Hodges University has named Raphael (Alex) Olivares as this year’s recipient of the 2015 Founders Award – an honor presented annually to an exemplary Hodges University graduate who has provided outstanding and distinguished service to our community. The Award was presented at the 19th annual Humanitarian of the Year Awards luncheon recently.
“I am deeply honored to receive the 2015 Founders Award,” said Olivares. “My experience at Hodges University was life-changing.
The support and encouragement that I received helped me to change my beliefs about myself and what I could accomplish. As soon as I arrived at Hodges, I knew I was going to succeed.”
Born in Boston, Rafael Olivares grew up in both the United States with his parents and in the Dominican Republic where his grandparents lived. After graduating high school in Massachusetts, Rafael moved back to the Dominican Republic to spend more time with his grandparents and to enroll at Catholic University in Santo Domingo.
Rafael earned a degree in clinical psychology there in 2004 and has gone on to work in various social service settings. He began his professional career as a clinician working with chronically mentally ill patients in Lawrence, Massachusetts. After relocating to Florida he has worked as a non-residential counselor for Lutheran Services Florida, residential program director at the Oasis Youth Shelter, and as program director for Human Trafficking Services for Catholic Charities.
Rafael has also served as chairman of the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Coalition where, under his leadership, the organization expanded to various counties hosting symposiums on Human Trafficking in our area. He is a member of the local Human Trafficking Task Force and regularly provides training and outreach to the community on the subject.
Since obtaining his Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Hodges University, Rafael has earned his certification as a domestic violence advocate by the Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence. He is currently the coordinator for the Florida Gulf Coast University Resource Center on Human Trafficking as well as one of the clinicians in the Human Trafficking Victims Assistance Counseling Program at Catholic Charities.
Rafael lives in Naples with his wife Scarlett and their two children.