Issue 4, December 2009

President Ada N. Lopez

2009 will remain an event filled milestone year in my life: I was elected as president of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women. For me, this was a singular honor and privilege: honor, because NACOPRW is one of the finest women’s organizations in the country and privilege, because I had the opportunity to work alongside women who have been leaders in the transformation of our communities across this country.  During this past year, as your president, I experienced our organization get re- energized at the national level; we created a heightened awareness of how NACOPRW can contribute to the national discourse on issues affecting Puerto Rican women and our Latino communities in general.  We became active in coalitions, redesigned our website and we created strategies to address three major initiatives in health, education and outreach.  We had conversations to assess the effectiveness of present day mentoring models; weighed in significantly on the health reform debate; ensured that parity for Puerto Rico was included in the health reform Senate bill and engaged all chapters in galvanizing support for Judge Sonia Sotomayor: a grassroots mobilization effort that culminated with 100 NACOPRW sisters traveling to Washington to celebrate the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

The 36th annual NACOPRW convention in Chicago on November 13th was organized as an important leadership summit.  Our theme “Change Within Reach; a Latina Perspective” framed a rich dialogue which took place not only in the workshops but at every opportunity throughout the weekend. It set the tone for our discussion on the agenda for 2010 and the continued implementation of our five year plan. The dialogue captured the imagination of the Puerto Rican young women and teens from Chicago Chapter’s partner Aspira Inc. of Illinois. And our special guests took a significant amount of time to engage the students in thought provoking conversations.  We were fortunate to have the presence of highly motivated  women leaders such as Norma Reyes, Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, City of Chicago; Illinois State Senator, Iris Martinez; Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation and Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda; and Daisy Sanchez Collazo, Author and journalist,Univision Puerto Rico.  These women proposed and gave each one of us reasons to participate in both public and private processes to further political and economic independence--- And the synergies which followed have made it possible to reconnect with the women of Puerto Rico.

2009 has been an eventful year.  But I know  hat I could not have accomplished anything without the support of the officers, committee members and friends:  A special thanks to: Edna Laverdi, Carmen Teresa Bonilla, Anna Rosario, Carmen Delgado-Votaw, Mercedes Olivier, Dora Strope, Wanda Gordils, Deborah Lopez, Evelyn Figueroa, Ibis Antongiorgi, Silvia Morrisroe, Vivian Ortiz, Lucy Del Valle, Patricia Perez, Yeni Cardona, Milly Santiago, Judge Vanessa Ruiz (Washington D.C.), Juanita Irizarry, Marisol Morales, Ana Vazquez,     Ivette Nieves of Aspira of Illinois and Laura Linger of  William Blair & Company My heartfelt congratulations to the new Board of Directors. I promise them my support in the coming year--- And I look forward to seeing everyone in Miami for the 2010 Convention.       Wahoo!!

Reception Honoring Judge Sonia Sotomayor  Organized by NACOPRW and other Latino Nonprofit Organizations at the National Education Association on October 15 great success

The unprecedented effort of most of the major Latino organizations to celebrate Justice Sotomayor was testimony for the popularity and respect she has earned from our community and proof of what our organizations can do when they get together to accomplish an important task. 

NACOPRW attracted nearly 100 of its members from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and the DC Metro area to pay homage to one of our own who has been elevated to the highest court of the land for her accomplishments and capabilities. 

The following photo shows one of the three groups of NACOPRW sisters who had their picture taken with Supreme Court Associate Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.  Ada Lopez, national president, is seen on the right of Sotomayor and Anna Rosario, President of the D.C. Metro Chapter of NACOPRW on her left.


Change Within Reach: A Latina Perspective, NACOPRW’s 38th Annual Leadership Training Convention held in Chicago, November 13-15

An excellent group of members and a good group of young Aspirantes (mentored groups of young women by ASPIRA, an educational Puerto Rican organization, mingled during the convention exchanging ideas and concerns about the societal changes Latina women are experiencing.

The Convention heard from inspirational role models such as Illinois State Senator, Iris Y. Martinez, Norma Reyes, Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection of the City of Chicago, Milly Santiago, director of the Hispanic Affairs Office of the Governor of Illinois,  Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, President of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and Keynote Speaker, Daisy Sanchez Collazo, journalist and author from Univision in Puerto Rico.

Workshops ranged from advocacy and  public policy  to mentoring to professional networking and the fundamentals of investing.

An Awards ceremony and celebration presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Anaida Colon-Muniz, past national President, a Chapter of Excellence Award to the Philadelphia Chapter, a Community Service Award to Maria Isabel Mendez of the Indiana Chapter, an Outstanding Service to NACOPRW Award to Wanda Gordils, National Secretary and President of the Indiana Chapter and a Woman of Achievement Award to Katherine Ast of the Northern Illinois Chapter.

The next page captures scenes from the Convention which energized NACOPRW members to pledge efforts to grow the organization in the future.

The Convention also elected a new Board of Directors which will take office on January 1 to undertake the offices for which they were sworn in during the conference by a Latina Judge, the Hon. of Chicago.

The 2010 NACOPRW Executive Committee of the Board-Elect:

National President, Vivian Ortiz, Philadelphia
First Vice President, Deborah Lopez, Chicago
Second Vice President, Sylvia Morrisroe, Indiana
Secretary, Bequi Ortiz, Indiana
Assistant Secretary, Edith Feliciano Chicago
Treasurer, Evelyn Figueroa Chicago
Assistant Treasurer, Vivian Colom Northern Illinois
(Note: The Presidents and two National Delegates from each Chapter compose the larger Board as well.) 

National and Chapter News

Chicago Chapter
Under the leadership of President Deborah Lopez, Chicago was instrumental in organizing and hosting the Convention.  It has collaborated with National in revamping our web site and messaging about our brand.

 Indiana Chapter
Indiana continues its fund raising for disadvantaged children and its program of participation in the Puerto Rican Parade as well as its folkloric presentations and scholarship events.

Maryland Tri County Chapter. 
Two young women received $2000 scholarships this year.  The Chapter initiated the effort to honor Judge Sotomayor and organized national efforts to make this event a success. 

The Chapter requested National’s assent to changing its name to DC Metro Chapter and when that was approved, its new Board, elected at a meeting at El Mariachi Restaurant in Rockville, commenced to implement an agenda related to workforce development, mentoring, education and environment.  Its kickoff Xmas event will be at a Puerto Rican owned restaurant in the nation’s capital, Mio, on December 4.  The new Board members are:  President, Anna M. Rosario, First Vice President, Xinomara Velazquez, Second Vice President, Mercedes Olivieri, Treasurer, Dora Strope, Secretary, Elena Nazario,  Assistant Treasurer, Vanny Marrero, Assistant Secretary, Sandra Rosario,                   Delegates, Carmen Delgado Votaw and Vilma Rosario and Alternate Delegates,Yvette Rivera and Maria Rios.

The following thank you note was received from Justice Sonia Sotomayor addressed to Dora Strope:  “I so very much enjoyed the reception that you and your membership helped organize for me.  Thank you for your lovely friendship.”

Miami Chapter
The Chapter is publishing an outstanding newsletter (see the November 2009 issue) with a great format.
Among the 2009 activities was a Technology Event co-sponsored with the Ana G. Mendez University System, to provide young Puerto Rican students with opportunities to learn abour technology and connect with different generations.

The Chapter sponsored the Alicia Baro Achievement Award luncheon in the Spring.  Nydia Menendez, President of the P.R. Bar Association was honored.
Three Latina Judges were present: Mina Sanchez Lorenz, Lillian Torres Buyout and Rosa Rodriguez besides former President of NACOPRW, the legendary Alicia Baron now 90 years old.

Three young women benefited from the Scholarship event with $2000 scholarships.

The newly elected Board of Directors of Miami Chapter is:
President, Lucy del Valle, Dalia Siry Diaz, VP Programs, Irma Phillips, VP Membership, Carmen Pedrogo, Treasurer, Norah Venegas, Treasurer, Lydia Morales, Secretary, Gladys Colon and Carmen Monroe, Delegates, Iris Corchado and Daisy C. Franklin, Alternate Delegates.

The Chapter lost founding member, Dr. Ivette DeArteaga Morgan, and Sonia Paniagua, recently.

Northern Illinois Chapter
The Chapter is pursuing its mentorship program having recruited 10 young women from the public schools.

They brought some of them to participate in the Convention providing a great opportunity for them to get acquainted with the national organization.

Philadelphia Chapter
The Chapter has provided volunteers for activities related to Breast Cancer and held a book signing for Iris Violeta’s “poemario”, La Rosa de Cristal.

The Chapter is publicized in Enfoque newspaper and Panorama, a TV show Iris Violeta emcees.  They are hosting an informational workshop on Autism on December 2 at the Cultural Center.

The Chapter’s Xmas party and Candle Fund Raiser will be on December 12 at Q-Ba Lounge.

Teresa Rodriguez was selected as one of “Delaware Valley’s Most influential Latinos” by IMPACTO, the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Inc., and the Multicultural Affairs Congress.

Southern California Chapter (SoCal)
SoCal  participated in the Komen Race for the Cure on September 27 at Newport Beach.  The Chapter awarded three scholarships in December and continues its interest in the Mendez project.  It is also supporting our troops by writing letters to Puerto Rican soldiers and donating Care Packages for them. 

De Aquí y De Allá

U.S. Women’s Bureau Nominee, Sara Manzano-Diaz
The Nominee for Director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor is Sara-Manzano-Diaz the highest –ranking Latina in the Pennsylvania Department of State and currently Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs.
Sara is married to Nelson Diaz, a well known Judge and Democratic Party activist.
Sara has served as Deputy General Counsel for Civil Rights and Litigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as Assistant Attorney General in NY.  She was Co-Chair of the Forum of Executive Women’s Mentoring Committee.  Her B.A. is from Boston University and her Law Degree from Rutgers.

National Women’s History Museum Act, H.R 1700, approved; Senate Bill, S2129 starts to move
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and 19 other Senators are pushing an identical bill to the one that passed in the House on October 14 directing the General Services Administration to sell its Cotton Annex property on the Mall at 12th and Independence Avenue to the Museum at fair-market rates.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, who is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.    We are hopeful that the bill can be passed before the end of the year.

The National Museum of the American Latino Commission meets in D.C. 10-13
The bipartisan Commission to Study the Possibilities of Creating a Museum of the American Latino met in October with the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.  The Museum would pay tribute to the art, culture and history of the Latino Community in the United States.

Appointed as president of the Commission was Henry R. Munoz III, Emilio Estefan, Andres W. Lopez, Cindy Pena, Abigail M. Pollak and Cid Wilson.  Gilberto Cardenas and Jose B. Fernandez were already on the Commission.

Carmen Delgado Votaw represented NACOPRW National at a reception at the Smithsonian for the Commissioners.  Two Puerto Ricans were appointed to the Commission:  Rosa J. Correa, of Family Re-Entry in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Andres W. Lopez, a lawyer from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Eva Longoria-Parker and members of the  Hispanic Caucus, including Chair Nydia Velazquez and Xavier Becerra held a press conference to discuss future activities of the Commission.

National Women’s Law Center and Mexican American Legal Defense Fund publish report: Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation
.NACOPRW participated in a  call hosted by the NWLC on Promising Practices to Improve Latinas’ Graduation Rates in October. 
NACOPRW Chapters that are not mobilized yet to undertake mentoring programs should gear up to help stem this high percentage of Hispanic women who are not achieving their full potential.

Model programs discussed during the call in which Carmen Delgado Votaw represented NACOPRW were the West Oso School District of Texas (represented by Dr. Mary Jane Garza, Assistant Superintendent) and the Director of Programs for Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (Hope), Fanny Olivera of California.

Commentary on CNN’s Latino in America
President Ada Lopez submitted comments on the CNN Latino in America Program.  The gist of her commentary is expressed in the following paragraph:
‘”We believe that the overall impression left by the CNN documentary on Latinos was negative despite the good efforts of Soledad O’Brien and CNN.  Unfortunately, the mainstream is still predisposed to see and believe the worst when it comes to Latinos and the goodness and contributions are hidden in plain sight.  Too often during the documentary we were left with the underlying message that if we just buy into the dominant values and discard our cultural baggage we will be better for it.”

“…However, between the poles of marginalization and assimilation, there is something greater: What about those of us who seek to learn more about our heritage and use our cultural capital to make the society a better place for everyone.  As examples, we can support the extended family, continue using our intellectual flexibility in the arts and sciences and let our intellect be guided by values such as compassion and hospitality.  When we define ourselves, I hope we can feel proud because we are driven by our desire to know and be more not less.  Are we not better off when we know two or three languages not just one?  Let us not discard those cultural attributes that make us richer and connect us with the world.”

Other Legislative News
Senator Menendez (D-N.J) inserted provisions in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill to protect widows and orphans of deceased U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are in the family immigration system and his provisions gained final passage in the Senate.

Senator Menendez’ recently published book is on the newsstands.  Growing American Roots is an important contribution to our culture.
The Supreme Court  ruling reversing the Second Circuit Court’s decision on the results of promotional exams for firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut erodes workplace protections for minorities and women.  The suit, Ricci, et al v. DeStefano et al was brought by white firefighters claiming reverse discrimination.  LULAC President, Rosa Rosales, expressed disappointment with the ruling as rolling back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.


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