Board of Directors
Juan Torres (President)
Founder & Consultant, Next Step Solutions (East Haven, CT)
Prior to forming Next Step Solutions, Juan had a successful 25 year career rising from an entry-level field position through progressively responsible roles at full-service landscape and tree care companies rose to senior executive positions responsible for overseeing operations. During the last 16 years, he has also become a nationally-recognized trainer and public speaker on work force development, operations, and safety topics in the landscape and tree care industry. His career insights, his ability to provide training in English and Spanish, and his experience with heavy equipment including aerial lifts, excavators, and loaders had Juan in especially high demand from coast to coast and border to border, as a consultant and trainer. He has facilitated training programs in all fifty states and in a number of foreign countries, and is also a regular judge at tree climbing competitions. He attributes much of his career success to his active participation in professional associations, and his active participation and passion for the work of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance lead to his being elected President-Elect in 2013. He assumed the Presidency of the NHLA in 2015.
Raúl Berrios (Past President)
Principal Rulyscapes, Inc. (Centreville, VA)
Raul founded Rulyscapes seven years ago after 25 years as a successful entrepreneur. His prior business ventures included a retail shop, a catering company, and an international trade business that was active in the U.S., in his native Bolivia, and in other South American countries. Raul is most proud of Rulyscapes which he claims is the perfect marriage of his skills as an entrepreneur and marketer with his passion for nature and the environment. “There’s such variety in the residential and commercial work that we do and so many functions to oversee that the days go by quickly. Life’s too short to not do what you love and that’s what we stress at Rulyscapes. We love the work we do and our goal is that our customers always love the results.”
Pam Berrios (President-Elect)
President and Owner, ALS Services, Inc. (Northern Virginia)
For the past 18 years, Pam has been the owner/operator of a successful landscaping company in Northern Virginia. During the past two years she has also served as an NHLA Director and as Board Secretary/Treasurer. “Landscaping allows you the opportunity to perform a makeover on nature. I love to realize the potential of client sites” says Pam who has the same passion for bringing out the best in people. She loves helping others and has helped many start their own businesses. She is a Trainer and Speaker and an active member of the NHLA Education Committee. Pam notes, “It is so important to improve the awareness of the impact that Latino leaders have in the industry and it’s the NHLA goal to do so." Pam is a leader that is always willing to go the extra mile to achieve what’s needed. She is a role model in her community, a hard worker and a philanthropist. She participates in many volunteer projects throughout the year, and supports causes she believes in, such as the work of the NHLA. Pam is 100% committed to the continued growth of the NHLA.
José Arroyo (Secretary)
President, Jose's Landscaping (Lyman, SC)
Jose is a native of Mexico who came to the US in 1991, he formed a landscape company in 2002. "From the beginning, I have wanted to provide the highest quality service and to grow my business the right way, being an NHLA member has helped. As a member, I attended an NHLA-Caterpillar sponsored business practices workshop and the GIE+EXPO in 2013, and Train the Trainer in 2014. Each of those experiences have helped me to lay a better foundation for my business. Serving as an NHLA Director is an opportunity to give back to the association and help it continue to develop programming of value to small Latino-owned landscape companies."
Domenic Chiarella (Treasurer)
President, 7 of 7 Best Business & Life Strategies (Southbury, CT)
Domenic’s entrepreneurial experience started when he joined a partnership in 1986, but his understanding that hard worked was a key to success, was ingrained early in life by his immigrant grandparents and strong Italian family. By 1996, his organization had grown from annual revenues of $750,000 to $15,000,000, and employed "more than 150 of the best men and women in the industry; more than 90% of whom were Hispanic and held positions at all levels from worker to foreman to supervisor to management." So, Domenic is well verse on what it takes to grow a top 5% company and help everyone advance and succeed. "Having grown up in an immigrant family gives me an appreciation for what other immigrants experience. My passion and goals are to help small business owners achieve the American Dream by sharing with them tools that can immediately improve their business and life."
Stephanie Carrillo (Director)
Project Manager, Ruppert Landscape (Garner, NC)
A recent graduate of North Carolina State University with 11 years of administrative experience, Stephanie’s career in the landscape industry started in 2011 when she accepted a position as a Payroll Specialist. She has since taken advantage of opportunities to grow within the company and was recently promoted to Project Manager at the Ruppert Landscape NC Landscape Construction branch. Stephanie notes, “People find impediments as stopping points rather than benchmarks in their lives. I attended the NHLA Train the Trainer program in 2015 and returned newly inspired to train and motivate Latinos in the industry. I find too few Latino managers above a Foreman position at any company. I have learned to integrate my Latino culture within American society in order to advance in the industry. I am youthful, engaging, driven and looking forward to helping the NHLA as a Director to foster greater professionalism and leadership skills among Hispanics in our industry and to assist larger companies in gaining a better understanding of their Hispanic workforce.”
Omar Cordero (Director)
President, LC Landscape (Denver, CO)
Omar founded LC Landscape in 2012 after working for more than 11 years at a large commercial landscape contracting firm and earning a degree in Agricultural Engineering in his native Chihuahua, Mexico. "The perspective I had from working more than a decade at a large company in a variety of leadership roles, from my formal education, and through my industry certification gave me a strong start in starting my own company. Others that lack that background really struggle because success in the landscape industry isn't easy to achieve. However, regardless of your background you can never stop learning. The NHLA's mission of engaging Latinos in the industry, helping us build a learning and sharing community across the country, and providing opportunities to develop leadership skills is an important one that I support. Believe in yourself and your business and never give up!"
Rafael Díaz (Director)
Vice President, Diaz Group, LLC (Chicago, IL)
Rafael Diaz has been part of the +green industry since he was seven years old. For more than 22 years, he has cherished every moment that he has been able to work with his family. After completing his Horticultural studies, Rafael, along with his younger brother and father, founded Diaz Group LLC in the spring of 2007. Rafael has been the leader of the company ever since, guiding its growth and developing the company into one of the leaders in construction and landscape maintenance in the Chicago metropolitan area. He is extremely proud of his heritage and Hispanic culture, and credits his Mexican heritage for instilling a strong family orientation along with the value of hard work and tenacity. Rafael also fully embraces the American value of attaining personal growth and achievement through working smart and continuously improving. He notes that this is especially key growing and improving his business. “My biggest passion is building people from the ground up. Many young kids join our company and now hold high positions because of our love to teach and motivate”. One of his other passions is helping other Hispanic companies succeed, and he welcomes opportunities for collaboration with industry peers. Rafael believes that Hispanics in the industry need to collaborate much more in order to grow and become more successful, and he sees engagement through the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance as an excellent way for Hispanics to do so.
Josh Denison (Director)
Vice President, Operations & HR, Denison Landscaping Inc (Fort Washington, MD)
Josh is a native of Maryland and has grown up in a family landscaping business that was started by his father when Josh was 8 years old. "There was never a question about what career I'd pursue," reflected Josh, who added, "Becoming involved with the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance was just as easy a decision." Josh is one of the industry's leading proponents for the H-2B visa program which grants temporary visas to foreign workers to perform seasonal non-agricultural work, and he first gained an appreciation for the work of the NHLA through his time advocating for the H-2B program on Capitol Hill. "I not only joined, I became a Director and have enjoyed getting to know the other Board members and working with them to grow the NHLA. Everything the NHLA has done, it has realized at a very high level. This is true of its advocacy work, service projects, and trainings. Most recently, we sent two employees to Train the Trainer and the result exceeded all expectations." Josh believes that going forward the most successful companies in the landscape industry will be those that best embrace Hispanics, and encourage and support their professionalism and advancement, "NHLA membership helps Denison Landscaping do that."
Iván Giraldo (Director)
President, Clean Scapes Landscaping (Austin, TX) cleanscapes.net
A 28-year veteran of the landscape Industry, Ivan founded Clean Scapes in 2005 and has since guided its growth, developing it into Central Texas’ premier commercial construction and maintenance landscape company. "I'm proud of my roots, but I have also learned a great deal from fully engaging American society," noted Ivan who believes it important that Hispanics in the industry not separate themselves from others, but rather take greater advantage of industry knowledge in every aspect of the business. "I like that the NHLA is dedicated to helping Hispanics become more knowledgeable and successful in the landscape industry and that it works closely with other industry associations to advance our collective interests." Ivan's passion includes promoting education in all forms, and sharing his business acumen and experience to help others succeed. This includes serving in a prison ministries program that teaches entrepreneurship skills to inmates so they can develop a plan for starting a business once they are released. "Through this program we help them understand what they need to consider, and learn, in order to be successful." Ivan has also made several trips to the Congo, as part of a team that teaches entrepreneurial skills to locals, as a way of improving the quality of life for themselves, their families and their villages. Ivan's work, professionally and personally, is guided by the values of fairness, honesty, hard work, and financial accountability."
MJ Macias (Director)
Branch Manager, Gachina Landscape Management (Menlo Park, CA)
MJ, a ten year industry veteran, joined Gachina in March 2014 as a Branch Manager. "I became aware of Gachina's community engagement and learning culture, while working for a competitor. Overtime, my admiration for the company and owner John Gachina grew to the point that I decided to change employers. I first learned of the NHLA when one of the Account Managers in our branch attended Train the Trainer and came back with great things to say about the program and the association. I then met NHLA members and leaders a month later at Student Career Days and was impressed by their passion for the association's mission." A graduate of the BYU horticulture program, MJ spent two years in Spain as a missionary, and continues to volunteer through his church helping to provide career services. He has also put his experience as an Eagle Scout to good use as a Scout Master, and assists with his daughter's soccer team. "The NHLA is doing important work elevating the professionalism of Latinos in the industry and helping them become more successful. I look forward to helping the association continue to grow and fulfill its mission more fully."
Mari Medrano Mejia (Director)
Human Resources Director, CoCal Landscape (Denver, CO)
Mari is a first generation American whose career in the landscape industry started in 1998 when she took a summer job working on a field crew in CoCal’s Renovation Department. She loved working in the field, and as the owner's daughter found herself becoming an advocate for the crews, recognizing how hard the work was. Her life’s passion has always been her culture, and supporting the advancement of Latinos in the United States. She credits CoCal with providing an opportunity to continue pursuing her interests in immigration policy and she has developed significant expertise in the H-2B visa program for seasonal foreign workers that is so important to the landscape industry. "It’s so fulfilling to know that I am helping CoCal source much needed labor, and helping the H-2B workers and their families. I also believe in the mission of NHLA. I see Latinos in our industry as a power to be reckoned with, not just the lower end of the totem pole, but increasingly the managers, administrators, and owners that will drive this industry forward. The NHLA respects our culture and values, and works to increase our competencies as leaders and professionals. The NHLA also gives us a voice in Washington and across the country."
Ken Taylor, CLP (Director)
General Manager, Corporate Business Division, John Deere (Cary, NC)
William H. Walton III (Director)
Mgr., Market Research & Marketing, Honda Power Equipment (Alpharetta, GA)
Ralph Egües, Jr. (Executive Director)
Principal and Consultant, Cruz Fox LLC. (South Miami, FL)
Board support and member services are provided under contract through Cruz Fox, LLC.Prior to forming Cruz Fox in 2003, Ralph Egües served in executive management positions with a number of public and privately held companies, gaining a broad range of domestic and international management experience in operations, marketing, finance, consulting, regulatory compliance, training and human resources, and community and government relations. The firm provides organizational analysis and development services to client companies, educational institutions, and associations, as well as association management services.