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Diaspora Summit II Program - Engagement

Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans Diaspora Summit II

Saturday, May 13, 2017


  • How Community Institutions Are Responding to the Challenge?
  • What Do Strategies Support?
  • Where Do We Go from Here?

9:30 AM

Walking Tour: East Harlem Latin Music Tour
Elena Martinez

This tour with folklorist Elena Martinez will explore a small portion of the East Harlem neighborhood where many Latin music performers lived and worked. Along the way, we’ll point out the dance clubs, theaters and social clubs where the music was performed and flourished. The tour will also examine the community organizations that have helped improve the neighborhood and will highlight the street life and public art that continues to make the neighborhood vibrant. To join the tour, RSVP at the registration table located on the first floor.

10:00 – 12:00 Noon

Action Fair

A diaspora networking and community-building event. Bring your organization information packets, meet and greet community leaders from around the country, exchange ideas about affecting social change for our people, and dream a better future for 8.6 million Puerto Ricans.

Library & Archives Open House

Have research questions or general curiosity about Puerto Rican studies? Centro is the largest repository of primary and secondary source materials and collections about Puerto Ricans in the United States. Come meet our staff and learn how to use our fascinating resources. On display, during Centro’s Open House will be a selection of documents pertaining to some of the Puerto Rican Day Parade founding leaders (Gilberto Gerena Valentin and Federico Pérez) and browse some of the organizational records (Migration Division and The Department of the Puerto Rican Community Affairs) that documented the Puerto Rican parades going back to 1958 in New York City. Share your questions and curiosities with us and get a hands-on demonstration of our Digital Archival Collections.

12:00 - 1:15 p.m.

Concurrent Panels

Saturday breakout sessions promote active and deliberative engagement of multiple stakeholders in the solution of urgent social problems and the development of community and policy strategies. In this conference, we seek to realign Centro’s research, preservation, and outreach programs toward this historical moment and toward the concerns and interests of the Puerto Rican people and other stakeholders. Centro’s main goal as an organization is to cultivate relations with a broad constituency, which is understood to be essential to carrying our mission.

The breakout sessions are organized into groups that represent existing organizational structure within the Puerto Rican community. In some cases, this will be a continuation of already existing national organizations and the discussion will focus on how to mobilize or further develop civic engagement in this particular sector of the community. In other cases, this will be the first time that regional or state-level groups come together to articulate a national agenda. In a few cases, this will be the first step toward conceptualizing a national network and a mobilization strategy for a sector where relatively no Puerto Rican-focused institutional infrastructure exists.

Given the diverse and complex reality of our community, what can Centro do to respond to such a historical juncture? Can we build a shared understanding of the many challenges and opportunities that we face from the perspective of the Puerto Rican community in the U.S.?

The common questions posed to breakout sessions are:

What can we do?
Who is going to do it?
What can Centro do?

Round Table Format: Each speaker in a panel will make initial remarks for 4 to 5 minutes. The moderator may ask additional follow up questions and/or open public questions to panelists. We expect questions from attendees to the session to be specific and comments limited to no more than one or two minutes. The idea is to engage participants in a discussion of policy and strategies. The moderator will report on recommendations from the group at the closing plenary session.

1. Women's Organizations
Moderator: Sara Melendez, National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc. (Washington, DC)
Michelle Centeno, NACOPRW President, New York Chapter (Bronx, NY)
Amaris Hernandez, President, NACOPRW Philadelphia Chapter (Philadelphia, PA)
Deborah Lopez, President, NACOPRW Chicago Chapter (Chicago, Ill)

2. Creative Network of the Puerto Rican Diaspora
Moderator: Miguel Luciano, Multidisciplinary Visual Artist and Activist (NY, NY)
Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Writer, Marvel Comics and Creator of the Superheroine La Borinqueña (Brooklyn, NY)
Adrián 'Viajero' Román, Visual Artist and Co-Founder of Defend Puerto Rico (NY, NY)
Prof. Juan Sánchez , Professor of Art, Hunter College (NY, NY)

3.  LGBT Ricans
Moderator: Charles Rice-Gonzalez, co-Founder of The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance
Erika G. Abad, PhD, Professor-in-Residence, University of Nevada (Las Vegas, NV)
Eliel Cruz, Writer and advocate, "Faithfully LGBT" Religion News Service (NY, NY)
Nivea Castro, J.D., Photogpaher and Curator (NY, NY)

4. Parades and Festivals
Moderator: Ululy Rafael Martinez, Board Member, National Puerto Rican Day Parade Inc. (NY, NY)
Margarita Espada, Teatro Yerbabruja (Long Island, NY)
Juan J. Gonzalez, Esq., Vice-President, Parada San Juan Bautista, Inc. (Camden, NJ)
Lucila Santana, Springfield PR Parade & PR Cultural Project, (Holyoke, MA)




Sector Panels
1. Faith-Based Communities
Moderator: Dr. Efraín Agosto, Professor, New York Theological Seminary (NY, NY)
Rev. Eric Cruz, Pastor, St. John Chrysostom and Regional Coordinator of Catholic Charities for the Bronx (Bronx, NY)
Reverend Roberto Luis Lugo, Director (Philadelphia, PA)
Rev. Dr. Damaris Whittaker, Senior Minister, Center Church - The First Church of Christ, UCC (Hartford, CT)

2. Legal System and Puerto Ricans
Moderator: Carmen Pacheco, President, Puerto Rican Bar Association (NY)
Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF (NY, NY and Orlando, FL)
Roseni Plaza, National Employment Lawyers Association/New York
Anthony Suárez, Esq., President, Puerto Rican Bar Association of Orlando (FL)

3. Veterans
Moderator: Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera, Professor, Bloomfield College (Bloomfield, NY)
Gabriel Botero Jr., Readjustment Counselor, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Hartford Vet Center (Hartford, CT)
Lieutenant Colonel Lesbia I. Nieves, Connecticut Army National Guard (Manchester, CT)
Lieutenant Colonel Jose O. Torres, Bronze Medal Recipient, UPRAA Board Member (Washington, DC)

4. Puerto Rican Academics
Moderator: Dr. Teresita Levy, Professor, Lehman College (Bronx, NY)    
Dr. Edna Acosta-Belén, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University at Albany, SUNY.
B. Ramón Borges-Méndez, PhD, Associate Professor, Clark University (Worcester, MA)
Alessandra Rosa PhD, Assistant Professor, Lynn University, (Boca Raton, FL)

3:30 - 4:30 pm

Wrap-up Plenary: What have we learned, where do we go from here?

Moderators of each breakout session will present a brief summary of conference participants’ view on what can Centro can do to support growing interest in Puerto Rico’s economic and humanitarian crises among stateside Puerto Rican communities. What should Centro’s priorities be – as a convener and network builder, as a think tank and source of reliable information, or as a documentarian of the process? How would these roles benefit specific community groups given the state of their sector institutions and priorities as a social movement?

4:30 p.m.


Continue to Understanding - May 12, 2017 Program