LUCA Announces New Executive Director


WHITE PLAINS, April 14, 2021 – Latino U College Access, Inc. (LUCA) announced today that its Founder and CEO, Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, MPA, will transition into a new role within the organization effective July 1, 2021. She will be succeeded by LUCA’s Deputy Executive Director, Cosette Gutierrez, MBA, who will assume the role of Executive Director.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to live my life’s purpose doing work that makes such an incredible difference in the lives of the students and families we serve,” said Acevedo Buontempo. “I am grateful to our Board of Directors, our partners, volunteers, and funders for their support of our vision and mission. Cosette has been an invaluable partner. Her talent, passion, and commitment to our work give me great confidence as I pass on the baton of leadership.”

As the Founder of LUCA, Acevedo Buontempo has built one of the leading college access and success organizations in Westchester County. In her ten years leading the organization, what began with only two students from one high school, grew to reach over 6,000 students in four partner school districts. Throughout her tenure, she has led advocacy efforts and spoke in support of initiatives that advanced educational equity for Latinx students.

Acevedo Buontempo will remain an integral part of LUCA’s future in a full-time role as Founder and Strategic Growth Officer. She will articulate and support the strategic vision for the organization – focusing on effective growth and new partnerships – nurture major donor relationships, and lead advocacy efforts while supporting the new Executive Director.

“We are incredibly grateful for the extraordinary commitment Shirley has given to launch LUCA from a start-up to a well-established organization,” said Steve Moroney, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “LUCA has a transformational impact on the lives of both the community and students we serve. We are thrilled Shirley will continue to support our Board and Cosette as we launch ambitious goals for the future.”

Cosette Gutierrez’s unanimous appointment by the Board of Directors assures a seamless transition for ongoing dedication and commitment to LUCA’s mission. She will lead the organization during a critical moment, advancing educational equity as it looks to the future, scaling programs, and increasing its capacity to serve more students as they fulfill their dreams of becoming the first in their families to graduate from college.

“I am very excited about this new chapter in my career and thankful to the Board for entrusting me with this responsibility,” said Gutierrez. “My goal is to build upon LUCA’s tremendous foundation and lead our growth initiatives. The LUCA Familia is an incredibly dedicated group, and I look forward to continuing our work opening doors of opportunity for our amazing Scholars.”

“We are thrilled to have Cosette step into the role of Executive Director,” said Moroney. “Her grasp of the organization’s operations and passionate commitment to the work we do perfectly positions her to lead us as we enter the next phase of expansion. The Board and I look forward to working with her in leading LUCA’s future.”

Since joining the organization in February 2020, Gutierrez led the conversion of LUCA’s programming to virtual delivery during the pandemic, building, and scaling processes, while also managing the day-to-day operations. She demonstrates passion and expertise daily, establishing efficient systems and building high-performing teams.

A dynamic and engaging executive, Gutierrez has had a successful career in nonprofit, retail, and financial services. Prior to joining LUCA, Gutierrez served as Vice President of Fulfillment at During her tenure at Target in Community Relations, she managed over $30 million annually in charitable giving, with an emphasis on education. Her business and financial management experience includes work at Citibank and Bank of America, leading operations throughout the U.S.

As a proud Latina and first-generation college graduate, Gutierrez earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Her passion for education and for helping students stems from lifelong volunteerism, community leadership, and support of Hispanic-focused nonprofit organizations. She knows first-hand the influence that education has had on her life but also remembers the challenges along the way. As such, she will serve as an incredible advocate for Latinx students and their families.

Founded in 2012, Latino U College Access (LUCA) is a social impact organization that transforms lives by making college dreams a reality for low-income, first-generation, Latino youth. LUCA guides students, who have demonstrated academic ability, through individualized coaching and culturally relevant programming as they navigate higher education to successfully enroll in schools that meet their financial and academic needs, enabling them to graduate on time and career-ready. To learn more about LUCA or to make a donation in support of its mission, please visit