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Meet CHLI's Fall 2014 Global Leaders Internship Program Fellows!

Thursday, December 18, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Leo Velasquez
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Meet Our CHLI Fall 2014 Global Leaders Internship Program Fellows!


CHLI Altria Fellow

Claudio Boffelli


Hometown: Miami, FL

University: Northern Virginia Community College

Major: Communication

Congressional Internship: Congressman David Valadao (CA-21)

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Communication is Key in Public and Private Sectors

by Gabriel Peña


As a U.S. citizen born abroad, Claudio Boffelli spent most of his childhood in Managua, Nicaragua, until his family decided to return to his native home, Miami, FL. Starting a new life in the United States, he discovered the value of democracy and civil rights. His experiences have helped him understand why his parents made what he considers the best decision to bring him and his family back to the U.S.

After moving from Nicaragua to Miami in 2007, he graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School in 2012. He was enrolled at Miami-Dade College until August 2014, when he moved to Arlington, VA. He currently attends Northern Virginia Community College for the remainder of his Associate of Arts degree and plans to transfer to George Mason University to earn his B.A. in Communication.

Close proximity to Washington D.C. is what gave Claudio the idea to apply to the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute's Global Leaders Internship Program where he was given the chance to observe a new environment and have new experiences.

Claudio was welcomed into the office of California Congressman David Valadao for the first half of his internship.Claudio had an excellent opportunity to understand the world of politics, including elected officials' commitment to representing the will of his constituents. This hands-on experience on Capitol Hill made Claudio feel more involved as a citizen. During that time, Claudio attended briefings on legislation impacting Congressman Valadao's district. He learned about the legislative process and functions of a congressional office. He observed first-hand the fast-paced environment surrounding Capitol Hill.

For the second part of his internship, Claudio learned about the role of a government affairs as an assistant for Heineken USA. During this time, Claudio learned how to promote the interests of Heineken by monitoring legislative activities, and researching new initiatives that would affect the beverage and wine industry. Both experiences helped Claudio gain a broad vision and appreciation for the work in the public and private sectors.

Claudio believes CHLI's once in a lifetime experience has provided him with the resources to become a successful leader by exposing him to professional work environments. Claudio will continue to pursue his career goals of advising clients and implementing a marketing strategy to positively impact public perception of clients' images and products. He intends to work in a communications capacity, assisting a wide variety of companies with their media strategies.

These past few months have changed Claudio as a person. He has also gained an unforgettable experience, inside and outside the offices where he interned. Claudio is grateful and feels he could not have taken a better start in Virginia and looks toward the future.

CHLI Herbalife Fellow

Catalina Fernandez


Hometown: Miami, FL

University: Florida International University

Major: Criminal Justice and Chinese AreaStudies

Congressional InternshipRep.MarioDiaz-Balart (FL-25)


Defending U.S. National Security

by Jenny Tavarez


Catalina Fernandez was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to Miami, FL with her family atthe age of seven. She is currently a junior at Florida International University (FIU), earning two Bachelor Degrees in Criminal Justice and Chinese Area Studies. Being a Latina, raised in the U.S. with an interest in Asian culture, her goals focus on the mixture of these cultures and defending U.S. national security.

Before entering FIU, she was an intern at U.S.Congressman David Rivera's District Office. She assisted staff in special projects, community outreach efforts and local events. During her sophomore year at FIU, she continued her journey in public service by interning in U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's District Office. She communicated with federal agencies, constituents and staff assisting in health care, immigration and other issues.

After establishing a two-year foundation in Mandarin-Chinese, she traveled to Hangzhou, China during the summer of 2014 through FIU's study abroad program. She expanded her interest and knowledge of Chinese culture and language by interacting with locals, attending university classes, and traveling to other cities. As part of her National Security certificate, she participated in a semester-long interactive seminar, focused on terrorism and drug intelligence simulations.

Catalina participated in CHLI's Global Leaders Internship and Fellowship Program in search of an experience that highlighted her Latina roots while exposing her to global development. The fellowship has been an encouraging journey toward her leadership development and interest in the intelligence field.

As part of her congressional experience with CHLI, she interned in Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart's Office. This gave her the opportunity to attend House and Senate hearings including ones on U.S.-China relations and U.S.-Latin America relations. It also exposed her to a greater understanding of government processes and their impact abroad.

To enrich her experience, she has additionally interned in Herbalife's Government Relations and Community Affairs office. During her corporate experience, she interacted with non-profit organizations, Congress, and the community to promote nutrition and wellness initiatives. She also participated in day-to-day strategy meetings with consulting firms to develop and enhance relationships with the community at local, state, and national levels.

Catalina plans to return to FIU and finish her degrees, then pursue a specialization in National Security & Intelligence. She intends to continue her public service by working for the government with the FBI, CIA, or DIA.

CHLI NBC Comcast Universal Fellow

Gabriel Peña

Hometown: Bronx, New York

University: Stony Brook University

Major: Technological Systems Management

Congressional Internship: Rep.Albio Sires(NJ-08)



IT Specialist Connects with Capitol Hill Leadership

by Claudio Boffelli


Gabriel Isidro Peña is a Hispanic-American born and raised in the Bronx, New York. His parents, from Honduras and Puerto Rico, were non-native English speakers. While being raised in a struggling neighborhood, his mother placed Gabriel in a private school where he excelled in a uniquely challenging education. The greatest driving force for him to finish his education developed from the words of his parents and the actions they took. He recently graduated from Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York with a Bachelor's degree of Science in Technological Systems Management with a specialization in Information Systems.

When Gabriel first learned about the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI), he understood it would be a great opportunity to learn more about leadership by U.S. Members of Congress of Latin-American descent. Having served as Program Chairman for his local Stony Brook fraternity, Phi Chi Epsilon, he understood the importance to having strong leaders in order to help motivate others. After spending a year and a half as Five Star Compliance Officer, he celebrated the achievement of bringing his fraternity to a four star of five-star standing. This made his organization one of two fraternities on campus to achieve a three star ranking for the 2012-2013 academic year. He also served as a new member educator in order to help the fraternity's youngest members and its newest recruits. Thus, he believed CHLI would develop his leadership capabilities.

Before his internship with CHLI, Gabriel worked at the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) where he was first introduced to the importance of working with Congress. This left him with a strong impression of the necessity to promote leadership, not just within the Latino community, but also amongst his peers.

CHLI placed Gabriel in the office of Congressman Albio Sires of New Jersey's 8th district. Gabriel drafted memos summarizing legislation proposed before the House of Representatives. He also attended hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill and prepared memos for staff members focused on defense, technology, and world health issues. He transitioned into his corporate internship with Heineken USA to experience something new and gain a better understanding of legislative issues from the private sector perspective.

Gabriel has found great value in the networking events provided for him and his fellow interns. Whether interns or professionals involved in the public and private sector, he believes these contacts will always provide a good link to the world of his profession and beyond. He especially appreciates the IT discussions at CHLI's Trade & International Affairs Symposium. CHLI has reignited his drive to pursue post-graduate studies in the field of technology and public policy.

CHLI NBC Comcast Universal Fellow

Jenny Tavarez

Hometown: Fort Stockton, Texas

University :University of Texas-Austin

Major: Administrative Systems, BusinessTechnology, and Textiles & Apparel

Congressional Internship: Rep.Henry Cuellar(TX-28)



Fashion and Public Policy

by Catalina Fernandez


Jenny Tavarez is of Mexican and Native American heritage, born in Fort Stockton, Texas. After her high school graduation, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Northern Europe with The People to People organization. The program combined politics and learning new cultures. This experience helped her discover new endeavors. Seeing world-renowned sights inspired her to travel and learn about different cultures.

Soon after her return, she attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas where she obtained her B.A. (Cum laude) in Administrative Systems and Business Technology with a Certificate in Office Systems within five semesters. Right after her graduation, Jenny continued her education at The University of Texas at Austin. There, she studied Textile and Apparel in the School of Natural Sciences. She later saw the opportunity to study abroad in Nantong University in China, where she obtained a certificate in product development and Chinese Culture.

Through CHLI, she spent her first semester assisting in the office of Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar. She appreciates how supportive and inspiring the staff was and knowing her work contributed to special projects. She also enjoyed attending events with the Congressman and staff. Fulfilling her passion for photography, Jenny assisted the Congressman's Press Secretary on many occasions to upload photos to social media websites.

Jenny transferred to Baxter Pharmaceuticals' Government Affairs office for her corporate internship. Her involvement allowed her to discover the global health industry. She gained a better understanding of lobbying and advocacy in the health sector.

Jenny appreciates CHLI for all the wonderful opportunities that the organization has given her. She believes the overall experience has brought new meaning to the word "leadership." She plans to excel in different avenues in life while always being involved with her community back home in Texas. She is grateful for CHLI giving her the keys to a great and supportive networking system, which she is certain will help navigate future avenues of life.


Thank you to our Sponsors:

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About CHLI:
The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) is the premier organization founded by Members of Congress and corporate executive leaders to advance the Hispanic community's economic progress with a focus on social responsibility and global competitiveness. Founded in 2003, CHLI is a 501(c)3 non-profit and non-partisan organization.CHLI is dedicated to fostering a broad awareness of the diversity of thought, heritage, interests, and views of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent.

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