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2013-2014 PPHC Volunteers

The following is a list of volunteers that make up the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Portuguese Heritage Commission.

Ana P. Vilares


A Luso-American woman from Almada, Portugal, my youth was spent learning the craft of cosmetology from my mother’s dress skirts. Upon receiving my certification I became sole proprietor of my family’s Salon and Spa. After marrying my high school sweetheart, he and I traveled across the Atlantic to Connecticut looking to build a family and live the American dream. It was there that I gave birth to my daughter and the three of us made our way to Philadelphia where we gave birth to our second greatest accomplishment, One Stop Travel Agency. My experience with the PPHC has been spread out through many years of participation, while working simultaneously with Philadelphia’s own RP1 radio as a personality until 2007. My roles with the PPHC between 2009-2011 included Treasurer, Public Relations Associate and 2011 Vice President. It is with humility and honor that I take on the grand title as the PPHC 2012 and 2013 President.

God Bless America and Viva Portugal!

Carlos Teixeira
Advisory Committee of the Board

Born in Lisbon to immigrant parents from Traz-os-Montes northeastern province of Portugal, I came to the United States in December 1978 at the age of 22. My first stomping grounds were in the Olney section of Philadelphia, then ventured into the Northeast until my wife, children and I finally settling in Newtown Bucks County.

I started the long and pleasant journey of discovering the “American dream,” which I have discovered little by little crossing some rough spots, but then again, you need to get some rough in order to appreciate the smooth.
I have yet to see the end. But the journey has been an adventure, always finding something new in this country of ours, always enjoying not only teaching my children about their heritage, but together with them, celebrating that same heritage an no better day to do that than the “Day of Portugal”. 

Lidia Saldanha 

First Secretary

I was born in Mozambique and grew up in Portugal (Runa-Torres Vedras).  At age fifteen I came to live in Philadelphia with my parents and sister.  When we arrived my parents introduced us to the Portuguese Community.  In the various Portuguese clubs I had the privilege to meet wonderful people who encouraged me to express our culture through music and singing.  I have been a member of two different Portuguese bands as a lead singer (Nova-mente & Diversao).  Though singing has always been one of my many interests, my life took me in a different direction.

From a very young age I have always been fascinated by different cultures and languages.  Today I hold certifications to teach French; Spanish and ESL and teach in a PA Elementary school.  My goal is to teach my students to appreciate different cultures as they develop proficiency in the languages they study.
This year I am honored to embark on a new journey along with a tremendous group of people who strive to maintain our Portuguese culture alive.  I am proud to be Portuguese and a member of the Philadelphia Portuguese Heritage Commission!
Diana Vilares
MODA Coordinator 

I was born in the United States to hardworking immigrant parents who began their business out of a one bedroom apartment in the Olney section of Philadelphia. Today I hold a degree in English and Communications and work as a Marketing Director at a boutique advertising agency in the suburbs of Philadelphia. 

The Philadelphia Portuguese community is both amiable and welcoming. Willing to lend a hand and always ready to offer you a seat at their table. 

Join us as we celebrate good food, good friends and an eclectic culture.
Mina Grosso 


I was born and raised in Batalha, Portugal, until the age of 11. My parents immigrated to the United States in 1972 and settled in the Olney section of Philadelphia. I married in 1982 and shortly thereafter, became a mother to three children who speak the Portuguese language fluently. In 1998 we moved back to Portugal, where we lived for two years. During that time I found that my culture and roots defined who I am as an individual and after moving back to the U.S., became involved in a few organizations in the Philadelphia Portuguese community. I am an active member in the Portuguese Continental Union, and also in the radio program RP1 Radio Philadelphia and have been involved with the PPHC ‘Portugal Day Festival’ since 2009 as the fund-raising coordinator and secretary. I love working with people and this is my way of giving back while also staying in touch with my Portuguese roots and culture.

Americo Monteiro 
Art Director

Born in Alcobaca, Portugal, I have been an artist within the Portuguese-American community in Philadelphia for over 20 years. A painter and visionary, I pridefully display my art pieces every year at the Dia de Portugal and throughout the city of Philadelphia and New Jersey. 

I've participated in various exhibits, including the Portuguese Cartography Exposition at Temple University, which was inaugurated by Dr. Joao Pereira Bastos, the Portuguese ambassador to the U.S. with my ceramic painting,"Bandeira Portuguêsa" (Portuguese Flag).

I invite you all to visit me at this year's festivities where I will be displaying pieces from canvas to tile-work.

Edward Dias 
Public Relations 

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA to Portuguese parents who immigrated to the USA in 1968. I currently work for a global pharmaceutical company in Center City as an IT professional. 

I had the opportunity through the years to visit various parts of Portugal to see my extended family. I am married to a Portuguese immigrant with two young boys. 

I am honored to be a member of the PPHC.
Paulo Vilares
Infrastructure & Event Staff

While born in Porto, Portugal I spent my youth in Almada where I met my wife. Upon graduating High School I studied and worked as a Mechanical Engineer. In 1986 my wife and I immigrated to the United States and our daughter was born. Together my wife and I built our travel agency and provide immigration services to our community.

I worked in Accounting for the PPHC for four years until I moved into a more hands-on position acting as a liaison during our wonderful festival. 

David Rodrigues 

Infrastructure & Event Staff 

I was born in France to Portuguese immigrants, where i lived for a few years, returning to Portugal briefly only  to relocate back to France a few years later. While there, I was self employed and very involved with the Portuguese community and organizations. One summer while visiting Portugal, I met my future wife, Manuela Escaleira at a mutual friend's wedding. I decided to vacation in the United States where I ended up staying for an extended period of time. Three years later, Manuela and I married, lived in France for a year but decided to make the United States our home. When I initially arrived, I worked for a company and then went into business for myself. I have three beautiful daughters that bring me much happiness and joy. We all try to stay active within the Portuguese community by going to Portuguese mass, or attending parties at the Philadelphia Portuguese club where I have met wonderful people. I am very proud to say that once more I am involved with the Philadelphia Portuguese Heritage Commission to help organize "Dia de Portugal" (Portugal day)- an event that reminds me of my country and takes me back to my roots.

Paula Teixeira
Youth Committee

I was born to Portuguese-American immigrants, and grew up in and around the city of Philadelphia.  Even when living on the outskirts of the city, I traveled a 45-minute commute to Portuguese school every Saturday, and I was excited to go.  I loved learning how to read and write in Portuguese, as well as the rich history of the culture.  My background and education helped me tremendously as a History major at Holy Family University and with Spanish speaking students in my first year as a Social Studies teacher.  I am proud of my culture and am happy to be serving on the Philadelphia Portuguese Heritage Commission for the 6th year.
Monica Ferreira 

Events Assistant

I was born in Ribatejo, Portugal and moved to Philadelphia when I was 12 years old in 1989, to join my parents who had come two years prior. 
In 2004 my husband and I had our first son. We now have two boys who understand both English and Portuguese. Although my husband is American, and we speak mostly English at home, I try to make sure to speak the Portuguese language a little every day. I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia for Fashion Design and am now the creator/designer of Alvanel Designz, a jewelry line under Alvanel. 
On March 25, 2011, PPHC had its First Luso-American fashion Show “MODA”, which I had the pleasure of being one of the designers given the chance to showcase my designs from “Alvanel”. Being involved in this event gave me the chance to see the love and dedication the volunteers of PPHC had, to represent our Portuguese community to the rest of our tri state area. After witnessing this, I immediately wanted to be part of this family, since I shared their ideas and love for Portuguese culture.

Joseph L. Fernandes, CPA, Esq 

Advisory Committee of the Board

My parents immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid 1970's. I attended grade school and high school in the city of Philadelphia, graduating from La Salle University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a dual major in Accounting and Finance, and subsequently from Widener University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. Certified in Pennsylvania both as a Certified Public Accountant and Attorney. Extensive experience working for Fortune 500 multinational companies as an auditor and International Corporate Counsel. My legal experience further extents working in a private legal practice and with local government. Very much involved in the local community and neighborhood organizations, having served on the Board of Directors of numerous organizations. I've received several awards for my involvement and dedication in the local Portuguese community and the local community at-large. I have always resided in the City of Philadelphia and currently work as a Master for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.

Victor Carrico
Advisory Committee of the Board

I was born in Lisbon, Portugal and arrived in the city of Philadelphia back in December of 1974. I Graduated from Frankford HS and studied at Temple University where I earned my BA in psychology. Since 1985 I have been continuously involved in the Portuguese Community, volunteering my services and time to a large majority of Portuguese organizations here residing. The importance of our culture, language and history defines who we are. The importance of our rich history and heritage, its promotion and its awareness, has been my principal goal. The proud day finally came, back in 1993 when we as a "whole", celebrated our first Portuguese Heritage Festival at the magnificent and deserving stage of Penn's Landing. 
Carla Lucio
Youth Committee

Born in Portugal, where I lived most of my life, I moved to Philadelphia in September of 2005 to be with my family who had come to the United States a few years earlier. Once here, I hosted the Portuguese television show on SPT TV , “SPT Comunidades” and currently work with Philadelphia’s Portuguese radio, RP1 Philadelphia. It is important to me to play an active role in the Portuguese community and being involved in projects that bring Portugal and its culture to the American public.
Chrissy Grosso 

Youth Committee

Born in Philadelphia to Portuguese immigrant parents, my Portuguese culture was always a big part of my life. In 1998, I moved to Portugal along with my family for a couple of years, which deepened my connection with my Portuguese background. Since my return to the United States, I have obtained Bachelor's of Sciences in Public Health and in Nursing, and I currently work as a Registered Nurse at a local hospital. Eventually, I would like to use my nursing and health skills to work with various immigrant communities in the Philadelphia area. I'm roud of living in Philadelphia, where the Portuguese community is very much alive and thriving. I started volunteering for the PPHC in 2008 and find great satisfaction in giving back to my community, as well as sharing the beautiful aspects of the Portuguese culture with Philadelphia. I look forward to many years of volunteering for the PPHC!
Jorge Lucio
Advisory Committee of the Board 

A journalist, I traveled to the United States on vacation and fell in love with the people and the country. I decided to move to Philadelphia to live with my wife and children. I stay connected to my colleagues in Portuguese television, SIC International and have applied my talents to the Philadelphia Portuguese radio station, RP1.

I am an active member of the community with various positions with a number of clubs and organizations including the Philadelphia Portuguese Club, member of the PPHC and active President of the Portuguese Business Association.  
Marilia Baptista

Marilia Baptist was the name I gave birth. Being married for 18 years and a very proud parent of two daughters, Raquel and Vanessa. I moved to the United States in 1980, graduating from Northeast High School in 1991, and returned to Portugal that same year. In Portugal I worked as a Kindergarten teacher until 2005 when my family and I decided to return to the U.S. Upon my arrival I worked for the Philadelphia School District as a special adviser for immigrants and I loved my profession.  A few years back I decided to fulfill my dream and returned to school to obtain the title as certified Massage Therapist.  I love working with the public and love to help those in need and provide positive energy through my work.
I am so proud to be Portuguese and for that reason I like to help and participate in community activities. I am Director of the Folklore dance group called Tamar Alto and a member of the Portugal Heritage Day Committee, both of which make me proud of my roots. I truly believe this will be an unforgettable year. 

Claudia Di Crosta

I was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal. At the age of 11, I immigrated to the United States and lived in the Olney section of Philadelphia. I attended Fels High School and proudly became the first to graduate college in my family. In 2001 I started my career as a Spanish teacher for the School District of Philadelphia and in 2005 I earned my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Technology. In 2006, I became a mother for the first time and my motivation to give my children a better life and prosperous future; I decided to go back to school and acquired my Administrative Principal Certification.

My culture and roots have always defined who I am as an individual, which I have passed on to my children. My children, Natalie and Anthony are both bilingual and are growing up with the same family values as my brothers and I. In 2009, we traveled to Portugal so my family could meet my children as well as for them to see where mommy comes from. In order for them to appreciate my Portuguese roots, we attend the Portuguese Festivals and participate in most of the community’s celebrations.

Viva Portugal.

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