Friends of the National American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) announced the launch of its inaugural Florida Regional Leadership Network, featuring leaders in politics, civil rights, and business statewide including original bill sponsor and long-standing champion, fmr. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The network is a part of the FRIENDS national Regional Leadership Network program to galvanize support from high-profile leaders across the country. Members will serve as the champions and ambassadors for the campaign to create a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum on our National Mall, representing the incredible support for the campaign in Florida and the legacy of Latino history in the state. 

“The Florida Regional Leadership Network represents the commitment to heritage, identity, and legacy that drives our campaign,” said Francela Chi de Chinchilla, Vice President of Advocacy and Partnerships. “The story of the Latino community in Florida is an integral part of the state’s history, and a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum would elevate the chapters in Floridian history including the founding of St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the United States, the election of former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Latina elected to Congress in US history, and more. Our campaign already enjoys bipartisan congressional support from twelve members of the Florida congressional delegation; and these members of the Florida Leadership Network will help our campaign underscore how important this museum is to honoring the legacies and contributions of American Latinos in the state.”

The current list of members in the Florida network is as follows, with more to be added: 

  • Natalia Crujeiras, Executive Director of Cultural Affairs, Miami Dade College
  • Aida Levitan, Ph.D, Congressional Commissioner, National Museum of the American Latino 
  • Maestro Eduardo Marturet, Conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra
  • Gaby Pacheco, Program Director for Advocacy, Development and Communications at TheDream.US and immigration activist
  • Kira Romero Craft, Managing Attorney, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Fmr. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senior Advisor, Akin Gump
  • Lisbeth Suarez, P&D Manager, FedEx
  • Pedro Torres Diaz, Principal at Jackson Lewis, P.C. and Past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association

*titles provided for identification purposes only

Members will join networks that launched this year in New York and Arizona to spread awareness and support for the long-overdue museum through the media, in-person advocacy, and digital engagement—creating momentum for the campaign in their communities. A quarter-century after the nation was first made aware of the severe underrepresentation of Latinos throughout the Smithsonian Institution, the Regional Leadership Networks are a symbol of the growing momentum calling for a National American Latino Museum.