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Rafael "Alex" Olivares,

Executive Director

Mr. Olivares became the Executive Director for The Center for Progress and Excellence Inc. in 2017.  In his role, he has brought his knowledge and passion for helping the at-risk and underserved to a broader service area and population including six counties as well as individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds, victims of crime, at risk youth and individuals that suffer from mental health disorders.  The CPE Board of Directors and Mr. Olivares have an established strategic plan that will guide CPE services and efforts in to the future with assistance and services for those in need.


Education

The start of Rafael's industry learnings began In 2005 when he obtained his undergraduate degree in Clinical Psychology from the Catholic University of Santo Domingo.  There, he completed his thesis and dissertation on “The emotional characteristics of runaway and abandoned children in the city of Santo Domingo”. 

Once establishing himself in his career, he obtained his Masters degree from Hodges University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2013. 

 

Early Career Experience

His first job as a clinician was at the Day Treatment program of Health and Education Systems in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  His daily responsibilities included the provision of group and individual counseling to the chronically mentally ill. 

In 2007 he began work as a non-residential counselor for Lutheran Services Florida.  He was promptly promoted to Residential Services Manager of the Oasis Youth Shelter, a residential facility that provides emergency shelter to truant, ungovernable and runaway teens between the ages of 10-17. 



Making a Difference

In October 2009 he was recruited by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. to manage and develop their fledgling Human Trafficking services program. 

During his time with the program, Mr. Olivares assisted in the expansion and development of what would become a 10 county intensive case management program for survivors of both sex and labor trafficking. 

He was responsible for obtaining federal funding from both OVC and HHS to sustain and enhance service provision throughout Southwest Florida.  During this time Mr. Olivares collaborated extensively with local and federal law enforcement to provide assistance to over 150 survivors of Human Trafficking. He was elected as the first chairman of the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Coalition in 2011, a position he held until 2013 and during which he renamed and expanded the coalition to cover five counties in SWFL.

In 2014 he was contracted by Florida Gulf Coast University to coordinate their Human Trafficking Resource Center, a position which he maintained concurrently along with his position as Program Director of Catholic Charities.  During this time he organized and held three annual Human Trafficking symposiums, as well as provide trainings to over four thousand individuals regionally as well as nationally. 

In 2015 he co-authored a peer reviewed article titled “A multi-disciplinary approach to Human Trafficking Services” which was published in the Slavery Today journal.  He also organized the first Human Trafficking Multi-Disciplinary Team for the SWFL region.  In 2015 he received the Founder’s Award from Hodges University for excellence in contributions to the community. 

Upon closure of the FGCU Center, Mr. Olivares continued to work as Program Director in Catholic Charities where he assisted in the development of the first transitional home for male victims of Human Trafficking in Lee County Florida.