Who We Are

Who We Are

Our Board of Directors

Raphael J.D.


Raphael J.D. Sebastian

Raphael Juan Diego Sebastian is a business consultant who has worked with many top companies. His most recent role was as Sr. Business Partner for Coca-Cola Consolidated, the largest bottler in the Coca-Cola system. Sebastian is the former Vice President and co-founder for WorkplaceDiversity.com, Director of Urban Marketing Initiatives for the Cherenson Group, and a Vice President/Director for Citigroup. A champion in the community, Sebastian has served on numerous boards including the Urban League of Central Carolinas and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's Hispanic Advisory Committee. He has received numerous community service awards including being honored by the NBA's NY Knicks and NJ Nets, as an Outstanding Hispanic American Professional for his significant achievements in business and his tireless efforts and impact in the community. Raphael earned his undergraduate degree Cornell University where he was both a successful student and athlete.


Vice Chair

James Bazan

James Bazán traces his family roots in New Mexico to 1598, and yet both of his parents learned English as a second language. This lifelong awareness of being an “outsider in plain sight” led to an interest in sociology, social movements, and the stories people tell to and about themselves. His academic studies include the migration patterns from Latin America to the United States, social identity, and religious pilgrimage in New Mexico, as well as white nationalist and white supremacist movements. Since 1996, James has taught sociology at Central Piedmont Community College, where he served as Director of Behavioral and Social Sciences for seven years. In 2009, one of his students confided that her brother was excluded from school because he was undocumented. James then began to devote more of his work to immigration issues to support all members of the community. He is especially interested in supporting youth-led groups, and in working to improve access to education for all. James was named CPCC Teacher of the Year in 2002 and is co-author of the text, College Student Success.



Christian Wagner

Captain Christian Wagner is a 19-year member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). Christian’s mom, a native of Panama, met Christian’s dad when he was stationed in the Canal Zone in the U.S. Army. His parents relocated to New Jersey after getting married, where he grew up, but he still has a large family in Panama. Christian has been an advocate for Latino residents of the area as a member of the police department, where he has been assigned as an officer and traffic coordinator in the B-1/Providence Division; officer in the Research and Planning Division; Sergeant, Response Area Commander; Staff Sergeant and Lieutenant in the Eastway Division; he currently serves as CMPD´s Community Wellness Lieutenant. He has a BA in Sociology from North Carolina State University and an MPA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.



Ben Nunnally

Ben Nunnally is a retired finance professor. He taught in the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte for thirty years. In addition, he has consulted with many small businesses in the local area and elsewhere concerning business valuation, strategic planning and other matters related to financial management. During his more than six years as a volunteer at the Coalition, Ben has been involved in the Taller de Trabajo, small business workshops and other activities directly related to the goals and ambitions of our clients. Ben holds a doctorate in business administration from the University of Virginia.



Juliana Cabrales

Juliana Cabrales is Mid-Atlantic Director of Civic Engagement with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. In this capacity, Juliana promotes the organization’s civic engagement campaigns in the Mid-Atlantic region and North Carolina while providing programmatic support to national civic engagement efforts. She was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia and since arriving in the United States has lived mostly in the Southeast. Since joining the non-profit sector, Juliana has worked with the Latino community in different capacities. Prior to joining NALEO Educational Fund, Juliana served as Latino Outreach Coordinator with the NC Victim Assistance Network. Juliana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan College in Macon, GA and an Associate in Applied Science from Parsons The New School of Design in New York, NY.

Pastor Susan


Pastor Susan Suarez Webster

Rev. Susan Suárez Webster is the pastor of community outreach at Central United Methodist Church on Albemarle Road. Serving as a pastor among internationals in East Charlotte during the last seven years has given her opportunities to serve people from Asia, Latin American, Africa, the Mideast and the U.S.A. As part of her responsibilities, she partners with many community organizations to serve the church and neighborhood.
Originally from Syracuse, NY, Susan received the B.A. in Spanish language and literature from Syracuse University, the M.L.S. from the University of South Carolina. Her graduate theological studies are from Columbia International and Duke Divinity School. She lived in Mexico serving as a missionary for fifteen years. Susan’s passion to serve others and particularly those who speak Spanish motivates her to participate on the board of the Latin American Coalition. Susan took a place on the board in August 2017


Oliver Merino

Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Oliver Merino moved to rural North Carolina at the age of ten with his family. A graduate of Central Piedmont Community College and Johnson C. Smith University, where he studied African American history, Oliver has worked with and advocated for immigrant communities across the country. As Latino New South Coordinator at Levine Museum of the New South, he works on developing collaboration with the Latino community and designing programming to reach diverse audiences.



Michael Magno

Michael Magno was born in New York City to parents who are from Argentina.  He is the Head of Middle School for Providence Day School here in Charlotte, North Carolina.   As a member of the Providence Day Administrative and Academic Council, Michael helps coordinate the day-to-day operations for a tK-12 school that focuses on Global Education.  Michael also serves on the Providence Day Multicultural Advisory Board, an organization that helps support diversity and inclusion.  Prior to serving as the Head of Middle School, Michael was the Dean of Students for five years.  He has served on the board of Charlotte United Futbol Club, which has recently merged with Charlotte Soccer Academy.  A former student-athlete at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, Michael holds a Bachelor’s Degree with a double-major in psychology and biology as well as a minor in communication.  Michael also holds a Masters in Education from Montana State-Bozeman and an “A” level coaching license from United States Soccer Federation. 



Daniel Valdez

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