Workforce Development Coordinator
Manuel Fuentes is the Workforce Development Coordinator for La Cocina VA. Manuel is a recent graduate from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a minor in Latin American Studies. He is originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala and moved to the United States in 2003 with his family. This transition has shaped him in many ways, most importantly given him first-hand experience with the realities of being an immigrant in the United States.
Manuel has in many ways lived a lifetime of service. Through different organizations and ministries, he’s been able to serve the diverse underprivileged populations in Alachua County, Florida. He regularly volunteered at such organizations as Habitat for Humanity of Alachua County and Grace Marketplace. In 2018 he also worked for a Country Commission campaign which focused heavily on economic development for underprivileged East Gainesville. This hands-on experience with diverse and under-served populations has fed into a passion for grassroots solutions to the economically disadvantaged. Manuel also has years of experience in the service industry and knows full well the personal sacrifices one must make in order to be professionally successful in this field.
Manuel integrates the experience and knowledge he has accrued in these various opportunities both professionally and personally with his students. His passion for people and service motivates him to bring dedicated ethic to his responsibilities, and allows him to employ an intimate and hands-on approach to both program participants and La Cocina business partners.