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The latino policy institute

About US

Latino Policy Institute

The Latino Policy Institute works to stimulate public policy discourse by examining and communicating the evolving experiences of the Latino community in Rhode Island. LPI is committed to educating, activating, and motivating community members and stakeholders to ignite positive change in the lives of all Latinos.

Check out our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan here

Our Mission

The Latino Policy Institute stimulates public policy discourse by objectively examining and communicating the evolving Latino experiences in Rhode Island.

Our Vision

The Latino Policy Institute is a leader in providing information and analysis of the Latino community in order to influence decision and policymaking to achieve greater social, political, and economic equity.

Our Values

  • Educate – LPI seeks to inform community members, policy makers and stakeholders about the challenges and successes of the Latino community in RI through research and strategic communication efforts.
  • Motivate – LPI seeks to energize community members and stakeholders to take bold action towards promoting and creating an equitable Rhode Island for all.
  • Activate – LPI seeks to engage the Latino community to participate in the decision and policymaking process through advocacy and civic engagement.

Our Team

Marcela Betancur, Executive Director

Marcela Betancur, Latino Policy Institute’s executive director, brings to the position a wide range of experience in key areas of LPI research and advocacy – including housing, education, civil liberties and workforce development.

Marcela’s early professional career began at the Providence Housing Authority where she helped lead and coordinate special programs and policies for its residents. Later, she went on to serve as the director of homeownership for NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, where she focused on serving first time homebuyers — specifically Latinos, immigrants, and millennials. Marcela worked as a policy associate for the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island where she worked with local and statewide organizations to ensure that policies, laws, and regulations proposed or enacted protected civil and human rights for all Rhode Islanders.

Marcela serves on the board of New Urban Arts, United Way of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Board of Elections. 

Brianna Vizueth, Bonner Fellow

Brianna Vizueth is a Brown University student who intends to pursue a degree in Public Policy. Before Brown, she was an advocate within her community in Anaheim, California. As a museum docent and former congressional intern, she participated in numerous events that highlighted the importance of cultural diversity and inclusion, such as helping host Citizenship Fairs that impacted the large immigrant population in her community. As a first-generation college student and Bonner Fellow, Brianna seeks to be a proactive member of the Rhode Island Community to address immigration and economic justice issues.

Advisory Board

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Diony Garcia currently works at the Law Offices of William J. Conley, Jr., handling various civil matters and criminal defense. He began his legal career working as an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Providence before moving on as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General. Diony co-founded the Rhode Island Hispanic Bar Association, in which he currently serves as Interim-President, co-founded Millennial Rhode Island, a young professional group, and is the Chair of the Rhode Island Latino Policy Institutes’ Advisory Board. He graduated from University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University School of Law.

Angela Bannerman Ankoma is the Vice President, Executive Director of Equity Leadership at the Rhode Island Foundation. She leads the Equity Leadership Initiative, which is one aspect of the Foundation’s broad, 3-year, $8.5 million plan to eliminate inequality and racial disparities and promote inclusion and diversity. Ankoma has nearly 25 years of public policy and health policy experience. Most recently, she was Executive Vice President, Director of Community Investment, at the United Way of R.I., where she served as a member of the executive team and led the organization’s grant-making, public policy, government relations, research and evaluation activities. Angela has a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Science in public health from Columbia University and a BA in Africana Studies and Psychology from Connecticut College. She’s currently a Doctoral student at University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Public Health.

Gonzalo Cuervo is a long-time civic leader and a former RI Deputy Secretary of State. He previously served as Chief of Staff and Communications Director in two past Providence mayoral administrations. In addition to LPI, Cuervo serves on the boards of the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative, the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, Teatro ECAS, Crossroads RI, and the ALS Association RI Chapter. He is a past board chair of Progreso Latino and the RI Latino Civic Fund and PAC. Cuervo is a graduate of Springfield College and has two children, Daniel and Stephanie, with his wife, Francis Parra. 

Roger Duque is a native of Central Falls, Rhode Island, and first generation Colombian/American that began his real estate career in Miami, Florida. The young professional returned to his home state in 2014 and continued his Real Estate success in 2016, where he then became a member of the top producing team, The Alba Group of Home Smart Professionals. The yearn to be a part of his community of Central Falls and the Blackstone Valley area has propelled his commitment to his clients. A husband and dog dad, Roger focuses on and guides his clients only in their best interest. In the Real Estate community, he is a respected peer, good-natured, has been featured on many spotlight interviews highlighting his work and dedication

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Antonieta Falconi is the Chief Financial Officer at Social Enterprise Greenhouse. She is an experienced business professional committed to supporting businesses with a deliberate social and/or environmental mission. Antonieta’s work experience has spanned a variety of industries in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, including a position as Small Business Coach at the Latino Economic Development Center in Washington DC. Her nonprofit work followed her initial career in management consulting with Accenture in Boston and five years as General Manager of Ocean Rodeo, a Canadian company that designs and distributes kiteboarding equipment. Antonieta’s education includes a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MBA with specialization in Entrepreneurship.  

Antonieta grew up in Quito, Ecuador and is very involved in her Providence community. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Latino Policy Institute, the Council of Urban Greens Coop Market, the Board of the Providence Revolving Fund, and the Community Advisory Board of The Public’s Radio and has an appointment to the Board of the Small Business Loan Fund Corp. of Commerce RI. 

Julie Nora has been Director of the International Charter School in Pawtucket Rhode Island since 2003. Prior to her appointment to that position, she worked for over 10 years as a teacher of ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) in several K-16 educational settings.

She received her B.A. in U.S. Intellectual History from U.C. Berkeley, her Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from San Francisco State University, and her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Rhode Island/Rhode Island College in 2007 with a Specialization in Language, Literacy, and Culture. Dr. Nora’s dissertation research was published in One Classroom, Many Learners: Best Practices for Today’s Multilingual Learners, an International Reading Association (IRA) edited volume and she recently co-authored No More Low Expectations for English Learners (Heinemann) with Jana Echevarria. She is the co-author of “Seen from Within” with photographer Mary Beth Meehan in the edited volume Art as a Way of Talking (Routledge, 2018).

Under her leadership, the International Charter School has been recognized by the Center for American Progress and the National Council of La Raza and by the State of Rhode Island for its work of significantly closing the achievement gap between English Language Learners and their English-speaking peers.

Dr. Nora is bilingual in English/Spanish and has familiarity with French and Portuguese. Julie serves on several state education groups and committees, including as the President of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools. She is also Vice President of the Board of the Rhode Island State Council for the Humanities and Secretary of the Latino Policy Institute Board.

Joseph Molina Flynn is a native of Medellin, Colombia and a native Spanish speaker. He is an attorney and handles family, immigration, and criminal cases, and has offices conveniently located in Boston and Providence. He obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Prior to attending the University of Michigan, he earned his Associate of Science degree in Business Administration and his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Johnson and Wales University. 

Currently, Joseph serves as the President of the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee as well as the Civic Fund, is on the board of Rhode Island Latino Arts and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute, and he was recently appointed to the Governor’s Complete Count Committee.  

Juanita Montes de Oca serves as Generation Citizen’s Senior Manager of National Program and Curricular Development, where she supports national programming and leads org-wide curricular strategy and innovation. Before joining the GC team in 2017, Juanita taught Action Civics and Social Studies in Providence middle schools for five years. While teaching Action Civics at Roger Williams middle school, her students founded a Student Council, met with district officials to discuss strategies for increasing teacher diversity, and testified to the Superintendent and School Board about closing the achievement gap between Multi-Language Learners and their peers. What has made Juanita truly most proud is the long-lasting impact GC has made on her students with whom she still maintains relationships today. As a passionate advocate for educational social justice, Juanita has served on various advisory boards and working groups. As a Providence Public School parent and resident, Juanita was also a member of the RIDE Community Design Team. Juanita holds a B.A. in Elementary Education with a content major in Social Studies from Rhode Island College, Feinstein School of Education. She is an alum of the Institute for Nonprofit Practice Core which equips nonprofit, public and social impact leaders with the skills, knowledge, and networks they need to make strategic, mission-driven decisions that center diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), and affect meaningful change in their organizations and beyond.

Ray Nuñez has a life-long passion for creative storytelling, inclusive community engagement, and equitable brand-building. Since arriving in the United States from Los Reyes, Michoacán, Mexico, in 1999, Ray has been recognized nationally for his innovative work in marketing, design, and leadership. In 2015, Ray graduated from College Leadership Rhode Island; in 2017, Ray received his Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design and Digital Media from Johnson & Wales University. In 2020, Ray and his equally-driven partner Taryn Nuñez launched Nuñez, a multi-cultural marketing agency with an anti-racist focus that embodies the diversity and equity they want to see globally. Ray’s bet is on the untapped creative potential born out of defiance of dominant culture. As such, he’s placing his chips in gathering a culturally diverse team at Nuñez to create a unique, fresh perspective on the way businesses and individuals tell their stories at the intersection of 4 focus points: data, design, disruption, and diversity. Ray’s efforts led him to be named ‘2022 Who To Watch’ by Providence Monthly and receive a ‘Next Tech Generation 2021 Tech10 Award’ by The Tech Collective. Ray resides in Riverside, Rhode Island, with his wife, Taryn, their son Ramon, and three dogs; Frida, Diego, and Pancho.

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