NOTED & QUOTED: LLANJ Conference Concludes Successfully With Official Recommendations For the Advancement of Latinos in the State of New Jersey
September 17, 2012
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LLANJ Conference Concludes Successfully With Official Recommendations
For the Advancement of Latinos in the State of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ.— The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ), the largest statewide non-partisan Latino advocacy organization, held its 2012 conference entitled “Commanding Our Present to Build Our Future”, on Saturday, September 15, 2012 in New Brunswick.
The all-day event, attended by over 200, took place at the historic Rutgers University Labor Education Center, 50 Labor Center Way New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901.
The Convention opened with a Breakfast Plenary Session moderated by Nestor Montilla, Chairman of the National Council of the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR). Dr. Isabel Nazario, Associate Vice President for Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts and Humanities at Rutgers University, offered welcoming remarks.
LLANJ President, Martin Perez, Esq., delivered the annual President’s Report highlighting the progress made by the Latino Leadership Alliance so far, and the need for Latinos to command their present to build a more prosperous future.
“On behalf of our board of directors, I would like to welcome you to LLANJ 2012 Convention “Commanding Our Present to Build Our Future,” he said. In laying out his vision and a strategic action advocacy plan for the next two years, President Perez said: “I encourage our member delegates and community leaders to take proactive steps in leading our communities by actively engaging in leadership roles, be them either running for office in your neighborhoods or undertaking important projects geared towards the socio-economic and political advancement of our Latino community in the State of New Jersey. If we don’t empower ourselves, who will do it for us?”
After his report, LLANJ President Perez received a standing ovation for his effective leadership and unwavering commitment to the empowerment of Latinos in New Jersey.
The program included six concurrent interactive forums about pressing issues impacting Latinos in the State of New Jersey and beyond, as laid out by President Perez in his report. Issues discussed encompassed education, immigration, civil rights, political representation, culture as an empowerment tool, and health.
In the forum on “Immigration,” moderated by Nelson Carrasquillo, presenters discussed the human rights approach to immigration reform, reconciling deferral with a dream, and in-state tuition. Panelists included Carlos Rojas from New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, Luis Vargas founder of the Urban Charter School, and Patricia Bombelyn, Chair of LLANJ Education Committee.
In the workshop on “Culture,” moderated by Nelson Báez and María Álvarez, panelists participated in a roundtable discussion about arts and culture, their impact on the community, marketability of Hispanic and Latino artists, and tools for the preservation of culture in our communities. Panelists included Raúl Cordies, Rebecca Maso, Mahonry Hildago, Víctor Quezada, Claudio Mir, Nelson Báez, Lismary Ramírez.
In the panel on “Health Issues and Our Communities,” Dr. Héctor Castro talked about how will healthcare roll out for Latinos, and how Obamacare will impact the undocumented in the United States.
The interactive forum on civil rights and police accountability was moderated by Rich Rivera, Chairman of LLANJ Civil Rights Protection Project. Presenters included Linda Ortiz, from the U.S. Department of Justice; Robert A. Bianchi, Esq., Morris County Prosecutor; Chief Brian Higgins, Bergen County Police Department; and Tormel Pittman, New Brunswick Community. This session was organized by Antonio Hernández, President, National Coalition of Latino Officers.
The forum on “Political Empowerment,” was moderated by José Morales, LLANJ delegate. Morales guided an open discussion on Latino Political ROI (Return on Investment). The group assessed the contribution of Latinos to major political parties and the benefits (or lack thereof) to the community at-large. It considered the positioning of Latinos in both political parties as a strategy for empowerment.
After workshops, the Convention offered a Lunch Plenary Session at Rutgers’ Labor Education Center Auditorium moderated by LLANJ Vice President Dr. Maria Teresa Feliciano. The Center was packed to capacity with LLANJ delegate members, representatives from national advocacy organizations such as Dr. Dilcia Granville, Vice President of the Dominican American National Roundtable, NALEO, labor union leaders, including Nelson Valdez, Vice President of 1199 SEIU, heads of community based organizations, students, professionals, attorneys, doctors, educators and high ranking officers from different levels of government, including representatives from police departments, New Jersey County prosecutors’ offices, U.S. Department of Justice, New Jersey State Department of Education, and other agencies.
The session opened with Reverend Miguel Rivera, who led an invocation followed by Dr. Feliciano’s introduction of Abraham Lopez, Director of NJ Center for Hispanic Policy and Development, who on behalf of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, presented a resolution to LLANJ declaring the period from September 15th to October 15th “Hispanic Heritage Month in the State of New Jersey.”
Dr. Feliciano then introduced Republican State Senator Joe Kyrillos, who offered brief remarks about issues impacting New Jerseyans. She then presented workshop coordinators who reported to the audience recommendations of workshop participants and experts. LLANJ will publish on its website (www.llanj.org) a complete report of Convention proceedings, including workshop recommendations.
LLANJ President Martin Perez introduced the Honorable Robert Menendez, Democratic U.S. Senator for the State of New Jersey, who delivered the Convention’s keynote address.
In his remarks, Senator Menendez spoke about the history and contributions of Hispanics in America denoting that the first town in North America was Saint Agustine in Florida, which was founded over 500 years ago by Hispanic settlers. Senator Menendez spoke for about 30 minutes, eliciting applauses from the audience. A transcript and video of his remarks will be available on LLANJ website at www.llanj.org.
On behalf of the Latino Leadership Alliance, Rich Rivera, Chair of LLANJ Civil Rights Protection Project, joined President Perez in honoring Robert A. Bianchi, Esq., Morris County Prosecutor; Chief Brian Higgins, Bergen County Police Department; and two police officers, Antonio Hernandez from the National Coalition of Latino Officers, and Captain Ines Gonzalez, Newark Police Department, for their service and outstanding efforts in community collaboration.
The convention concluded successfully with a reception at El Patio Bar & Grill in New Brunswick where conference attendees enjoyed an afternoon of foods and music with Puerto Rican folkloric group Cimarrones.
The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey is the only statewide nonpartisan organization composed of local, regional and state organizations, Latino leaders and professionals advocating for the socio economic and political development of Latino diverse communities. For more information visit: www.llanj.org or write to email@example.com.