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Two past graduates of The Immokalee Foundation programs recently spoke to members of the Florida Council of 100 at its spring general membership conference in Palm Beach.

Jesus Velazco-Salazar and Julio Estrella addressed the group about the different paths they took in post-secondary education and the ways The Immokalee Foundation programs prepared them for successful careers.

Velazco-Salazar, an area manager for Amazon, studied psychology with an emphasis in linguistics and moral psychology at Colgate University. He was recently involved in the launch of an Amazon Fulfillment Center in North Miami and is tasked with launching another fulfillment center before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in engineering management.

Estrella completed the two-year Heavy Equipment Mechanics program at Immokalee Technical College (iTech) and now works for Vulcan Materials Company. During the past few years, he has been developing his skills and knowledge as well as networking and maintaining relationships to further his goals within the company.

Velazco-Salazar’s path through school took a traditional route in higher education, while Estrella sought and obtained vocational certifications that led to a well-paying job. Estrella’s career pathway illustrates a focus the foundation most recently added – one that acknowledges that all routes to financial independence need not require a four-year college degree. Many rewarding careers, especially those in Southwest Florida, are available through professional certifications and other credentials.

Kent Shoemaker, CEO of Lipman Family Farms and a Council of 100 member, invited the young men to speak. A longtime supporter of The Immokalee Foundation, Shoemaker is a proponent of in-state workforce education as an element of maintaining Florida’s economic health. Shoemaker also has been a supporter of the foundation’s new Career Pathways initiative.

Also in the audience at the Council of 100 gathering were Collier County school superintendent Kamela Patton and Immokalee Foundation board member Don Huffner.

The Florida Council of 100 is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of business leaders, which exists to promote the economic growth of Florida and improve the economic well-being and quality of life of its citizenry. Representing more than 100 companies and more than a half-million employees, Council members have achieved a high degree of success and recognition in their business or profession; have demonstrated involvement in Florida public policy issues; and possess the personal qualities of character, personality, and leadership ability.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit


The Immokalee Foundation graduates Jesus Velazco-Salazar and Julio Estrella (center) present to the Florida Council of 100 with the support of Kent Shoemaker, CEO of Lipman Family Farms (left); Collier County school superintendent Kamela Patton;and The Immokalee Foundation board member Don Huffner (right).

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