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 Jiménez-Arévalo
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.
Maria L. Delgado
Jimmy Duran
Jonathan Encarnación
George Fernandez
Isamac Torres-Figueroa
Amaris Hernandez-Padgett
Priscilla E. Jimenez, Esq.
Carol Obando-Derstine
Natalia Ortiz
Joanna Otero-Cruz
Adriana Rivera
Dr. Adrián Rivera-Reyes
Monica A. Ruiz, M.S.W.
Quetcy M. Lozado
Delma Rivera-Lytle
Jacqueline V. Rocco
Maritza V. Padua
Francisco Aranda Torres
Marisol L. Torres, MBA
Hon. Cornell Wilson

Nelly Jiménez-Arévalo

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.

 

Honorable Jamie L. ArroyoJaime Arroyo

Jaime earned his B.S in Business Administration from Millersville University and began his career with Fulton Financial Corporation where he successfully completed their rigorous Management Training Program. For over a decade, Jaime worked in various positions within banking while helping clients reach their personal and business financial goals. During this time, Jaime built his Real Estate business; investing 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. Passionate about serving the community; Jaime currently leads the community lending and social enterprise development efforts at ASSETS. In 2018, Jaime
    was elected Curator for the Global Shapers Lancaster Hub; an initiative of the World Economic Forum.

    Jaime uses his passion and knowledge of business and leadership to facilitate The Review Club for Work Wisdom.

Vanessa R. BelenVanessa Belen

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.

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.

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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

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 Greater Philadelphia area.

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    With exemplary professional accomplishments and community involvement, she has been recognized for her rare ability to reach men, and women, the elderly and children, across diverse socioeconomic and cultural lines.
    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.

 

Thaís Vázquez-Carrero

Bio coming soon.

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 .

 

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 Concepción Sr.Sonny Conception

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

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    Presently Sonny 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 . His professional experience has led him from Drug and Alcohol Counseling to Youth Behavioral Specialist and Employment Specialist for at-risk Teenagers. Concepción’s 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.Diana Cortes

As Chair of the Litigation Group, Diana Cortes oversees litigation matters and supervises numerous litigation units.

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    Prior to joining the Law Department, Diana was a litigator at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. in its Professional Liability Department. She represented municipalities, school districts, and police officers in civil rights litigation involving excessive force, wrongful arrest, due process violations, and malicious prosecution, among other matters.

    Prior to Marshall Dennehey, she was an assistant district attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where she tried felony jury trials. She also worked in the Juvenile Division of the District Attorney’s Office, where she worked with juvenile victims of sex crimes in testifying against their adult perpetrators. Before the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Diana was an attorney at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP in its Litigation Department. There, her practice included a wide range of commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense matters.

    Diana began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Juan R. Sánchez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Villanova University School of Law and Cornell University.
    Diana is a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. She also is an adjunct professor at Villanova and Temple Law Schools. She is also fluent in Spanish.

 

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.

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 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.

 

 

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.Priscilla Jimenez

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.

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.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

 

Quetcy M. LozadaQuetcy Lozada

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.

Delma Rivera-Lytle

Biography to come.

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

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

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    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 the many daily obstacles the students’ faced. She met this same fate when creating the Hispanic Heritage Association as she was able to realize the bigger gaps in oppressed communities without a voice and minority representation in the suburbs.

    As time moved forward, Jacqueline was eventually becoming appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) as the first-ever GACLA commissioner for Conshohocken, servicing Montgomery County. Serving her second term on the Commission she recently appointed Chair Civic Engagement Committee for GACLA.  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 has accomplished many outcomes within the Latino Community she serves in and around the Borough of Conshohocken, Pa. Aforementioned, she has managed to start the first Hispanic Heritage of Southeastern Pa servicing an inclusive Association within the regions of southeast Pa. The main purpose is to bring awareness in and around the surrounding boroughs of Montgomery County Latino culture through education, history, music, dance and the arts.  She has also been appointed to the Conshohocken Planning Commission in 2019 and still presently sits on the board as the first Hispanic woman. Jacqueline has partnered up with many local officials and organizations to bring awareness for the upcoming Census 2020 event and had Round table discussions around the Workforce and Language Barriers Sensitivity Awareness. She has managed to work close with the Borough and bringing the First Hispanic Day Celebrations for every 3rd Fridays of September during Hispanic Heritage month; in which she plans to expand to other counties and municipalities in the Commonwealth of PA. She continues to serve the community in which she resides with passion and commitment. This was able to get accomplished with the support of GACLA and the Borough of Conshohocken and the Latino community in where we held and carried out the First GACLA Proclamation reading in 2018 with Carlos and Stephanie Melendez restaurant entrepreneurs in Conshohocken.  With the support of the local community, Conshohocken Pa has been making great shifts and strides in transition the future of the borough and of its community in and around the Latino community.

    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, in the past she sat on several committees that serve the Latino community: UnidosPA’PR, National Puerto Rican Agenda, El Concilio Hispanic Fiesta committee, and New Foundation Charter High School Puerto Rican Initiative committee member and presently sits on Plymouth Whitemarsh Conshohocken Rotary club board member and current Chair for the organization.  Jacqueline also sits on the Hispanic Heritage Association of southeastern PA President and board, Census team in Montgomery County and Borough of Conshohocken Planning Commission board.

     

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 WilsonHonorable Cornell Wilson

Bio coming soon.

Contact Us

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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