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Friday April 22, 2016 - Diaspora Summit


  • What Do We Know?
  • What Are Key Policies?
  • What Can Policies and Community Strategies Do?

10:00 a.m.

Plenary Panel A: Policy Options for Fiscal Crisis

Antonio Weiss, Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

Juan González, Columnist for the New York Daily News

Dennis Rivera, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Moderator: Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts

Goal: To provide the most recent policy updates from key players in critical policy arenas, including the leading point person from the Obama administration, the most notable and influential stateside journalist and public intellectual, and the labor leader heading the health coalition in Puerto Rico. The moderator is a widely-known and respected expert on the topic who runs a blog dedicated to Puerto Rico’s policy issues from a stateside perspective.

11:15 a.m.  Concurrent Panels

Each speaker in a breakout session will make initial remarks for 4 to 5 minutes. Centro is posting in the “Learn” tab of the conference website 4- to 5-page briefs on the sessions’ topics prior to the conference. These briefs focus on the questions of “What do we know” and “What are key policies?” We expect that the speakers and the sessions’ discussions will focus on “What can policies and community strategies do?” from the perspective of the Puerto Rican community in the U.S. The focus of the discussion should be what would be the group recommendation to other conference participants in regard to strategies related to Puerto Rican-led community strategies. After the conference, Centro will publish a book with chapters corresponding to conference topics.

1.  Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis

Dr. José Caraballo Cueto, Director, Centro de Información Censal, UPR-Cayey

Ana María García Blanco, Instituto Nueva Escuela (PR)

Rev. Heriberto Martínez, Coordinator, Coalición Por la Salud (PR)

Moderator: Dr. Héctor Cordero-Guzmán, Sociologist, Baruch College

Goal: To humanize the crisis and to provide overview of the most recent developments and civic engagement efforts to mitigate the impacts on the most vulnerable sectors of the population. Speakers are active in the ecumenical coalition leading civic engagement with the health crisis, studies assessing impacts on children and families, and the impact on schools and education. The moderator is a co-author of a report on the topic published by the Hispanic Federation.

2. Energy and the Environment

Ruth Santiago, Esq., Legal Counsel, El Puente (PR)

Ingrid M. Vila Biaggi, Former Chief of Staff, Engineer, President Cambio

Dr. Efraín O'Neill-Carrillo, UPR

Moderator: Brenda Torres Barreto, Assistant Secretary for the Environment, New York State

Goal: To examine the energy and the environmental challenges posed by the fiscal crisis and the heavy burden of debt on the public company PREPA with a monopoly on energy generation and distribution. Panelists are experts on the topic and directly involved with the issue and are important leaders in civic engagement in their own rights. The moderator is a long-term expert on environmental issues in Puerto Rico and the designated liaison from the Cuomo administration to oversee this area of work.

3. Economic Development

Jorge Rodríguez, Principal, PACIV (NY, PR)

Mariela Martínez, Senior Project Manager, Global Cities Initiative, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, Board Member, Cenadores PR

Bianca M. Cabán, CEO, Taino Capital LLC (NY & PR)

Goal: To examine core industries in Puerto Rico and ongoing strategies to revitalize economic development in the private sector. Panelists are experts on the biotech industry, which accounts for over a third of Puerto Rico’s GDP, large-scale high tech incubators, and strategies for attracting investment. The moderator is an entrepreneur with holdings in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

4. Models for Diaspora Engagement with Puerto Rico

Edwin Vargas, Semillas (CA)

Ramphis Castro, ScienceVest (NY)

Dyanis de Jesús, Puerto Rico Creative Economy Initiative (PRCEI)

Moderator: Michelle Pérez Kenderish, ChicaPReneurs (NY, PR)

Goal: To examine models of diaspora engagement with Puerto Rico in the context of the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis. Panelists are experts on various initiatives that are building bridges between stateside and island communities. The moderator has been an advocate for these issues focusing on efforts in the private sector.

5. Foundations Responses to the Economic Crisis in Puerto Rico

José A. García, Program Officer, Surdna Foundation (NY)

Larry Shapiro, Associate Director for Program Development, Rockefeller Family Fund (NY)

Moderator: Karina Claudio-Betancourt, Program Officer, Open Society Foundations (NY)

Goal: To examine models of philanthropic support to Puerto Rico groups and programs in the context of the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis. Panelists are program officers of various initiatives that include economic development, sustainability, or civic engagement.

1:30 p.m.

Plenary Panel B: Local and State Perspective

Introduction: Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Senior Adviser to the President, Hunter College

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Illinois State Senator Iris Y. Martínez

New York State Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo

Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez

Pennsylvania State Representative Angel Cruz

Moderator: Katiria Soto, News Anchor, Univision New York

Goal: To assess the impact of the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico from the perspective of stateside communities and local governments. Panelists are national leaders that influence local governments. The moderator specializes in local issues and is a leading media voice on the issue.

2:45 p.m.  Concurrent Panels: Puerto Ricans

1. Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Civic Engagement

José E. López, Lecturer, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Illinois (IL)

Jimmy Torres Velez, President, Puerto Rican Action Initiative (FL)

Yanil Terón, Executive Director, Center For Latino Progress (CT)

Moderator: Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF (NY)

Goal: To examine various aspects of stateside Puerto Ricans’ political participation and engagement, especially as they relate to the ongoing presidential season and the role that community organizations and leaders play in swing states with large number of Puerto Rican voters (OH, FL, and PA). Panelists are engaged in political mobilization at the local level and are part of broader coalitions for voter registration and mobilization.

2.  Education

Margaret Rivera, Board President, Aspira Delaware (DE)

Roberto Sanabria, Director of Equal Opportunity and Access, Northwestern University (IL)

Johanna López, Orange County Public School Teacher of the Year (FL)

Moderator: Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, President and CEO, Aspira (DC)

Goal: To examine disparities in education, issues affecting the educational pipeline, expectations about federal reform at the local level, and prospects for bilingual education.

3. Environment and Community Development

Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NY)

Marcos Vilar, Vilar Strategy Group (FL)

Yulissa Arce, Climate Change Program Manager, Florida Institute for Reform & Empowerment 

Moderator: Luis Garden-Acosta, President, El Puente (NY)

Goal: To examine the environmental impact on health and quality of life among stateside Puerto Ricans and to assess community strategies to foster both sustainability and civic engagement on environmental issues. 

4.  Health Disparities

Melissa Fuster, PhD, Brooklyn College (NY)

José Sánchez, CEO, Norwegian-American Hospital (IL)

Josephine Mercado, Founder/Executive Director, Hispanic Health Initiatives, Inc. (FL)

Maria Idali Torres, MSPH, PhD, Director, Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, University of Massachusetts

Moderator: Raúl Russi, CEO, Acacia Network (NY)

Goal: To examine health disparities, especially in key areas such as diabetes, asthma, and its relations to nutrition, policies, and effective preventive community strategies. Of special interest are the enrollment of Puerto Ricans in health plans—especially Medicare and Medicaid, community-based health networks providing services, and cultural competency across local and state health systems.

4:15 p.m.

Plenary Panel C: National Perspective

U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL)

U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY)

U.S. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY)

Moderator: Sandra Lilley, Managing Editor, NBC Latino

Goal: To assess the impact of the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico from the perspective of stateside communities and the role of Congress. Panelists are national leaders playing a critical role in the ongoing legislative process. The moderator specializes in national issues and is a leading media voice on Puerto Rico.


5:30 p.m. CUNY Reception

April 23, 2016 Program