For over 25 years, Giselle has been helping nonprofit organizations achieve their strategic, programmatic and financial objectives. As Executive Director of First Friends of New Jersey & New York, she is responsible for the overall planning and integration of the organization’s programs, operations, finances, and human resources.
Prior to joining First Friends, Giselle held leadership positions at the International Rescue Committee, United States Golf Association, Thirteen WNET Public Television, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Giselle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the Boston College School of Management and an Executive Certificate in Transformational Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Notre Dame.
Jackie Zapata joined the First Friends of NJ & NY staff in March of 2020. As the Program Director, she is responsible for leading the organization’s programs with friends in detention, bond services and post-release services.
As a daughter of immigrants from Colombia and Peru, Jackie has previously worked in the immigration support space and advocacy, was a Community School Coordinator for Paterson Public Schools and a Family Case Manager for Homeless Solutions. She holds a BA in Criminal Justice & English from Nyack College.
Carlos Sierra arrived in the United States as a Political Refugee from Cuba in 1989. He arrived through the embassy of Switzerland as a result of the violence from the Cuban Castro Regime that took the lives of his family members. Currently he is enrolled full-time in the Criminal Justice Program at the Bergen County Community college.
He strives to become an immigration advocate and continues to promote knowledge of human rights. His passion for activism, the right to due process, human rights, and human equality continues to be the driving force behind him. He carries over 8 years of immigration experience and is fluent in Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and English.
Bernardo Flores joined First Friends January 2021. His role as the Volunteer Manager is to recruit, train and manage volunteers for the organization’s detention visitation program and post release services. In addition to his primary functions, he will help in processing intakes from detained friends who call our local hotline and also help in developing new relationships with different organizations in the area.
Born and raised in the city of Passaic, a town with a large concentration of Mexican immigrants, Bernardo has participated in Know your rights campaigns and Voter Registration drives. Marked by his childhood experiences, Bernardo’s goal is to make the world a place better for the less fortunate and to provide a helping hand to those in need.
Previously, Bernardo has developed his experience with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club(Volunteer Services Director) and also The Community Charter School of Paterson(Parent Engagement Coordinator). Bernardo holds a BA in Sociology-Work and Community Engagement from William Paterson University.