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New England Summit Program

Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans New England will bring together key members of the Puerto Rican diaspora in New England and their allies to examine and gain a broader understanding of how the economic, fiscal, and unfolding humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico has impacted the stateside Puerto Rican community.

This event is free for all and open to students as well!


8:30 – 9:00 A.M. COFFEE AND REGISTRATION


9:00 – 9:20 A.M. WELCOMING REMARKS

Mayor Alex B. Morse, City of Holyoke 

Betty Medina Lichtenstein, Executive Director, Enlace de Familias, Inc. 


9:20 – 10:00 A.M. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

Dr. Edwin Meléndez, Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies


10:00 – 11:00 A.M. PLENARY PANEL: FISCAL, ECONOMIC AND HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN PUERTO RICO

Moderator: Joe Rodriguez, Deputy State Director, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal 

Ruth Santiago, Esq., Legal Counsel, El Puente Puerto Rico

Dennis Rivera, Unidos Por La Salud 

Juan Lara, Economist, Universidad de Puerto Rico  


11:00 – 11:15 A.M. COFFEE BREAK


11:15 A.M. - 12:30 P.M. CONCURRENT PANELS

1. Education (bilingual ed/dual language)

Moderator: Dr. Eileen de los Reyes, former Assistant Superintendent for ELLs, Boston Public Schools

Robert Cotto, Jr.,  former Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education, CT Voices for Children

Dr. Arlene Rodriguez, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Springfield Technical Community College 

Dr. Sonia Correa Pope, School Principal, Holyoke Community Charter School  

Dr. Lorna Rivera, Director, Latino Studies, University of Massachusetts-Boston  

2. Health Disparities and Community Strategies

Moderator: Dr. Maria Idalí Torres, Director, Gastón Institute, University of Massachusetts-Boston

Margarita R. O'Neill-Arana, Ed.D., Director of Clinical Training, Union Institute & University 

Pablo Rodriguez, MD, Chair of the Women & Infants Health Care Alliance

Julia Ojeda, Recovery Support Services Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Public Health 

Grace Damion, Director, Research and Service Initiatives, Hispanic Health Council- Hartford, CT

3. Political Representation in New England

Moderator: Lourdes Montalvo, Director of Constituent Services, Connecticut Secretary of the State 

Jossie Valentin, City Councilor Holyoke 

Luis Aponte, City Council President, Providence, Rhode Island

Minnie Gonzalez, State Representative, Majority Whip at Large, Hartford, CT

Carlos Gonzalez, Springfield State Representative

4. Economic Development

Moderator: Dr. Ramon Borges-Mendez, Community Development and Planning, Clark University 

Juan Vega, Assistant Secretary, Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development 

Sheyla Rivera, Artistic Director, AS220

Marcos Marrero, Director, Planning and Economic Development, City of Holyoke

Taino Palermo, Ed.D., Program Director, Community Development, Roger Williams University

5. Media 

Moderator: José Massó, ¡Con Salsa! Radio 

Vanessa Pabon, Community Engagement Director, WGBY-PBS-Western NE 

Norma Rodriguez-Reyes, La Voz Hispana de CT

Natalia Muñoz, Verdant Multicultural Media 

Manuel Frau-Ramos, El Sol Latino 


12:30 P.M. LUNCH


1:30 P.M. PLENARY PANEL: CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

Moderator: Nilda Ruiz, President and CEO, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc.

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

Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Chief Executive Officer, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción

Natascha Otero-Santiago, ParrandaPR 


2:45 P.M. – 4:00PM CONCURRENT PANELS

1. LGBTQ

Moderator: Nelson Roman, City Councilor Ward 2, Holyoke, MA 

Amaad Rivera, former City Councilor, Springfield, MA

Jennifer Lynn Velez, Trans Pioneer, Holyoke, MA

Myriam Quinones, Holyoke Community College   

2. Youth

Moderator: Alejandro Manzanares, Stand UP for Puerto Rico

Jafet Robles, Community Organizer 

Cristy Marrero, Editorial Vice President, Hello & Hola Media, Inc.

El Puente & Melinda Gonzalez, BombaYo

Roslyn Sotero, Director, LACE Youth Program, and El Centro Cultural 

3. Engagement and Faith Based Communities

Moderator: Dr. Efrain Agosto, New York Theological Seminary 

Reverend Dr. Damaris Whittaker, Center Church; The First Church of Christ in Hartford  

Pastor Jose Mercado, St. Augustine Church

4. Cultural Activism and Historical Preservation

Moderator: Juan González, Esq., San Juan Bautista Parade, Inc.   

Lucila Santana, Springfield PR Parade & PR Cultural Project, Holyoke Public Library

Rafael Zapata, Rhode Island Latino Arts 

Lydia Perez, Yoruba II, PR Institute for Arts and Advocacy 

The Connecticut Institute for Community Development-Puerto Rican Parade Committee (CICD)- Hartford Chapter 

5. Veterans 

Details forthcoming 


4:00 PM COFFEE BREAK


4:15 P.M. PLENARY PANEL: WRAP-UP PLENARY: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Dr. Edwin Meléndez, Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies and Betty Medina Lichtenstein, Executive Director, Enlace de Familias, Inc. 


5:30 P.M. RECEPTION


6:30 P.M. ADJOURN