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 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 significant 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.

María Teresa DonateMaria Teresa Donate headshot

María Teresa Donate joined the Northampton Community College (NCC) 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 an asset to the community.

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    Professor Emerita 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’s degree in Social Science from the University of Puerto Rico, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

    The number of committees and organizations to which Professor Emerita 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 and founder 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; former Co-Chair of Northampton Community College’s Diversity Committee; served on the Board of Governors of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce; former Board member of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and former Board member of United Way Pennsylvania.

    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 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, 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 Emerita 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, 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 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. In 2013 the American Association of University Women presented the “Gateway to Equity Award” awarded to individuals that have shown, by action and philosophy, that they advance equity for women and girls though advocacy, education, philanthropy, or research. She was recently recognized “100 Pennsylvania’s Most Influential Latino Leaders”.

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

    Governor Tom Wolf re-appointed her to the GACLA Commission, this time as Chair.

    Was also appointed to serve in Governor Tom Wolf’s Council on Reform, established through his Protection of Vulnerable Populations Executive Order 2019-05. The Governor charged this diverse group of community leaders, providers, stakeholders, and cabinet members with taking a comprehensive look at needs to best serve the state’s vulnerable populations.

    In October 2020 she was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs for her “unwavering dedication, commitment and service to the advancement of the Latino Community- especially in education and serving as Chair of GACLA.

    Professor Emerita Donate relentless commitment for communities of color and undocumented people motivated her to join Northampton County and City of Bethlehem Complete Count committees to assure that those populations are counted in the 2020 Census.

    Most significantly, Teresa is recognized 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 and inclusion, bilingualism, hiring practices, scholarship fundraising and others.

    Ms. Donate served Northampton Community College with great distinction for 28 years. In recognition of her retirement, NCC conferred on May 31, 2020, the title Professor Emerita of

    Counseling for her” lasting legacy through her unwavering commitment to increase access to education and engagement within the community.”

    She is married to Ricardo A. Orench and has three children: Teresa María, Hearing Officer Philadelphia Municipal Court, Traffic Division; Ricardo E., currently employed as Chemical Engineer and Ivette, a nurse employed by AmeriHealth

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.

Reverend Bonnie CamardaBonnie Camrada headshot

As Director of Partnerships for The Salvation Army in Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1999, Rev. Bonnie Camarda is at the heart of The Salvation Army’s initiatives to form fruitful partnerships with business leaders, government leaders, prospective donors, fellow social service organizations in the area. Most importantly building relationships with individuals who seek her for spiritual guidance and hope. Her professional accomplishments and community involvement are truly remarkable, and she has been recognized for her rare ability to reach men and women, the elderly and children, across socioeconomic and cultural lines.

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    A persevering advocate for the underserved, Rev. Bonnie’s goal is to continue maximizing the neighborhoods’ spiritual assets, social capital and civic values. She is a non-violent activist encouraging mutual trust and respect through amnesty programs that provide musical instruments. Rev Bonnie is also an avid supporter of education and supported the Philadelphia’s “Schools for Weapons Program” that were turned into the authorities.

    Rev. Bonnie recently accompanied Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf with a host of delegates from the Philadelphia-area and Unidos Pa’PR to visit The Salvation Army in Puerto Rico to learn more about the long-term recovery of the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Upon returning from Puerto Rico Rev. Camarda received a Citation from City Council as an Honorary Puerto Rico Citizen of the Year in 2018. The honoree was selected for her outstanding work for all Puerto Rican citizens recovering from Hurricane Maria especially those that transition to Philadelphia.

    Rev. Bonnie is committed to transfer lives through the impactful relationships she builds with everyone she encounters in behalf of The Salvation Army with God’s guidance

Bryan GarciaHeadshot Bryan Garcia

Biography to come.

Honorable Jamie L. ArroyoJaime Arroyo

Jaime Arroyo earned his B.S in Business Administration from Millersville University and launched his career with Fulton Financial Corporation after completing their rigorous Management Training Program. For over a decade, Jaime has worked in various positions within banking, driven to help clients reach their personal and business financial goals. During this time, Jaime also built his own Real Estate business, investing in and managing properties in Lancaster, PA.

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    In 2016, he completed his M.B.A at Drexel University with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. Jaime led the Community Lending and Social Enterprise Development efforts at ASSETS; helping the organization become one of the top micro-lenders in the state of Pennsylvania and Lancaster, one of the most ethical business communities in the country. Jaime coached and advised on the finances and business plans of small business owners, specifically women, immigrants, people of color, and enterprisers who benefit the larger community. In 2018, Jaime was elected Curator for the Global Shapers Lancaster Hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum.

    Jaime has extensive experience and expertise working with organizations on real-time strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion as well as talent development for high-performing leaders.

    Today, Jaime is the Chief Strategy Officer for Community Action Partnership, Lancaster County’s largest anti-poverty organization, helping low income families achieve economic empowerment. In addition, Jaime began his first term as a Councilor for the City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in January of 2020 and is Chair of the Economic Development Committee.

Nancy Ayllón-RamirezNancy Ramirez

Nancy Ayllón-Ramírez, Esquire has lived in Kennett Square (Chester County) for over 25 years. Nancy’s family migrated to the US to work in the Mushroom industry in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

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    After Nancy’s academic career in Chester County, she went on to study Sociology and Spanish at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. After receiving her double bachelor’s degrees, she returned to work in Chester County. She worked as a housing case manager at Maternal and Child Health Consortium, then went to work for a local Senator, and eventually began working at an Immigration Law Firm in West Chester. Working at the law firm sparked her interest in practicing law. Soon after she enrolled at the Widener University Delaware Law School, where she obtained her Juris Doctorate with a pro bono distinction.

    Nancy’s legal career began at a non-profit organization in Philadelphia- Justice at Work, where she held the title of Medical-Legal Partnership Staff Attorney. She returned to Chester County to become an associate attorney at a local law firm. After three years of practicing and working for others, Nancy opened her own law firm in Kennett Square. She is the founder and owner of Ayllon-Ramirez Law Firm (ARLF). At ARLF, she manages immigration matters across the country, and family law matters in Pennsylvania.

    Telemundo 62 has featured Nancy as a guest speaker on immigration current events. Local magazines and newspapers have highlighted Nancy’s immigration and entrepreneurship story. She was an Honoree of the 40 under Forty recognized by a Philadelphia media company, Al Dia. In 2022, Marquis Who’s Who added Nancy to their biographical list.

    Nancy forms part of the Kennett Education Foundation’s board, as well as the boards of Kennett Area Park Authority (KAPA) and Youth Community Forward (YCF- a grassroots organization helping the local migrant community). She is also a member of the Longwood Rotary Club.

    Nancy enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her extended family in the US and Mexico.

Vanessa R. BelenBelen headshot

Vanessa R Belen, a mother of three was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She spent most of her life growing up in Erie with my mother and siblings. Belen obtained an Associate degree in Specialized Business from Erie Business Center in 2003.

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    Belen works for the Richford Arms Apartments in downtown Erie and have been for a few years. Before that, she worked at Supportive Living Services for many years as a Resident Asst., a Manager and then as an Executive Asst. to the Director of the agency.

    On July 24th, 2015 Belen’s oldest son was senselessly killed outside a house party after a football game during a drive by shooting. He was 16yrs old. She has two other children, a 20yr old daughter serving in the Navy and an 18yr old son, a Gannon University student.

    Belen’s commitments consist of serving in the following capacities: Board Member for the Crime Victim Center, an agency advocating for victims of crimes for almost 50 years. The Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) a pilot program created by the Dept. of Justice, Conciliation Specialists to enhance the dialogue, transparency, and accountability between Erie Police Officers and the Erie Community. Member of the Erie Latino Leadership Association. Mayor Joe Schember’s Better Together Council designed to implement policies and programs to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion for Erie residents. In 2019, Belen was a City Council Candidate.

Scott J. BlairScott Blair headshot

Scott J. Blair, M.Ed. is an accomplished educator, mentor and diversity and inclusion practitioner that currently serves as DeSales University’s inaugural leader for University wide efforts in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the institution. In his role as the Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Blair engages with faculty, staff, students, alumni and the Lehigh Valley community in building diverse and inclusive experiences for all.

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    Prior to joining DeSales, Blair served as the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer at Northampton Community College, where he led the creation of Northampton’s first Diversity Strategic Plan (2020) in partnership with the institution’s College Diversity Committee and hosting the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center for a series of strategic DEI discussions. Blair also led the creation of the College’s first Chosen/Preferred Name procedure for students and also worked closely in relaunching the College’s “I Have A Dream” Black History Month Celebration Banquet.

    Blair has also held a variety of positions in diversity, academic and student support and athletics at SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University. While with the United University Professions (UUP) – that nation’s largest high education faculty/staff union – Blair served as a chapter president, chapter diversity officer, and as a member of UUP’s State-wide Black and Latino Faculty/Staff Concerns Committee.

    Blair is also active in the world of athletics, having served as a college men’s basketball coach for over 15 years and currently is a member of the men’s basketball staff at Kutztown University. For his efforts as the inaugural men’s basketball coach at SUNY-ESF, Blair was inducted into their Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021. Scott is also an adjunct faculty member in the Sport Management program at Northampton Community College.

    Blair currently is a member of the National Association of Diversity Officer’s in Higher Education (NADOHE) and is engaged in numerous local efforts in the Lehigh Valley community to advance Inclusive Excellence in the area. Most notably, Blair serves as the Chair of the Community Action of the Lehigh Valley’s (CALV) ‘Color Outside The Lines’ initiative, a community wide DEI strategic plan for the Lehigh Valley. Blair is also on the Board of Directors for the Lehigh Valley Inter-Regional Networking & Connecting Consortium (LINC) and serves as co-chair of their DEI Committee, serves on the Board of Directors for the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and is a co-chair of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s DEI Committee and Minsi Trail Boy Scouts Association’s DEI Committee.

    Blair earned his Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and also holds an Executive Leadership Certificate from the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education – Race and Equity Center.

    Luz Esneda BlandonLuz Esneda Blandon

    Biography to come.

    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. 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.

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    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 Pike and Monroe Counties. In November 2019, she became the 1st Hispanic elected as School Board Director in the East Stroudsburg Area School District where she Chairs the Education and Negotiation committees. Passionate about supporting professional organizations, she is a Board Member of the Brodhead Watershed Association where she Chairs the Membership committee, Colonial IU 20 where she serves as Vice President, Prospanica NY where she serves as Vice President of Professional Development, Latina VIDA, Latinas on the Plaza and an Advisory Board member for several organizations including: The Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs, Monroe County Children and Youth where she leads the Education committee, SciGirls, and the Alliance for Positive Youth Development. In addition, she was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf to represent the Poconos Region on statewide commissions on Redistricting Reform and Latino affairs (GACLA) where she Chairs the Education committee.

    Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez was 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. Her published written 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 eleven-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).

Luz Esneda BlandónLuz Esneda Blandon

Luz E Blandon has been a staunch advocate for Latinx rights in Pittsburgh for the past 7 years. Currently, she is serving as the Executive Vice-President of Children Services, at Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh, Pa.

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    Luz is responsible for a shelter for immigrant minors, a national Case management program that provides support to Immigrant minors in their community, and a Long-Term Foster Care program dedicated to support the children without families in the United States. Luz was also the 2020 recipient of Pittsburgh 40 Under 40 and the Athena Award.  She was born and raised in Colombia where she completed her studies in Business Administration, and she is currently completing her MBA at Penn State University. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Luz B worked in international education for 10 years working in Tanzania, Kuwait, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Guatemala. She has two beautiful children Elijah and Federico. Elijah is a piano major at the Creating and Performance Arts school ( CAPA) and a state medalist wrestler. Federico is 6 years old and enjoys spending time with his dog Spike.  

Emilio A. BuitragoEmilio Buitrago

Emilio is a decisive, action-oriented and results focused Engineer and PMP® certified Project Manager with over 20 years of experience in the Telecommunications, Project Management and Renewable Energy fields. Highly-experienced in providing insightful technical support as a strategic business partner with senior management and customers. Goal-oriented contributor with finely tuned planning skills contributing to overall company growth. He is a dynamic leader with uncompromising integrity and exemplary work ethics.

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    Emilio works as a Presales Engineer at Gamesa Wind US (now Siemens Gamesa), where he started as the US SCADA Manager in August 2010. Siemens Gamesa is a global technological leader in the wind industry based in Pamplona, Spain and with its US offices in the Greater Philadelphia region.

    Born in La Guaira, Venezuela, Emilio came to the US in 1996 with the goal to learn English after finishing and obtaining his bachelor degree in Telecommunication Engineering, In Philadelphia, Emilio found the opportunity to enhance his professional career while working in PECO Hyperion (Today, Level 3 Communications) until 2008.

    Emilio holds an advanced Master Certificate in Applied Project Management from Villanova University, and a certified credential on Scrum Project Management, is addition he is currently pursuing and has taken classes to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Wind Energy, Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems from Penn State University.

    He is a founder member and past president of Casa de Venezuela, where he still sits as part of the Advisory Board. He is a of member of SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), past board member ALPFA Philadelphia, organization where he worked and established partnerships with the Lebow School of Business at Drexel University, Boeing and Comcast to provide scholarships to Latino descent graduate students from local and nationwide communities colleges to allow them to continue with the higher education and obtain their bachelor degree at Drexel University.

    The oldest of four brothers, Emilio always showed his passion for community, political and social activism. He was part of different groups through early years, from teaching catechism at his local church to serving as chair and co-chair at the student center at his high school, rallying and speaking on behalf of those supporting social and community’s causes.

    In 2001, he became the coordinator for RECIVEX (Civil Resistance of Venezuelans Abroad) and in 2002, he became the coordinator of IVCD (International Venezuelan Council for Democracy), a network of more than 45 chapters around the world advocating for democracy in Venezuela and in the Americas.
    Emilio was named one of “The 50 Most Influential Latinos” in the Delaware Valley in 2006 and 2009, recognition granted by the Multicultural Affairs Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitor Bureau, Impacto Newspaper and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations. He was also named “Orgullo Hispano” in 2006 by Univision TV and also, in 2007 received “Crystal Award”, recognition granted by El Sol Newspaper.
    He has participated as a guest speaker and panelist in several events in the region including The Spanish Cultural Series at Bryn Mawr College, the 5th Annual Latino-American Reaffirmation Day; event held at the State Capitol in Harrisburg.
    In October 2009, Emilio was part one of the selected group of panelists for the screening preview of the CNN program “Latino in America”, organized by Comcast and CNN, hosted by Juan Carlos Lopez, News anchor of CNN en Español at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
    In 2012, Emilio was part of the Latino leaders that worked on the civic and educational campaign “Vota por tu Futuro” with a TV commercial to promote Latino voter participation for the upcoming presidential election, organized by Telemundo WWSI-Philadelphia.
    Emilio has appeared in several TV programs including Puerto Rican Panorama (ABC), Comcast Newsmakers (Comcast), Despierta Valle Delaware (Univision), En Portadas (Telemundo), Buenas Noches (Globovision- Venezuela), among others, featured as “ Personaje Ň “ by WFMZ 69.
    In 2016, Emilio was selected at the Chairman of the Gala Latina 10th anniversary of Congreso of Latinos Unidos in Philadelphia.

    In 2017, Emilio was part of a large group Wind Energy professional for the AWEA Wind Power on Capitol Hill, special advocacy initiative to educate legislators and their staff on the wind industry’s top policy initiatives at both the state and federal level. Also in 2017 Emilio was elected committee person for the Springfield Township Democratic Committee in Delaware Country.

    In 2018, Emilio was selected, among other 11 Latino on the series “I am an American Immigrant”, a project by AL Dia Newspaper with the mission to spotlight the stories of 12 Latino and Hispanic immigrants living in greater Philadelphia area through a six-month editorial project.

    The project, which was organized in partnership with Cabrini University, was launched in December 2017 with the call for nomination, after more than 70 nominations received, 12 finalists were chosen by the selection committee, which was comprised of local leaders intimately familiar with the immigrant experience: Abel Rodriguez, the director of the Center on Immigration at Cabrini University; Jennifer Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Peter Gonzales, president and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

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. 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.

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    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 Pike and Monroe Counties. In November 2019, she became the 1st Hispanic elected as School Board Director in the East Stroudsburg Area School District where she Chairs the Education and Negotiation committees. Passionate about supporting professional organizations, she is a Board Member of the Brodhead Watershed Association where she Chairs the Membership committee, Colonial IU 20 where she serves as Vice President, Prospanica NY where she serves as Vice President of Professional Development, Latina VIDA, Latinas on the Plaza and an Advisory Board member for several organizations including: The Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs, Monroe County Children and Youth where she leads the Education committee, SciGirls, and the Alliance for Positive Youth Development. In addition, she was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf to represent the Poconos Region on statewide commissions on Redistricting Reform and Latino affairs (GACLA) where she Chairs the Education committee.

    Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez was 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. Her published written 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 eleven-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).

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

Dr. Ida Castro is the Vice President for Community Engagement and Chief Diversity Officer at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She has more than 35 years of experience in law, academia, not-for- profit and government agencies. At Geisinger Commonwealth, Dr. Castro is responsible for leading effective engagement with diverse communities within Northeast Pennsylvania and establishes meaningful collaborations to reduce health disparities and increase the pool of qualified and representative physicians.

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    She recently launched the Institute for Healthy Communities to engage communities and address determinants of health. She developed and implemented an innovative Regional Education Academy for Careers in Health-Higher Education program to support first generation to college and educationally disadvantaged students achieve their dreams to pursue health related careers. In about 6-years she served nearly 700 students, 80% were first generation to college and more than 90% of the high school students are now in college. Nearly 40 students are currently attending a medical school. Prior to joining Geisinger Commonwealth as a founding executive in 2008, Castro was a founding executive of V-me Media, Inc., where she headed the firm’s sponsorship and government relations functions. Earlier, Castro also founded and led her own company, IC Alliance Development Group, LLC – assisting companies, including Verizon, Greater New York Hospital Corporation and Pratt Institute, with government relations and diversity management.

    President Clinton appointed Castro in 1998 as the first Latina Chairwoman/CEO of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency responsible for eliminating discrimination at the workplace. She supervised 3000 staff and managed a budget exceeding $350 million dollars per year. In 2004, Castro was appointed as the 2005 Haywood Burns Chair for Civil Rights at CUNY School of Law, and from 2002 – 2004 she served as the first Hispanic Commissioner/CEO of the New Jersey State Department of Personnel.

    She now serves on numerous community based organization boards in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, including Keystone College, Scranton Area Foundation, Women’s Resource Center, United Neighborhood Centers, Leadership Wilkes-Barre, SHINE, and Skills in Scranton, COC. Prior to her tenure in government, Castro held numerous senior positions in academia and the private sector, including serving as Senior Legal Counsel for the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation, Labor Management Relations Director and Counsel to the President of Hostos Community College and Associate Professor at Rutgers University.

    Castro has been the recipient of numerous achievement awards, including Governor’s Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania Award, PA Diversity Institute Award, Top 25 2009 Women NEPA NAWBO, the Hispanic Bar Association, MALDEF, Garden State Equality, the National Puerto Rican Coalition lifetime achievement award, and she is the only Latina inducted into Rutgers University’s Alumni Hall of Fame. Castro is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico. She received her Master’s degree from Rutgers University, her Juris Doctorate from Rutgers –Newark School of Law and a doctorate of humane letters honoris causa from Saint Joseph’s College, Connecticut .

Maria L. DelgadoMaria Delgado

Maria is a graduate of Eastern University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management with a double minor in Human Resources and Bilingual Studies.

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    Maria is currently an active advocate for the Latino Community in Lawrence County. On September 14th, 2019, Maria was able to hold a Health Fair for the Latino Community in Lawrence County for the first time in the history of Lawrence County.
    Maria works closely with the United Way of Lawrence County and its affiliates to assist migrating Latino’s.
    Maria also teaches ESOL for Slippery Rock University.
    Maria has been an active advocate for the Latino community since 1991.

Jimmy DuranJimmy Duran

Bio coming soon.

Jonathan EncarnaciónJonathan Encarnacion

Jonathan Encarnación serves as the Administrative Director for UPMC for You (10+ years), a division of UPMC Health Plan.

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    . In his capacity as Administrative Director, Encarnación is responsible for leading efforts of the UPMC Health Plan and its affiliates to develop product markets in Central PA through the identification and engagement of key stakeholders with goals of building a positive market presence and commitment to new communities, identify critical players in community leadership, professional groups, ethnic communities, consumer groups and others who are able to support the effort. In addition, Encarnación is the host of “A Su Salud—To Your Health.” This monthly bilingual TV program is aimed at educating disadvantaged consumers about health and wellness issues impacting quality of life. Prior to this position, Encarnación directed the Hispanic Center of Reading and Berks County, also known as El Centro Hispano Daniel Torres, which targets the acculturation and self-sufficiency of citizens and non-citizens of Hispanic heritage.
    In 2011 Encarnación was appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees for Wernersville State Hospital and as a Commissioner for the Sunset Taskforce. Other gubernatorial appointments include Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) during the Ridge administration, Gov. Rendell transition team for the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Commissioner at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). Encarnación is also involved in trusteeship positions at various community-based organizations.
    Most recently, Encarnación was appointed By Governor Wolf as a commissioner to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) and was elected to the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation Board of Trustees, the Regional Health Equity Council (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services), and Chair of the Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation.

    Encarnación earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Spanish from Texas A & M University, and his Master of Business Administration degree from Alvernia University. In addition, Encarnación has participated as a Fellow at John Hopkins University and Harvard Business School.

Jennifer Hardy GomezJennifer Hardy Gomez

Jennifer Gomez Hardy is the Founding Partner of the Gomez Law Group which is a boutique firm practicing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey fighting for everyday people. She is a fearless Personal Injury litigator with top tier law firm experience and a passion for helping victims who suffer from injuries resulting from negligence. She strives not only to obtain the highest possible recovery for her clients, but to provide them with thorough and vigorous representation.

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    In July 2018, she started her personal injury firm with 13 cases and quickly grew her firm to over 100 cases in less than 2 years. Jennifer has a tight network of lawyers that she refers out many more clients.

    The secret behind her success?

    Her creative energy and desire to practice law with a deep conviction for justice her compassion and ability to relate to people across economic, racial, and religious backgrounds and her relentless work ethic and commitment to fiercely advocate for her clients. She has always represented people not companies or big corporations.

    But her story didn’t begin in the courtroom. It started at a very young age with a keen sensitivity to injustice and a compassion for people. From there, it evolved into participating in various groups and political activities that fought for civility and equality through grassroots efforts.

    She is the Immediate Past President of the Hispanic Bar Association of PA and a member of Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and sits as an Arbitrator.

María Alejandra HernándezMaria Alexander Hernandez

Biography to come.

Nelly Jiménez-ArévaloNelly A. Jimenez

Nelly Jiménez-Arévalo, is the Executive Director and CEO of ACLAMO Family Centers of Montgomery County. Before that she was the Kennett Square Family Center Director and the Community Relations Director for the Maternal and Child Health Consortium (MCHC). Prior to joining MCHC, Mrs. Jiménez-Arévalo worked at Congreso de Latinos Unidos as a Manager for the Housing and Social Services Program.

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    Mrs. Jiménez-Arevalo is a member of the Montgomery County Community College Diversity Advisory Council, a member of the steering community for Montgomery County Maternal and Early Childhood Consortium, a member of the Norristown Police Department advisory board and a member of the regional local board for United Way.

    Mrs. Jiménez-Arévalo is also the co-organizer of the Chester County Latino Professional Luncheon, board member of the West Chester Senior Center, a past member of the Chester County Women Commission and the Montgomery County Women, Families and Children Commission. She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2013 Power Women Award by Main Line Today Magazine and the “2015 Most Influential Latina” of the Delaware Valley. Mrs. Jiménez-Arévalo holds a degree in Law from Santa Maria University, Venezuela.

Quetcy M. LozadaQuetcy Lozada headshot

Quetcy M. Lozada was born and raised in Philadelphia. She is the mother of two radiant children Alexis and Jaime Jr. Quetcy is currently the Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Maria
Quiñones Sánchez serving the 7th Councilmantic District.

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    In this function, she is charged with personnel decisions and coordinates a wide range of public affairs for the Councilwoman that directly impacts the quality of life for its citizenry. Some of the programs and public affairs Ms. Lozada has been directly responsible for include: Tu Gobierno (Your Government) a weekly community radio show hosted by the Councilwoman providing the Latino community with available city services, Operation Thanksgiving where she was able to obtain food basket donations with all of the Thanksgiving trimmings of over 300+ less fortunate families, Latino LiHeap Drive where hundreds of applications were completed in the Latino community for assistance with utility bills, Operation Warm in collaboration with the Office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown children throughout the city received a warm coat, hat, gloves and scarf for the fridge winter months. Quetcy is also responsible to hundreds of community clean-ups that result in cleaner, safer neighborhoods.
    Prior to joining the Council staff, she was the Business Manager and Human Resources Representative at The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Inc. (Concilio), the oldest Hispanic community service organization in the Delaware Valley. At Concilio one of her main functions was the coordination of 14 events during Hispanic Heritage month known to many as the Philadelphia Puerto Rican Festival where she worked to promote and preserve the Puerto Rican culture.

    Quetcy describes her personal and professional experience working with the Latino community as incredibly gratifying and eye opening. It has given her an opportunity to network with other Latino professionals whose common goal is to work for the betterment and advancement of the lives of families in her community, which has become Quetcy’s passion

    From 2001 to 2003, Quetcy served as Administrative Assistant in the Multi-Cultural Affairs Congress a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was in this position that she realized the importance of diversity and inclusion of all multicultural communities in the workforce and everywhere.

    Quetcy is a 1989 graduate of Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls and continued her studies at Lincoln University receiving a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and is currently enrolled in Lincoln University’s MBA program.

    Ms. Lozada enjoys working in her community, reading, dancing and traveling. She resides in the Northwood section of Philadelphia with her husband, Jaime Neris and her children Alexis and Jay.

Nancy Matos-González
Justice Nancy Matos

Biography to come.

Joanna Otero-CruzJoanna Otero-Cruz headshot

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.

Maritza V. PaduaMaritza Padua

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.

Delma Rivera-LytleHeadshot Delma Lytle Rivera

Biography to come.

Monica A. Ruiz, M.S.W.Monica Ruiz

Monica Ruiz is the Executive Director at Casa San José. Mónica has been working with Casa since 2014 when she started as an intern, then moved to service coordinator and then community organizer. Prior to that, she worked for Catholic Charities as a case manager. She was born in Cleveland Ohio and has Latino roots from Guatemala and Puerto Rico, where her mom and her dad are originally from.

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    Mónica holds a master’s degree in Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing and Social Action. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Psychology. Mónica is a powerful advocate for Latinos on legal, housing, development, and educational issues. She fights for those facing deportation proceedings and launches projects to assist women, children and youth. In addition, she partners with political, labor, religious, and law enforcement leadership to make Pittsburgh stronger and more welcoming to all.

    Mónica recently received the 2019 Women of Influence Award, Pittsburgh Business Times and the 2019 César Chávez Community Heroes Award. She was also awarded with the 2018 New Person of the Year, from Thomas Merton Center and the 2018 Rising Star, from the University of Pittsburgh by the School of Social Work. She is currently a fellow of Lead Now Pittsburgh, a transformational leadership program for the civic sector

Adriana Sanchez-SolisAdriana Sanchez-Solis Headshot

Adriana Sanchez-Solis works as the Senior Manager for Community Engagement for the Office of Equity and Engagement at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and lives in Pittsburgh. She has worked with immigrant and refugee communities in Allegheny County since 2015. In her current role, Adriana works to operationalize best practices around engaging with most vulnerable communities in the county. Concurrently, she also facilitates ongoing efforts to develop and implement a Racial Equity Strategic Plan within the Office of Developmental Supports. This includes overseeing and advising on the implementation of the Theory of Change by presenting data on disparities, fostering dialogue, and developing policy and procedures.

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    Prior to her position at DHS, Adriana worked in literacy support for immigrant communities at the English Language Center in Boise, Idaho. She developed and taught pre-literacy courses specifically for Somali Bantu refugees and taught entry-level English and Integration into US Society courses to refugees from all over the world. Through the Idaho Community Action Network and in her role as academic advisor at Washington State University and the University of Idaho, Adriana helped organize and advocate for migrant farm workers rights and progressive social change all over the Pacific Northwest.

    While completing her graduate work and after graduating, Adriana taught a variety of courses for Washington State University in the American Studies, History, and Gender Studies Departments.

    Adriana was born and raised in Costa Rica and migrated to the United States in 1997. She holds graduate degrees in Foreign Languages and Cultures and American Studies from Washington State University.

Isamac Torres-FigueroaIsamac Torres Headshot

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.

Francisco Torres-ArandaFrancisco Torres

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.

Fernando TorresFernando Torres

Fernando J. Torres is a VP of operations at a Greene, Tweed & Co. a global manufacturer of high-performance products, and integrated material solutions for the Aerospace, Semiconductor and Energy generation industries. He is responsible for developing and implementing the corporation’s global operations from product development thru customer delivery across all facilities in the US, Europe and Asia.

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    He holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University as well as the Master in Business Administration from The Pennsylvania State University. In addition to his business role, he has a desire for helping others. Throughout his years in the region, he has held different positions at several nonprofits organizations where he drives his passion for the advancement of the Latino communities, voting rights, equality, science and technology, and more importantly, his passion of helping others in need.

    He is currently a member of the board of directors of Congreso de Latinos Unidos whose mission is to enable individuals and families in predominantly Latino neighborhoods to achieve economic self-sufficiency and wellbeing. He is also a board member at the National Association of Manufactures (NAM) where he drives support for manufacturers across the US inspiring the next generation of manufacturing talent. Recently completed his term as the President of Casa de Venezuela of Philadelphia whose mission is to support the advancement of the Venezuelan community in the Greater Philadelphia Region. He was also a Trustee at the American Helicopter Museum and Educational Center where he works to celebrate the pioneers of aviation and encourage and inspire future generations of engineers, scientists, innovators, pilots, and inventors. Lastly, in 2016 he worked with other latino organizations in our region to Launch Coalicion Latina de Philadelphia (COLAPHI) with the purpose of strengthening the participation and the political organization of the Latino community to exercise their democratic right thru education, communication and transparency.

Hector TorresHector Torres

Mr. Hector O. Torres was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1972 and raised in the Bronx, New York. Director of Operations for I-LEAD Inc.’s Higher Education Programs in Central PA- 222 Corridor since 2018. Pennsylvania, (HiSET) Chief Examiner includes five (5) testing centers for High School Equivalency exams in Reading, Lancaster, Chester, Prospect Park, and Philadelphia. Established the I-LEAD’s Adult Education & (HiSET)Testing Centers, I-LEAD Language Academy, and operates the Achieve College Education Associates Degree programs working with Harcum College partnership sites in Reading, Lancaster, and Allentown.

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    As a nontraditional student, Mr. Torres earned two associate degrees, one in Business Administration/Management from Berks Technical Institute, where he graduated class President and was twice elected Student Council President by his peers. The other is a Civil Leadership degree from all five (5) Berks County colleges Penn State, Alvernia, Kutztown, Albright, and RACC.

    In 2006, he transferred to Alvernia University’s education in the Franciscan tradition, earning his Baccalaureate degree (B.A.) in Business Management. After eight years, he returned to Alvernia to complete a Master of Arts Degree with a concentration in Leadership for Sustainable Communities. Mr. Torres is currently working on an Alvernia University trifecta now working on a Ph. D. in Community and Civil Leadership (Doctor of Philosophy).

    Mr. Torres has also completed additional training with Dale Carnegie, Interpersonal relationships, problem-solver, and focused leadership, where he earned the (Highest Award for Achievement and the Outstanding Performance Award) in 2010. Mr. Torres obtained a Green Belt in Six Sigma process improvement, where he grasped how to run experiments that would identify the essential factors in a process, how they interact, and at what levels they must be set to be predictable. Pennsylvania State Insurance Producer, Private School Agent license, Conflicts of Interest CITI Credential, and National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.) “Protecting Human Research Participants.” certifications.

    Mr. Torres volunteers as a board director for non-profit organizations like the Berks County Latino Chamber, Berks County Workforce Development Corporation, Pennsylvania Ad Hoc Workforce Task Force, National Puerto Rican Agenda, Wilson Bulldog Youth Baseball, and Berks for Peace.

Azucena UgarteAzucena Ugarte

Azucena Ugarte is the Director of The Office of Domestic Violence Strategies for the City of Philadelphia. As the leader of the Office of Domestic Violence Strategies, Azucena works to support the City’s health and human services (HHS) agencies to strengthen their capacity to identify and appropriately respond to domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). As the only City office solely dedicated to address this issue, The Office of Domestic Violence Strategies aims to develop policies and practices that safely support families affected by IPV, ensure access to inclusive services, and create an IPV-competent workforce.

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    Azucena has over 15 years of experience working to implement education programs, creating system change and advocating for policies that will improve survivors’ lives. She is a passionate advocate for trauma-informed practices and is recognized in Philadelphia as an expert in domestic violence. Azucena holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology and Education and a PhD in Human Sexuality.

For more information about the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, please contact:

Luz B. Colon / Executive Director
308 Main Capitol, Suite 508E,
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-346-5301

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