South Florida Chair and Educator – Ileana is the only daughter of Cuban immigrants who fled the Communist island in the early 1960’s. Born in California, Ileana moved with her family to Florida in the mid-1970’s. Ileana grew up in Miami and graduated with a degree in Psychology and Biology from Florida International University. She participated in a research internship with NASA in the area of aerospace design and human factors. Later, she obtained a Doctoral Degree in Psychology. She and her husband have been married for 19 years, have one son, and an assortment of rescued fur-children.
Ileana has been an animal advocate for many years and has worked with several local animal rescue groups and organizations in Miami-Dade County where she still resides. She credits her father Jose for having instilled a love of animals, and a deep caring for, and respect of, all living things. Since 2015, she has been working with Imagine Our Florida on the protection and preservation of the Florida Black Bear. She has worked by educating the public, as well as organizing efforts to reduce human-bear conflicts by the enactment of bear-resistant trash can ordinances and initiatives in various Florida counties. Ileana continues to educate the public to be effective advocates so that Floridians can work towards the protection of both its residents, as well as its amazing wildlife.
Ileana is currently working with the County Commissioners on programs to both improve the conditions for the pet animals in Miami, as well as to help educate children about the importance of responsible pet ownership and the preservation of our wildlife.
Along with her work as a Therapist at a community mental health agency providing services to underprivileged children, and teaching at the local college, Ileana truly believes in the work she does. Her fierce determination to be an advocate of the vulnerable and the voiceless is captured best by one of her favorite quotes, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa