Board of Directors

About us

The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance seeks to inform, encourage, and support its members so that they can become highly successful professionals, better-engaged leaders, and more effective advocates.

Supporting Member

Board of Directors

bmPam-BerriosPam Berrios (President)

President and Owner, Alexandria Landscapes (Northern Virginia)

For the past 20 years, Pam has been the owner/operator of a successful full service landscaping company in Northern Virginia. During the past two years she has also served as an NHLA Director and as President Elect. “Landscaping allows you the opportunity to perform a makeover on nature. I love to realize the potential of client sites” says Pam who has the same passion for bringing out the best in people. She loves helping others and has helped many start their own businesses. She is a Trainer and Speaker and currently serving her two year term as President of the organization. Pam notes, “It is so important to improve the awareness of the impact that Latino leaders have in the industry and it’s the NHLA's goal to do so." Pam is a leader that is always willing to go the extra mile to achieve what’s needed. She is a role model in her community, a hard worker and a philanthropist. She participates in many volunteer projects throughout the year, and supports causes she believes in, such as the work of the NHLA. Pam is 100% committed to the continued growth of the NHLA. She welcomes new members wholeheartedly and encourages them to participate in all of our events and collective efforts.

Mari Medrano Mejia (President-Elect)

Human Resources Director, CoCal Landscape (Denver, CO)

Mari is a first generation American whose career in the landscape industry started in 1998 when she took a summer job working on a field crew in CoCal’s Renovation Department. She loved working in the field, and as the owner's daughter found herself becoming an advocate for the crews, recognizing how hard the work was. Her life’s passion has always been her culture, and supporting the advancement of Latinos in the United States. She credits CoCal with providing an opportunity to continue pursuing her interests in immigration policy and she has developed significant expertise in the H-2B visa program for seasonal foreign workers that is so important to the landscape industry. "It’s so fulfilling to know that I am helping CoCal source much needed labor, and helping the H-2B workers and their families. I also believe in the mission of NHLA. I see Latinos in our industry as a power to be reckoned with, not just the lower end of the totem pole, but increasingly the managers, administrators, and owners that will drive this industry forward. The NHLA respects our culture and values, and works to increase our competencies as leaders and professionals. The NHLA also gives us a voice in Washington and across the country." Mari was named a 2017 Fellow of the Latino Leadership Institute.


José Arroyo (Secretary)

President, Jose's Landscaping (Lyman, SC)

Jose is a native of Mexico who came to the US in 1991, he formed a landscape company in 2002. "From the beginning, I have wanted to provide the highest quality service and to grow my business the right way, being an NHLA member has helped. As a member, I attended an NHLA-Caterpillar sponsored business practices workshop and the GIE+EXPO in 2013, and Train the Trainer in 2014. Each of those experiences have helped me to lay a better foundation for my business. Serving as an NHLA Director is an opportunity to give back to the association and help it continue to develop programming of value to small Latino-owned landscape companies."


Domenic ChiarellaDomenic Chiarella (Treasurer)

President, 7 of 7 Best Business & Life Strategies (Southbury, CT)

Domenic’s entrepreneurial experience started when he joined a partnership in 1986, but his understanding that hard worked was a key to success, was ingrained early in life by his immigrant grandparents and strong Italian family. By 1996, his organization had grown from annual revenues of $750,000 to $15,000,000, and employed "more than 150 of the best men and women in the industry; more than 90% of whom were Hispanic and held positions at all levels from worker to foreman to supervisor to management." So, Domenic is well verse on what it takes to grow a top 5% company and help everyone advance and succeed. "Having grown up in an immigrant family gives me an appreciation for what other immigrants experience. My passion and goals are to help small business owners achieve the American Dream by sharing with them tools that can immediately improve their business and life."

Juan Torres (Past President)

Founder & Consultant, Next Step Solutions (East Haven, CT)

Prior to forming Next Step Solutions, Juan had a successful 25 year career rising from an entry-level field position through progressively responsible roles at full-service landscape and tree care companies rose to senior executive positions responsible for overseeing operations. During the last 16 years, he has also become a nationally-recognized trainer and public speaker on work force development, operations, and safety topics in the landscape and tree care industry. His career insights, his ability to provide training in English and Spanish, and his experience with heavy equipment including aerial lifts, excavators, and loaders had Juan in especially high demand from coast to coast and border to border, as a consultant and trainer. He has facilitated training programs in all fifty states and in a number of foreign countries, and is also a regular judge at tree climbing competitions. He attributes much of his career success to his active participation in professional associations, and his active participation and passion for the work of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance lead to his being elected President-Elect in 2013. He assumed the Presidency of the NHLA in 2015

Raúl Berrios (Director)

Principal Rulyscapes, Inc. (Centreville, VA)

Raul founded Rulyscapes seven years ago after 25 years as a successful entrepreneur. His prior business ventures included a retail shop, a catering company, and an international trade business that was active in the U.S., in his native Bolivia, and in other South American countries. Raul is most proud of Rulyscapes which he claims is the perfect marriage of his skills as an entrepreneur and marketer with his passion for nature and the environment. “There’s such variety in the residential and commercial work that we do and so many functions to oversee that the days go by quickly. Life’s too short to not do what you love and that’s what we stress at Rulyscapes. We love the work we do and our goal is that our customers always love the results.”

Rafael_DiazRafael Díaz (Director)

Vice President, Diaz Group, LLC (Chicago, IL)

Rafael Diaz has been part of the +green industry since he was seven years old. For more than 22 years, he has cherished every moment that he has been able to work with his family. After completing his Horticultural studies, Rafael, along with his younger brother and father, founded Diaz Group LLC in the spring of 2007. Rafael has been the leader of the company ever since, guiding its growth and developing the company into one of the leaders in construction and landscape maintenance in the Chicago metropolitan area. He is extremely proud of his heritage and Hispanic culture, and credits his Mexican heritage for instilling a strong family orientation along with the value of hard work and tenacity. Rafael also fully embraces the American value of attaining personal growth and achievement through working smart and continuously improving. He notes that this is especially key growing and improving his business. “My biggest passion is building people from the ground up. Many young kids join our company and now hold high positions because of our love to teach and motivate”. One of his other passions is helping other Hispanic companies succeed, and he welcomes opportunities for collaboration with industry peers. Rafael believes that Hispanics in the industry need to collaborate much more in order to grow and become more successful, and he sees engagement through the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance as an excellent way for Hispanics to do so.

Josh Denison (Director)

Vice President, Operations & HR, Denison Landscaping Inc (Fort Washington, MD)

Josh is a native of Maryland and has grown up in a family landscaping business that was started by his father when Josh was 8 years old. "There was never a question about what career I'd pursue," reflected Josh, who added, "Becoming involved with the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance was just as easy a decision." Josh is one of the industry's leading proponents for the H-2B visa program which grants temporary visas to foreign workers to perform seasonal non-agricultural work, and he first gained an appreciation for the work of the NHLA through his time advocating for the H-2B program on Capitol Hill. "I not only joined, I became a Director and have enjoyed getting to know the other Board members and working with them to grow the NHLA. Everything the NHLA has done, it has realized at a very high level. This is true of its advocacy work, service projects, and trainings. Most recently, we sent two employees to Train the Trainer and the result exceeded all expectations." Josh believes that going forward the most successful companies in the landscape industry will be those that best embrace Hispanics, and encourage and support their professionalism and advancement, "NHLA membership helps Denison Landscaping do that."

Iván Giraldo (Director)

President, Clean Scapes Landscaping (Austin, TX)

A 28-year veteran of the landscape Industry, Ivan founded Clean Scapes in 2005 and has since guided its growth, developing it into Central Texas’ premier commercial construction and maintenance landscape company. "I'm proud of my roots, but I have also learned a great deal from fully engaging American society," noted Ivan who believes it important that Hispanics in the industry not separate themselves from others, but rather take greater advantage of industry knowledge in every aspect of the business. "I like that the NHLA is dedicated to helping Hispanics become more knowledgeable and successful in the landscape industry and that it works closely with other industry associations to advance our collective interests." Ivan's passion includes promoting education in all forms, and sharing his business acumen and experience to help others succeed. This includes serving in a prison ministries program that teaches entrepreneurship skills to inmates so they can develop a plan for starting a business once they are released. "Through this program we help them understand what they need to consider, and learn, in order to be successful." Ivan has also made several trips to the Congo, as part of a team that teaches entrepreneurial skills to locals, as a way of improving the quality of life for themselves, their families and their villages. Ivan's work, professionally and personally, is guided by the values of fairness, honesty, hard work, and financial accountability." Ivan was recognized by the international accounting firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) with an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 Award in the Service category in Central Texas.

Rafael González-Arnau (Director)

Agronomist & Owner, GALA Services, Inc. (Escondido, CA)

While pursuing a degree in Mexico in plant sciences, Rafael did an internship in Florida working as a landscape specialist, “From then on, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.” After working in Mexico for 6 years as manager of a small landscape services business, Rafael accepted a position with a large landscape firm in California. Six years ago, Rafael started his own business implementing industry best practices to provide his customers a great service and his employees a great place to work. “We have grown the business year after year with the aid of skilled and disciplined Hispanic workers and the solid management principles we have employed since our founding. During the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with many great landscape industry professionals and at every stop have admired the hardworking Hispanic crews that were so critical to the success of the companies where they worked. However, I also realized how their advancement was often limited due to a lack of coaching, mentoring, business experience or managerial skills. I appreciate that the NHLA is providing programs like Train the Trainer to address some of those skills gaps. If elected I look forward to helping to develop additional training and development programs to benefit our members and to help bring them together.

Alex Romo (Director)

Owner, Green and Clean Landscaping (Greensboro, NC)

“It is an honor to have been elected to serve on the NHLA Board of Directors,” said Alex Romo. “I believe than my young and growing company shares many ideals in common with the NHLA and its mission statement. My employees and I have benefitted from NHLA programs, and if elected I would look forward to helping the NHLA help other Hispanic landscape professionals and member companies achieve greater professionalism and business success. I am particularly passionate about creating classes to help Hispanic landscape professionals become certified irrigation system installers and licensed landscape contractors, and obtain other professional licenses and certifications. We can certainly accomplish more if we learn from each other and the NHLA is making that possible.”

Ray Rueda (Director)

Director, Nature's Dream Landscape, Inc. (Pinecrest, FL)

Ray Rueda graduated from Industrial Engineering in his native Colombia and moved to South Florida in 1989 with his wife Victoria, who is an architect with a Masters in Landscape Architecture. Ray started his first company in 1990 from home with a desk and a computer, and grew it into a business with 50 employees and annual sales exceeding $16 million. In 2003, Ray and Victoria founded Nature's Dream Landscape, Inc. and in 2005 they established Nature's Dream Nursery, Inc. In 2016, they sold most of the nursery operations to focus on growing their landscape design/build and maintenance services operations. Ray has a background in finance, management, marketing, accounting, business and process automation, landscape installation/ maintenance and plant development/care. “We’ve been NHLA members for a few years and have been impressed with the association’s growth and achievements,” noted Ray, adding “As a Director, I look forward to working on educational and networking programs to bring our growing membership closer together and help our members become better informed and more successful.”

Ken Taylor, CLP (Director)

General Manager, Corporate Business Division, John Deere (Cary, NC)




Wilmer Ventura (Director)

Operations Manager, Atlanta West Branch, Yellowstone Landscape (Smyrna, GA)

Originally from El Salvador, Wilmer credits his success to a strong work ethic, “That’s the way my father was.  He set the example.”  Today, Wilmer is the Operations Manager of a successful Yellowstone branch in suburban Atlanta.  “Back home I worked on a farm, and here I started on a crew; always eager to learn.  Every time I mastered a job, the company would ask me to take the next step.”  Wilmer’s commitment to excellence and his people skills have contributed to an impressive track record of client retention, sales growth, and improved profitability. Prior to his recent promotion to Operations Manager, Wilmer distinguished himself as a top producer of Enhancement Sales for the company.  He has also long been an effective trainer and trusted leader of branch’s employees, including the H-2B workers, “I’ve been working with the Hispanic workforce for so long that I know what their issues are, where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking for.  The NHLA shares my passion for helping Hispanics at every level become more successful.  As a Director, Wilmer's priority is to help the NHLA continue to grow as a learning and sharing community.  There is so much that we can do for each other, there is so much that we can learn from one another.”

bm5Ralph-EguesRalph Egües, Jr. (Executive Director)

Principal and Consultant, Cruz Fox LLC. (South Miami, FL)

Board support and member services are provided under contract through Cruz Fox, LLC.Prior to forming Cruz Fox in 2003, Ralph Egües served in executive management positions with a number of public and privately held companies, gaining a broad range of domestic and international management experience in operations, marketing, finance, consulting, regulatory compliance, training and human resources, and community and government relations. The firm provides organizational analysis and development services to client companies, educational institutions, and associations, as well as association management services.