Center Staff

Staff members at the Center for Latin American Studies play an essential part in the Center's every-day functions. Some of the responsibilities assigned to staff members include processing travel arrangements for students and faculty, helping students register for courses and process their scholarships, completing paperwork for visiting scholars, and providing support with marketing and event efforts. Below you will find the contact information and assigned duties for all Center staff.

Carlos de la Torre

De la Torre Web

Director, Center for Latin American Studies
Ph.D. in Sociology, New School for Social Research

Dr. Carlos de la Torre is the director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. 

319B Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4703


Patricia Alba

Patricia A

Communications Specialist
MA Mass Communication, University of Florida

Ms. Alba manages the communication and marketing efforts for the Center for Latin American Studies. She works with Center staff to promote events, contacts other departments to maximize the reach of Center announcements and promotional materials, and works with outside media to better promote the Center's message. Ms. Alba's duties also include managing and maintaining the Center website.

346 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4047

Jessica (Mrozinske) Baker

Jessica B

Accounting Coordinator

Ms. Baker is responsible for handling pre-award and post-award submissions and monitoring through the UFIRST system. She reconciles expenditures and provides monthly and/or regular financial updates. She also interacts with core offices, other departments, faculty, and staff when there are questions about Center funds or expenditures.

354 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4707

Jessica Caicedo

Jessica B
Fiscal Assistant III
BA Spanish, University of Florida

Ms. Caicedo is responsible for processing general fiscal transactions at the Center for Latin American Studies, which includes travel-related transactions, both foreign and domestic, reconciling all Pcard transactions, and processing Journal Entries to the General Ledger.

304 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4735

Andrea Dahdah

Andrea Dahdah
Administrative Support AST I
BA, Criminology - University of Florida

Ms. Dahdah provides administrative assistance to the Center Director as well as to Center faculty and staff. She manages the Director's calendar and travel arrangements. She also assists in maintaining our mailing database and email distribution lists. She coordinates internal events for the Center and assists program coordinators and our outreach team with event logistics. 

319 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4705

Po Echeguren

Po Echeguren

Academic Assistant III

Ms. Echeguren provides academic and fiscal support for the MALAS, TCD and MDP students.

316 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4709

Rose M. Farley

Human Resource Assistant

Ms. Farley manages human resources and payroll functions. She coordinates Effort Reports and Faculty Activity Reports and processes all security role requests for the Center for PeopleSoft. 

319D Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4702

Jaye Madden

Jaye Madden

Fiscal Assistant II

Mr. Madden is responsible for general fiscal transactions at the Center for Latin American Studies: all vendor payments (paying invoices and domestic honoraria), vendor contracts for Procurement’s review and signature, Travel Authorizations and Expense Reports for both foreign and domestic travel which include Reimbursements, Cash Advances and Foreign Visiting Traveler Payments.

304 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4722

Magdianis Martinez

Magdianis Martinez

Program Coordinator
Bachelors of Science in Advertising

Ms. Martinez coordinates the Center's conference, symposia, receptions, travel grants, and other events. She also assists with coordinating travel for Title VI and the Library Travel Grants, the affiliate faculty travel fund opportunity, the Center based Faculty Travel funds, and any grant or initial travel needs.

318 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4715

Andrew Noss


MDP Program Coordinator
Ph.D. Geography / Tropical Conservation and Development / African Studies, University of Florida

Dr. Noss is the administrative coordinator for the Master of Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) Program and the Sustainable Development Practice (SDP) Certificate Program. He advises students on admissions, registration, funding, summer field practicum travel, and graduation procedures. He organizes MDP program activities including MDP committee meetings, Development Practitioner seminars, student presentations, and workshops.

470 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-392-3293

Mary Risner

Mary Risner Small

Associate Director, Outreach and Business Programs
Project Manager, Florida/Brazil Institute
Ed.D Curriculum and Instruction-Educational Technology, University of Florida

Dr. Risner develops and manages initiatives that integrate the study of foreign language and area studies across the curriculum. She has over 20 years of experience teaching a foreign language at a variety of K-16 levels. Her background is in Marketing, Latin American Studies, and Educational Technology.

370A Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4723


Patricia Sampaio

Patricia S
TCD Program Coordinator
MS Ecology, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Ms. Sampaio coordinates the activities related to the Tropical Conservation and Development Program (TCD) and its related programs, such as management of TCD student and alumni databases; organization and support of all TCD events; planning and participation on task forces and committees; revision and maintenance of the TCD webpage; monitoring of the Ford Endowment expenditures; and production of reports. She is also responsible for the coordination of scholarship and other financial support competitions sponsored by TCD, the Amazon Conservation Leadership Initiative Program (ACLI) and LAS.

343 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4734

Carlos A. Suárez Carrasquillo

Carlos Suarez Small

Senior Lecturer
Director of Master and Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies
Center for Latin American Studies
Department of Political Science
Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dr. Suárez is the director of master and graduate certificate in Latin American Studies for the M.A. in Latin American Studies. His research interests in urban politics focus on the different policies and values that have been used to impact urban landscapes. He has studied the emergence of Gated Communities in Puerto Rico, the use of city marketing in Puerto Rico, and is now looking into how Puerto Rico is portrayed as a brand by government.

319F Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4724


Catherine Tucker

Catherine Tucker Small

Department of Anthropology

Dr. Tucker is the Associate Director of Academic Affairs at the Center for Latin American Studies. Tucker’s research explores how collective action and governance arrangements may enhance or undermine the sustainability of social-ecological systems.

309 Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-392-0690


Lenny A. Ureña Valerio

Lenny Small
Associate Director of Administrative Services
CLASP Vice President (Jan. 2019 - Dec. 2020)
Ph.D. History, University of Michigan

Dr. Ureña Valerio is responsible for the general administration of the Center for Latin American Studies. She provides oversight of Center’s accounts including Title VI NRC and FLAS grants. She supervises student award distribution and advises on funding processes. She provides guidance on UF and sponsored projects guidelines and regulations, prepares reports, and assists with grant writing and budget preparation. She also provides leadership for the Center’s administrative personnel and advises on a variety of administrative issues.

319E Grinter Hall
Phone: 352-273-4704