 2011 to 2018 she coordinated the Violence Prevention Committee of the Puerto Rico Psychology Association. She previously worked as a teacher and has also worked with diverse populations, including: women survivors of violence, youth, communities in high risk and inmates. She has also presented -at a national and international level- works under different topics, such as: violence prevention, alcohol consumption prevention in minors, community coalitions and sustainability.
The youngest daughter of a farmer and a housekeeper, Yesenia is a faithful believer that “when it comes to vulnerable populations, we must transform words into action and roll up our sleeves” to facilitate processes that transform social conditions and structures. She is also a supporter of critical thinking and believes in the argumentation of the issues that society has normalized. Yesenia Delgado Castillo is a committed person willing to give the extra mile.