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The latino policy institute

About US

Latino Policy Institute

The Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams 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.

LPI is made up of professionals representing a diverse range of sectors and disciplines. We are anchored at Roger Williams University and are located on the Providence UC Campus.

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 experience 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 several organizations such as New Urban Arts, Providence Housing Authority, United Way of Rhode Island, and New Leaders Council.

Natalie Almeida, Comms & Program Coord.

Natalie Almeida grew up in East Providence, Rhode Island. As a life-long Rhode Islander, she continued her studies at Roger Williams University where she concentrated in Journalism and minored in Spanish. Throughout her studies in broadcast journalism, she gained experience in TV and radio.  She was an on-air intern with the Cumulus media radio station, Hot 106 and served as an on-air mediator of Roger Williams University 2018 Election night coverage.

With her degree in Journalism, she found her love in exploring stories in both national and state level politics as they a key role in the world in which we live in. As a granddaughter and daughter of immigrants from the Cape Verdean Islands, her passion lives within exploring the struggles of social justice as well as telling the story of those immigrating to this country. As Natalie gains experience she aims be a voice, advocate and defender for those in her community. Natalie has a passion in reporting, research and mass communication.

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.

Joshua Seguí-Rodríguez, Policy Associate

Joshua Seguí-Rodríguez is an educator with a decade of experience in racial justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion work. He concentrated in Ethnic Studies at Wesleyan University and in Critical Race Theory at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. After graduating from law school, Joshua taught a Social Justice Seminar at Wesleyan University to Upward Bound students the summer before they entered college. He then served at Brown University — the Brown Center for Students of Color as the Assistant Director for Co-Curricular Initiatives (three and a half years) and as the Director of the Center (four years). Joshua most recently served as the Interim Director of the University of Rhode Island’s Multicultural Student Services Center. Joshua Seguí-Rodríguez is passionate about transformative justice, community care, and community accountability practices. 

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 Executive Vice President, Director of Community Investment at United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI). Angela oversees UWRI’s grant-making, public policy, government relations, research and evaluation and 2-1-1/The Point. Angela has Masters Degrees in both Public Health and Social Work from Columbia University and has varied experience in program design, implementation and research. Angela is actively engaged in local community investment efforts. Angela serves on the board of West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) in Providence’s West End neighborhood; a community she has lived in for nearly 40 years. Angela is one of the founding members of WEHDC’s nationally recognized Sankofa Initiative. The Sankofa Initiative is a multimillion dollar project that combines housing, a world market and farm to improve health outcomes among Providences’ growing immigrant community. Angela serves on the Board of Governors of Leadership Rhode Island and the Latino Policy Institute.

Angela’s service to the community has garnered both local and national recognition. Awards of note include: National Civic League Award for Health Equity (2018), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Health Equity Award (2018), Providence Business News “40 under Forty” award for young leaders in Rhode Island (2013); NeighborWorks America, Dorothy Richardson Award for Outstanding Resident Leadership (2015); NAACP Providence Branch awarded Angela the Rosa Parks award (2016).

Angela, along with her husband, Frank are the owners of two small businesses located in Providence called Copa Menswear and Copa Xclusive Cuts.

Gonzalo Cuervo is Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary of State to RI Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea. He previously served as Communications Director, Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff to two past Providence Mayors. In addition to LPI, Cuervo serves on the boards of Crossroads RI, the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, Teatro ECAS 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.

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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.  

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