Meet The Board of Directors

Obed Papp



Obed is the President of the Rhode Island Professional Latino Association (RIPLA), she currently serves as the Director of the Drug Free Community program in the Healthy Community office of the City of Providence.  
Mrs. Papp has her Bachelors degree in Economics and received a Specialist degree in Public Government Adminsitration a certificate in Prevention Specialist and a Masters in Public Administration from University of Rhode Island and. She is of Colombian descent and speaks fluent Spanish offering a multi-cultural perspective in the community of Rhode Island

Obed has been very active in the greater Providence community serving as an ambassador of good will. For ten years, Obed has been committed to working on two important areas in public service and these areas are community development and politics. Obed received in 2016 for Community Leader, the “Extraordinary Woman‘s Award”.  She has actively participated as a volunteer in many community organizations because public service and community involvement are major aspects of her life.  She has served as a volunteer with organizations such as The Latino Political Action Committee, The Latino Civic Fund, leader in married couple ministry at Praise Tabernacle Church and as an active board member of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare.

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Director of Professional Development Committee



Sylvia Bernal



Born and raised in Chiclayo, Peru, Sylvia came to the US in 1991, she holds several professional certifications as an Administrative Assistant, Marketing, Real Estate Investor and Long Term Care Specialist. She attended the Community College of RI for the Business Administration Program and is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Arts for the Organizational Leadership and Change Program at College Unbound.

A former entrepreneur, Sylvia founded Nice & Neat Cleaning Services Inc. and Sylber Properties and currently works for United Way RI as a Medicare-Medicaid Eligible Counselor. She is the Treasurer of RIPLA and has been very active in the community serving in the executive board of RILPAC, The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund, Gateway Health Care Realty Board, Centro Cultural Andino, Peruvian Soul, Brotherhood of the Lord of Miracles among others.


Emilia Perez

Event Cordinator


Emilia Pérez was born in Venezuela, completed her university studies at “Lisandro Alvarado University” where she obtained a degree in Systems Analysis, Computer Science. She worked in the Venezuelan oil industry “PDVSA” from 1996 to 2002, when she was forced to emigrate with her family to the United States where she lives today with her two daughters. Emilia worked in HITEP since 2007 as Administrative Assistant, Instructor in Computing, and Customer Service. Since 2010, Emilia has been a technology consultant and GED Instructor at the “Providence Public Library”. Also, she is GED Instructor for Child Care Providers at “Genesis Center”. Emilia is a member of the Board of Directors of RIPLA, as she focuses in the department of coordinating activities and supports events held by the organization.

Maria Rivera

Public Relations


Maria Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and became the first Puerto Rican to hold a seat in the City of Central Falls Council as Councilwoman-at-large. Mrs. Rivera is currently pursuing her education at Roger Williams university, majoring in Public Administration and works for the State of Rhode Island's Department of Human Services as a senior eligibility technician. She is an alumni of the Rhode Island Latino Leadership Institute, previously a member of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund and the RI Political Action Committee and the Democratic committee in Central falls. She is also a member of the Puerto Rican Professionals Association of Rhode Island. She is the mother of 2 teenagers who have motivated her to continue engaging in the professional and community projects of value.

Maria Wah-Fitta

Director of communications

She is a real estate producer based out of Coldwell Banker in Barrington, RI, and the East Side of Providence. Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a Masters Degree in Health Communication from Tufts University, in Boston. She has over 20 years of experience in the fields of education, public health, commercial real estate marketing, and communication. Grew up in Mexico City making her sensitive and in touch with her Hispanic heritage. She worked as Dean of Diversity and Director of Multicultural Affairs at Roger Williams University, and she also have volunteered for many years on the boards of several local non-profits, including Arts Alive; an organization which promotes the performing arts for local youth, and Barrington Early Childhood. Has also taught Spanish at the Barrington Schools, and at the Lincoln School in Providence, RI.


Octavio Gomez

Director of Social Media


Octavio Gómez, born in the Dominican Republic, completed his university studies at the Universidad Autónoma of Santo Domingo, in the career of Social Communication. He worked as a photojournalist from 1982 to 2003, in the main Dominican newspapers, and in different journalistic institutions of the public and private sector.

Gómez has worked since 2005 in several local media, such as the "Siglo 21" newspaper in Lawrence, Massachusetts, "Providence en Español" and "Acontecer Latino". He is currently editor of the website, "Rhode Island en Español" and is a renowned photographer.