NALHE Central Florida Chapter Orlando

“Where all cultures and professions come together”

Central Florida Region is composed of two major cities: Orlando and Tampa.

Since this state is extensive in territory, we are beginning to work with Orlando which is the center administration of Orange and Seminole
counties. The area can extend in the future.

Orange County include the following cities:
Apopka, Bay Lake, Belle Isle, Edgewood, Lake Buena Vista, Maitland, Ocoee, Orlando, Winter Garden and Winter Park.
Total cities = 10

Seminole County include the following cities:
Altamonte Spring, Casselberry, Lake Mary, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford and Winter Spring.
Total cities = 7

Central Florida Orlando area: Include a total of 17 cities

Get to Know the Central Florida Chapter Leadership Board

Click on each individual for more detailed information

Martha Elena Ruiz

Chapter President and
Board Chair

Melisa Paternina

President-Elect & Chair of
Cultural Competence and
Board Member

Diana Molina

Secretary – Treasurer and
Board Member

Asli Cennet Yalim

Chair of Education and
Board Member

Luis Martinez

Chair of Communications &
Community Outreach and
Board Member

Mateo Blanco

Chair of Public Relations and
Board Member

Sandra Kleinfeldt

Chair of Social Media &
Project Development and
Board Member

Martha Elena Ruiz

Board Role:
Chapter President and Board Chair


Professional Title:
Government Operations Consultant MA. Political Science / International Relations
MA - Spanish and Literature
BA - Art History

Florida Department of Health in Orange

Ambassador of We The Women Movement Florida Chapter.

Mrs. Ruiz is originally from Colombia, S.A. She relocated to the United States upon
finishing High School. Mrs. Ruiz is currently employed with the Florida Department
of Health in Orange County as a Government Operations Consultant. Mrs. Ruiz has
extensive experience managing federally funded public and minority health programs.
She was awarded the NACCHO- National Association of County & City Health Officials
National Model Award for her work in the BABY Better Weight for A Better You
Project in Washington, D.C. and the “Best of the Best” Practice Award by the Florida
Department of Health, Tallahassee, Fl.

Mrs. Ruiz holds a BA in Art History, with a minor in Latin American studies, a M.A
in Political Science with a minor in International Relations and a M.A. in Spanish
Language and Literature, major in American Literature, minor in Peninsular all from
University of Central Florida. She has taught various courses at Rollins College, The
University of Central Florida and Valencia College and Saddlebrook International
Academy. Martha was also responsible for the development and implementation of a
cultural exchange program between the University of Central Florida Art Department
and several prominent Universities in Colombia, South America. Mrs. Ruiz also served
as the Director of International Relations for various public and private Latin American
universities facilitating exchange programs between American and European

Mrs. Ruiz has worked extensively with various foreign governments to facilitate
acculturation of immigrants to American culture, social and health system. She has
also dedicated herself to work against human trafficking and to achieve equitable
migratory protection for all immigrants within the confines of the law. She has also
been involved in working against child and gender abuse and child hunger. Her main
goal is to fight social injustice.

Mrs. Ruiz also has experience in the private sector where she was responsible for
opening various international branches of healthcare organizations where she held
the position of CEO. In these roles she became well versed in international negotiation,
trade and tariffs.

Mrs. Ruiz is fully bilingual in both Spanish and English. She is a member of Tau Delta
Chapter of the National Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi, Spain – U.S.A.
Melisa Paternina

Board Role:
President-Elect & Chair of Cultural Competence and Board Member


Professional Title:
Family & Communication Relations
MS - Global Human & Social Services
BS - English Teaching


Melisa Paternina, MS is a global human and social services professional and expert
in Cultural Intelligence®, currently at the intersection of healthcare. Additionally, Ms.
Paternina is the Founder and President of PeopleC, a global cultural innovation hub
that helps organizations and leaders achieve their highest potential through cultural

Ms. Paternina has conducted research on multiculturalism and bicultural identity.
She has been recognized by the local government for successfully partaking and
spearheading efforts to alleviate local needs with educational-oriented social projects
in the public, non-profit, private, and academic sectors. She was also a proud National
Service Member as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the City of Orlando.

Ms. Paternina’s innovative and influential multicultural mindset, along with
her background in strategic community engagement, public education, talent
development, among others, has impacted organizations in both the United States
and abroad.

Ms. Paternina started her professional career in 2008 teaching in higher education
at several universities in her native country of Colombia, and migrated to the United
States in Orlando, in 2013.

Ms. Paternina holds a MS in Global Human & Social Services, holds a BS in English
Teaching. Additionally, she has received formal education in grant writing and
resource development, volunteer mobilization, project design, planning, and
implementation, and effective and empowering communications.

As a global cultural innovation enthusiast, Ms. Paternina is fully bilingual in English and
Spanish and is a continuous learner of languages. She understands that leadership
is an opportunity to serve others and that cultural differences are the strongest
innovative, unifying power of humanity.
Diana Molina

Board Role:
Secretary - Treasurer and Board Member


Professional Title:
Healthcare Business Administration

Southern Healthcare Management

Diana Molina was born in Cali, Colombia and moved to Orlando in 2001. She
graduated from a Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Central
Florida in Orlando. She just finished a Master in Business administration at the Florida
International University in Miami

She currently works as an Accounts Receivable Analyst in a healthcare company that
manages 41 Skilled Nursing Facilities in the Estates of Florida, Georgia and North

She loves to travel, learn new languages, try new foods and experience different
cultures. She speaks 3 languages: German, Spanish and English.

For the past 8 years, she has also been part of the board in an international spiritual
association called Invitation to Life (IVI) that has its origins in France. With them, she
has been able to explore her love for traveling while experiencing new cultures and
has traveled to remote places such as New Zealand and La Patagonia, Argentina.

Most recently she joined NALHE Central Florida, as the Secretary and Treasurer. As a
board member of NAHLE she would like to assist the local community in organizing
themselves and help each other grow and achieve their professional and personal
Asli Cennet Yalim

Board Role:
Chair of Education and Board Member


Professional Title:
Assistant Professor at UCF
PhD. in Social Welfare
MSW in Social Work

University of Central Florida

Asli C. Yalim, PhD, MSW is a researcher and an educator at the University of Central
Florida School of Social Work. She is the chair of education at the NALHE Central
Florida Chapter. Prior to entering academia, she worked as a psychologist in different
settings, including a psychiatric hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. She received her master’s
degree in Social Work from Florida State University and her PhD in Social Welfare from
University at Buffalo. She completed her internships at local refugee resettlement
agencies in Buffalo, NY and Tallahassee, FL. Dr. Yalim conducted research studies
with Syrian refugees in the United States and Turkey and refugees from Burma in
the United States. Her current research aims to identify the barriers to mental health
access among immigrant and refugee populations. Her areas of research are refugee
and immigrant mental health, forced migration, culturally competent practice, and
community-based participatory research. She teaches courses in human development
and social environment, research methods, and social work with immigrants and
Luis Martinez

Board Role:
Chair of Communications & Community Outreach and Board Member


Professional Title:
Deputy Manager of Multicultural Affairs & International Relations
MBA - Business Administration
BA - Communications

University of Central Florida City of Orlando
Office of Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando, FL

Luis Martinez, MBA is the current Deputy Manager of Multicultural Affairs and
International Relations in the Office of Mayor Buddy Dyer. Luis holds a vast experience
in strategic community relationships that enhance Hispanic and multicultural
communities, and foster diversity, inclusion, and equity in the municipality.

Luis has played critical roles in responding to community emergencies and disaster
relief efforts through the city’s Communications Emergency Management Team, by
managing local, national, and international media inquiries. Additionally, he has led
initiatives and partnerships that have resulted in key public assistance, employment
development, and business opportunities for ethnically diverse newcomers in
the community, with numerous media outlets including radio, tv, among several
community non-profit organizations.

Luis started his academic career in Communications in Puerto Rico, and he is

DiversityFIRST™ Certified by the National Diversity Council. He creates and
successfully leads diversity and inclusion strategies for organizational excellence and a
competitive edge in today’s global marketplace. During his college years, Luis worked
at the Department of State of Puerto Rico as Press Officer, which allowed him to gain
experience in the communications field and government.

Luis was the founder of Starlight Productions, Inc., a nonprofit organization that
encouraged talented children and youth to develop their artistic abilities through
training and musical-theater performances. In 2000, he relocated to Orlando, Florida
to enhance his professional career and continue her academic studies. In the past,
Luis served in the fields of marketing and journalism, where he obtained important
experience in innovative recruitment & marketing.
Mateo Blanco

Board Role:
Chair of Public Relations and Board Member


Professional Title:
Artist and Tenor

Mateo Blanco@

Since he was child, Mateo Blanco has been immersed in the world of arts. He always
wanted to express his feelings and ideas through music and plastic arts. He is also a
tenor, trained professionally as an opera singer.

Mateo had the opportunity to develop his artistic side, alongside Colombian artist
Debora Arango in Medellin Colombia. He obtained his B.A from Florida Atlantic
University in Boca Raton, FL. Today Mateo’s art is exhibited in five continents in
different museums as well as in private collections.

Blanco has been featured in several exhibits across the US and is an award-winning
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” artist.

Mateo Blanco believes life is a blank canvas and if there is one thing he knows for sure,
it’s that he’s going to paint it colorfully.

As an opera singer he made the cast of “La Traviata,” performed with the Opera Blanca
de Colombia and even sang during George W. Bush’s birthday celebration. A pioneer
in the music industry, Blanco became the first American tenor to record a multi-genre
record with his debut album, “Mateo Blanco 724.”

To put into work his many talents for the betterment of the local community, he has
decided to join the NALHE Central Florida Chapter Board as the director of Public
Sandra Kleinfeldt

Board Role:
Chair of Social Media & Project Development and Board Member


Professional Title:
Industrial Engineer, BSIE

Project Analyst, Robert J. Kleinfeldt, ESQ. Attorney & Counselor at Law

Sandra Kleinfeldt graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering
(Licenciatura en Ingeniería Industrial) in her native country of Honduras, where
she practiced her profession facilitating production project implementations at
numerous assembly plants in the industrial zones surrounding San Pedro Sula. She
has managerial experience in human resources focusing upon the alignment of
salary and benefit packages with governmental statutory compliance requirements.
Uprooted from her domain and due to foreign labor restrictions, Sandra’s work
migrated to the voluntary: working in religious instruction for the Roman Catholic
Church in the Mexican state of Jalisco; coordinating and staffing charitable work
campaigns—including fund-raising and budget management--in the metropolitan area
of Guadalajara, Jalisco; and participating in immigrant support efforts through the
FM-4 Paso Libre organization. Sandra is bilingual in Spanish (native) and English— both
written and spoken. She has lived and worked in three countries--Honduras, Mexico,
and the United States—and is very adept in recognizing and respecting cultural
touchpoints. She is a citizen of both Honduras and the United States of America.

Strategic Plan

This strategic plan aims at describing the high impact and sustainable operational model to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Chapter in 2020-2030. In honor of our Chapter’s mission to increase the representation of the Latino and other cultural groups in leadership roles, the goals, objectives, execution activities, and assessment of this plan, ensure the participation of individuals and organizations in professional development initiatives, that foster culturally inclusive professional opportunities in the healthcare industry and other fields.

The primary mission of the Chapter is to be the acknowledged local and regional organization for Latino/a and multicultural healthcare leaders and professionals, early careerists, students, local industry experts, community stakeholders, partners, sponsors, and individuals with aligned interests, goals, and values.

Be the premier organization to identify, develop, and connect Latino/a leaders at all levels and to grow the talent pool of multi-cultural healthcare leaders.

Needs Statement
According to the Florida State Health Improvement Plan, one of the priority areas is to avoid inequalities and eliminate health care disparities. The goal is to “establish shared understanding across all sectors (including, but not limited to, state and local agencies and other organizations) concerning information and issues surrounding health equity, cultural competence, and how social determinants of health influence the health of Florida’s residents and communities.” (Florida Department of Health, 2019, p.3). Additionally, The Hispanic Health Assessment 2017 recommends an increase of cultural competencies and marketing strategies to increase community outreach and program effectiveness to better serve the Hispanic population and eliminate healthcare disparities (Pérez, 2017). As a response to these needs, NALHE Central Florida Chapter seeks to contribute to the enhancement of the community in Central Florida, with the vision to extend its efforts throughout the State of Florida, through the integration and promotion of education of the multicultural professionals in healthcare and other related fields.

Goals and Implementation

  1. Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to understand the operational environment and establish the accountability of the Chapter to identify gaps.
    • Enhance and maintain the presence of the Chapter as a recognizable organization in the promotion of the Latino professionals in the healthcare and other fields.
    • Connect with domestic and international universities, colleges, and other organizations to increase the number of members.
    • Position NALHE Central Florida Chapter in the State of Florida through strategic community engagement efforts.
  2. Develop resources to ensure implementation of the plan and ongoing grant research projects.
    • Identify the existing data to document the current state of knowledge about needs in the community, as well as protective and risk factors that affect equality/disparities in health (Literature review, by February 2020).
    • Identify potential grant-funding sources (January, 2020).
    • Write grant proposals (June, 2020).
  3. Educate and guide professionals and students through culturally competent training and workshops
    • Create a survey to pre-assess the target audience.
    • Creation focused, professional development resources in cultural competence.
    • Partner with domestic and international organizations to strengthen the presence and credibility of the NALHE Central Florida Chapter.
  4. Events
    • Two events yearly.

*Pérez, E. (2017). Hispanic Health Assessment 2017. Retrieved from:
*Florida Department of Health (2019). Florida State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) 2017-2021. Retrieved from