Welcome to our Deputy Directors!

We are thrilled to introduce our first cohort of deputy directors in PIQE as we continue to implement our organizational realignment and support the leadership development of our team.

  • Blanca Alvarado, Deputy Director-Modesto
  • Connie Castelan, Deputy Director-Los Angeles
  • Lorena Garcia, Deputy Director-Los Angeles
  • Veronica A. Lopez, Deputy Director-Fresno
  • Rita Escajadillo, Deputy Director-Bay Area

These five talented women are an integral part of our strategic plan implementation and will report to the executive director to expand PIQE’s mission and, support families and communities we serve. They are both mentors and coaches to staff, helping to maintain and cultivate the rigor and fidelity of our program, support our executive director in cultivating school partnerships donor stewardship. Each will be responsible for leading regional office program implementation, innovation, and evaluation of recruitment strategies to increase the impact we have with the families we serve. They will also analyze program trends, identify opportunities for growth and recommend solutions to strengthen our services and ensure fidelity to our promise to families.

We are excited to see all the wonderful things we will accomplish together. Join us in congratulating them as a new team of deputy directors and extending our warmest wishes as each of them shines in this new role!

Blanca Alvarado, Deputy Director-Modesto, has been a part of the PIQE team for the past 24 years, serving in a variety of management assignments, including office manager and associate director. Her professional background includes extensive experience in facilitation, management, administrative support, and human resources. Prior to PIQE, Blanca was a vice-president assistant, overseeing the finances of company presidents, as well as supervising and hiring office staff for multinational companies, such as Sulzer, and Alcatel Indetel. She has bachelor’s degrees in business administration, computer science, and psychology. Blanca is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish.

Connie Castelan, Deputy Director-Los Angeles, has worked in education-focused nonprofits for more than 14 years. After working with the California legislature on higher-education policy with the Campaign for College Opportunity, she aimed her focus on aiding college access for students in her community. As a program coordinator at USC, she assisted in outreach and guided students and parents to college resources. At the Fulfillment Fund, she coordinated and assisted college tours, workshops, and events celebrating first-generation college students’ accomplishments and successes. She received her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Cal State Los Angeles and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling.

Lorena Garcia, Deputy Director-Los Angeles, graduated from the Universidad Autonoma of Zacatecas with a degree in accounting. She considers herself a “PIQE Mom.” Thanks to this program and organization, all three of her children graduated with degrees from four-year universities. Lorena has been working with PIQE since 1999, as a facilitator, a coach, a super coordinator, an associated director and now as a deputy director.

Veronica A. Lopez, Deputy Director-Fresno, has been with PIQE for 12 years. She admits, it has been astonishing to see how much PIQE has grown since she started and how much she has grown professionally within the organization. Veronica is truly passionate about the work she does. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending quality time with her family.

Rita Escajadillo, Deputy Director-Bay Area, began her career with PIQE as an associate director in January 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and biochemistry from Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University, which included a one-year internship at a military hospital in Lima, Peru. She also has an associate degree in business administration from the College of Marin. Rita has a deep love for learning and a constant concern for the well-being of people. She is hard-working, educated, and bilingual in both Spanish and English.