As Congress enters into a momentous new session, Friends of the National American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) is galvanizing high-profile supporters across the nation with the launch of its Regional Leadership Networks. Local and national leaders will serve as the champions and ambassadors for the campaign to create a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum on our National Mall. They represent the incredible strength and support this campaign has cultivated since its inception over a decade ago.

Launched on February 20, the New York-based network features leaders in politics, media, and business from the Tri-state area. Among the network’s members are Rubén Blades, salsa icon and Grammy award-winning artist, Margaret Hoover, bestselling author and host of PBS’s Firing Line, Melissa Mark Viverito, former Speaker of the New York City Council, and Senator Gustavo Rivera, State Senator in the New York State Senate representing the Bronx.

Following New York, regional networks are expected to be launched throughout 2019 in California, Illinois, Florida, and Texas. Members will spread awareness and support for the long-overdue museum through the media, in-person advocacy, and digital engagement to create momentum for the campaign in their communities. They will continue the drumbeat that began over 25 years ago when Congress and the nation were made aware of the severe underrepresentation of American Latino history throughout the Smithsonian Institution.

“The Regional Leadership Networks embody the shared pride and heritage that is at the core of our campaign,” said Francella Chinchilla, Vice President of Advocacy and Partnerships. “A Smithsonian National American Latino Museum on our National Mall will elevate Latino voices and stories from across the United States, and our campaign does the same. These Regional Leadership Networks are yet another level of support in addition to the nearly 100 National Nonprofit Partners and the Chair’s Advisory Council support that has already gathered all over the nation. Through these voices, it is clear that Americans want this museum and want our Congress to pass legislation towards its creation this year.”

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

  • Jerry Alvare, Regional Communications Specialist, FedEX
  • Antonio Argibay, Managing Principal, Meridian Design Associates and Board Member, Friends of the American Latino Museum
  • Fernando Betancourt, Executive Director, San Juan Center Inc.
  • Luis Cancel, CEO, Entrepreneurial Cultural Consulting and Board Member, Friends of the American Latino Museum
  • Rosa Correa, Board Member, Friends of the American Latino Museum
  • Rubén Blades, Salsa icon & Grammy Award-winning artist
  • Jazmin Chavez, Social Media Strategist
  • Carlos Chirinos, Director, Music and Social Change Lab at NYU Steinhardt
  • Elena DeMurias, Former Museum Executive, The de Murias Family Collection
  • Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, Executive Chairman, PVBLIC Foundation
  • Jimena Florez, CEO and Founder, Chaak
  • Frank Garcia, Chairman, National Association of State Latino Chambers of Commerce
  • Lili Gil Valletta, Co-Founder and CEO, CulturIntel and CIEN+
  • Margaret Hoover, Bestselling author and host of PBS’s Firing Line
  • Melissa Mark Viverito, Leading Progressive voice & former Speaker of NYC Council
  • Kristian Mercado, Filmmaker and Director
  • Ben Ortiz, Independent Curator, The de Murias Family Collection
  • Werner Oyanadel, Senior Commission Analyst, Connecticut General Assembly Commission on Equity and Opportunity
  • Mireya Ramos, Co-Founder of Flor de Toloache
  • Senator Gustavo Rivera, State Senator, New York State Senate
  • Juana Silverio, Manager, National Grid

*titles provided for identification purposes only