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Vilma Colom
National President

Lourdes Hernandez
First Vice President

Carmen Bonilla,
Second Vice President

Enoelia Vega

Katherine Ast
Assistant Treasurer

Silvia Silvestre

Lillian De Los Santos
Assistant Secretary


Evelyn Figueroa
President, Chicago

Edith Feliciano
Delegate, Chicago

Enoelia Vega
President, Indiana

Isabel Mendez
Delegate, Indiana

Elizabeth Baez
President, Miami

Gladys Colon
Delegate, Miami

Vilma Colom,
President, Northern Illinois

Mariaelisa Laracuente
Delegate, Northern Illinois

Katherine Ast
Delegate, Northern Illinois

Maria Teresa Centeno
President, NY Manhattan

Amaris Hernandez
President, Philadelphia

Carmen Bonilla
Delegate, Philadelphia

Minerva Machado
President, Southern California

Annie Lugo, Delegate
Southern California

Anna M. Rosario, President
D.C. Metro

Vilma Rosario, Delegate
D.C. Metro

Carmen Delgado Votaw
Delegate, D.C. Metro


Issue 1 March 2012

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

Dear NACOPRW Members,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the newly elected President of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women. I have worked as a strategic Public Relations official, with over 25 years' experience in the Local/State Government, Academic and Insurance industries. In my collaboration with diverse partners with cross-functional teams in the public and private sector I will use my network and expertise to further assist in the promotion of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women. As we address, participate and engage in policies at the local and national chapter level. I pledge to provide technical assistance and support to further enhance our collective agendas when asked to do so by chapter Presidents and their members.

I look forward to our efforts in planning the 39th National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, conference wherever it takes us. Last year's conference was a tremendous success in Puerto Rico where many enjoyed the fruits and flavor of our beautiful island as well as having the opportunity to visit with family members. Due to everyone's unified efforts in assuring speakers presented and addressed the topics and issues of concern such as domestic violence, pay equity, and learning various aspects of our Puerto Rican culture, arts and music.

I urge all of us to renew our journey beyond our boundaries, where our collective unique possibilities can continue to come alive through the vision we share. We can guide and mentor future leaders. Each and everyone of our chapters and members have shared their wisdom by engaging in important issues of our Puerto Rican culture and community. We will continue to share our advice and wisdom with the youth of our communities as we encourage them to strive to be anything and everything they want to be. As we continue to mentor them and nourish the leaders from within them. I compliment each one of you for willing to fully share the kind of advice that may contribute to the growth, development and fulfillment of the Jose and Maria's of tomorrow.

As your President, I look forward to a long and fascinating journey as we continue to work on issues that are important to us as Women and Puerto Ricans. Every step of the way will be demanding but not impossible as we continue to work hard, but intensely enjoy the results for the benefit of all of our communities and us. I live life with the motto that "life isn't supposed to be easy". I hope that I will be able to count on each one of my NACOPRW sisters to assist the executive committee and me in serving your needs and providing a successful year of productive and wonderful experiences in 2012.

NACOPRW Conference in Puerto Rico November 11-13 Conrad Plaza Hotel Receives Positive Publicity in Puerto Rico

Caribbean Business in its January 19th, 2012 edition under the heading "Women Power" Captures in photos of former Governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Calderon, and Sylvia Mendez, Presidential Medal of Honor Award Winner, and an interesting summary of the Conference, the essence of the well-attended Convention.

The Governor's speech was well received and Sylvia Mendez was warmly greeted in San Juan as the "prodigal" daughter of the island who helped shaped educational civil rights in the United States through a landmark court decision in Orange County, California.

NACOPRW mourns the passing of Leaders of the Puerto Rican Community

On January 28th, 2012 at the Assembly of God Church in Miami, Florida, a service commemorating the life of NACOPRW former National President, Alicia Baro, was held.

Her full and extraordinary life (1918-2012) allowed Alicia to set the pace of progress for Latinos in Florida and her civic and political involvement were trendsetters in her community. In 1995 NACOPRW instituted the Annual Alicia Baro Achievement Award to foster leadership among its ranks.

She was inducted in the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 1997 and received many other awards throughout her lifetime.

In her eulogy, NACOPRW's Norah Venegas, echoed the words of Carmen Delgado Votaw, referring to Alicia's passing:

"Alicia Baro was a great inspiration for the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women's members across the nation. Her dedication to have women and Latinos participate in the political system was a prod to our civic consciousness and a call to us to assume our rightful place in society.

Alicia was a role model as wife, mother, friend, mentor and her memory will remain kindled in all the lives that she touched as she served as a beacon to the Hispanic community urging us to take part in the bounties of this nation always remaining steadfast in our struggle for equality of the sexes, equality of opportunity for all and civic participation in all spheres of life.

When Alicia served as National President of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women she ushered an era of recognition of women’s achievements, international participation of NACOPRW in the activities of the nation and the world towards equality and she unified our membership in support of educational advancement and political participation, all under her signature banner of civility and grace. Alicia, we will miss your presence but treasure the place you will occupy in our minds and affection forever."

Alicia Baro

Norah also declaimed a poem dedicated to Alicia by another former President of NACOPRW, Iris Violeta Colon Torres:

The year has just begun, time has gone so fast
That I just had this moment here at last
To write this verse and thank you
For the care and great concern
That you have shown NACOPRW
In hopes to help us learn.

You’ve taken time with patience
More than most I ever knew
And tried your best to lead us
To learn the most from you
You've given yourself in ways we can't repay
We now pray that the Supreme Architect
Would bless you more than even words can tell.

Profesora Gigi Brignoni

NACOPRW also mourns the passing of Past National Board Member, Prof. Gigi Brignoni, who passed away in Oklahoma early this year. Brignoni had completed the herculean effort of updating the NACOPRW Procedures Manual making it a living document for chapters to consult as they go about their everyday work for the organization.

She was a dedicated professor of bilingual education at the University of Omaha, Nebraska and an expert in primary education. Our condolences to Scott, her husband.


SONIA Puopolo, former member of the NACOPRW Boston Chapter, who perished on American Airline flight 11, the first highjacked plane that hit the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, has been memorialized by her daughter Sonia (Tita) Puopolo in a book titled Sonia's Ring, 11 Ways to Heal Your Heart.  Tita describes the book as a "symbol of human strength in the face of a crisis, a sign that love leaves an indelible imprint on the mind and soul and heart forever". The book is available at


Former Senator from Puerto Rico and singer of the Americas, Ruth Fernandez, passed away on January 9, 2012 at 92. Born on May 23, 1919 in Ponce, “El Alma de Puerto Rico Hecha Cancion” she was the first performer of popular music hired by the Metropolitan Opera House and the first Puerto Rican singer to record with an American Orchestra.

Ruth had always been a supporter of NACOPRW participating in some of our Conventions and being a voice for Puerto Rican W omen during the Decade for Women in national and international activities.


Centenary of Jose Ferrer's birth in San Juan Puerto Rico (January 8th, 1912). He received the first OSCAR awarded to a Hispanic actor for his role in Cyrano de Bergerac. He was also awarded an English diction distinction for that role. Critics quipped that it was "poetic that the best speaker of English had turned out to be a Puerto Rican."

The Advocacy Corner

The NACOPRW Advocacy Corps has engaged in efforts in the advocacy field urging Congress to preserve the Child Tax Credit that is so essential to low-income Latinos. In concert with the National Leadership Agenda opposes proposals to raise taxes on hardworking, low-income Latino families.

The National Council of La Raza estimates that more than four million Latino children and their families could lose out on this valuable tax credit if it is rescinded. This would push them further into poverty.

Latino organizations must remain alert so that these proposals do not get included in a final bill scheduled to be considered in February and beyond.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 2 defeating a substitute bill by Senator Charles Grassley (IA) which provided for closing the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women.

The House of Representatives conducted a hearing and a briefing on February 16 on the Senate bill.

For more information on the status of the bill, please go to

NACOPRW has also been advocating for the Grammys not to restrict the number of categories they give awards on because that restricts the possibilities of Latino actors and artists to be eligible in categories where there is keen competition.

The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts is also raising awareness about the lack of Hispanic representation in the Sunday morning Network Talk Shows. Less than 2% Hispanics appear in these highly influential shows.

Since 2010 Gretchen Sierra Zorita has been directing The Arts of Politics Impact Project in collaboration with La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and others to advocate effectively for greater representation of Hispanics and Hispanic issues in news and public affairs programming.

Foundations Should be Accountable

Yolanda Sanchez wrote an interesting commentary on "a problem we have been discussing for many years": Holding Foundations Accountable to the Latino Community.

She opens her first salvo by stating that "Foundations control over $6 billion, of which only 1 percent reaches the Latino community as direct grants to Latino-created agencies controlled by Latinos. A strategy and tactics to correct the problem was devised by a group of community advocates in El Barrio last December.

Among the tactics are:

  • contacting local and state legislators to ask them to sponsor and introduce legislation to require monitoring of foundations by state governments to end bias through monitoring their operations, staffing patterns and grant distribution,
  • contacting federal representatives to ask them to do the same,
  • contacting the Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Women's Caucuses to review the matter and call for public hearings.
Let's hope this initiative prospers: it's about time...

Chapter News

DC Metro Chapter

Five DC Metro Chapter members attended the Legislative Briefing sponsored by the Montgomery County Commission on Women to discuss the agenda of women's issues that will be discussed in the Maryland 2012 Legislative Session.

The Chapter has also embarked in an ambitious project to honor Puerto Rican poet, Julia de Burgos. In the words of Paquita Vivo, another former National President of NACOPRW, the project came into being thus:

Origins of the Project

In 1999, a collective of Spanish scholars and artists united under the name Editorial La Discreta, headed by Prof. Juan Varela-Portas, published A Julia sin lágrimas, an extraordinary poem that the noted Dominican writer Pedro Mir, dedicated to the memory of Julia de Burgos in 1998, and in which he proclaimed Julia a symbol for all of Latin America. Pedro Mir, who died in 2000, is considered by many critics to be one of Latin America and the Caribbean's most distinguished 20th century writers, and has often been compared to Nobel Prize winners Pablo Neruda (1971) and Derek Walcott (1992).

This event ignited in La Discreta an intense desire to disseminate the importance of Julia de Burgos and her work. One of these activities was A Julia sin lágrimas" (To Julia Without Tears), a recital-concert that featured excerpts from Mir's poem and 15 of Julia's poems put to music in the most varied rhythms: blues, bolero, tango, reggae, pasodoble, among others.

A Julia sin lágrimas was performed at the Casa de las Américas in Madrid. Fortuitously, Dr. Awilda Palau was in the audience, and was enthralled by the performance. Upon her return to Puerto Rico, Professor Palau, who is a former Executive Director of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, began promoting the idea of presenting the show in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other places.

The rest is history. The recital-concert has been seen to wide acclaim, at, among other venues, the University of Puerto Rico, the Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular in San Juan, the Feria Internacional del Libro in the Dominican Republic, and in numerous institutions of higher learning in Spain, the United States and the Caribbean. In mid February, 2012, it will be presented at the Feria del Libro in Havana, Cuba.

Present during the performance at the Fundación Puertorriquena de Cultura Popular in 2010 was Paquita Vivó, former director of cultural affairs of the City of San Juan and previously a cultural leader in the Hispanic community in Washington, D.C. Also fascinated by the originality of the musical adaptation of de Burgos's poems, and aware of the impact that her life and works have for the communities in the United States that were impacted by her life, she suggested to Carmen Delgado Votaw that the show be presented in Washington, D.C. and, if possible, in other cities as well.

So NACOPRW DC Chapter is busily gathering the resources necessary with other Latino organizations to bring Julia and La Discreta to Washington DC and New York.

Wish us luck…

Indiana Chapter

The Indiana Chapter held it first membership meeting of the year and celebrated Dia de Reyes with members and friends. New elected officers for 2012 were also sworn in. They are planning a great year starting with March of Dimes Walkathon and the Mother's Day Recognition Dance in May.

Northern Illinois

Three King's Day

The Northern Illinois Chapter held its annual Three King's Day celebration on January 8, 2012. We had great food, wonderful music, a gift exchange, and many new potential members there learning about NACOPRW. The members took the opportunity to share and discuss various activities and initiatives they are involved in that connect to our mission as an organization. We had over 25 women in attendance along with friends from the Chicago Puerto Rican Parade Committee, Casa Central Senior Center, and Aspira, along with youth members and our usual members.


Members of the Northern Illinois Chapter attended the grand opening of a new satellite location of the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA), located at Milwaukee and Central Park Avenue in Chicago. We have formed a linkage with the PRAA to promote the Puerto Rican community and the Cuatro Festival in November 2012. Since its inception, PRAA has become a major broker of Puerto Rican art, performances, and art-related educational programs in the heart of the Chicago Puerto Rican Community. PRAA is dedicated to promoting the richness and diversity of the Puerto Rican culture and its native Taíno Indian, Spanish and West African roots. PRAA prides itself on presenting a wide variety of art forms and educational services including music, dance, visual arts and theater produced by local Puerto Rican talent. PRAA actively promotes the artistic expression of the Puerto Rican community and seeks to preserve it for future generations to come. Through a wide variety of programs, PRAA reaches out to the Puerto Rican community and beyond and is well known for its Annual Cuatro Festival which attracts Puerto Ricans from various cities and states at the national level. We look forward to a long working relationship with PRAA's leadership and members of their executive board and plan to assist in their efforts that coincide with NACOPRW's mission.

Philadelphia Chapter

Vivian Ortiz

Vivian Ortiz

Quetcy Lozada

Quetcy Lozada

Our President, Quetcy Lozada, is currently on a sabbatical due to her recent announcement to run for State Representative in the 180th District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ms. Lozada is dedicated to serving the community and leading change. We are extremely proud of Quetcy, and wish her the best in her strides to move our community forward.

Chapter Vice-President, Amaris Hernandez, has stepped up as President, and appointed Iris Violeta Colón-Torres as Vice-President.

Amaris Hernandez

Amaris Hernandez

In December The Delaware Valley's Most Influential Latinos Foundation honored Amaris Hernandez as one of the most influential Latinos under 40 and Vivian Ortiz as a Latino Leader at the 2011 Delaware Valley's 50 Most Influential Latinos event. For the past six years, the Delaware Valley's Most Influential Latinos Foundation has recognized individuals who have made great contributions to the Delaware Valley's Latino community and the community at large.

In December the Philadelphia Chapter combined its quarterly membership meeting and Holiday Mixer. Committee Chairs were able to recruit members for the various committees for 2012 while sharing in the Navideño spirit.

NACOPRW members, Iris Violeta Colón-Torres, Luz Loeb, Vivian Ortiz and Luz Selenia Salas supported a Great Cause and participated as judges at the Luis A. Rodriguez & Tremendos Dancers -Fight Against Cancer Talent Show. Tremendous Dancers is a non-profit organization where young teenagers from the city of Philadelphia express their culture and talents.

Iris Violeta Colón-Torres, Luz Loeb, Vivian Ortiz and Luz Selenia Salas

Iris Violeta Colón-Torres, Luz Loeb, Vivian Ortiz and Luz Selenia Salas

Southern California Chapter

The Southern California Chapter reports that the California State University Board of Trustees has appointed Mildred Garcia as the fifth president of California State, Fullerton. She is the first Latina president in the CSU System and has been president of California State, Dominguez Hills, since 2007. Born in Brooklyn from Puerto Rican parents, she holds a B.S. in business education from New York University, an M.A. from Columbia University-Teachers College. Great to see Latinas scaling the heights of academia.


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