Delaware Hispanics at NCLR 2009

Delaware was represented at the 2009 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference in Chicago, IL, held this year from July 25-28. In attendance were Wanda Lopez, Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs (GACHA), Christina Cannon (Arsht-Cannon Fund), both also represented the Governor’s Consortium on Hispanic Affairs. The Hon. Joseph Miro was also in attendance, as well as Maria Matos, Executive Director of the Latin American Community Center (LACC) along with members of her staff as affiliates of NCLR.

NCLR provided workshops that track the issues of Community Empowerment, Education, Community & Family Wealth Building, Health, Policy, Workforce Development and Latino Philanthropy. It also has a workshops focused specifically on students Lideres Summit. This year began with the policy update that covered issues around foreclosure assistance, predatory auto lending, improvements to the Workforce Investment Act, investing in 401k, access to social security, GREEN jobs, uninsured mixed status families, 58% graduation rate for Latino student, 287G which allows for the performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, Latino philanthropy and comprehensive immigration reform. It also allowed me to connect with my peers nationally; representatives from the United States Council on Latino Affairs discussed the agenda for an upcoming strategic planning meeting. In attendance were the Executive Directors from Hispanic councils/commissions in Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Chicago, Michigan and Nebraska.

Speakers included: Melinda Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focused on the importance of teacher quality to improve education; US Representative Nydia Velasquez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute delivered a strong message on the importance of health care and immigration reform; Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor on 21st century jobs ; Soledad O’Brien, CNN Correspondence focused on diversity and upcoming series called “Latino in America”; while Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisory to President Barack Obama, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave insight into their department focus under the Obama Administration.

As I reflect on the experience and look through my collection of business cards from attendees, I am impressed with the breadth of expertise compressed into one event. One feels invigorated in the mission of working towards improving the lives of the Hispanic community, fueled by the positive energy of the gathering of like minded people ranging from the next generation of Lideres to the wisdom of the elders. Importance advice came from Raul Yzaguirre, former NCLR president, who spoke about the criticality of succession planning in order to keep organizations relevant, viable, and accessible. Janet Murgia, NCLR president, not only summarized the Hispanic community support but underscored our truly patriotic roots when she stated that Sotomayor’s nomination for Supreme Court Justice would be confirmed, “Judge Sotomayor's story is the American story. Our dream is the American Dream.”

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