Issue 4 December 2012

Merry Christmas

A Newsletter of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women
Editor: Carmen Delgado Votaw / Asst. Editor: Bequi Ortiz


National President, Vilma Colom
Message from the National President, Vilma Colom

Dear NACOPRW Sisters and Members,

I would like to take this holiday season to thank each and every one of you for your support and dedication to our conference this year and to NACOPRW's vision for 2013. It is my hope that during this season you will take a moment to reflect on the challenges life brings our communities throughout our various cities and that you will engage in the causes that meet the vision and mission of NACOPRW. As we spend time with our family and loved ones, we should give thanks to God and ask Him to give us the strength and wisdom to positively impact our community in ways that we could have never imagined. Let's continue to advocate on the national and local level to ensure the rights and issues of Puerto Rican Women and Latinas that are in the forefront of our policy makers.

I want to thank our sponsors AARP, Exelon, McDonalds, Norwegian Hospital and Allstate Insurance, and the Chicago Hispanic City Council members, state representatives and senators for their financial contributions without which we would not have been able to plan a successful conference. Our speakers provided members and attendees with information and guidance in areas that will make a difference in our professional and personal lives. We also want to thank Chicago's Vice Mayor Mr. Ray Suarez, Alderman John A. Pope 10th Ward, Alderman Thomas Tunney 44th Ward and owner of Ann Sather restaurant, the Chicago Board of Elections, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois State Director of AARP Bob Gallo and Milly Santiago for their support and inspirational messages at our reception at City Hall.

The workshops and speakers on Saturday delivered messages and provided guidance in areas of interest to participants that will be utilized on personal and professional levels. We want to thank Amy Best, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Exelon, for her speech on women in leadership; Dr. Rosita Lopez and Dr. Samuel Betances for their "Latina Leadership Training and the Importance of Mentoring our Future Leaders and Each Other" keynote address; the Advocacy and Leadership training given by Carmenza Millan, Associate State Director of AARP, Colleen Connell, Executive Director of ACLU and our very own Anna Rosario, President NACOPRW, DC Metro Chapter as well as Carmen Delgado Votaw, who covered the importance of our involvement at the national level as we advocate for the issues that are important to Puerto Rican Women and Latinas such as, for example, pay equity, continuing to make inroads regarding immigration, education, and so much more.

Other speakers we want to thank include Ellen Rogin, CPA, Certified Financial Planner and Author, who provided women with ways to reach their financial prosperity while focusing on their careers and raising their families (who said we cannot have it all?); Elisa All, Founder of 30 Second Mom, who shared techniques to better brand your business and use social media to our advantage to reach our business goals and for personal growth through leaps and bounds; Hedy M. Ratner, CEO Chicago Women's Business Network and Virginia Oviedo, McDonalds Owner and Member of the Hispanic McDonalds Owners and Operators, who shared resources and insight on starting your own business and successfully using resources to get the funding and support women need as they engage in their business plan; Dr. Mark Loafman, from Norwegian Hospital, who engaged participants on health issues in the Hispanic community and introduced a health plan women can follow.

Our Sunday session was also very enlightening; we thank Carmen Delgado Votaw and Anaida Colon-Muniz for their leadership and guidance in keeping us focused and positive as we plan our vision for the next five years in the areas of advocacy, national issues, women rights, membership growth, mentorship, finance, media, and community outreach throughout our various cities. The possibilities are endless as we crash the glass ceilings that may attempt to hold us back.

Our future leaders, the Aspira students, participated in workshops that can be used to assist them in learning ways to obtain internships and market themselves when job searching. They were given direction and tools through Kendall Hartenstein, Talent Acquisition/Allstate Insurance, and Eric Roberts from Cook County Sheriff's Youth department, who provided insight on the positive and negative aspects of Social Media and youth image impact. Sergio Fernandez, President of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, covered ways youth can "Build their Networking and Branding Skills."

Finally, it goes without saying, that leaders are only as successful and focused as those that are part of their inner circle. This year's conference and our involvement in national agendas would not have continued to be successful if not for the support of the Executive Committee and National Board. Thank you to Lourdes Hernandez, First Vice President, Carmen Bonilla, Second Vice President, Wanda Gordils, Secretary, Annie Lugo, Assistant Secretary, Enoelia Vega, Treasurer, and Katherine Ast, Assistant Treasurer.

Through our collective energy and NACOPRW's mission to our cities and communities, may we continue to practice the power of now in all we engage in so that we make life for Puerto Rican Women and Latinas and for our youth and future leaders a better, more transparent and healthy experience. As a collective, we will continue to illuminate, enlighten, and uplift those with whom we come into contact and interact with for a healthier tomorrow in 2013. Finally, thank you for believing in our mission and for supporting me with reelection as your President.

See photos of the 2012 Conference below


The Advocacy Corner - Immigration Reform


The Congressional Hispanic Caucus started the lame-duck session of Congress right after the hard contested election, with a definitive rejection of the Achieve Act proposed by Republicans as a substitute for the Dream Act. Senator Bob Menendez D NJ, categorically indicated it does not “achieve” the dream and Rep. Luis Gutierrez D Ill., indicated it was “too little, too late.”

The Caucus members have committed to nine principles for immigration reform which can be synthethized as “fairness.” The principles include: requiring undocumented immigrants seeking permanent residency and eventual citizenship to register with the federal government, submit to background checks, learn English and pay taxes. They include protection of “the sanctity and unity of the family (including bi-national, same sex couples), reduction of backlogs and a workable employment verification system that prevents unlawful employment and protects workers rights to privacy. The Caucus pledged to go all out reaching to appointed and elected officials in order to build consensus and promote a non adversarial process.

The incoming Chair of the Caucus, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa D TX hopes the Tri-Caucus of Latinos working with the Black and Asian American caucuses can call on the President to build the forces necessary to promote action on a feasible bill, yet to be drafted. Good wishes for effective action…

Violence Against Women Act

VAWA advocates have begun to outline major actions that hopefully every supporter around the country can take to secure passage of the bill by the end of the year.

The passage of the ERA bill will continue to be promoted to secure the 3 additional states needed to make the 38 states necessary to ratify it.

Passage of Senate legislation to consent to the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women by the United States will continue to be a priority of Women’s and civil rights organizations in the new Congress that will convene in 2013.

2012 Elections Displayed Outstanding Participation of Latinos and Fruitful Gains in the Composition of Congress.

We are grateful for the record number of women elected to the new Congress: 20 in the Senate and 78 representatives and three delegates in the House.

The Latino vote backed President Obama overwhelmingly with 71% to Romney’s 27%. Latinos collected roughly $30 million in donations for the Obama campaign.

Voters elected a record 35 Latinos (27 of which are Democrats) and the Senate will have three Latinos in its ranks with the election of Ted Cruz (R Tx).

Puerto Rican Elections and Plebiscite

The gubernatorial election in Puerto Rico yielded interesting and conflicting results: the incumbent pro statehood Governor Luis Fortuno lost his bid to Alejandro Garcia Padilla while his Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi retained his position thus having a leadership team of different political parties for the first time in history.

The Status referendum asked if voters supported the status quo, and if not, would they prefer statehood, independence or “sovereign free association”. The mainland press has reported that 61% approved statehood which is not a true reading of the answers and non-answers that voters gave to the questions. A protest vote left the aftermath question blank and therefore the actual vote pro statehood is more like 45% rather than the 61% reported.

Efforts to resolve “the 114-year old conundrum” over the island’s future status were dilucidated for the fourth time in 45 years but clarity seems to have eluded us again. Reelected President Obama has expressed his will to “respect the people’s will if there is a clear majority”. That is now a big IF.

Puerto Rico’s political participation in elections has been traditionally the highest in the world and manifested itself as 80% of those registered in 2000.

Elected as Mayor of the capital city of San Juan was Carmen Yulin.

Latinos Concerned About the Census

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) of which NACOPRW is one of its 30 member organizations, addressed a letter in October to the Acting Director of the Census Bureau, Thomas Mesenbourg, Jr. expressing concern about the fact that only 3 of the newly-formed 31 member National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations are Latino. Nine Latinos represented our community in the Census’ former Advisory Committee on the Hispanic Population.

Although in conversations with representatives of NHLA, the Census indicated that it contemplated appointing ad hoc working groups that would allow opportunities for further Latino representation and participation, NHLA responded that that is not a satisfactory substitute for full representation.

Further meetings and discussion of this issue are pending.


The title of the final workshop of the Chicago Conference captures the essence of what Anaida Colon Muniz and Carmen Delgado Votaw tried to convey during their 3-hour “help the organization grow hands-on” exercise that elicited good responses and data about the readiness of NACOPRW members to tackle effectively the growing pangs of the organization.

Ideas that flowed from the animated discussion included selecting personal mentors from the general membership and pairing chapters to learn from each other how to attract new leadership, how to use social media and create great websites.

Discussion about prioritizing and drafting sustainable 5-year plans emphasized keeping systems current, membership lists, exploring community resources and collaborating with other organizations and enhancing the organization’s public perceptions about it.

Cultivation of donors, enforcing by-laws and utilizing the Procedures Manual as well as conducting meetings under Robert’s Rules of Order are key to successful management. NACOPRW is ready to utilize the outstanding capacities of ALL its members to take it to the next level. Let’s roll our sleeves up and each undertake to do more to grow our sisterhood and enhance our VOICE.

Our goals and principles are still as fresh as when they were created 40 years ago; let’s plan actions to make them achievable and meaningful to the advancement of women. Let’s work to leave a legacy to our young women through the actions we implement NOW.


Chapter News


Chicago Chapter

The Chicago Chapter supported IPRAC in its Celebration of Puerto Rican Art and Culture which featured Caguas and Cayey municipalities and an exhibition of renowned artist Antonio Martorell.


DC Metro Chapter

The DC Metro Chapter participated in the National Latina Symposium sponsored by LATINA MAGAZINE on the status of Latina professional working women in the United States.  Seven NACOPRW DC Metro members attending were featured in the Washington Hispanic local newspaper.


Latino Magazine sponsored “Nuestro Futuro”  its third annual Latino Education Conference at which several NACOPRW DC members participated to collaborate in efforts to encourage our young people to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


DC Metro was present at the Carlos Rosario Educational Foundation and International Public Charter School’s gala to honor Puerto Rican Founder and CEO, Sonia Gutierrez on her 40 years of service to the institution and kicking off a campaign to build capacity for the Foundation and School.


On November 15 NACOPRW collaborated with the National Puerto Rican Coalition’s Leadership Luncheon Honoring Service and Leadership-A Salute to Veterans.


Among those honored Col. Maritza Saenz Ryan, US Army and head of the Department of Law at the U.S. Military Academy.


On December 5 the Chapter celebrated the holiday season with a party at Sara Melendez, new Vice President for Programs, with a speaker from AYUDA, a Latino legal aid and immigration organization, its President,  Puerto Rican Jaime Farrant.  


Indiana Chapter

The Indiana Chapter participated in the one-mile Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Hidden Lake in Merrillville and in the 3-mile Walking Strides Against Breast Cancer. We name our team “Walking with Glory and Hope” as tribute to our members Gloria and Hope who are both cancer survivors.

Gloria Gonzalez, Enoelia Vega, Pres, Alicia Otero are pictured

The Chapter also collaborated with the Puerto Rican Parade Committee providing donations and also celebrated its Xmas party on December 1st.


Miami Chapter

The Governor of Florida Rick Scott and the First Lady Ann Scott selected Elizabeth Erazo Baez as the Featured Artist for the 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Miami Chapter held a NACOPRW picnic on October 21 at Tropical Park. The newly elected board was in attendance.


New York Chapter

President, Michelle Centeno, Nellie Gonzalez Arce and Melissa del Valle Ortiz joined Carmen Delgado Votaw on November 19 at the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s offices to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the National Women’s Conference in Houston in 1977 at the kickoff of the photo exhibit by Diana Mara Henry, official photographer of the event.  Votaw, Gloria Steinem and two of the Torch bearers of the Houston Conference as well as other Commissioners addressed the audience.

The Chapter initiated a partnership with the League of Women Voters NYC to be their facilitator for the Latina vote.

It  hosted two Live Salsa fundraising concerts at the Miranda Theatre in the Bronx and networked  with the Institute for Puerto Rican Hispanic Elderly.

Raquel Creitoff, pioneer of the New York Chapter, passed away on September 6, 2012 in New York City at 90.  She served on the old Migration Division of the Government of Puerto Rico since the mid 1940’s helping Puerto Ricans who moved from the island to New York City.  Rep. Jose Serrano recognized her contributions in the Congressional Record of September 28, 2012, p. E 1666.


Northern Illinois Chapter

The Northern Illinois chapter was busy with preparations for the National Conference.  During the reception at Chicago's City Hall, it offered entertainment by the all-women group Las Bompleneras and Mikey O, entrepreneur and comedian.  Marisol Otero conveyed thanks to all our members and everyone who helped make the conference memorable.  We wish everyone a wonderful and blessed holiday season.     

Philadelphia Chapter

The Philadelphia Chapter celebrated its 9th Odessa Awards on October 17 to honor Latina women and young Scholars for their outstanding achievements and dedication to their communities.

SoCAL Chapter

The Southern California Chapter of NACOPRW participated for the tenth time in the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Race for the Cure.”  Their goal was for the Latinas Race for the Cure to raise $5,000 for mammograms for underinsured and underserved women.

On October 14, the Chapter elected new officers and on November 17 they did their 12th annual Pastelada Workshop.

On December 8, the Chapter celebrated its 14th annual Parranda Navidena.

Anaida Colon Muniz Associate Professor at Chapman University received the 2012 Carter Godwin Woodson Service Award through the National Association for Multicultural Education.

On Friday, November 30, 2012 in Philadelphia, PA, she was recognized for her lifelong contributions to the field of multicultural education. The award is named in honor of Dr. Woodson, who helped establish the origins of the multicultural movement. In the tradition of Dr. Woodson, the Award symbolizes excellence in multicultural writing, scholarship and achievements in multicultural life, history and culture. Associate Professor Colón-Muñiz has dedicated her life’s work to the improvement of educational opportunities for language minority and poor children, with a special emphasis on the role that teachers play in literacy. She also focuses her work on language policy in education and abroad, with specific attention given to the language and culture of Puerto Rico.

Recently, Dr. Colón-Muñiz has also assumed duties as Director of Community Educational Projects at the new Librería Martinez de Chapman University. Her duties include developing literacy programs for pre-school children; parent classes aimed to support children and building stronger, safer communities; teen workshops to help teens navigate the high school system and to demystify higher educational opportunities; monthly book and art clubs; and the coordination of classes that support students from local community colleges as well as Chapman University.


The following poem was dedicated to NACOPRW by © Iris Violeta Torres, Former National President

Fruto de mujeres Boricuas

Mujeres fuertes y sinceras

Nucleo de almas nobles y grandes

Tienes el alma compuesta de Reinita Mora y Pitirre Abejero

La sangre Taina corre por tus venas

Tu espíritu es mezcla Espanola, Taina y Africana

Tu sentir boricua te posee

Vas abriendo las puertas cerradas

Y combates el hambre con tu pan cultural

Hoy que llevas cuarenta anos de lucha

Te ofrezco el rubi que ofrece quien ama a su amor

Por cuarenta anos de amor y labor.



Hispanics enrolled in college exceeded 2 Million in the nation’s college campuses. A record 16.5% of all enrollments, according to an analysis of Census data performed by the Pew Research Center. 

One in four (24.7%) public elementary school students is Hispanic  and among all pre-K through 12th grade students, a record 23.9% were Hispanic in 2011.

Park Service-American Latino Heritage Fund

The American Latino Heritage Fund seeks to  publish next year a “Latino theme study” with

19 chapters on the contributions of Hispanics  to the U.S. beginning  before the Civil War and

 covering science, culture, music, the military and even cookery.  The study, as described by

Midy Aponte of the Fund, would encompass the impact different Latino groups have made.

For more information go to



The Congress was held on November 14-16 in  Portland, Oregon with the theme Collaborating

For Change.  Carmen Delgado Votaw represented  NACOPRW as she serves as Visionary

Delegate and is a member of the Leadership , Circle of Vision 2020 as well as a Thought

Leader.   NACOPRW is a national Ally.


Topics covered were Pay Equity, Beyond  Athletics: Title IX, Family Friendly Workplace

 Policies, Women’s Participation in Politics and State Initiatives to achieve Vision 2020 Goals.



Celebrating our 40th Year

Our Past Presidents: Anaida Colon-Muniz, Vanny Marrero, Carmen Delgado Votaw, Iris Violeta Colon, Vivian Ortiz with our current President, Vilma Colom (Center)



NACOPRW Board of Directors
Executive Committee

Vilma Colom,  National President
Lourdes Hernandez, First Vice President
Carmen Bonilla, Second Vice President
Enoelia Vega, Treasurer
Katherine Ast, Assistant Treasurer
Wanda Gordils, Secretary
Annie Luga, Assistant Secretary 


Evelyn Figueroa, President, Chicago
Edith Feliciano, Delegate,Chicago
Ada Lopez, Delegate, Chicago

Enoelia Vega, President, Indiana
Elizabeth Garcia, Delegate, Indiana
Carmen Gonzalez, Delegate, Indiana

Elizabeth Baez, President, Miami
Dr. Sonia Troche, Delegate, Miami
Lucy del Valle, Delegate, Miami

Vilma Colom, President, Northern Illinois
Mariaelisa Laracuente, Delegate, NorthernIL
Janice Kahn, Delegate, Northern Illinois

Michelle Centeno,President, NY Manhattan

Amaris Hernandez,  President, Philadelphia
Iris Violeta Colon Torres, Delegate, Philadelphia

Darma Castro Paden, President, SoCal
Annie Lugo, Delegate, SoCal
Ana Berrios, Delegate, SoCal

Anna M. Rosario, President, D.C. Metro
Vilma Rosario, Delegate, D.C. Metro
Carmen Delgado Votaw,  Delegate, D.C. Metro



Become a Member of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women
If there is no chapter in your jurisdiction, you can become a National Member of NACOPRW by paying dues to the national organization.  Please fill out and send us your dues with the attached membership form.  Be part of a national sisterhood of savvy, successful Puerto Rican Women, an incredible network of professional and cultural support for YOU.

Send Carmen Delgado Votaw information about what your NACOPRW chapter is doing
to help advance women’s causes so that we can share it in Ecos Nacionales.
 Deadlines are 2 weeks before March 1, June 1, September 1 and December 1.

Editor:Carmen Delgado Votaw, 

Assistant Editor, Bequi Ortiz,
NACOPRW website: