Commission on Latino Affairs

About the Pennsylvania Commission on Latino Affairs
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About the Pennsylvania Commission on Latino Affairs

Established by Executive Order 2015-08, the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) is dedicated to advising the governor on policies and legislation that impact Latino American communities. GACLA and its commissioners have proficiently served Pennsylvania’s growing Latino community since 1971. Our aim is to contribute to the governor’s goal of government that works, schools that teach, and jobs that pay.

The commission is composed of twenty volunteer members appointed by the governor for a term of two years.

Commissioners

Luz Colon – Executive Director
María Teresa Donate – Commission Chair
Amaris Hernandez – Commission Vice Chair
Nelly Jimenez-Arevalo
Hon. Jamie L. Arroyo
Vanessa R. Belen
Emilio A. Buitrago
Dr. Damary M. Bonilla-Rodriguez
Rev. Bonnie Camarada
Thaís Vázquez-Carrero
Ida L. Castro, J.D. M.A.
Iris M. Sanchez-Cintrón
Mary S. Colón
Sonny Concepción
Diana P. Cortes, Esq./a>
Maria L. Delgado/a>
Jimmy Duran/a>
Jonathan Encarnacióna>
George Fernandez
Isamac Torres-Figueroa
Amaris Hernandez
Priscilla E. Jimenez, Esq.
Carol Obando-Derstine
Natalia Ortiz
Joanna Otero-Cruz
Adrian R. Reyes
Adriana Rivera
Dr. Adrian Rivera-Reyes
Monica A. Ruiz, M.S.W.
Quetcy M. Lozado
Delma Rivera-Lytle
Jacqueline Rocco
Maritza V. Padua Santiago
Francisco Aranda Torres
Marisol L. Torres, MBA
Hon. Cornell Wilson

Nelly Jiménez-Arévalo

Bio coming soon.
 

Honorable Jamie L. Arroyo

Bio coming soon.
 

Vanessa R. BelenVanessa Belen

Bio coming soon.
 
 

Emilio A. Buitrago

Bio coming soon.
 

 

Dr. Damary M. Bonilla-Rodriguez, Ed. DDr. Damary Bonila-Rodriguez

Dr. Damary M. Bonilla-Rodriguez is a national leading authority on leadership development, especially as it pertains to diversity and inclusion. She delivers keynote addresses and presentations drawing upon her experience from roles in the non-profit, private, and government sectors, as well as her doctoral research.

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    Her research about Latina leadership in the United States has served as the foundation for events, conference sessions, publications, and content development to address the urgency of leadership development for a fast growing population and create a pipeline of diverse leaders.

    Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Social Work from the College of New Rochelle where she received the College President’s Medal, graduated with Departmental Honors, and was awarded the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Award. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Organizational Communications and a Specialized Certification in Corporate Communications, both from the College of New Rochelle. Personal endeavors of overcoming statistics and accessing higher education, led her to earn a Doctorate in Education focusing on Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College.

    To change the political and leadership landscape for Latinos, Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez ran for State Representative in the 189th District of Pennsylvania in the 2016 election cycle where she became the 1st Hispanic to make a State ballot in 2 counties (Pike and Monroe). Passionate about supporting professional organizations, she is a Board Member of Latina VIDA, Latinas on the Plaza, and Los Compadres Modern Caballero. She is also an advisory board member for several organizations including: The Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs and the Alliance for Positive Youth Development. She was recently appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to serve on his statewide commission on Latino affairs.

    In addition to being recognized as a 2014 Coors Light Lideres finalist and the recipient of numerous awards including a proclamation from the NYS Assembly, the Proud to Be Latina Soy Poderosa award, and the SISGI Beyond Good Ideas Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership award, Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez is a published author. Her writing accomplishments include the books Ethics, Gender, and Leadership in the Workplace and Today’s Inspired Latina (Volume II), as well as contributing to the Huffington Post and being featured by several media outlets including NBC Latino, Chief Writing Wolf, and the Empowered Latinas series.

    While, she is proud of her many accomplishments, she highlights her greatest as being the mother of seven-year-old twin boys, Caleb and Joshua. She resides in Pennsylvania with her boys and husband Robert. Her favorite quote is: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” (Newton).

     

Reverand Bonnie Camarada

Bio coming soon.
 

Thaís Vázquez-Carrero

Bio coming soon.
 

Ida L. Castro, J.D. M.A.

Bio coming soon.
 

Iris M. Sanchez-CintrónIris Clintron

Mrs. Iris M. Sanchez-Cintrón is a graduate of West Chester University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. She graduated from Lehigh University with a Master’s degree in Secondary Education.

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    She has recently retired from the Bethlehem Area School District where she served for 37 years as a teacher, counselor, school social worker and administrator. She held the position of supervisor of minority affairs, governmental programs and grants for the last 18 years. Mrs. Sanchez-Cintrón has always been active in community organizations such as the Hispanic Center LV formally the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Community Services for Children – Head Start, Northampton County Children and Youth, the Puerto Rican Cultural Organization, Northampton County Interim Board of Health, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (FQHC), and Puerto Rican Beneficial Society. She was the recipient of the United Way of the Lehigh Valley Lifetime Service Award, Lehigh University Lamp and Learning Award, Northampton County Community College award for Distinguished Service to the Community, the National Coalition of Title I Parents VIP Award for Exemplary Service to Title I Children, Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community Recognition for Outstanding Support to the Partnership, and the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society award for Dedicated Community Service.

 

Luz ColonLuz B. Colon

Luz B. Colon epitomizes integrity, hard work and passion for service in every detail of Community Service for the last 15 years for the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania in various Governmental roles.

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    Luz grew up in North Philadelphia, in the Kensington section, the very same community in where her roots were planted and continues to serve. Luz’s cultural background and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and community and government leadership roles.

    In March of 2016, Luz was named by Governor Tom Wolf as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission for Latino Affairs (GACLA). Luz has embraced this state-wide leadership role with typical vigor and charm, strongly connecting with near and distant Latino communities throughout Pennsylvania. Luz also has had the pleasure to work for council members such as the former Councilman Angel L. Ortiz and current Council members, Blondell Reynolds Brown & Bill Greenlee. Her position with Councilman Greenlee specically allowed her to grow into a signicant leadership role. These positions have allowed her to service the needs and bridge the gap between the government and the community.

    Through her role as the Governor Wolf’s Latino liaison and her other government and leadership roles, Luz has organized innumerable community events all over the city and state to bring her many resources to help communities. A highlight of her accomplishments locally is that she was one of the founders of the Philadelphia 76ers La Liga Del Barrio Basketball League Organization. Where her leadership role was recognized by Philadelphia City Council in 2015.

    As a Latina, she represents the Latino Community and Luz assumes personal responsibility to bring forth and showcase what the Latino community is doing in a positive light here in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. She is a current member of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Woman (NACOPRW). She’s also dedicated 15 years as a committee person for the 20th Ward and 10th Division. And in 2014, Luz was invited to sit on the Philadelphia Fight Advisory Board, the largest HIV/AIDS comprehensive medical care organization in the Philadelphia area. She is also on the Latino Advisory Committee for Visit Philly.

 

Mary S. ColónMary Colon

Mary S. Colón is a graduate of Brooklyn College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in elementary and bilingual education with a double minor in both early childhood education and Puerto Rican studies.

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    With this degree, Mary taught in District 19 in Brooklyn, New York for two years before relocating to the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. To continue building upon her passion for education, Mary obtained a master’s degree in elementary education from Kutztown University and completed her principal certification at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

    Mary S. Colón was a teacher and administrator in the Bethlehem Area School District for 30 years until her retirement in 2014. During her tenure in the Bethlehem Area School District, Mary collaborated with her colleagues on many initiatives. Most significant was a mission to implement a full day kindergarten program, which came to fruition in 2015 when the district launched this program across all 16 elementary schools.

    Mary S. Colón’s dedication to community involvement has affiliated her with the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, the City of Bethlehem Latino Advisory Committee, Northampton Community College Early Childhood Advisory Committee, and Community Services For Children. The Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley recognized her with the Outstanding Educator Award in 1999 and 2014, an award not often received twice from this non-profit organization.

    Mary S. Colón is an adjunct faculty member in the Education Department at Moravian College. Moreover, she is a eucharistic minister at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church.

    Mary is married to Fernando L. Colón and resides in Allentown. They have two children, Manuel and Amelia.

Sonny Concepcion Sr.Sonny Conception

My name is Sonny Concepcion Sr. I am a native of Carolina Puerto Rico and moved to Erie Pennsylvania in 1991. I have been an active advocate for the Latino Community since 1993.

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    Presently I am Coordinator for High Impact Prevention , Northwest Rural Aids Alliance here in Erie and also the Pastor for Iglesia Bautista El Calvario FG also the Western District Overseer for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International . My professional experience has led me from Drug and Alcohol Counseling to Youth Behavioral Specialist and Employment Specialist for at-risk Teenagers. My experience with community forums includes the PA State Latino Commission, PA Department of Health HIV Planning Committee, President of Parent Education Committee for the PA Migrant Education Program, Erie Latino Task Force and Secretary of The Latino Tri-State Pastor Association.

Diana P. Cortes, Esq.

Bio coming soon.
 

Maria L. Delgado

Bio coming soon.
 

Jimmy Duran

Bio coming soon.
 

María Teresa DonateMaria Teresa Donate

María Teresa Donate, Professor of Counseling, joined the Northampton Community College staff in 1992 as Director of Admissions. Her success in academia and her desire to support others have led her to be a compassionate support for students and a valuable asset to the community.

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    Professor Donate previously served as Student Affairs Coordinator at the University of Central Florida and Director of Admissions at Inter American University in Puerto Rico. Obtained a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Inter American University and a Bachelor degree in Social Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

    The number of committees and organizations to which Professor Donate belongs or chaired are staggering. Among the professional organizations joined are the following: Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Phi Delta Kappa Society, National Association of College Admission Counselors, and American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Counselors. Served as president of Latino Leadership Alliance of the Lehigh Valley and former Chair of Latino Economic Council of LVEDC. Appointed to the Bethlehem Area School District Diversity Committee; Co-Chair of Northampton Community College’s (NCC) Diversity Committee; served on the Board of Governors of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and is currently a Board member of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

    Her passion for education served as a driving force to establish several scholarship funds to assist Latino students in pursue of higher education. Among them are: establishment of the Blanca Smith Scholarship Fund; Mario José Donate Torres Memorial Endowment and Hispanic Caucus Dreamers Scholarship Endowment; advocated for the creation of NCC – Latino Leadership Alliance full tuition scholarship. During her tenure as President of the Latino Leadership Alliance established the organization’s scholarship endowment, securing a permanent funding source that will benefit many Latino students in the future.

    She was instrumental in the organization of the Pennsylvania Statewide Latino Coalition (PSLC) group. As a result of her leadership and fundraising initiatives, Lehigh Valley was selected as the site for the 2003 PSLC Conference. The Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitor’s Bureau awarded her the Zenith Award for “an outstanding contribution through involvement with a convention in the Lehigh Valley”.

    She was recognized at NCC as Club Advisor of the Year. During her tenure as Chair of the NCC Hispanic Caucus, the group received the “Chairman’s Award” for the efforts in starting a scholarship fund for students of color.

    The former Hispanic Business Council of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce recognized her with the “Good Turn Award” for dedicated commitment to the youth of the Lehigh Valley. Was also recognized by The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of the Lehigh Valley with the “2003 Educator of the Year” award for “leadership, dedication, and compassion to inspire, encourage, and assist others achieve their dreams and goals through higher education”. Professor Donate also received the Penn State University Lehigh Valley’s OLEAD Program award for her leadership role in the field of education; for commitment and service to the Latino population, and vision for empowering Latinos as an economic growth strategy for the region’s prosperity.

    Leadership Lehigh Valley recognized her with the 2011 Paragon Alumni Award, an award of excellence established to honor an outstanding graduate of the leadership program whose efforts have improved the quality of life in the Lehigh Valley through leadership and commitment to the community. Was selected for this award because of her leadership and efforts to inspire and assist others to achieve their dreams and goals through education.

    Latino Leadership Alliance of the Lehigh Valley recently awarded her “Lenses of Knowledge Education Award” for a leader who has walked the extra mile to ensure that Latino children can view the world through lenses of knowledge. Most recently the American Association of University Women awarded the “Gateway to Equity Award” for her vigorous advocacy on behalf of the Lehigh Valley Latino community.

    In 2006, she was one of eleven individuals across the state chosen by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA); appointed to serve two terms. Additionally, was appointed as Co-Chair of the Summit Planning Committee of the PA Committee on Educational Excellence for Latino Students.

    Most significantly, Teresa is recognized on campus and in the community as a vigorous advocate for the rights of people of color. Her initiatives have generated interest and open dialogue about issues of diversity, bilingualism, hiring practices, scholarship fundraising and others.

    She is married to Ricardo Orench and has three children: Teresita, Assistant Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission; Ricardito who recently started his career as Chemical Engineer and Ivette, currently pursuing an RN degree and employed by Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Jonathan Encarnación

Bio coming soon.
 

George Fernandez

By combining his authentic experience with a passion for communication and service, George Fernandez helps clients build positive, profitable, and sustainable connections with the Latino community.

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    At eight years old, Fernandez moved to Harrisburg from the Dominican Republic. His mother spoke no English. Fernandez quickly learned to navigate American life and overcome the language barrier that made daily living a challenge. After college, Fernandez began his career as a management executive in the hospitality industry, and later landed a position as a bilingual benefits educator with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. With Highmark, Fernandez assisted the organization’s 5.4 million members understand and navigate their health insurance coverage—and it was during this time that he made a critical observation. The growing Latino community was drastically underserved in many areas including healthcare, education, and employment services. Many Latinos felt like outsiders within their local communities. With quality translation services both costly and lacking in specialized markets, Fernandez stepped out on his own to turn a life-long dream into a reality. And it paid off.

    In 2014, George Fernandez founded Latino Connection— a strategic communications firm that helps organizations serve the Spanish-speaking community in Pennsylvania and beyond. The company possesses a dual mission: to effectively connect clients with their Latino stakeholders and to deliver high quality translation and interpretation services. Fernandez also publishes Latino Connection Magazine, a quarterly bilingual publication that supports the Latino population through community engagement and education.

    With Fernandez at the helm, Latino Connection and Latino Connection Magazine have served millions of Latinos and helped hundreds of organizations maximize their reach and protect their core operations. Clients range from billion dollar, private sector businesses such as Integrity Staffing Solutions and UPS, to non-profit entities and government agencies like Capital Blue Cross, Capital Area Head Start and The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Since its inception, Latino Connection has been certified by the Eastern Minority Supplier Diversity Council and is recognized as a Hispanic Business Enterprise by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as a Minority Certified Business by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

    A servant leader at heart, Fernandez remains heavily involved in the local community. He is a loyal supporter of various causes including The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The Boys and Girls Club of Central PA. Fernandez also participates in numerous community leadership projects as a member of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg. He serves on the executive boards of LHA, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, and the Family Health Council of Central PA. Beginning in 2017, he will serve as President of the Tri-County Community Action Agency. Fernandez is a graduate of Leadership Harrisburg Area’s Community Leadership Series and The Foundation for Enhancing Communities’ Emerging Philanthropy Program. He has received many prestigious honors including the Jefferson Award and Central Penn Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40.”

    George Fernandez, the dreamer and the doer behind Latino Connection, is truly an advocate—and an inspiration—for the Latino community in Pennsylvania and beyond.

Isamac Torres-Figueroa

For the last 15 years, Isamac has been a staunch supporter and advocate for education. During the early part of her career, Isamac directed and managed a Vocational E.S.L. adult workforce training program addressing disparities within healthcare by increasing the number of bilingual, bicultural certified nurse aides within various communities of Pennsylvania.

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    Her program was created by a well established non-profit organization and funded by several state departments such as: Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Aging and Health.

    In 2009, her focus broaden to include youth and their families by working with her husband to establish the first non-profit, brick and mortar charter high school for at risk youth in Berks County called I-LEAD Charter School. Their passion and purpose was to increase high school graduation rates in the poorest city of Pennsylvania, Reading, PA. Isamac co-created a parental training program with executives at I-LEAD called P.O.D.E.R. (People Organizing for Democracy, Equity and Responsibilities) to educate parents and community members on “how to navigate” the local educational system. In addition to this parental program, Isamac was asked to create and manage an Oral Health Task Force of industry stakeholders who would work to establish a school-based oral health center within the charter school.

    Isamac lives in her hometown of Reading, PA with her husband, Angel, and their two beautiful daughters, Olivia and Natalia. She is a 1991 graduate of Reading High School, proud alumni of Albright College where she attained a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. Among all her awards and certificates, Isamac is most proud of her volunteer work with the following groups: Co-founder Millersville University student group S.O.L.A. (Society On Latino Affairs) ; Co-founder and current Vicechair P.D.L.C. (Pennsylvania Democratic Latino Caucus) ; Former School Board Director of Reading School District Board of Directors.

Amaris Hernandez-Padgett

Amaris Hernandez-Padgett is an Information Systems professional, working out of the Delaware Valley for over 13 years. She is a Philadelphia native, and participated in the Pennsylvania Ballet for ten years in productions throughout the city. Amaris attended Central High School, and then earned a Bachelors of Science in Information Systems and Technology from Drexel University.

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    Amaris started her professional career as a Data Manager with the School District of Philadelphia. At the District, she worked with the Even Start Family Literacy program where she oversaw the client management system for state funding and facilitated technology courses to parents in the community. After serving 8 years with the District, Amaris began consulting for Bank of America as a Systems Administrator. At Bank of America, Amaris managed the production and job tracking system for an internal advertising agency.

    For the last 9 years, Amaris has been an active member of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, a national organization that serves the community through workshops, mentoring, scholarships and leadership development. Through NACOPRW, she volunteers in the local Latino community and partners with countless organizations throughout the city. One of her goals is to raise awareness for women in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Amaris is currently the President of the Greater Philadelphia chapter.

    In January 2014, Amaris joined Philadelphia Energy Solutions, as a Senior Systems Analyst overseeing HR and contractor management systems.
    In 2010, she was nominated by Impacto Newspaper as one of the “40 Most Influential Leaders in the Delaware Valley”. In 2015, Amaris was selected to attend Google’s National Women’s Day in New York with women from around the nation working in technology positions. She continues to advocate for more young women to enter technology fields and serves as a mentor to high school students in the city.

Priscilla E. Jimenez, Esq.

Bio coming soon.
 

Carol Obando-Derstine

Carol Obando-Derstine is the regional affairs director for PPL Electric Utilities serving Schuylkill, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, and Montgomery counties. Since February 2016, she has served as an experienced and effective representative of PPL in the community among customers and stakeholders.

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    Prior to her current position, she served as regional manager and statewide Latino affairs advisor for U.S. Senator Bob Casey beginning in 2011. Before joining Senator Casey’s office, she worked in the nonprofit sector for close to 15 years including serving as SkillsUSA Council’s Executive Director.

    Carol is also involved in many causes. She is an active member of PPL’s POWER Network (PPL’s Organization of Women Engaged for Results) and LEAD (Latino Employee Alliance for Diversity), two of the company’s business resource groups. She serves as the secretary for WiNUP (Women’s International Network of Utility Professionals) Mid-Atlantic Region. She is also a member of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, the Rotary Club of Allentown, and United Way’s Women United. She serves on the boards of the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corporation, Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, Northeast PA Manufacturers and Employers Association, and the Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce. For seven years she served as a Girl Scout Troop leader and was a mentor for the Class of 2018 Women’s Business Council’s Women-to-Women Mentoring Program.

    She has been honored with several awards including: SkillsUSA Council’s Leadership By Example, Dale Carnegie’s Highest Award for Achievement, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber’s Outstanding Woman in Business, Lehigh Valley Business Forty Under 40, Penn State University’s Distinguished Service in Community Psychology and Social Change, Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latinos, and the Education Policy Leadership Center Distinguished Alumni.

    Carol earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University along with a Certificate from their Graduate School of Public Affairs and Administration. She also has a Master of Arts from Penn State University. Carol resides in the Lehigh Valley.

 

Dr. Natalia Ortiz, MD

Dr. Natalia Ortiz is the Chief of Consultation and Liaison Psychiatry for Temple University Hospital and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry for Lewis-Katz Temple School of Medicine.

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    She is a fellow to the American Psychiatry Association, Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine and The Philadelphia College of Physicians. She is board certified in Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine. She is a board member to Philadelphia Medical Society and has served as a Delegate to Pennsylvania Medical Society. She is the current President of Society of Ibero Latin American Medical Professionals for the Delaware Valley. She is also a commissioner to the Governor’s Advisory Commission for Latino Affairs in Pennsylvania. Her area of expertise is the manifestation of stress through physical symptoms and the diagnosis and treatment of behaviors due to medical conditions.

 

Joanna Otero-Cruz

Joanna Otero-Cruz serves as Deputy Managing Director for the Community Services cabinet. Within this post, Mrs. Otero-Cruz leads and oversees’ operations for 311, the Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP), and the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Services and Town Watch Integrated Services.

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    Prior to coming to the City she served in key leadership roles for organizations that serve and meet the needs of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable.

    Most recently, Mrs. Otero-Cruz led Pennsylvania’s oldest Latino non-profit organization, Concilio, since 2010, serving as community leader and voice for the needs of women, children, and families across the state. As the Executive Director of Concilio, she oversaw the organization’s foster care services, youth development programming, and children’s health work. She also led the organization and Latino community’s historic events – the Hispanic Fiesta and the Puerto Rican Week Festival culminating with the Latino Parade on Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Parkway.

    In 2014, she led the relocation of Concilio from its home of nearly 45 years to a brand-new 30,000 square-foot facility in the Hunting Park neighborhood. She is credited with bringing Concilio into a position of strong financial health, as well as building on the capacity and goodwill of the organization among the civic and public leaders of the city and state, and the community members that utilize its services.
    Mrs. Otero-Cruz is an active and respected voice for equity and access at the city and state level.

    She serves as Pennsylvania Commissioner for the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and currently serves on the CEIBA Coalition where she has held various officer positions over the past five years. Her leadership in the area of victim’s services earned Concilio the new appointment of East Division Victims Services’ provider by the City of Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

    Mrs. Cruz is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Community Impact Award from the Hispanic Choice Awards, Philadelphia’s Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award, KYW Women’s Achievement Award, and Aetna Healthcare – Latina Leadership Award.
    Mrs. Otero-Cruz holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Peirce College in Business Administration with a concentration in management.

 

Dr. Adrian Rivera-Reyes, Ph. D.

Bio coming soon.

 

Adriana Rivera, M.S.L.

Adriana T. Rivera, formerly director of child and youth services for Congreso de Latino Unidos, holds a B.A. from Temple University in communications and an MSL from Cabrini University.

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    Adriana has been actively involved in her community since her teenage years. Joining the National Council of Puerto Rican Rights, Philadelphia, she became the first leader of the youth group. She enjoys being a voice and organizing for the sake of helping others.

    Adriana was one of the organizers for Philadelphia’s first Latino Gay Pride festival, became an advisor to Mayor Michael Nutter on LGBTQ affairs, founded Raices Latino Pride Philadelphia, and started the DJ Andi Text Book Scholarship Fund, which helps low income first generation students pay for a semester of text books. Adriana had worked in the college access profession for 7 years and counting, helping hundreds of students go to college and saw a need for more assistance.

    Currently, Adriana is treasurer of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women’s (NACOPRW) Philadelphia chapter and faculty member of the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC).

    Adriana serves on Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs as a member of the education committee, advocating in behalf for students in the Philadelphia area on state related issues. Adriana has received the Hero of the Year award from the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, recognized by the House of Beauty Pageant, and named a Phenomenal Woman by the Phenomenal Women’s Committee for her work in the Latino LGBT community. Adriana currently resides in Philadelphia where she is a part time DJ, emcee, and professional development facilitator.

 

Monica A. Ruiz, M.S.W.

Bio coming soon.
 

Quetcy M. Lozada

Bio coming soon.
 

Delma Rivera-Lytle

Biography to come.

 

 

 

Jacqueline V. Rocco, M.Ed., M.A.

As an educator for the past eighteen years in the Philadelphia region, Jacqueline Rocco serves as president and founder of EduGroup of PA.

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    EduGroup of PA is a non-profit organization created to serve Philadelphia and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania focused on decreasing high school dropout rates by providing mentorship opportunities for students preparing for their next life’s educational endeavor.

    Currently, Jacqueline holds two master’s degrees in the field of organizational leadership and multicultural education. She was also raised in the city of Philadelphia, where she attended urban schools and universities.

    Jacqueline is trilingual — she is fluent in Spanish and English and partially fluent in French.

    Furthermore, Jacqueline comes from a large family. She is the first in her family to graduate with a university level degree. Throughout her educational experiences, she has noticed a lot of gaps in the educational system. She found herself helping students outside of their school environments in order to make a difference in their lives. She started working as a change agent for them in their local communities; giving them the opportunity to overcome to overcome the many daily obstacles the students’ faced.

    As time moved forward, Jacqueline was eventually became appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) as the first-ever GACLA commissioner for Conshohocken, servicing Montgomery County.

    As a GACLA commissioner, Rocco serves an ambassador for the Latino community of Pennsylvania, advocating for policies, programs, and resources that support their local and greater community needs.

    Jacqueline is also a very active member of Conshohocken Plymouth Whitemarsh Rotary Club. She is the founder and president of EduGroup of PA, a local nonprofit organization. This organization’s mission seeks to decrease the high school dropout rate as well as provide mentorship for student searching for support in their next life’s educational endeavors. Along with these platforms, she sits in several committees that serve the Latino community: PA4PR, Nat’l Puerto Rican Agenda in PA, El Concilio Hispanic Fiesta committee, and New Foundation Charter High School Puerto Rican Initiative committee member.

 

Maritza V. PaduaProfile picture of Maritza V. Padua Santiago

Maritza Padua is a native Philadelphian and community activist who has dedicated her life to her family and community. The eldest of three children raised by Jose and Alejandrina Carrasquillo, she was brought up in a household that fostered a strong sense of family values and civic responsibility.

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    Her family also taught her to always remain humble and kind, a lesson that she continues to live by.

    In 2008, Maritza was fortunate enough to serve as special assistant to Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez which is where she was able to exercise her passion for helping others. Since then she has served as executive board member for Delaware Valley Community Health, board member and program chair for the Norristown Salvation Army, board member for the 39th Police District, board member CUA 1 for Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, and committee member for the annual Latina Luncheon through the American Heart Association.

    Maritza is particularly proud of founding and hosting the popular radio show “El Show de Las Bravas” in 2009, which entertained and educated women and their families on matters not typically or openly discussed in the Latino Community, such as domestic violence and abuse, health and well-being, and many others. The show’s personalities also took this opportunity to adopt multiple families during the holiday seasons and provided each family with groceries for Thanksgiving and five hundred dollar stipends for Christmas.

    Over the years, Maritza sought out opportunities to work with those in her community who are facing personal and economical challenges connecting them with services and programs. She also prides herself on taking the extra time to offer a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on.

    Currently serving as public affairs specialist for Keystone First, she works tirelessly to provide services and resources to Keystone First members and her community partners in North Philadelphia, North Central Philadelphia, and Montgomery County. Maritza’s relationships are very important to her, it is said that her partners come out for her because she always comes out for them.

    Maritza works diligently to ensure that her territory is always on the receiving end of Keystone First’s benefits, services, and special programs. She aligns herself daily with Keystone First’s goals: provide a medical home that helps members access the services they need that prevent illness and injury so they can live healthier lives.

    In addition, Maritza serves as a commissioner on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) which is dedicated to advising the governor on policies and legislation that impact Latino American communities, specifically in Montgomery County.

    While Maritza exemplifies unwavering dedication to her community, above all else she is a dedicated wife and mother who remains devoted to caring for and loving her incredible children and husband.

 

Francisco Torres-Aranda

Mr. Torres-Aranda has over 15 years experience in engineering research and development of high performance safety and building products. He has served as President/CEO of Advanced-Tec Materials since 2007 after his father’s untimely passing.

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    In 2012 and then again in 2014 his company’s product development work has been highlighted by the Marcellus Shale Coalition as being showcase technology for its cutting edge innovation in the oil,natural gas, and energy industry. Prior to serving as President/CEO, he served as Vice President of Product Development for ATM, spearheading projects which included a research and development program with the prestigious Penske racing organization based in Mooresville, NC. Prior to working at Advanced-Tec, Mr. Torres-Aranda, was co-founder and served as Vice President of Innovative Ash Applications Corp., a company that worked with several power utility companies including UGI Utilities Inc. in order to find beneficial uses for the coal- combustion by-products generated at their power plants. While still in college, Mr. Torres-Aranda worked with the US Department of Health and Human Services as a liaison between the immigrant community and various regional health organizations.

    His territory included all of Northeastern Pennsylvania, from the northern tier counties to Williamsport, and east to the New Jersey border. His research interests include the beneficial utilization of coal-combustion byproducts, high-performance automotive/racing technology, and astronomy (his research into quasar theory won an international award and was published in a European science journal when he was still in eight grade.) His educational background includes Pre-Med, (with an emphasis on biochemistry and biology) and Mechanical Engineering. Currently, Mr. Torres-Aranda serves on the board of Hazleton Integration Project (HIP) a non-profit founded by Joe Maddon, coach of the Chicago Cubs, that is focused on the strengthening of community relations in Hazleton and its surrounding communities. He is fully fluent in both business and conversational English and Spanish. Additionally, he maintains residences in both Northeastern Pennsylvania (Eagle Rock Resort), and Quintana Roo (Cancun), Mexico.

 

Marisol L. Torres, MBA

Marisol’s extensive experience in both the public and private sector allows her to understand the many different challenges and goals individuals may have.

Honorable Cornell Wilson

Bio coming soon.
 

 

 

 

 

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