JuanitaJuanita V. Palacios – Sims

Founder and President

Juanita V. Palacios-Sims is of Cuban and Colombian descent and speaks fluent Spanish. Juanita has a vast professional portfolio as an accountant in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years, a business manager for various salsa music groups, Director of Client Services at an event management company and currently a Travel Consultant/Entrepreneur. She graduated from the University of Phoenix where she received her Bachelors of Science Business Administration and Management degrees. In 2012, Juanita graduated from the Los Angeles African-American Women’s Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI) at USC. The organization’s goal is to prepare women for leadership in business, government, civic, corporate, non-profit, and members of boards and commissions. Her degrees, experience and skills-set have contributed to the continuing success of several companies.

On October 10, 2010, Juanita founded the International Society of Black Latinos. The primary objective of the organization is to bring awareness of Black Latino cultures and to make a difference in the education and health care of children both in our communities and aboard.

Her deep connection in society helps fuse community and corporate relationships. Juanita has been a mentor for young girls for many years and is dedicated to helping empower young ladies both emotionally and academically. She is currently a member Board of Directors for Diamond in the Raw and the HerShe Group, both non-profit organizations.

MelissaMelissa M. Shepherd

Vice President

Melissa Shepherd is a Psychotherapist and Speaker offering over 15 years experience working within supervisory,  training, private practice, and case management roles for non-profit,  college, and private clinic settings.  She currently  provides  psychotherapy at  California  Institute  of  the Arts  and in private practice.  As  a  Black  Latina  born  and  raised  in  Panama,  Melissa’s  curiosity  about  cultural  historyi nfluences the process of supporting individuals in accessing their self-empowerment. Being a member of the International Society of Black Latinos represents to her a great opportunity to serve the community through participation in educational events.  Given her own challenges transitioning into a new country and helping others negotiate similar experiences of cultural exchange, Melissa values the role of ISBL as a vehicle to facilitate and maximize communication among cultural groups.

MaritzaMaritza Y. Collins


Maritza  Collins  Is  the Development  Manager  for  the YWCA Greater  Los  Angeles.   In  this  role,  she manages marketing communications, events and is the liaison for the Society of Benefactrix, a special donor circle of women who confer to be a Catalyst for change for Women and Families in the Greater LosAngeles Area.She is a versatile international event and marketing professional with 20 years of progressively increasing responsibilities working for the non-profit arena as well as for Fortune 500 companies in the technology, educational, public relations, financial and manufacturing industries. Prior to joining the YWCA Greater Los Angeles, Maritza worked as Projects Manager at the Los Angeles Chapter of  Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Before  Komen, she was a  Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist for Zebra Technologies; an Event Manager at Countrywide Financial Corporation; worked as an International Marketing Specialist for  INTEL Corporation (Xircom); and was employed by for  Tech Data Corporation to focus on advertising campaign development and implementation, media buying and event planning targeted to resellers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Maritza graduated with a Bachelors of  Science degree in Marketing from California  State University, Northridge. Her hobbies include travelling, entertaining and learning about other cultures.  Maritza is from Panama; she is a native Spanish speaker and proficient in Brazilian Portuguese.


  • Karen Dean, (Secretary)
  • Juan Henry
  • Lesbia Ross
  • Priscilla Valldejuli
  • Santos Herrera


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