Board of Directors

Manuel Celaya Alberni (Chair) 

Is an expert in US-Latin American affairs and finance, with a focus on security and policy matters.  Mr. Celaya has over thirty years of experience in business and organizational development across a range of industries including finance, real estate, telecommunications and information technology. He is a strategic planning consultant to commercial and government clients.

Mr. Celaya is a Board member and former President (2008-11) of the Alianza Democrática, a non-profit educational organization whose acclaimed Project Democracy led efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba through education. In 1994, he directed the activities of Project Guantánamo, created to assist in the relief effort for tens of thousands of refugees in the US Naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  For his work, he received the 1995 “Humanitarian of the Year Award” from World Relief.  Celaya is fluent in Spanish and has a B.A. in Management from St. Leo University, with post graduate work in Finance at Florida International University.

Professor Angel Clarens, AIA

Is the principal architect and owner of a Clarens & Associates architecture firm in Washington, DC.  He recently retired as a tenured Associate Professor of Architecture at Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences, where he taught since 1981. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). 

Mr. Clarens has served on the DC Board of Architects (1987-91); the Board of Zoning Adjustment (1991-96); and the Zoning Commission (1996-98).  He has received numerous awards for excellence in design.  His current practice includes single family residential projects, renovations and additions to private residences, and renovation of large affordable housing projects. He has experience in the design of retail establishments, restaurants, renovation of public buildings, prison facilities, housing projects, and was a consultant to international organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and did his graduate work at L’Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris, France.  He is fluent in Spanish and French.

Mauricio Tamargo

Is a Founding Partner of Poblete Tamargo, LLP – a solutions-driven law and public policy practice.  With over 25 years of government affairs and public policy experience, Mr. Tamargo was named among the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine.

Mr. Tamargo previously served as Chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission(“FCSC”)  at the US Department of Justice and held several senior congressional positions. In the US Congress, Tamargo was Staff Director and Legal Counsel to three subcommittees of the House Committee on International Relations, while also serving as Chief of Staff and General Counsel to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL).   Mr. Tamargo earned a B. A. from the University of Miami and a J.D. from the Cumberland School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, Florida, and is a member of the US Court of Federal Claims, US Supreme Court, American Bar Association, Cuban American Bar Association and District of Columbia Hispanic Bar Association. He is fluent in Spanish.

Mike Bargeron

Is co-founder and Managing Director of The Belair Group.  With over 30 years of experience in the banking industry, he has worked as a loan officer, manager, underwriter, and operations manager.  He served as a regional manager for a top-10 mortgage company, overseeing underwriting, closing, post-closing and shipping, regulatory compliance, Fair Lending and Community Reinvestment Act compliance.

Mr. Bargeron has served on commercial loan committees and administered commercial real estate loans, equipment leases and floor-plan financing.  He has worked with the TS, CC, FDIC, HUD, FHLMC, & FNMA, and has created and implemented banking policies & procedures.  He has served as  a teacher and speaker at various lending industry venues.  White Papers he drafted for HUD ultimately led to the issuance of a new mortgagee letter. He is also a HUD Loss Mitigation Specialist.

In Memoriam: Major General John C. Thompson, USA (Ret) 1944 – 2019 

General Thompson’s sudden passing in November of 2019 brought an outpouring of support in the US and from many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.  He will be sorely missed.  May he rest in peace.  John’s service in behalf Latinos in Washington, DC continued his lifelong, selfless and indefatigable commitment to improving relations between the United States and our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.  

General Thompson’s prestigious military career included service as Commanding General of the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command, Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board and Director of the Inter-American Defense College.  Upon retirement from active duty in 2000, he served as Dean of Students at National Defense University’s Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.  A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, he received and an M.A. in Military Art and Science at Ft. Leavenworth, an M.A. from Middlebury College, with post graduate work in History at New York University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.  He completed the Army’s Advanced Management program at Stanford University and studied leadership at Syracuse and Johns Hopkins universities.  He was a member of the Council of the Americas/Americas Society; Inter-American Dialogue; Inter-American Council; Association of the United States Army, Armor Association, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Venezuela Task Force, among other roles.