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Executive Leadership

Emily Stewart

Chief Executive Officer

Casa Esperanza Chief Executive Officer Emily Stewart Nov. 19, 2019. Boston, MA. Casa Esperanza for BlueHub Capital. © 2019 Marilyn Humphries

Emily Stewart joined Casa Esperanza, Inc. as the Director of Development in 2004. She then served as Deputy Director for six years before stepping into the role of Executive Director in 2011. Before joining Casa, her career included experience as a producer for radio and television followed by a transition the non-profit sector where she spent several years consulting to start-up businesses, academic institutions, community health centers, and government agencies on strategic communications, management, program development, fundraising, special events, and property development. 

Emily is responsible for broad oversite of all of Casa Esperanza’s programs and services in addition to overseeing administrative staff, human resources, finance, communications, development, and operations. During her tenure at Casa Esperanza, she has secured and implemented more than fifteen competitive grants from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She has spearheaded the implementation, adaptation, and evaluation of more than 20 culturally relevant evidence-based interventions, including our CasaCare integrated care model, and increased treatment completion rates by more than 30%. She has overseen major strategic initiatives including implementing Evolv, an electronic health records system to modernize patient information tracking and developing programs to significantly expand Casa’s capacity for patient services, such as Familias Unidas Outpatient Clinic, Conexiones Clinical Stabilization Services (CSS), and Nueva Esperanza Supportive Housing which each address unique community needs.

Emily holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from the University of Massachusetts and has more than 20 years of experience working with populations facing barriers to care, including marginalized racial and linguistic communities, at-risk women and girls, disadvantaged youth, homeless individuals and families, and individuals living with mental health and substance use disorders. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for Behavioral Health Care, where she co-chairs the Senior Leadership Committee on Partnering with Underserved Populations, as well as the Providers Advisory Committee. 

Diliana De Jesús

Chief Development Officer and Deputy Director

Diliana De Jesús, Chief Development Officer and Deputy DirectorDiliana De Jesús joined Casa Esperanza, Inc. as the Development Associate in 2005. She served in several positions before transitioning to Deputy Director in 2011.

Diliana works with the Executive team to advance the finances and mission of the organization and shape the overall financial health of the organization. She has worked closely with Casa Esperanza’s Leadership Team to implement 20 competitive grants from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, bringing more than $28M to the agency and 12 competitive awards for Ryan White Part A services.  She oversees all contract utilization and reporting compliance for federal awards and works closely with Project Directors to ensure data collection is accurate and timely. She has also led efforts to integrate culturally competent evidence-based practices into all agency programs and services. Over the years, Diliana has overseen the Continuous Quality Improvement program to ensure ongoing accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and licensing through the Department of Public Health.

Diliana is passionate about social justice issues and has almost 20 years of experience working in the Latino community with individuals and families living with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, at-risk youth and young adults, recent immigrants, returning citizens, survivors of domestic violence, people living with HIV, and homeless individuals.  

Diliana is originally from Puerto Rico, is fully bilingual, and has personal experience supporting family members in recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Masters in Theological Studies from Boston University.  

Jessica Evans, MSW, LCSW

Chief Operations Officer

Jessica Evans, Chief Operations OfficerJessica Evans, LCSW joined Casa Esperanza, Inc. as Operations Assistant in 2006. She has held various roles at Casa Esperanza and has now been the Director of Organizational Development since July 2019. Before joining Casa, she worked at UTEC Lowell where she coordinated programs and supported youth between the ages of 13 and 23 with advocacy and case management. She also previously worked at the YMCA of Greater Lowell, where she coordinated a year-round child care site for 75 families as well as summer camp programming.  

Jessica oversees design, development, and implementation of leadership tools and process improvement activities such as standard operating protocols, change management tools, process maps, multimedia visual aids, performance evaluation tools, and other supporting documents. Jessica also oversees the Evolv (electronic health record) department and Casa’s IT partnership and projects. She has a strong interest in organizational development and leadership development programming. Outside of Casa, Jessica is both a working musician and a working artist.  

Jessica holds an MSW from Salem State University and has also completed the Core Certificate Program from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice (formerly Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership), an affiliate of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.  

Merci Gimenez-Weltman

Chief Financial Officer

Merci was appointed as the new Chief Financial Officer for Casa Esperanza in April of 2023. With over 11 years of experience, Ms. Gimenez-Weltman is an accomplished finance professional in all aspects of accounting and financial management operations. Before joining Casa, Merci was the CFO at Broward Regional Health Planning Council, where she successfully managed the $120 million-dollar financial operations of multiple local, state, and federal grants.

Merci has a BS in International Business from the Universidad de la Marina Mercante in Argentina. She holds an MBA in Finance and Accountings from Regis University in Denver, Colorado and an MBA in International Business from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.​

Merci is a native of Argentina and fluent in Spanish. She is married with three daughters and lives in Florida.​

Melisa Canuto, MSW, LICSW

Chief Clinical Officer

Melisa Canuto, LICSW, Chief Clinical Officer at Casa Esperanza, Inc.Melisa R. Canuto, LICSW joined Casa Esperanza, Inc. as Director of Behavioral Health in 2017. Before joining Casa, she worked at YouthConnect, a program of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston in partnership with the Boston Police Department; Boston Children’s Hospital Emergency Psychiatry Department; and Brigham and Woman’s Social Work Department where she connected with high-risk youth/young adults and provided therapy services/case management, supported families in connecting to service for their child’s mental health needs after a comprehensive assessment, and providing trauma response and care coordination to patient and families.

Melisa manages implementation and practical application of Casa’s Integrated Care Model and oversees programming, services, and staffing at Familias Unidas Outpatient Clinic. She has an interest in working with marginalized communities and advocating for social justice. Outside of Casa, she is known for hiking, nature walks and spending time with family.

Melisa holds a Bachelor’s degree from Lesley University and Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College. She is certified in the following: Post-Masters Clinical Certificate Program in the Relational and Multi-Contextual Treatment of Trauma, Psychological First Aid, Developing Nurturing Families and Communities, Clinical Supervision in Behavioral Health. She currently serves as Representative for the Greater Boston Area on the board of Directors for the National Association of Social Workers where she also Co-Chairs the Awards Committee, Vice President for the Cape Verdean Social Workers Association, and is a member of the Greater Boston Association of Black Social Workers.

“Hope reflects belief, and Casa has provided hope to all those who walk in through our doors.”

Aidenith Rodriguez, SHRM-CP

Chief People & Culture Officer

Ani Rodriguez, SHRM-CP, sHRBP, Chief People & Culture OfficerAidenith “Ani” Rodriguez, SHRM-CP, sHRBP joined Casa Esperanza, Inc. as Director of Human Resources in 2019. Before joining Casa, she worked at a major manufacturing facility in Southwest Florida for seven years. She later joined a private, family-owned organization in rural central Florida where she served as Director of Human Resources for six years. She is a hands-on senior leader specializing in workforce development, conflict resolution, benefits and compensation, Human Resources policy development, and legal compliance.  

Ani is responsible for the Human Resources Department. She has an interest in workforce development and employee relations. Outside of Casa, she is known for her love of music and singing and spending time cooking, baking, or creating art with her family.  

Ani holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Hesser College and is a Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), as well as, a Certified Strategic Human Resources Business Partner with Human Capital Institute (HCI). 


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