OLA Board and Staff

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Board of Directors

Ana C. Kestler

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Ana Kestler, President, was born in El Salvador. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and in Communications from Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado. Ana came to the United States in 1999 to work at the Consulate General of El Salvador in Manhattan and later moved to the East End. Since 2008, she has been a certified legal interpreter in the New York State Unified Court System and is currently a full-time court interpreter in Riverhead, NY. Ana joined OLA’s board in 2019 and lives in Westhampton, NY.

 

Isabel Sepúlveda-de Scanlon

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Isabel Sepúlveda-de Scanlon, Vice President and Founding President, emigrated from her native Chile to the United States in 1980 and has lived on the East End since 1991. She started the first local bilingual television show in 1999 called Vida en los Hamptons/Life in the Hamptons. In 2002 she and other first-generation immigrants founded OLA of Eastern Long Island. A year later, in partnership with the Southampton Press, she launched the East End’s only Spanish-language newspaper, Nuestra Prensa. In 2005, she founded Voz Latina, which is still the only East End-based bilingual newspaper in English and Spanish. A 2009 graduate of Long Island’s well-known leadership program, the Energeia Partnership, she was appointed that same year to the Suffolk County Hate Crimes Task Force.

In addition to her long tenure as OLA’s President, Isabel has served as a board member of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center, the SUNY Multicultural Advisory Board, and the Latino Jewish Committee, among others. Currently she is a member of the Community Board of The Watermill Center, a Rogers Memorial Library Trustee, and a board member of the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and The Jam Session. In 2019 Isabel co-founded the Mamalluca Chilean Film Festival at the prestigious Instituto Cervantes; the festival received the highest grade of 100 from the Chilean government. She also belongs to the local Drawdown group, working to reverse global warming. Since 2015 Isabel has held the position of Latino Community Liaison for the Southampton School District. She lives in Southampton, NY.

 

Elena Krotman

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Elena Krotman, Secretary, is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and was born and raised in California. She is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree at Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare. An entrepreneur and active community member, Elena has served on OLA’s board since 2016 and lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

 

Anthony Hitchcock

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Anthony Hitchcock, Treasurer, founded (with Jean Lindgren) the company Hitchcock & Lindgren. Based in Eastern Long Island, Hitchcock & Lindgren began as a multi-faceted company whose primary activities were custom carpentry, children's photography, catering, and in subsequent years, writing guidebooks on country inns, lodges, and historic hotels of the United States and Canada. In 1978, Hitchcock & Lindgren were asked to take over management of a small country horse show in the Hamptons. Since then, the Hampton Classic Horse Show, which is a benefit event for Southampton Hospital, has grown to be the largest Hunter/Jumper horse show in the United States. Under Hitchcock & Lindgren’s leadership, it grew to attract approximately 1500 equestrian competitors and about 50,000 spectators annually. Since its inception, the Classic has contributed more than $2,500,000 to its beneficiaries. Tony and Jean retired as the Hampton Classic’s Executive Directors in April 2006. Tony's equestrian management responsibilities have included, among several other positions, serving as the Senior Vice President of HITS, Inc., a Saugerties, New York company which produces horse show circuits throughout the country. His primary focus at HITS was as a member of the marketing team where his focus was on short- and long-range strategies for developing corporate sponsorships and working with the full-time staff in expanding HITS’ community outreach programs. Tony provides pro-bono financial management services to three charities: OLA (since 2003), Hayground School (Bridgehampton), and HEART Equine Ambulance (nationwide). He and Jean live in Sagaponack, NY.

 

Melina Amaya

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Melina Amaya is an immigrant activist and advocate from Ecuador. She has served on OLA’s board since 2016 and lives in Hampton Bays, NY.

 

Sarah M. Burr

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Sarah M. Burr is a retired U.S. Immigration Judge, appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994. She served on the New York City Immigration Court from 1994 to 2012. From 2006 to 2011 she served as the Assistant Chief Immigration Judge in charge of the immigration courts in New York City and upstate New York. She has decided many thousands of deportation/ removal cases, including asylum applications and other forms of relief. As an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge, she supervised the judges and staff, as well as worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the private and pro bono bar on issues of mutual concern to the courts. Judge Burr currently serves on the Board of Directors of Immigrant Justice Corps, a fellowship of law school graduates conceived by Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the Second Circuit to address the severe shortage of competent counsel to represent indigent immigrants in removal proceedings. She joined OLA’s board in 2020 to continue to advocate for competent immigration counsel on the East End of Long Island. She lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

 

Julia Chachere

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Julia Chachere is a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife. She holds a Master’s Degree in Nurse Midwifery from SUNY Stony Brook as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia University. Working in the field of Women's Health for over 30 years, she has provided full scope midwifery care at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, at Stony Brook University Hospital, and at Southampton Hospital (on the East End). Prior experience includes working for the National Health Service in England from 1993 - 2000 as a research analyst in the area of perinatal health. She is dual-credentialed as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and now works in this capacity with Peconic Bay Medical Group to expand women's health services on the North Fork and the East End. Julia has served on OLA’s board since 2017 and lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

Lucía Martínez

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Lucía Martínez is an immigrant from Mexico who works for Halcon Automatic Gate and Fence in Amagansett and has served on OLA’s board since 2016. She lives in East Hampton, NY.

 
 

Lukas Ortiz

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Lukas Ortiz is a literary agent employed by Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency. An immigrant from Colombia, he has served on OLA’s board since 2017 and lives in Springs, NY.

 
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Staff

Minerva Perez

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Minerva Perez, Executive Director, centers her work on the protection, empowerment, and celebration of our Latino community. Before joining OLA as Executive Director in 2016, she was the Director of Residential and Transitional Services for six years at The Retreat, where she ran a 24-hour crisis shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. Minerva is a sought-after speaker, regularly participating in panels and public forums focused on immigrant rights and women's rights. Minerva was named “Sag Harbor Person of the Year” in 2018, and in 2019 she was nationally recognized as one of NBC’s “Latino 20” for her leadership of OLA and its impact in our region. In 2019 Minerva also appeared on Fox News Channel’s The Story with Martha MacCallum where she discussed the ICE raids our community was experiencing at that moment and the Latino vote. Most recently, Minerva has led advocacy efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic such as working with Suffolk County officials to establish a coordinated response to meeting the needs of the homebound and hungry in Suffolk’s 10 towns; ensuring ongoing, regular access to food for East End families hardest hit by COVID; working with Suffolk County officials to provide free COVID-19 testing by bringing a mobile testing unit to a remote part of the East End; and launching Project Hope: Coping with COVID, a FEMA-funded New York State initiative that allows OLA to provide crisis counseling in English, Spanish, and Portuguese to the entire East End by hiring and training 20 new staff members. Minerva holds a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

 

Sandra Dunn

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Sandra Dunn, Associate Director, returned to OLA in 2018, after serving as the director of the Hagedorn Foundation’s local immigration and civic engagement grantmaking programs from 2008-2017. She began with OLA in 2003 as a volunteer, becoming a board member and then serving as part-time executive director in 2007. From 2013 to 2018 she served on the New York State Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and she is the 2013 recipient of the Lawrence A. Timpa Memorial Award for Professional Service awarded by the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. For 13 years she facilitated Long Island Spanish-language memoir-writing workshops through Herstory Writers Workshop and co-edited and co-translated Latinas Write/Escriben (2011), a bilingual anthology of memoirs in progress written by women in Herstory’s Spanish-language workshops. As OLA’s associate director, she focuses on advocacy, communications, programs, and fundraising. The daughter of an immigrant mother from Spain, Sandra holds a PhD in Spanish Literature from Cornell University and has taught at Cornell, Bennington College, and Middlebury College. She lives in Hampton Bays, NY.

 

Andrés Espinosa

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Andrés Espinosa, Operations Manager, has 14 years of experience in management, business development, sales, marketing, hospitality, and customer service. He has had the opportunity to work and live in different countries, lead multicultural teams, and share his expertise as a community volunteer. He joined OLA in December 2020 to lead Project Hope, a temporary FEMA-funded New York State initiative, and was promoted in June 2021 to serve as OLA’s Operations Manager. In this role, he manages projects such as OLA’s COVID vaccination education, outreach, and site operation campaign and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a state program to help people in rent arrears due to job loss or illness during COVID. He also supports OLA’s human resources, accounting, and marketing needs. A native of Colombia, Andrés holds a Master of Management degree from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business. He is passionate about using his experience and knowledge to serve our community. Andrés lives in East Hampton, NY.

 

Erika Padilla

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Erika Padilla, Legal Advocate, was born in Ecuador and came to the United States during her first year of college. She arrived in 2003 and began working as a cashier in Yonkers, NY. After learning English and acclimating to the job she was promoted to manager. A year later she moved to East Hampton where she took a position at the local cinema for the next seven years, eventually becoming First Assistant Manager. In 2012 she started a home improvement company. Erika has 19 years of combined experience in customer service, management, and clerical work, and she has worked assisting criminal attorneys with their Spanish-speaking clients. Erika dreamed of a job where she could have the satisfaction of helping her community, a goal that was fulfilled when she started working for OLA in 2019. She lives in East Hampton, NY.

 

Walleska "Wally" Ramirez

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Walleska "Wally" Ramirez, Crisis Response and Recovery Coordinator, is Puerto Rican and was born in the Bronx but raised on Long Island. She has over 12 years of experience in different capacities within the medical field. Wally has experience with medical assistance, healthcare management, office administration, insurance navigation, and care coordination. Wally is currently a Human Services major at Suffolk County Community College. Her goal is to provide support to the community and to attempt to remove common obstacles to care, such as transportation problems and lack of awareness about funding and support options. Wally feels that with dedication, compassion, and empathy, she has been able to communicate with and gain the trust of people in need that she has encountered. Wally is happy to be part of the OLA team, which she joined in 2020 and which gives her a sense of accomplishment and pride at being able to help the Latino community. She lives in South Setauket, NY.

 

Alma Tovar

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Alma Tovar, Outreach Coordinator and Transportation Advocate, began working with OLA in 2018. In addition to managing most of OLA’s online outreach, she also oversees its medical transportation program, coordinating transportation to and from medical appointments for community members, providing interpretation as needed during appointments, and strengthening connections with the local medical sector. Alma also coordinated OLA’s food crisis program during the most challenging months of the pandemic in 2020. She works individually with many OLA clients to provide support through information and referrals. A native of Sonora, Mexico, Alma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management from Sonora State University and brings years of customer service experience to her work with OLA. She lives in Southampton, NY.

 

Jessica Tovar

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Jessica Tovar, Executive Support, has been with OLA in this role since November 2021. Before that, she worked as a crisis counselor for OLA’s Project Hope program from December 2020 through October 2021, leading workshops and providing crisis counseling to people experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a first-generation Colombian-American whose parents migrated to the United States as adults. She studied Culinary Arts at Suffolk Community College and also works as a private chef. Her extensive experience in retail and customer service helps inform her work at OLA. She lives in East Hampton, NY.

 

Christine Velia

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Christine Velia, Director of Legal Advocacy, joined OLA in 2022. From 2008 to 2022 she was the Development Coordinator and later the Development Director of Concern Housing. There she was responsible for multiple aspects of supportive and low-income multi-family housing project development and secured over $69 million in capital and program-related public and private grants. Christine also assisted in developing and opening 764 housing units throughout Long Island and New York City, with another 369 units in various stages of development at the end of her tenure. Prior to working at Concern Housing, she was the minority partner in a title insurance firm in Suffolk County from 1999 to 2008. Christine earned her J.D. from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 2022 and her B.A. in History from Dowling College, where she graduated magna cum laude. While at Touro, she worked as a Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant. She interned for the Small Business and Non-Profit Clinic, the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County through Touro Law Center, and the Immigration Law Clinic. In 2021 Christine published "Westwoods and Land Use on Long Island" in the New York Zoning Law and Practice Report, an article that analyzes issues of local land use regulations and the rights of the Shinnecock Indian Nation to control their off-reservation lands on Long Island. In 2013 she received the Leonard I. Saltzman Unsung Hero Award for her volunteer work with the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. Christine expects to be admitted to the New York State Bar in 2023. She lives in Shirley, NY.