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2014 CTLatinoNews "Champions Of Change"

It’s that time again, when we look back at this year and highlight some of the major accomplishments made by Latinos in our state,  note the work of those who persevere in  influencing change, often on their own time, as well as our top Latino news stories in 2014.    We begin our series today, with  this year’s  CTLatinoNews list of  our top Latino leaders who are “Champions of Change.”  All have demonstrated their leadership over and over again in countless ways.
We are actually glad to say our selection process is becoming more difficult every year, as more Latinos step up and become engaged in their communities and  become increasingly more visible in positions where major policy decisions are made.
We congratulate our 2014 Top Latino leaders, who were selected for their distinct contributions in many arenas – from education to politics to philanthropy.  We thank them for their dedication, as well as the countless others  – Latinos and non-Latinos  – who also give of themselves and their  time to ensure equality and prosperity for all the residents of our state.

2014 ”  “Champion’s of Change”

Yanil Teron

Yanil Teron

Yanil Teron

Those who know Yanil Teron know her quiet style  coupled with her knowledge of Latino issues has made her an effective advocate for Latinos over  the years.  Since she arrived in Connecticut in 1981, Yanil, who is currently the Executive Director of Center for Latino Progress in Hartford, has never wavered in her passion, dedication and work to create opportunities for Latinos.  In all her work, her focus  has always been to empower Latinos and encourage them to become civically engaged.
Jason Rojas
Jason rojas

State Rep. Jason Rojas

This insightful young  Latino is highly regarded as a sharp and effective legislator.   The state representative from East Hartford is not afraid to speak out on issues that may go against conventional thinking.  He has not been afraid to make his views public on topics that might be unpopular, most notably he has said we should be rethinking the landmark  Sheff vs. O’Neil landmark education case, questioning its effectiveness and outcome.

Carmen Sierra

carmen sierra

Carmen Sierra

While this dynamic Latina has been an advocate for Latino issues for many years, she is now the Assistant Treasurer for the City of Hartford, the office which invests the city’s $1 billion pension funds.  As we know, Latinos and especially Latinas in the crucial financial field are rare.  Carmen, who attended Harvard’s Public Administration Program,  is now one of the top Latino public pension executives in the state. We look forward to her leadership in increasing Latino participation in this crucial field and in much needed financial literacy education for young Latinos.

Yvette Melendez
Yvette makes CTLatinoNews’  list once again, as she now serves as the first Latina

Yvette Melendez
Yvette Melendez

 Chair of the Board of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the largest foundation in the state where she has a role in influencing public giving.  Yvette also serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Regents for Connecticut Universities and community colleges, which oversee policy for tens of thousands of college students.  It is important to note, these are both volunteer positions, as she is also Vice-President of Community Outreach and Government Relations for the Hartford Hospital Care System.
Thea Montanez

Thea Montanze

Thea Montanez

Thea has been selected on a number of prestigious lists, and we eagerly add her to our list of influential Latino leaders.    This Latina sits on numerous, high profile, influential, and we might add, diverse group of Boards of Directors, where she can help impact policy decisions.  She served as the Chair of the Board of the Hartford Public Library where she remains as past president.  She was recently appointed to the  Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for a five-year term,  and is a member of the CPTV board.   She was also appointed as a commissioner of the MDC, which manages the Hartford region’s  water and sewer services, and is the largest overseer of recreational land after the state of Connecticut.    Also important to note, all of these positions are volunteer.
Jose B. Gonzalez
Nationally, every year since 2005, a list of Top Latino Authors is issued and is Dr. Jose B. Gonzalezhighly regarded in the literary world as well as among consumers. The man behind that list is Jose B. Gonzalez, a Connecticut resident and professor of literature at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London.    Gonzalez started the list, which is now in its 10th year, to help promote Latino authors and literature.  His goal is to have more Latino authors’ work  find their way into the classroom.  A native of El Salvador and a 2012 Fulbright Scholar, Gonzalez says, “Too many children are growing up with a sense that Latinos don’t write, or that there aren’t any Latino authors”.
Joseph Rodriguez
Joe rodriquez

Joseph Rodriquez

We’ve been watching Joe for a while now, and he represents the best of Latino leadership – fair, dedicated, skilled and professional at all times.  He is the chair of the Connecticut Democratic Hispanic Caucus, which has played a key role in the last few elections and particularly in this year’s close 2014 gubernatorial race, when Governor Dannel Malloy relied heavily on the outreach provided by members of the Caucus.   As chair of the Connecticut Democratic Hispanic Caucus, Joe,  27, believes it is crucial that Latinos participate in politics and in their communities.  He began his advocacy at 16, when he joined his neighborhood “block watch” in New Haven and hasn’t stopped since.
Organizers of the  Connecticut Latino National Republican Coalition
We add the organizing  members of this new conservative Latino political group in our state because they are Champions of Change for Latinos in Connecticut.  It is a notable initiative, and no doubt they will become  players in courting the  Latino vote in the years ahead.   LNRC logo   - 1Newly formed, the Latino National Republican Coalition of Connecticut is poised to  influence state politics and also dispel the notion that Latinos vote only Democrat.   They might just be the key to changing how both major political parties view  outreach to the Latino voter.
Wednesday:  2014’s Young Latino Leaders

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