(Washington DC) – Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS), the only non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to the creation of a National American Latino Museum announced today the creation of the Chairman’s Advisory Council (CAC) with its initial cohort. The CAC will help key individuals involved with FRIENDS remain informed and engaged as they assist the organization in raising visibility and public support for the creation of a Smithsonian National American Latino museum, obtain Congressional backing for legislation and seek financial commitments (both donations and pledges).

“I have been incredibly moved and touched by the outpouring of support for our efforts to create a National American Latino Museum. The wonderful people that make up our Chairman’s Advisory Council will help us achieve our goals of getting Congressional authorization, securing financial donations and pledges, as well as build upon the already massive public demand for this museum,” said Danny Vargas, Board Chairman for FRIENDS. “Working in collaboration with our board of directors, staff, former NMAL Commissioners and many other supporters, the Chairman’s Advisory Council will help ensure we have a more complete account of American history, honor the contributions of Latinos throughout the last 500 years, celebrate the vitality and complexity of today’s American Latino communities, and inspire future generation. Working together, we will soon witness the opening of the National American Latino Museum within the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall.”

Estuardo Rodriguez, executive director at FRIENDS said “The launch of the CAC will help FRIENDS connect with their Congressional and public supporters to ensure they understand the importance and benefit of creating a National Latino museum. For far too long, contributions of Latino/Hispanic Americans have been underrepresented within the narrative of our American history. We are thrilled to have the commitment of some of our nation’s leading Latino and Latina figures from business, media, museum arena and public service. The CAC members combined influence will help us amplify the critical void this museum will fill within the Smithsonian Institution for the benefit of the more than 30 million visitors to our National Mall every year.”

While additions will be made to the CAC in the future, initial members beginning in 2018 include:

  • Nelson Albareda – CEO, Loud and Live and Former NMAL Commissioner
  • Thaddeus Arroyo – CEO, AT&T Business
  • Hector Barreto – Chairman of The Latino Coalition and Former SBA Administrator
  • Juan Carlos Benitez – President Washington Pacific Economic Development Group and Former Special Counsel, US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division under President Bush
  • Rudy Beserra – Former SVP Coca-Cola and Former Special Assistant to President Reagan
  • Alejandra Castillo – CEO, YWCA and Former National Director, MBDA
  • Luis Fortuno – Former Governor of Puerto Rico
  • Lorraine Garcia-Nakata – Museum & Arts Cultural Specialist, Former NMAL Commissioner
  • Daniel Garza – President, The Libre Initiative
  • Lili Gil-Valetta – CEO & Cofounder CIEN+
  • Carlos Gutierrez – Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Former CEO of Kellogg Company
  • Sean Reyes – Utah Attorney General and Former NMAL Commissioner
  • Manny Rosales – Board Secretary the Latino Coalition
  • Camille Solberg – Former Federal Drug Free Communities Commissioner
  • Al Zapanta – President/CEO of US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Former Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, Retired Army Major General