Hope Is Where the Heart Is

The Sonoran Initiative wants to spread our message of hope and compassion. We believe that a single action can make a difference in the community, and that collective action can greatly impact the world. Through advocacy and outreach activities, our team works tirelessly each day to contribute their part to the greater good.



Committed to TSI


Founder & President of TSI

Liza (Lee-za) Romero. Liza is the Founder and President of The Sonoran Initiative. She was raised in North Philadelphia’s infamous “Badlands”. Her intimate perspective of growing up in an impoverished, resource lacking and often dangerous environment allows her to passionately advocate for the seemingly forgotten. Liza understands by championing TSI Fellow's inherent tenacity, brilliance and grit, the TSI team will debunk inner-city stereotypes and create new possibilities for the underserved.

Liza broke her cycle of poverty through opportunities in Human Resources (HR) and HR Technology. During her career she has held roles including, but not limited to, HR Sr. Manager, HR Director, and Lead HR Technology Consultant responsible for national Human Capital Management and Customer Relationship Management customizations and implementation project management with several Fortune 100 and Global 1000 organizations.

Her personal mantra: “I am them,” keeps her connected to the realization that amazing talent exists, albeit hidden, within our nation’s urban landscape. TSI was based on her concept of connecting her vast personal and professional network of friends, peers and professional colleagues in an effort to create a dynamic team dedicated to leveling the playing field and creating leverage for deserving people in underserved communities. Join us on this journey as we partner with business owners, executives, entrepreneurs and community leaders to end the cycle of generational poverty for our Fellows!

Currently serving Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Future East coast markets: Philadelphia, New York, and Atlanta.

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Vice President

We are so fortunate to have Tamara Celeste lead this discussion to educate and prepare our Fellows about the power of ownership. Tamara is not only a strategic advisor

Tamara Celeste is a Lawyer, Real Estate Broker, Serial Entrepreneur and more recently an Author and a Coach.

Tamara received a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University in Boston, MA and a law degree from Loyola University School of Law. Tamara started her career on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs after graduating from Loyola University Law School.  After moving to Florida for a change of pace in 2006, she decided to obtain her real estate license. She quickly realized that real estate was the passion she had been searching for. Having joined real estate at a time when the market was tumbling she soon found her niche in short sales and became one of the top agents in her  County. “At a time in our economy when people were losing their homes, I wanted to offer my clients an alternative where they could legally get out of a bad situation and wouldn’t be taken advantage of in the process, it was truly a rewarding experience for me,” says Tamara.

Tamara was acknowledged by her Real Estate peers in 2016 when she received the Broker of the Year award from the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.  Even as a Real Estate Broker Tamara's motto has always been: "I am not in the commission business, I am in the people business!!” She currently serves on the Professional Standards (Ethics) Committee of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, she currently serves as a board member for Pace Center for Girls, has served as the Co-Chair in 2016 and 2017 for the St. Lucie County Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year committee.   Tamara is an active member of her church and actively participates and gives back to her community in a variety of ways.

One of Tamara’s client's testimonials describes her as “one of the most patient people I have ever worked with.  It’s not about the commission with Tamara she listens to her clients and truly wants to make sure that the purchase or sale is in her client’s best interest”.

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Megan Fitzpatrick is a true ‘teacherprener’, passionate about education. Megan knows first hand how education can open multiple doors of opportunity for a person. As a local to Miami, she has seen the beautiful city of Miami grow and blossom into a plethora of opportunities for all. The educational landscape is changing the way we learn and how we can access information.

Her educational philosophy has transformed and helped shape the core values of her company. The Fitz Solution is an educational services company for all educational stakeholders. Through it, Megan provides educators with supplemental income opportunities through tutoring, content development, and mentorship. Instagram: @thefitzsolution

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Board Member

Caran grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia. Today, she is an award-winning screenwriter and director. Her film work has won awards at the Director’s Guild of America, Sundance Film Festival, and Cannes Film Festival (among others). Her feature screenplay, Bury Me Standing, won the Sundance NHK Award, the Sundance Annenberg Award, the IFP Parks Screenplay Award, The Media Arts Grant (formally known as the Rockefeller Grant), and was a part of the Cannes Film Festival L’Atelier. Bury Me Standing was workshopped at the prestigious Sundance Screenwriter's Lab and later went on to the Sundance Filmmaker’s Lab. Professor Hartsfield has also won numerous honors and awards for writing and directing Double-Handed, Kiss it up to God, King, and Six Things I Never Told You including:  2nd Place at Cannes Film Festival, the Director’s Guild of America Award, “The Best of Sundance Film Tour”, the Martin Scorsese Fellowship, the Spike Lee Fellowship, the Warner Brothers Grant, and the New York Foundation for the Arts Film Fellowship, among others. She is currently in development on her next feature, Red Moon, Blue Cat as well as a new television series Human Resources.

Professor Hartsfield received her Bachelors of Arts from Hampton University and her Masters of Fine Arts from New York University’s Graduate Film Department.  She has been teaching writing and directing film for over 15 years.

Caran is the curator of our Art Actions™️ program and is TSI’s feature documentary film director. Filming begins this month, so please stay tuned! We are excited to share the breakthroughs we create with our Fellows and feature the amazing city of #Miami! Next stops: Philly, NYC, ATL, and Chi-town!

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Board Member

Gillian has been in the Recruitment industry for 13 years and has coached, trained and developed over 8,000 job seekers in Broward and Dade County. Raised in Namibia, she attended her freshman year of high school in South Africa the first year schools were finally integrating all students of color. She is thankful for the struggles and triumphs, especially those of Nelson Mandela. His determination to end apartheid and his commitment to bring about change peacefully after spending 10,000 days/27 years in prison is what keeps her motivated on her goals to help bring about change in the community in which she resides and to all who lack access to opportunity for a better tomorrow.

Gillian was scouted at a track meet in South Africa and received a full scholarship to Western Kentucky University, an NCAA Division I school. Knowing first hand that her future could have been very different if her mother didn’t make certain life choices, she lives purposefully because her mother was able to make bold decisions and create new options. She is very diligent about extending opportunities to those that might not have had access. She enjoys coaching job seekers, helping them see their strengths and encouraging them to see their “weaknesses” as an opportunity for growth. She has been recognized by her fortune 500 company, 6 Billion dollar, International staffing firm for her accomplishments and has held several positions including a recent promotion to Vice President. Gillian is excited to join the board to mentor and coach our Ambassadors and Fellows in their professional and personal development.



Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor, Hyacinth Henderson will be joining us during our launch weekend, facilitating a financial workshop. Moreover, she will be leading and guiding our Fellows throughout the year as our finance and wealth generation mentor, supporting their financial goals!
Presently, Hyacinth is the Managing Director at The Henderson Financial Group. She is also a Financial Planner and Investment Adviser, working largely with corporations, small business owners and entrepreneurs. Hyacinth has over fourteen years and thousands of families, portfolios, and actualization of client’s aspirations of experience in the financial planning industry. The Henderson Financial Group is a full-service Investment Advisory & Financial Planning Firm with a highly-experienced team of advisor professionals specializing in almost every sector of the financial industry. Services include Portfolio Management, Retirement Planning, Tax Reduction & Coaching, Wealth Counseling, Real Estate Acquisitions as well as Asset Protection and Insurance Planning.
Accolades: Speaker | President of National Association of Women Business Owners, Miami Chapter | The Broward County Business & Professional Women's Network-1st Vice President | Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Alumni | 2016 College of Financial Planning Scholarship recipient for the Certified Financial PlannerTM coursework program.
Upon successful completion of the program and exam, Hyacinth and her father will be the first Black father-daughter CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER duo! Thank you for your investment in our youth and in TSI Hyacinth!

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Art Director

Alejandra is half of  TSI's dynamic art duo. As our Art Director and Director of our Overtown Art Installation, Alejandra leads our Fellows in our expressive art conversation.

Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, at the age of 4, Alejandra's mother moved her and her older brother to the U.S. and raised them as a single mother. By 18, Alejandra dropped out of college; she wouldn’t discover her passion until age 20. Having found her purpose in painting and writing, her dreams led her from North Carolina to Florida in 2009 where she attended The Art Institute of Miami. Since graduating with her Bachelors in Fine Arts, Alejandra has successfully established herself as a fine artist. Alejandra works with and supports several organizations, shelters, foundations, and schools in Miami and constantly seeks ways to unify her community.

Alejandra's primary objective is to use her art as a bridge to philanthropy. This is why we are so fortunate! While Alejandra shares her gifts with many organizations, we have her heart and she is a dedicated and essential part of our mission! We’re so excited to see the artistic leadership she will gift our Fellows and the absolute magic we will create and share with the City of Miami!

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Board Member

Gail began her career as a Brand Manager for Procter and Gamble and managed $6 Billion dollars of business for the world’s largest consumer goods company, she is also the brains behind some of the most famous Super Bowl ads of the 2000s. After living in Europe, Asia and most recently Cincinnati she returned to Miami in 2014 to run Bacardi’s North America Whiskey and Tequila business which includes brands such as Dewar’s and Cazadores Tequila. She also managed a team of 50 national sales reps for Bacardi with a presence in all major metro U.S cities. A seasoned hospitality and beverage expert Gail has helped restaurants develop menus, create revenue-driving promotions and price to win and keep customers. Gail received her MBA from the University of Virginia and is also a Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS) having received rigorous training in wine, beer, and spirits production and development. She is currently the co-founder of Miami based hospitality management company, Junction Management, a team of millennial professionals changing the Urban foodscape with their first Urban food and entertainment complex opening Summer of 2018.

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Board Member

Helen Stein is the owner of Divorce Without War®, a movement dedicated to pursuing only peaceful and healthy outcomes for clients going through divorce.  Ms. Stein is an accomplished attorney, specializing in family matters and child advocacy for more than thirty years. 

In the quest for peace on earth, Divorce Without War®  was established to develop signature divorce services that support clientele in maintaining dignity in their relationships and calm at home.  DWW attorneys use their skills to facilitate a full mindful, dignified resolution, minimizing the pain, suffering and exorbitant costs often suffered in divorce.  DWW has saved thousands of clients from the “amygdala hijack” which is inherent in traditional position-based divorce practices. In so doing, DWW has helped to preserve thousands of childhoods. 

In the past, as the Director of Lawyers for Children, America, and as the Administrative Attorney for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program, Helen represented children involved in the child protective system. She was an avid advocate for system change on behalf of these children. In this capacity she served on relevant committees and boards, presented at numerous conferences and has lead workshops and trainings. 

Helen continues to enjoy many roles; a mediator, coach, collaborative professional, two-time wife, four-time mother, and proud, new “glamma-gramma.”  She is honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve our community as a participant in The Sonoran Initiative.

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Board Member

Steve has over 17 years of non-profit executive leadership experience in the areas of workforce and leadership development, social enterprise, fundraising, board development and volunteer service management. He launched a social impact business Fibre Athletics in 2015 selling organic and recycled fair trade products which supported environmental restoration and poverty alleviation projects in the US and abroad. 
Prior to the non-profit sector, Steve cut his management teeth in the service industry in high volume restaurants and theaters.

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Board Member

Please meet Magda Hernandez. At the age of 18, Magda began modeling in Miami during a time when she says, ‘most modeling agencies were interested in perpetuating stereotypes and placing Latinas in a Chiquita banana hat’. Magda knew she didn’t want to be branded that way so she and her husband (an industry photographer) took control of her brand imagery. Over the next 10 years Magda modeled for magazines, catalogs, commercials, and independent movies all over the world earning over $1 million!

Throughout her career, Magda saw the beauty and potential in other diverse women who were being ignored by the industry. She began educating women how to optimize their uniqueness by making small adjustments to their style resulting in huge impact in their careers and their lives. After struggling with illness, Magda decided to move from in front of the lens and began a career in photography. Magda now has an amazing career in which she delights in capturing women entrepreneur’s personal brand essence and story through photography and video. She created @womenbymag to honor and ignite women owned brands globally!

As a strategic advisor, Magda supports our Innovative Arts Cohort, Art Actions!, and documentary film. She has a passion for youth and has loaned her heart and talent to many missions throughout the country. Magda is excited to gift her expertise to our creative Fellows by sharing her wealth of knowledge, impeccable business acumen, and an extensive network. We couldn’t be more honored to have her on our team!

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