( Page 2 )

Editors: Blánca Vazquez & Teresa Santiago
Typography & Design: Blánca Vazquez

Celebrando lo Mejor de
Nuestra Comunidad

Through "Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad," Comité Noviembre recognizes outstanding individuals who are the unsung heroes of our community. These awards honor Puerto Ricans whose pride in their heritage and strength of character have empowered themselves and inspired others to make a significant impact on the community. Eight men and women were chosen by Comité Noviembre from the nominations that were submitted by you, the community. In addition, Comité Noviembre will present three "Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad" Youth Awards, which recognizes outstanding Puerto Rican youth who early on in their lives are making a difference in their community and making their mark on society. The following individuals will be recognized at Comité Noviembre’s kick-off event at El Museo del Barrio on Wednesday, November 1, 2000.

Myrta Cuadra-Lash

Myrta Cuadra-Lash was born in Puerto Rico. East Harlem, where she spent her childhood and adolescence, is also where her social awareness began to develop as she experienced personal and community adversity. She attended SUNY at Stony Brook and completed her graduate internship at the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development. Her experience as an administrator for the Suffolk Child Development and Rehabilitation Centers led to her passion and dedication to the field of human services.

For more than three decades, Myrta has been a formidable advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. The success of her advocacy can be measured by increased opportunities for the disabled. Myrta envisioned a community agency that would provide community members with disabilities access to the full range of services guaranteed by law. With the help of her husband, Richard Lash, the organization Sinergía was born. Today, Sinergia is one of New York’s premier non-governmental agencies advocating for adults and children with disabilities and their families. Thousands of children, adults, and homeless families have benefited from Sinergia’s programs.

Presently, Myrta serves as chairperson of the East Harlem Neighborhood Based Alliance. Among her other affiliations are People for a New East Harlem and the boards of the National Parent Chain and Iris House. She has served on the advisory boards of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Department of Programs and Services for People with Disabilities; Agenda for Children; the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development; and as a member of the Manhattan Borough President’s Advisory Committee on the Disabled.

For over three decades, compassion, commitment, and pure love of our community’s disabled have made this puertorriqueña "Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad."

Ada Rosario Dolch

Ada Rosario Dolch has served as Principal for the High School for Leadership and Public Service for the past five years. Ms. Rosario Dolch holds a BA in Education from Baruch College, an MBA from Brooklyn College, and a Masters in Administration from the Bank Street College of Education’s Principal’s Institute.

The students and parents she serves state that Ms. Dolch has exceeded all expectations as a principal. A second parent to her students, she offers a rock solid example of an independent puertorriqueña. She serves as an Elder in her church, the New Hope Tabernacle, in Brooklyn, where she is a counselor to members of her community and church. She has also served as the Director of Sunday School for the past five years.

As an educator, Ms. Dolch extends herself beyond the school to ensure her students’ personal and academic success. One parent of Ms. Dolch’s students put it this way: "One major problem in public school is that many see students as ‘those kids,’ and Ms. Dolch sees them as her own." She is known to be available to her students outside of the classroom and has often been involved in efforts to reconcile children and their families in powerful ways. Ms. Dolch takes her job very seriously and understands that she is developing leaders for public service in her school, church and community. One student who nominated Ms. Dolch said, "She spreads a light on all her students. Ms. Dolch shows her students how to be leaders and how to be devoted to all they do."

Lester J. Figueroa, Esq.

Lester J. Figueroa has dedicated his career to educating his community on AIDS, civil rights, civic responsibilities, and leadership development. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he earned degrees in Political Science, International Relations, Public and Private Administration and Law at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1984 and became a partner at Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler & Schwartz, P.C.

In 1993, Mr. Figueroa helped establish the Latino Civic Association (LCA) of Staten Island, which works for the advancement of the more than 40,000 Latinos living in the borough. During his tenure as President of LCA, he worked with the Staten Island AIDS Task Force to increase awareness of HIV issues in the Puerto Rican community. Mr. Figueroa was also elected a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross and of the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

Mr. Figueroa’s tireless efforts in serving our youth and community have not gone unnoticed. For several years, Mr. Figueroa has served as Principal for a day at PS 45 in West Brighton and at PS 57 in Clifton. Mr. Figueroa was also honored as the first Hispanic to address a graduating class at Curtis High School as a keynote speaker in 1998.

The Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade recognized Mr. Figueroa’s leadership in 1995, awarding him the Betances Award for leadership. The Sociedad Puertorriqueña de Queens, Inc., also recognized him, in 1996, with the association’s award for Distinguished Puerto Rican of the Year. In March 1997, Mr. Figueroa’s leadership was once again recognized when he received an award from the 10th Annual New York State Puerto Rican-Hispanic Task Force Conference for his selfless commitment to human life and the advancement of the Puerto Rican-Hispanic community.

Sonia Galarza

Sonia Galarza, a proud puertorriqueña, works at the Department for Juvenile Justice as a case worker; she also serves as a Director for the agency’s non-secure detention home for girls. Ms. Galarza’s intelligence, passion and sixteen years of insight into the challenges our city youth face have made her an effective advocate for young people.

Ms. Galarza is also an accomplished CUNY Volleyball coach. In 1995 and 1997, the City University of New York nominated Ms. Galarza as Coach of the Year. Raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Ms. Galarza earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brooklyn College, Masters Degree credits from New York University and she is working toward an advanced degree at the New School for Social Research.

In 1996, Sonia Galarza was elected as the first female Co-chair of the newly organized Brooklyn Pride Committee, which produces the annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade and Multi-Cultural Festival in Brooklyn. In three short years, her unending energy and dynamic leadership has helped Brooklyn Pride become a respected service organization for the Brooklyn gay and lesbian community.

Ms. Galarza volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors for the Discipleship Ministry, a Christian organization that addresses various social problems in today’s society. Sonia has organized over 100 public events for over 50,000 people, raising funds for numerous health and public issues affecting, in particular, the Puerto Rican community.

Fernando "Ponce" Laspina

Fernando "Ponce" Laspina, a former South Bronx gang leader, succumbed to the pressure of the street, but opened his eyes and turned his life around. This former high school dropout went back to school, earning his GED and Associate Degree in Arts from Eugenio de Hostos Community College, a Bachelors of Arts from Lehman College and a Masters in Arts and Science from Buffalo State University.

Ponce has served his community as a youth counselor and program coordinator. As Adjunct Lecturer of Latin American and Caribbean Studies he takes pride in providing youth insight into their history, heritage, culture and roots so that they may define their future. In 1981, Ponce began the Patriotas Softball Team for young people 18 years of age and over. He founded and is president of the Juan "Igor" González League for children ages 6–13 years of age, and is also founder and president of the Roberto Clemente Softball Teams, a league for players 18 years age and over. Ponce has successfully provided his community’s youth with a positive alternative that allows them to channel their energy into constructive and competitive sports and avoid the often negatively enticing call of the streets.

Currently, Ponce is the Administrative Director of the Betances Community Center where he administers GED exams, enrollment for Summer Youth Camp and the After-School Center, and the Sports Center Complex where the community’s youth learn the marshall arts, boxing, wrestling, and get tutoring.

Ponce also founded the "Festival Del Grito de Lares, Inc.," a three-day community event, where the whole community comes together to enjoy guest speakers, music, dancing, live bands, game booths, food, and arts and crafts during the city’s hot summers. Each weekend, he teaches a small Puerto Rican history class in his living room to children ages 6–9.

Ponce volunteers at State Correctional facilities, providing softball games, live shows and music for those within the walls of many state prisons. By his tireless efforts and commitment he sends those incarcerated a clear message: "There is another way."

Founder, president, coordinator, board member, fundraiser for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and Mexico, regardless of his roles, this Editor of "El Batu," a monthly community magazine, has dedicated his life to creating positive change for his community.

Irvine Rafael MacManus

Irvine Rafael MacManus is a leader in Museum Planning, Development and Programs who is helping to build institutions that preserve culture. He has contributed his generousity and unique expertise to benefit organizations such as El Museo de las Americas, Historia y Arte de la Universidad de Puerto Rico; Instituto Puertorriqueño; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the National Foundation of the Arts and El Museo del Barrio, to name a few. Presently, he is working on a major installation of pre-Columbian gold for the museums of El Banco Central de Costa Rica. He is also currently curating an exhibition of Taíno art with Ricardo Alegria, at Lehman College Art Gallery, scheduled to open January 2002.

Irvine MacManus shared with Comité Noviembre the secret of his passion: "I want to make sure that the next generation has the opportunity to see the vast cultures of the world through their art as I have." Mr. MacManus has earned a BA in Political Science from Hunter College and completed graduate studies in Inter-American Cultural Policy and Administration from the Universidade do Brasilia and Universidade de Ijui, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil.

Mr. MacManus has worked in Museum Development for the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico; Museo de Oro Pre-Colonbino, Banco Nacional de Costa Rica; El Museo de las Americas, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Historic Hudson Valley; The Studio Museum in Harlem; and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. He has served on numerous Councils and Boards, including The Ford Foundation; The Rockefeller Foundation; The Luis A. Ferré Foundation; The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Harlem Councils of the Arts; and The Association of Hispanic Arts, Inc.

Maria Zapata

Maria Zapata has turned personal tragedy into opportunity and hope for the Puerto Rican/Latino community and for her family. Maria escaped an abusive marriage, taking with her that what she treasured most—twin three-year-olds and a five-year-old disabled son. A teen parent who dropped out of high school at 16 years of age, she struggled to become a role model for her children. Her determination to become self-sufficient was tremendous. With only the help of a monthly public assistance check, this young woman raised three small children, obtained her GED, attended college and worked part-time in order to get off public assistance.

Ms. Zapata was motivated to empower others. As a volunteer at the Círculo de la Hispanidad’s Abused Women Crisis Intervention program, she speaks at support groups and does presentations for both males and females on domestic violence prevention.

After tragically losing a grandchild to leukemia Maria became aware of how few Latinos were registered in the National Bone Marrow Registry. She transformed her pain into passion and volunteered with the Icla Da’Silva Foundation, helping other Latino families by educating the community on the importance of bone marrow donations.

This year, she volunteered for Census 2000, in order to make a positive impact in the Latino community of Hempstead, Long Island. Ms. Zapata works as a volunteer with students from St. John’s University, Hofstra, SUNY of Westbury and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in order to and encourage and educate her community to fill out their Census forms.

Maria’s career has allowed her to serve on the Board of Directors of Nassau/Suffolk Law Services, a non-for-profit legal service agency. She served as a Board Member to the NYS Coalition for Abused Women and Project Challenge, which advocates for drug and alcohol prevention among children. She is an exceptional person that has overcome many obstacles to become an example to her children, grandchildren and to her community.

Table Of Contents

Message On Behalf Of Comité Noviembre 2000
Comité Noviembre - Fifth Annual Gala
Gala Foto Album (PuertoRicans.Com)
History And Mission
About The Poster
About The Artist

Comité Noviembre 2000 Spokesperson Dave Valentín
Celebrities Come Out For Comité Noviembre

Celebrando Lo Mejor De Nuestra Comunidad
ASPIRA Of New York, Inc
Exceptional Puerto Rican Youth
Comité Noviembre Scholarship Program
Eugenio María De Hostos Community College
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

Taíno: Ancient Voyagers Of The Caribbean
El Museo Del Barrio
New Boricua Books

National Congress For Puerto Rican Rights
History Revealed: FBI Releases Files On Independence Movement
Las Carpetas: The Book
Institute For The Puerto Rican / Hispanic Elderly
Day Of Community Service And Social Responsibility

Vieques And The U.S. Military: The Struggle Continues
Intergenerational Message From Vieques

In Memoriam Adelfa - Vera Puerto Rican Nacionalista
In Memoriam - Paul Ramos Health Care Advocate

Comité Noviembre De New Jersey, Inc
New Jersey 2000 Honorees

Poster 2000
Poster 1992
Comité Noviembre - 1999

Copyright ©Comité Noviembre 2000 / Reprinted With Permission


Sign Guestbook

Read Guestbook




Copyright © 1999-2002 / Talí Lamourt-NYBoricua / All Rights Reserved / Updated: November 15, 2003