Edwin Meléndez, Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies; Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College, City University of New York
Edwin Meléndez is a Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College. He was appointed as the Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies in 2008. An economist by training, he has conducted considerable research in the areas of Puerto Rican and Latino studies, economic development, labor markets, and poverty. In addition to numerous scientific papers and other publications, he is the author or editor of ten books. Professor Melendez has an extensive record of community and public service, including numerous appointments to government and community boards, and has worked as a consultant to numerous government, community, and philanthropic foundations. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, 2011, from the New York League of Puerto Rican Women, the 2010 Educational Leadership Honoree award from the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, New York, and El Diario El Awards 2009, New York.
Louis E. Perego Moreno, TíoLouie, Founder and Executive Producer of PRIME LATINO MEDIA
Louis E. Perego Moreno is an Interactive Content Producer who for the past 30 years has owned SKYLINE FEATURES, a bilingual (English and Spanish-language) multimedia and educational production company focusing on culture, youth, women and health. His specialty is developing documentaries, television programming and advertising commercials featuring Latinos, Blacks, Urban Youth, Women and LGBT. Louis custom-tailors content for multiplatform media: television, Internet, print, radio and public venues.
Multi-Media Makers Panel
María Teresa “Mariposa” Fernández: Author, Poet, Educator, Performance Artist, Playwright, and actress
María Teresa “Mariposa” Fernández is an award-winning Puerto Rican poet, educator, activist and performance artist. Her performance poetry work has appeared on HBO Latino’s critically acclaimed series “Habla Ya! Her theater credits include Eve Ensler’s V Day Harlem at The Apollo, Ntozake Shange’s Lost in Language and Sound: A Choreoessay, Pedro Pietri’s El Livingroom and her own solo performance works, which include Exotica Erotica: I Chloe, which was a finalist at the 2017 ONE FESTIVAL (Caicedo Productions). Mariposa has also written an autobiographical one woman show, originally performed at Pregones Spring Festival in 2001 and currently in development. Mariposa has study of solo performance and acting, include taking Danny Hoch's Solo Performance Workshop (1999) and being directed by Miriam Colón in the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater's 2007 Latina Poetry Festival. She was a member of the Revolución Latina Choir for two years, where she received vocal training. She is currently a member of the Open Hydrant Theater Company's Adult Acting Workshop at The Point, CDC, in the Bronx. She recently performed in Open Hydrant's Fall Shorts, (November 2017), playing the character Lupe in Play the Papers for Lupe, written by Izzy Perez and directed by Luis Reyes Cardenas, and also performed her own original work, a monologue titled, La Limpieza, based on her mother. Mariposa is a member of the New York City Latina Writers Group.
Marlena Fitzpatrick-Garcia, Music Journalist, Latino Rebels, Uforia Música, Huffington Post, and Enclave Magazine
She has a Master of Fine Arts in Bilingual Creative Writing graduate from the University of Texas, El Paso, a Master of Arts degree in Labor Relations from Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, focused on Entertainment Unions, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Music-from the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey Campus. She writes for Uforia Música, Latino Rebels, The Huffington Post, Enclave Magazine and Allegro magazine. She's a social media editor for several digital media platforms. and is an outspoken activist for social- justice and Puerto Rico.
Jessica Alomar, Producer and writer of the documentary feature, “Colonization is Extinction;” and mental health therapist
Jessica has been working in the field of mental health and substance abuse for over 12 years. As a therapist, Jessica has been able to free mental health and addiction therapy services to the community through grant funds she was able to acquire. More recently, Jessica's focus has been providing multicultural competence trainings to professionals in the community. In addition to her mental health background, Jessica is the producer and writer for the film "Colonization is Extinction" as well as the Vice President for the Organization for Culture of Hispanic Origins (OCHO).
Elizabeth Angeles, NYC Emergency Management, Strategy and Program Development, Project Manager and blogger in aftermath of Hurricane María
A Puerto Rican and Dominican native New Yorker who is passionate about making a positive impact in our world through service and building partnerships. After Elizabeth's two-week deployment to Puerto Rico with her NYC Emergency Management team, she launched elizabethangeles.com where she wrote about her experience and hopes to share resources and ways to help after Hurricane Maria.
Elizabeth is currently at NYC Emergency Management where she is a Strategy and Program Development Project Manager. She previously led the agency’s community-based outreach to organizations that serve people with disabilities with the goal of enhancing citywide emergency planning and integrating the needs of people with disabilities in this effort. Prior to starting work in city government, Elizabeth spent two years working at a hedge fund in NYC and is invested in using her range of experiences to develop cross-sector partnerships for impact.
Elizabeth is on the Young Professionals Board of the Oliver Scholars Program and recently served as the chair of the YWCA of New York’s first Young Women’s Council.
Elizabeth is a Master of Public Administration candidate at NYU specializing in public and nonprofit management and policy. She holds a degree in economics and linguistics from Columbia University.
Patricia Lewis “Melogía”, musician, singer, composer, violinist and guitarist recording an album on Hurricane María and developing documentary on exodus of Puerto Ricans migrating to United States
Patricia Lewis “Melogía”, began her music career at 7, playing the violin, though at the time she wanted to play guitar more than anything. It was however with the violin that she would start to learn to sing, as crazy and amazing as that sounded. Though she wouldn't sing for years, the violin and its need for very precise tones, taught her to really listen to music, to hear it well, for which she credits greatly to her ability to sing and control her pitch.
Always loving singing, it wasn't until after her accomplishments in violin, including the Conservatory of Music, and competition in New York with the Choir. But, there was something about classical music that was too restrictive, and she found herself drifting to popular music, for the freedom. MelogÍa began to explore new music and new ways of making that music come alive. As she learned guitar she began to sing! Melogia attended Berklee College after winning a scholarship,
Javier E. Gómez, award-winning journalist & communications director, host of weekly Spanish-language public affairs program, “Dialogo Abierto,” actor, and producer
Javier E. Gómez is an award-winning actor, producer and journalist based in New York. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in broadcast journalism from the City College of New York, a Master’s Degree in business journalism from Baruch College, and a Conservatory Degree in Meisner acting from the William Esper Studio. Javier is currently the host of Diálogo Abierto, the Spanish-language news and talk show on BronxNet TV. He just completed principal photography for Don’t Look, a new horror feature film directed by Luciana Faulhaber. He is a co-executive producer of the project, and a co-founder of Enuff Productions, a film company established to nurture the work of multicultural artists.
On stage, Javier was most recently seen as “Bobby Gould” in the new Spanish language production of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow (Jala-la-Pala), directed by Luis Salgado (Broadway’s In The Heights, Rocky, Women on the Verge, and On Your Feet.)
Javier appeared Off Broadway as “Papi”, the charming yet tough dad, in Sonia Manzano’s (of “Sesame Street” fame) musical No Dogs Allowed, at the Atlantic Theatre. Other New York stage credits include Día de Los Muertos (a new bilingual play by Anthony Pennino, dir. Alberto Bonilla), The Smell of Popcorn (dir. Jorge B. Merced), My Favorite Year (Village Light Opera, dir. Evan Pappas), Apathy: The Gen X Musical (dir. Paula D’allesandris), Measure for Measure (Lookinglass Theatre, dir. Glory Kadigan), The Rocky Horror Show (Centerstage Playhouse), Passion (dir. Michael Mirlas) and Threepenny Opera (dir. Rachel Kranz). Spanish language stage work: IATI, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, Teatro Círculo, Repertorio Español and Danisarte.
On television, Javier had a recurring role (“Father David”) in “Psychosis”, a Sunday primetime series directed by Sonia Valentín for Telemundo. In 2011, Javier was also a co-producer of the Broadway revival of Godspell.
Paralleled to his acting and production work, Javier has worked as a journalist with El Diario/LA PRENSA, Pie Derecho Magazine, El Nuevo Día Newspaper, and Reuter’s Dollars and Sense Magazine, among other outlets. He also served as Press Officer for Governor George E. Pataki, NY State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, and Bronx Borough Presidents Fernando Ferrer and Adolfo Carrión. In addition, he served as Communications Director for the Latino International Theater Festival of New York (TeatroStageFest) and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. Winner of four National Hispanic Publications’ Print Award for outstanding reporting while at El Diario,
Javier is the founder of High Pitch, a public relations firm specialized in Hispanic Media, Latino community/public affairs, government, political campaigns, special events, and not-for-profit organizations. Strongly committed to public service and community work, Javier often volunteers his time to different cultural and educational organizations. In 2010, he received the Excellence in Community Service Award, granted by Comité Noviembre.
J.W. Cortés, Marine combat veteran, actor, singer, producer and philanthropist, plays Detective Alvarez on Fox Channel's, "Gotham"
JW Cortés is a Marine Combat Veteran turned actor, singer and philanthropist. Born and raised in Sunset Park Brooklyn, to inspiring Puerto Rican parents, he developed an interest in the arts along with a desire to serve his community and country. Currently Cortés plays the recurring role of 'Detective Carlos Alvarez' on FOX's hit prime-time series "Gotham." Cortés is the first actor in history to portray the iconic comic book character in television and film: Detective Alvarez was originally created by Judd Winick's for his hit DC Comics' The New 52 Catwoman series.
In addition to "Gotham," he has had various guest star roles on Starz's "Power," NBC's "The Night Shift," "The Blacklist," "The Mysteries of Laura" and CBS' "Blue Bloods." Previously, Cortés starred as a Military Operative on NBC's reality television show, "Stars Earn Stripes" and appeared in feature films including the soon-to-be released "A Momentary Lapse of Reasoning" with The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyer, "As Good As Dead" from Andie MacDowell, "Blue Caprice" with Isaiah Washington and "Monsters and Men" based on the multi-award winning short film "Stop" which is being produced by the Sundance Film Festival.
In addition to actively serving as a New York State Police Officer, he helps raise awareness and funding for various philanthropic organizations, including: the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation for which he also serves as a board member, Maestro Cares, Autism Speaks, Got Your 6, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation and Boot Campaign. In 2016 Cortés received the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, was chosen by the Boot Campaign as a celebrity spokesperson & Hero Ambassador and participated in the critically acclaimed HBO series HABLA Y VOTA. He was also selected by Got Your 6 to serve as an "American Icon" and he continues to support the organization's mission to empower Veterans by serving on its advisory board.
Cortés served in the United States Marine Corps for nearly thirteen years attaining the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medals and Marine of the Year. He studied acting at the world renowned William Esper Studio, under the tutelage of Terry Knickerbocker. J.W. Cortés is the proud father of two boys, a lucky husband and loving owner of an American-Bulldog named "Blue."
Suni Reyes, producer, satire-comedy writer and actor producing ensemble, “Greetings from Puerto Rico,” and Netflix’s “Master of None”, Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle”, HBO’s “Girls”
Suni Reyes aka Sunilda Caraballo is a multitalented performer who began her career in the performing arts as a dancer. Dance credits include: Ballet Hispanico, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet “The Magic Flute” directed by Julie Taymor, The New York City Opera "La Traviata", Thomas/Ortiz Dance Company, Radio City Music Hall, MTVTr3s, Telemundo, Olga Tanon, Jerry Rivera, among others. She had the opportunity to perform alongside musical theatre stars such as Lillias White, Euan Morton and Kevin Gray at the 2009 FIFA Congress in the Bahamas.
Theatre credits include: "La Barberia" (New World Stages), "Celia", based on the life and music of Celia Cruz (Off Broadway/New World Stages), where she got rave reviews for her multiple roles, Gardel, Captain Pantoja and the Special Service, La Casa de los Espiritus and Dona Flor y sus dos maridos (Repertorio Espanol). She has also performed her own writing material as a Stand-up comedian at Theatre for the New City, Carolines on Broadway, Nuyorican Poets Café, and “Erotic Broadway, Vintage Variety” at the Triad Theatre. Suni is part of the cast of the new comedy serie “La Manzana" presented at the Independent Television Festival in Los Angeles. As a choreographer, she has worked with FELT (Fantastic Experimental Latino Theatre), Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, Repertorio Espanol in “Captain Pantoja and the Special Service” based on the novel of Mario Vargas Llosa, where she got excellent reviews from the New York Times and Backstage.
Yaraní Del Valle Piñero, "La Yara", Actor, singer, dancer, educator, cultural promoter, and activist. PregonesPRTT ensemble member, founder of Caicú cultural platform & Arts in Education Program Developer. Acted in Chamacas Web Series, Aloha Boricua, Las Rutas de Julia, Borinquen Vive en El Barrio, Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat, the film Maldeamores, among others.
Originally from Puerto Rico and currently based in New York City, La Yara (Yaraní del Valle) studied at University of Puerto Rico Drama Department. She has multidisciplinary training in: Golden Age, Commedia dell'arte, Experimental Theater, Theatre of the Oppressed, Ballet, Modern Dance, Experimental Dance, Yoga & Alexander Technique. Received her voice training at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico and Music Department of the University of Puerto Rico. Internship work at theatre company Yuyachkani in Perú and Malayerba in Ecuador. NY Stage: Off-Broadway's Borinquen Vive en El Barrio, Game Over, Aloha Boricua, Brides, Harlem Hellfighters On A Latin Beat, among others. PR Stage: Harlequin Servant of two Masters, Historias para ser contadas, De Mala Muerte, Pequeña Serenata a la Brecht, Tres Puntos en un Límite, among others. Miami Stage: Papeles and Dark Matters. TV: Host for Mi pequeño Músico (PBS PR), Esto está cañón (Telemundo) and CHAMACAS web series for Nuevón Youtube Channel. Films: El Clown, Ninja DJ and Maldeamores/Lovesickness. Director for: Pequeños absurdos, grandes abrazos and A puerta cerrada. Dramaturgy: Risa Risita, Pequeños absurdos, grandes abrazos, Concierto-Desierto-Incierto and La mortal herida. Commercials: Claro, First Bank, Scion (Toyota), Santander Bank, among others. To see more photos click on the Flickr link. For the VoiceOver Demo click on the SounCloud link. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook fan page and Vimeo by clicking on the respective links below.
Critical Media Overview
Susanne Ramirez de Arellano, freelance writer, blogger “Susanne en la Ciudad,” former News Director for Univision Puerto Rico, has worked for ABC News, the Associated Press Television News in London and CNN International.
Having worked at Univision, the Associated Press Television as the Regional Senior Editor for Latin America based in London, ABCWorld News Tonight with Peter Jennings and United Press International covering the war in El Salvador, she is a journalist, media professional and former News Director and currently a digital and trans-media storyteller with a specialty concerning her native Puerto Rico. Popular blogger, writer and communications expert who works with not-for-profits and philanthropic organizations, among many. Commentator on cultural, political and gender issues for The Guardian, Latino USA, NBC Latino and Magacin, among others. Her Blog, Dos Caminos y Una Subversiva (Two Paths & One Subversive) can be accessed via magacin.com.
Soldanela Rivera, producer, publicist, writer, and creator and host of the podcast, “Notes from a Native Daughter.”
A professional dancer, actress, choreographer, television host, production coordinator, teaching artist, project captain, documentary researcher, tour manager, a music/theater/ film publicist, concert and theatre producer. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University, Sol has worked in everything from community centers to historic concert halls to parks to prisons, as well as with emerging, established and renowned figures. She served as director of communications for Hostos Community College for five years, and is presently serving as Acting Director of Presidential Strategic Initiatives. For the past 74 weeks Soldanela has been hosting Notes From A Native Daughter, a podcast of raw, one-on- one conversations about arts, culture, and society with figures from the Pan-American experience (NFAND on audioBoom,iTunes, and 80Grados).
Noemí Segarra Ramírez, Movement artist, educator, activist, healer. Founder of PISO Proyecto.
She works collaboratively, cross-discipline with movement improvisation, performance, intervention, documentation and the creation of online archives. Segarra is a movement artist, healer, educator, activist and the founder of PISO proyecto. Segarra founded PISO, a cross-disciplinary collaborative platform, in Santurce, Puerto Rico. In the year 2011 Segarra's BFA is from Hunter College and MFA from Temple University both in Dance and Performance. At present Segarra facilitates a series of workshops which set out to explore Cuerpo y Ciudad (Body and City) engaging artists, students and neighbors from diverse backgrounds at diverse points in their lives, to ponder about our rights as citizens in Puerto Rico and the world. Relying on imagination and the creative process we re-unite, organize, seek the infrastructure we need to continue making art-life from embodied praxis, empowering a sense of co-creation, over alienation or passive consumption. Segarra received a 2016 Utopian Fellowship from Culture Push in NY to continue to develop Cuerpo y Ciudad, bridging the Puerto Rican community beyond the archipielago.
PISO proyecto is a Puerto Rico based project, which brings together diverse viewpoints and research partners to collectively generate interdisciplinary experimental works and its archives. These respond to conditions of displacement emphasizing process over result. PISO is working in the shifting climate of Puerto Rico’s economic depression and debt, colonial power structure, conflict-ridden urban development, and with the impending climate change reality and its manifestations. We have been documenting since 2011 situations found around us as a way to generate alternate stories parallel to "official" ones. Our intention is to decolonize the archive as well as our own gaze.
Rojo Robles, writer, filmmaker, and educator of Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies at Brooklyn College, and Literature and Film at CUNY colleges
A Puerto Rican writer, filmmaker, and educator who is based in Brooklyn. Since 2004 he is the producer and artistic director of El kibutz del Deseo, an independent publishing, theater, and film project. After a decade directing experimental shorts showcased at various festivals and venues, he wrote, produced and directed The Sound of Ill Days, his first feature film. He teaches Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies at Brooklyn College and Literature and Film at other CUNY colleges.
Call to Action
Lorca Peress, President and Founding Artistic Director at MULTISTAGES Theatre Company. Founding Member of Creative Network of the Puerto Rican Diaspora
Lorca Peress is the Founding Artistic Director of MultiStages, a free-lance theatre director/producer, and an advocate for diversity and gender parity. She has dedicated her career to creating and developing new works, and fought to advance the world's perception of culture, race, and identity through the theatre she produces, directs and supports. MultiStages is a multidisciplinary, multicultural theatre company that discovers, develops and produces new works that embrace a fusion of art forms and cultures. Upcoming: November 15, 2017, Climate Change II Festival of short plays from across the globe as a benefit for Puerto Rico and the 2018 New Works Festival. Most recent Off-Broadway production: Taino/Puerto Rican musical “Temple of the Souls” (NYMF). Awards: 2017 Institute of Puerto Rico Extraordinary Award, 2017 NYMF Next Link Project, 2014/2012 National Opera Association Prizes, six 2015 Innovative Theatre Nominations, 2014/2011 HOLA Awards (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors), 2015 Taíno Areito Award in Drama (Bronx Museum of Art), Manhattan Community Arts Fund Awards (2014, 2012, 2010, 2008 from LMCC and DCA), 2013/2011 Collaboration Awards (Women in Arts and Media Coalition), 2010 Dramatists Guild Fund, LaMaMa Inky playwrighting Award, and grants from N.W. Dible Foundation and Jewish Communal Fund. Lorca served as Co-President of the League of Professional Theatre Women (2011-14) and is on the advisory council and Development co-chair. In 2013, she was invited to be a member of the Creative Network for the NY Regional Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. Faculty: NYU Tisch Undergraduate Strasberg Studio since 2001, Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute since 2000. Lorca was a Mentor for Mayor Bloomberg’s "Conference on Women Mentorship" (Barnard College), and Columbia Teachers College on Leadership guest speaker. Numerous Panels include: NO-PASSPORT’s Conference on “Dreaming the Americas/ Diversity and Difference in Performance” (CUNY Graduate Center); “Performing Across Cultures and Histories” (NYU Tisch), and many directing and producing panels. Memberships: SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity Association, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers; National Theatre Conference, Women in Arts and Media Coalition, NY Women’s Agenda. She is also a performer, visual artist, and theatre set/mask designer. BA in Drama from Bennington College. Directing website:https://www.lorcaperessdirector.com MultiStages website: www.multistages.org