“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Meet Our Executive Team

Noemi Y. Perez

Noemi Y. Perez

President & CEO

Noemi Y. Perez is the President & CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, a 32-year-old, non-profit organization benefiting the children of her hometown of Immokalee, Florida. With a 100% focus on education, career readiness, and professional development, the Foundation offers students the tools, opportunities, and support they need to succeed at each level of their education—whether they choose college, technical programs, or certifications.

Perez began her employment with The Immokalee Foundation in 2008 as a student advocate. Raised in Immokalee and forced to deal with many of the same struggles Foundation students encounter, she uses her experience and connections to help Immokalee’s brightest young people on their journey to meaningful careers and financial independence.

Perez graduated from Hodges University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a minor in Management. She was also a member of the Class of 2016 of Associate Leadership Collier and was named to Gulfshore Business’s 2016 “40 Under 40” and Business Observer’s 2020 “40 Under 40” lists.

Perez was named Florida College Access Network’s 2022 College Ready Florida Innovator. She was selected for the award based on her leadership in redesigning The Immokalee Foundation’s college-preparatory programs to ensure every student acquires the technical skills, hands-on experience, and credentials that lead to a professional career and financial independence.

For three consecutive years, Perez has earned a spot on the “Naples 100″—Naples Illustrated list of Collier County’s Most Influential Business Leaders. In 2023, just months after receiving a Latino Lideres Award from Latin Times Magazine, she was one of only 10 business leaders selected for Gulfshore Business Magazine’s annual “Top Women in Business” list.

She is also an Advisory Council member at the Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University and proudly serves on the Youth Leadership Collier selection committee.

Perez was most recently honored with the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Greater Naples Chamber Leadership Collier Foundation.

She is a member of the 2023-2024 Leadership Florida Education Class where she joins 43 other education leaders from across the state—including superintendents, school board members, educators, Florida Department of Education professionals, education foundation representatives, and other public officials—to intensively focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with vaulting Florida’s K-12 public schools to national prominence.

Her primary ambition is to help others accomplish their goals, whether family, co-workers or community members. She has always believed that, even if you help one person, you have helped the world.

As Perez continues her personal and professional development, she hopes to continue to make connections with others and build relationships to help guide and connect those in need.

Yasmin M.

Yasmin Mohammed

Chief Financial Officer

Yasmin brings over 30 years of experience working with companies small and large in finance and human resources. She began her career in Trinidad working for the Texaco Oil Company. In 1988, she migrated to the United States, where she worked in financial positions with various companies in Naples before joining The Immokalee Foundation in 2016.

With a bachelor’s degree in accounting and management, she is also a Certified Community Association Manager. Along with financial and compliance duties, Yasmin oversees payroll and insurance.

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Diane M. Allenbaugh

Vice President of Human Resources & Organizational Development

Diane brings over 25 years of diversified human resources experience working with large and small companies of varied industries, including nonprofits. Her early career was in healthcare and over time, transitioned her profession to human resources. Diane has continued her passion for those in need by serving of the Boards of Hudson Valley Hospice, American Heart Association Go Red, and Vasser Warner Home for Senior Living.   

With a bachelor’s degree Human Resources Management, she is also certified by the Human Resources Certification Institute as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and by the Society for Human Resources Management as a Senior Certified Professional. Diane is responsible for creating an engaging employee experience, recruitment, employment law compliance, employee relations, compensation, and benefits for The Immokalee Foundation staff.    

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Amber Barr

Vice President of Programs

Amber Barr oversees the programming offered in Immokalee, including career-based programs for middle and high school students, postsecondary advocacy programs, summer camps, and elementary early-intervention literacy programs. Overseeing a full-time staff of 20 and a part-time staff of over 100 inspires Amber to learn and grow to support the team in providing quality services to the students we serve.

She earned her BA from the University of Florida and her MA from Marian University. After graduating from college, Amber joined Teach for America and was placed as a teacher in the inner-city of Indianapolis. She taught 7th grade writing in a turnaround school that was taken over by the state of Indiana for poor performance and extensive gang activity. Amber aided in the transformation of the school through devotion, positive culture, and high academic and social standards. She achieved the highest-performing teacher benchmark (top 25% of teachers in the nation) in her two years of teaching in Indiana.

Amber has been an active member in the Out-of-School-Time Initiative with the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) for the last eight years, collaborating with Immokalee-based non-profits to leverage resources, share costs and ultimately serve more Immokalee students with much-needed academic resources. In 2020, Amber was a part of the Associate Leadership Collier and was selected as a winner in Gulfshore Business Magazine’s 40 under 40.

Amber’s purpose in life is to make a direct impact on student’s lives through education. She sees education as the key to breaking through generational poverty and empowering people to take their future into their own hands.

Walt B

Walt Buchholtz

Career Pathways Strategist

Since 2018, Walt has been working with The Immokalee Foundation to develop and implement new career-oriented educational programming. With his guidance – and with extensive collaboration with local middle and high schools, industry professionals and higher education institutions – The Immokalee Foundation has successfully launched its innovative Career Pathways program.

During Walt’s 37-year career at Exxon Mobil Corporation, he held various executive positions providing leadership in the areas of public and government affairs, strategic planning and operations management, communications and media relations, corporate social responsibility, and public policy advocacy.

lou-traina

Dr. Lou Traina

Chief Advancement Officer

Dr. Lou Traina is the Chief Advancement Officer for the Immokalee Foundation and a Senior Consultant for Soukup Strategic Solutions. Dr. Traina specializes in leading learning organizations that include nonprofit enterprises and Foundations.  In these positions, Lou has provided executive coaching, capital campaign, major gift fundraising, and planned giving solutions.

Prior to his position at The Immokalee Foundation, Lou was the Vice President Emeritus for Institutional Advancement at Florida Southwestern State College, and the Foundation Executive Director.  Dr. Traina is an expert in acquiring major gifts and the primary solicitor for naming a university,  sports arena, and three academic schools. He served in public and private higher education, holding the positions of Advancement Vice President, Foundation Executive Director, and Campus Top Executive. 

Dr. Traina holds a Doctor of Education from Columbia University – Teachers College, and a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Seton Hall University.  He advocates for advancing leadership education and has an extensive background teaching leadership doctoral classes and chairing doctoral committees for Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Traina was recognized as the “Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the Year” on National Philanthropy Day in 2013 by the Collier Lee Chapter Association of Fundraising Professionals. The prestigious award is only given to an “outstanding individual fundraising professional who works for a nonprofit or charitable organization” (AFP Global).

sebastien

Sebastien Saitta

Director of Marketing & Communications

Since 2022, Sebastien has led all tactics and strategies to spread awareness of The Immokalee Foundation’s goal of empowering children and young adults in Immokalee to change the course of their lives, helped deepen relationships with current donors, engaged new prospects, and recruited volunteers who align with the Foundation’s values and goals.

Before joining the Immokalee Foundation, Sebastien served as the Director of Marketing for Blue Zones Project, a community-wide well-being improvement initiative to help make healthy choices easier for residents of Southwest Florida. Since his involvement, Southwest Florida has become a certified Blue Zones community solidifying its status as one of the healthiest and happiest places in the country to live, work and play.

He also served as System Director of Marketing and Communications at Physicians Regional Healthcare System during times of growth and revitalization, overseeing the marketing strategy for two hospitals and four walk-in clinics throughout Naples and Marco Island. During that time, he helped start The Purple Jacket Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) that directly supported The Shelter for Abused Women & Children and served as a member of their 250 Men and More Campaign.

Sebastien brings additional non-profit experience having served as Marketing Director of Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, spearheading all communications and branding initiatives while helping to meet and exceed all fundraising and development goals each year.

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