To unite Oregon Latinos behind a non-partisan values driven agenda that acknowledges diversity, and empowers Latinos with tools that equip them to step into Civic Leadership roles
The Oregon Latino Agenda for Action (OLAA) was an effort facilitated by Oregon Consensus of Portland State University to bring together a broad range of representatives from the Latino community throughout Oregon to collaborate in developing an “Oregon Latino Agenda for Action.”The motivation for OLAA came from discussions and gatherings (Salons) facilitated by Oregon Consensus with key Latino leadership in 2009 and 2010. Prior to 2009 tri county Latino community members met to discuss the need for a convening body that brought together statewide Latino leaders to support and build an action agenda to promote, recognize and build an actionable agenda. From these gatherings and a series of committee meetings emerged the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action (OLAA). OLAA is governed by an executive committee and is staffed in large part by volunteers and a facilitation team.
Current Board Members:
Reyna Lopez, Co-Chair
Reyna Lopez, a former Civic Engagement Director for Causa Oregon, is a strong advocate in the statewide Immigrant Rights and Latino Movement. While at Causa, Reyna helped lead the organization to win big victories in the legislature with Tuition Equity and Driver’s Cards as well as worked to advance and empower the Latino community in Oregon’s political process. Reyna has worked tirelessly to build innovative ways to increase Latino voter registration in Oregon—her work with the New American Voter Project and as Director of the Yes on 88 field effort, Oregon’s first Bi-lingual and Bi-Cultural ballot measure in 2014, are prime examples of this innovative leadership. Reyna currently serves as Outreach Director for Our Oregon, where she focuses on building a statewide progressive network for some of the most high-profile issues on the 2016 ballot.
Cristabel Nichols, Co-Chair
As a bilingual, bi-cultural, and equity-drive professional, Cristabel has focused most of her career in government and has worked in many different agencies within local, State and Federal offices. Additionally, she has worked in the private sector doing communications and outreach within Latino and communities of color to increase access to education, resources and opportunity.
Cristabel has previously worked for La Opinion Newspaper in Los Angeles, which is part of ImpreMedia the largest national publishing company in the United States, which caters to the Latino community and engages in “ownable content that connects to [our] culture.” While there, Cristabel was instrumental in partnering with UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) in coordinating and implementing the business development program, Éxito Empresarial, where Spanish-speaking community members could receive a first-rate course, at low to no-cost and learn how to establish their own small-business, educating them about local laws and policies; while also addressing how to navigate potential barriers such as their legal status in the U.S.
Cristabel currently works with the Multnomah County Elections Division where she supports her team on strategies for being culturally inclusive to communities of color and applies her lived and overall cultural competency background to better work & serve communities of color, those living in poverty and engaging with LEP (Limited English proficiency) communities. Cristabel also serves on the Multnomah County Equity Council, where she participates in making recommendations on diversity and equity issues within the county to the Board or appropriate stakeholders. As Ben Duncan, the Chief Diversity and Equity Officer for Multnomah County recently shared, “Cristabel has shown incredible curiosity and a willingness to ask the difficult questions. She brings and leverages her background and experience to identify issues in a way that is able to move equity work forward and would be an asset to teams seeking this approach.”
Carlos Crespo, Bord Member and Founder
Dr. Carlos J. Crespo is Professor and Director of the School of Community health at Portland State University. He graduated from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and has a Master of Science in Sports Health from Texas Tech University and a Doctor of Public Health in Preventive Care from the Loma Linda University. Previous work experience includes working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the National Center for Health and as a public health analyst for the Office of Prevention, Education and Control at the National Institutes of Health. His main area of research involves the epidemiology of physical activity in the prevention of chronic diseases and research on minority health issues. He lists more than 100 publications and has been a contributing author to five textbooks on minority health and sports medicine, and more than 10 government publications, including the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health. He received the 1997 U.S. Secretary of Health Award for Distinguished Service as part of the Salud para su Corazon campaign, and in 2003 became a Minority Health Scholar from the National Institutes of Health. He is an emeritus board member of American Council for Exercise and past President of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. He is a past member of the National Advisory Council of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research, Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Urban and Health Sustainability. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and a member of the Oregon Health Policy Board and the Board of Directors of the Oregon Public Health Institute and the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action.
Xavier Romano serves as Principal of Xavier & Associates which is a higher education consulting firm dedicated to expanding pathways for historically underrepresented populations. Xavier & Associates works with colleges and universities to enhance recruitment and retention strategies to reflect societies substantial demographic shifts. Xavier & Associates also works with post-secondary institutions in regards to holistic “cultural assessments” to support increasingly diverse faculty, staff and student populations.
Prior to Xavier & Associates, Romano has nearly 30 years of work in enrollment and student services in senior management roles at Eastern Oregon University, Alliant International University (Fresno Campus), Knox College, Holy Names University among others. Xavier’s has also enjoyed a vibrant consulting work with a diverse group of institutions such as Beloit College, Colorado College, Lees-McRaeCollege and California State University at Stanislaus. Additionally, Romano continues extensive accreditation work with institutions such as the University of Guam, Chaminade University and the California State University, East Bay.
Romano earned degrees at the University of Oregon (B.S.) and Santa Clara University (M.A.), won a fellowship to the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Educational Management and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany studying the role of student services within German & European higher education. Romano also undertook a British Council grant to study residential education at faith-based institutions throughout England.
As of January 2016 Romano serves on the Board of Trustees of Marathon Scholars Foundation in Portland and EUVALCREE Latino community based foundation in Ontario (OR).
Linda Castillo, Board Member
Linda helped found Latino Network in 1996, and returned as a staff member in 2014. She runs the Unid@s leadership cohort for grasstops leaders.
For 22 years, she has worked in local government in various counties in the Northwest. She also spent a decade working for nonprofits in direct service for communities of color in Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. An active leader in the Latino community, she was a co-founder of Bienestar de la Familia and helped lead the team that developed the Communities of Color Organizational Assessment tool for Cultural Competence.
Linda identifies as a bicultural, bilingual first generation Latina of Mexican heritage. She was born and raised in Northern California as the eldest daughter of farm workers from Zacatecas and Michoacán and was the first in her family to graduate from high school, attend college, and complete graduate school with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. Her upbringing was filled with experiences of and addressing poverty, violence, sexism, discrimination, social justice, protests in the streets for equity, civic engagement, and community organizing and authentic connection and building trust in communities of color.
Having lived in Portland, Oregon for many years and raised her twin daughters here, she enjoys art, music, foodie adventures, and team sports and relays. She also enjoys working on issues of diversity & equity.
Shannon Garcia, Board Member
Shannon Garcia grew up in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ but has been in the Pacific Northwest for over 15 years. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA, majoring in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and minoring in American Indian studies. Her primary focus was on global wealth inequity, the sociology of reproductive health and the politics of identity. From there, she obtained her Juris Doctor degree at Lewis & Clark, where her primary focus was on international human rights and workers’ rights as human rights.
Currently, she is the Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at El Programa Hispano Católico. In her work she represents primarily ESL clients, the majority of which are native Spanish speakers. She strives to increase financial self-sufficiency and empowerment in the latino community by providing educational workshops in Spanish about common tax issues, including tax preparer fraud, and representing taxpayers in their problems with the IRS. She is the local tax expert when it comes to tax issues related to ITINs and working under invalid social security numbers. She continues to bepassionate about workers’ rights as human rights, particularly in the context of farm work.
Juan Carlos Cuadros,
Juan Carlos Cuadros is a first generation Chicano. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, after his parents migrated from Jalisco, Mexico. Mr. Cuadros grew up as a bilingual Spanish speaking person who started his public education not speaking any English. He served as the leader of Buena Vista Spanish Immersion School for 7 years before taking his current leadership position as Principal at Kelly Middle School in Eugene, Oregon.
Mr. Cuadros earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Oregon in 1999. He continued at U of O, completing his Master of Arts degree in Spanish, while teaching Spanish at Lane Community College. Upon completion of his M.A. he accepted a position at Springfield High School as the Multi-Cultural Liaison. He continued to teach at LCC and became aware that public schools had a need for strong Latino leadership. There were more than one hundred Latino students at SHS and only a few Latino teachers or Latinos in positions of leadership.
His work with student at Springfield High School inspired him to return to his alma mater and enroll in the teacher education program, where he earned a Master in Education. Mr. Cuadros believes that education is the great equalizer. Springfield High School’s leadership recognized his commitment to education and his passion for service, and brought him on staff as the English Language Teacher where he facilitated the development of a New Comers program.
Mr. Cuadros serves a member of the Board of Directors of Centro Latino as well as being a member of Oregon Association of Latino Administrators.
Maria D. Hernandez,
Maria was raised in Cruz de Aguilar Romita, Guanajuato, a small town of no more than 600 individuals. She then moved to Woodburn, Oregon at the age of 12, with her family, and has since considered Woodburn home. Growing up in a small town every decision counted and therefore community led. Her experience growing up as bicultural and bilingual led Maria to dedicate her work to community engagement, connection building, and building power for most impacted communities.
Maria received her bachelor’s of arts degree from Willamette University in Politics with a minor in Sociology and Latin American Studies. During her college career, Maria’s research was very much connected with her experience as a farm worker. She conducted a community-participatory research titled: Broken Laws, Families Separated, and Unprotected Workers: The Faces of Wage Theft in Oregon, which examined the many barriers undocumented farm workers faced in identifying and reporting wage theft. Maria’s commitment to wage theft research, lead her to complete her senior thesis titled Wage Theft and Sexual Harassment in the Fields of Oregon; The Intersectionality of Struggle with the Law for Migrant, Low-wage Women Workers. María continues to examine ways to strengthen Oregon laws and policies to recover stolen and report abuses.
After Willamette, Maria went on to complete a Public Affairs Fellowship with CORO Northern California to then later work as the Program Manager for CORO’s Exploring Leadership Program where she built policy awareness around issues of police brutality and created leadership development opportunities for students of color.
Most recently, Maria was the Deputy Campaign Manager working to elect State Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, the first Indigenous Latina to represent a district in the state of Oregon. Maria now works as the Advocacy Coordinator at Organizing People/Advancing Leaders (OPAL) Environmental Justice Oregon where she leads advocacy efforts at a local, county and statewide level through Oregon. Maria’s work with OPAL and the Oregon Just Transition Alliance seeks to provide partners access to solidarity networks and opportunities to build people power.
Meet the Interns:
Giselle Reynoso, Communications Intern
Giselle Reynoso was born and raised in Central Oregon, up until she was 20 years old. She graduated from Central Oregon Community College with her Associate’s Degree. Soon after achieving her Associate’s, she moved to Portland to pursue her dream of becoming a Clincal Psychologist. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Portland State University. Once she graduates from PSU she plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Pacific University. Her dream is to help people with mental illnesses and help assess and treat them with their illness and disabilities. She is currently working a second internship through the Department of Community Justice, at the Domestic Violence Unit. She has previously volunteered in numerous organizations within her community, which include the justice system for adolescence, a head start program for children of migrant field workers, Friends of Trees, and Meals on Wheels distributing food for the homeless. She is a current member of the multicultural community service based sorority Kappa Delta Chi. Giselle is always looking for more ways to get involved in giving back to her community.
Past Board Members:
Consuelo Saragoza, Founder
Consuelo Saragoza brings over 30 years’ experience leading and administering public sector and community-based programs. She began her career in public education working with migrant education programs in Oregon’s Jackson and Marion Counties
with the education service district. In 1993, Ms. Saragoza began her tenure with the Multnomah County Health Department, holding Director positions managing the Neighborhood Health Division as well as Community Health Promotion, Partnership, and Planning, and she currently serves as Senior Advisor of Public Health and Community Initiatives. Ms. Saragoza’s most recent civic engagement includes serving on the Board of Directors for All Hands Raised, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), American Leadership Forum (ALF), and she is also a Board member and cofounder of the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action (OLAA). Ms. Saragoza’s leadership training experience includes the Legacy Program for State and Local Public Service Leaders at Portland State University, Emerge Oregon class of 2010, and American Leadership Forum of Oregon class 25 (2011). She is also a member of the inaugural statewide UNID@s for Oregon multigenerational Latino leadership program. Ms. Saragoza earned her Master’s in Public Administration through the National Urban Fellows Program, City University of New York, Baruch College.
Jessica Rodriguez-Montegna, Past Chair
Jessica has over a decade of experience working with marginalized communities, non-profits, and the public sector both domestically and internationally. Her areas of focus have been in community development, conflict resolution and mediation, facilitation, women’s rights issues, and training development. Jessica has served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador and have lived and worked in China, Chile, and Nicaragua. Additional experiences include working with Community Action Agencies in Texas to establish a unified legislative agenda and working across rural Oregon to facilitate collaborative project implementation. Jessica also serves as a Commissioner on the Oregon Commission for Women. Currently, Jessica is a Project Manager for Oregon Consensus at Portland State University, Oregon’s official program to help Oregonians work together to address contentious public policy issues. Jessica has an M.A. degree in Conflict Transformation from SIT Graduate Institute, and a double B.A. degree in Communications and Psychology.
Wendy Serrano was raised in Guadalajara, Mexico but has called Portland home since 2001. As a bilingual and bi-cultural professional Wendy has extensive experience in government, higher education, non-profit and community organizations. She has focused by working in projects to serve the Latino community within the Portland Metro area. Wendy has previously worked for the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber where she conducted outreach about the Affordable Healthcare Act to Latino small business owners. She’s currently a District Staffer for Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s office, where she covers Latino community outreach, manages the international affairs portfolio and constituency services. Wendy is currently completing her MBA degree at George Fox University, she holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Studies from Portland State University.
Andrea is a first generation chican@ that has been living in Oregon for the past 14 years. A graduate of the University of Oregon, Andrea lives in the Hazelwood neighborhood in east Portland with her partner, 5 month old daughter Rosalía, and dog Balboa. Growing up in a single parent household and cleaning houses while in school strengthened her international and national social justice framework, and her family’s lack of economic and racial justices is a foundation to her community-based activism and policy work. It is no coincidence Andrea began her career in the labor and students rights movements. Andrea was elected to serve as the Precinct Committee Leader of Precinct 4707 as well as the Assistant District Leader for House District 47. She also serves on the board of directors for Common Cause Oregon, and will begin serving on the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation board in January 2016. Andrea currently serves as the Outreach and Policy Advisor for Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick.
Luis Nava, Past Co-Chair
Luis Nava, small business owner, is a native of Lima, Peru who studied Industrial Engineering at the Universidad Nac. Federico Villarreal. New to the Board in 2014, Luis brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in civic engagement. He devotes much of his time to serving a multitude of organizations. He is on Metro’s MPAC and PERC Committees and is a Board Member on the Human Rights Council of Washington County. He is Vice Chair of both WC-CAN and Multnomah County Multnomah Ground Work. He is on the City of Hillsboro 2035 Task Force Conflict Resolution Team, City of Beaverton Diversity Task Force Conflict Resolution Team, City of Portland EPAP Civic Engagement Committee and attends the City of Cornelius Quarterly Latino Town Hall Meetings. Luis is Executive Board Member of Centro Cultural de Washington County’s Economic Development Committee. He is involved with Brown Middle School’s Latino PTO Council, part of CPO6, OSU 4-H Program, Oregon Action, Hillsboro School District Science Committee, Latino as well as the Leadership Network of Washington Co., HispanicPros, SW Washington LULAC, EXPO NEGOCIO in Salem. He is also Community Outreach Chair for Democratic Party: Oregon National Delegate, Washington County.
Cynthia Carmina Gomez, Past Co-Chair
Cynthia Carmina Gómez is the Director of the Cultural Resource Centers at Portland State University. Prior to this position, she spent 12 years as an Affiliated Faculty member for University Studies teaching community-based learning courses to undergraduates. During that time, she also worked for the Portland non-profit Latino Network, first as a board member, then in direct service as an adjudicated youth educational advocate, and most recently, as the Director of Líderes, a civic engagement and leadership program. Formerly, Cynthia worked as the PSU Coordinator for the Oregon Leadership Institute; worked for the non-profit Innovation Partnership; and operated her own consulting firm. She currently serves on the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action; is a Commissioner for the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs and the Environmental Justice Task Force; and is a graduate of Leadership Portland. She is also the recipient of the 2015 Governors’ Gold Award.
Rolando Cruz, Past Treasurer
Rolando Cruz is a native of Mexico City and has called Portland home since 1996. His bi-cultural background and passion for community involvement have led him to a number of volunteer and community leadership roles. He is a strong supporter of the Act Six program, a scholarship and leadership initiative for underrepresented youth. He has previously served as Director of Hispanic Initiatives with Boy Scouts of America, and worked on policy issues for Multnomah County Chair, Deborah Kafoury. He is currently a Category Information Analyst at Nike. Rolando holds a Bachelor’s in Communications from Oklahoma Christian University and a Masters in Management and Organizational Leadership from Warner Pacific College.