Parades and Festivals Conference Program

Puerto Rican parades, festivals and other cultural organizations have a direct connection to the community and as such they can play an integral role in using their /our reach as an educational platform. Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans Parades and Festivals is a conference co-sponsored by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, CUNY, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade and other partners to examine the scale and impact of the Puerto Rican crisis on the stateside community and the rest of the nation, and to assess strategies to launch more concerted efforts in response to such challenges.


9:30 a.m. Coffee and Registration


Master of Ceremonies 

Orlando Plaza, Board Member of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade and Owner of Camaradas El Barrio

10:00 am Opening Remarks 

Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, CUNY Trustee and President of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade


10:20 a.m. Introductory Remarks

Dr. Edwin Meléndez, Director, Centro


11:00 a.m. Opening Plenary Panel: Parades and Festivals; Challenges and Opportunities

A discussion of the challenges and opportunities faced by cultural organizations sponsoring and organizing parades and festivals. An overall conversation about the celebration of heritage, cultural and organizational sustainability vs commercialization, social engagement, and year-round education.

Moderator and Panelist: Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, CUNY Trustee and President of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade

Panelist:Nilda Ruiz, La Caña Festival, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Phila., PA

Panelist: Tomas Javier Rivera, Sanse Festival, Orlando, FL


12:00 p.m. Coffee Break


12:15 p.m. Concurrent Panels

1. Celebration of Heritage Across the Country, Year-Round Outreach to Schools 

Moderator: Juan González, Esq. San Juan Bautista Parade, Camden, NJ

Panelist: Lucila Santana, Puerto Rican Day Parade, Springfield, MA

Panelist: Ingrid Figueroa, Oceola Puerto Rican Day Parade, Oceola, FL

Panelist: Debbie Quiñones, Coquito Masters

2. Cultural Entrepreneurship: Evolving Models of Sustainability vs Commercialization

Moderator: Ululy Rafael Martinez, Esq., Vice Chairperson and Executive Board Member for the Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade

Panelist: Margarita Espada, Executive-Artistic Director, Teatro Yerbabruja and The Annual Brentwood Puerto Rican/Hispanic Day Parade, Brentwood, NY

Panelist: Ana Valentín-Jackson, The Connecticut Institute for Community Development- Puerto Rican Parade Committee (CICD) Hartford, CT, Chapter

PanelistMaria Arroyo, A Taste of Puerto Rico Festival, Denver, CO

3. Street Festivals, Cultural Activism, and Community Based Organizations

Moderator: Louis Maldonado, Board Member of National Puerto Rican Day Parade

Panelist: Adonis Banegas, Executive Director, Council of Spanish-Speaking Organizations, Inc (Concilio), Puerto Rican Festival Parade, Philadelphia, PA

Panelist: Hector Rodríguez Agenjo, CEO, Associacíon de Puertorriqueños Viviendo en Florida, Sanford, FL

PanelistLibertad Guerra, Loisaida Center

Panelist: José López, Humboldt Park Festival, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Chicago, IL


1:30 p.m. Lunch 

Action Fair

A diaspora of networking and community-building event for parades and festivals activists. We will have a display of educational materials and traveling exhibits for community events. Bring your organization information packets, meet and greet community leaders from around the country, exchange ideas about affecting social change for our people, and dream a better future for 8.6 million Puerto Ricans.

La Borinqueña Exhibit at the Centro Library and Archives

Created by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, a graphic designer, curator, and community activist, and made in collaboration with the organizers of National Puerto Rican Day Parade. La Borinqueña is a superhero inspired by the culture and people of Puerto Rico. Draped in the red, white, and blue of her nation’s flag, she also takes her name from Puerto Rico’s national anthem and gathers her powers from a goddess of Puerto Rico’s indigenous Taíno culture. The exhibit and a Centro Library and Archives Tour will open during lunch and extend for the rest of the day.


2:30 p.m. Wrap-Up Plenary: What Have We Learned, Where Do We Go From Here?

Moderators of each breakout session present a brief summary of conference participants’ view on “What can Centro, and the organizers and participants of the conference do?” to support growing interest on Puerto Rico’s economic and unfolding humanitarian crisis and stateside Puerto Rican communities. What should be our priorities as conveners, network-builders, sources of reliable information and catalysts in the solidarity movement? How do these roles benefit specific community groups given the state of their sector institutions and priorities as a social movement?


3:30 p.m. Launch of the Cultural Ambassador Program

Presentation by Dr. Raquel Ortíz, Centro and Board Member of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade

Remarks by Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, President and CEO, ASPIRA

The Puerto Rican Cultural Ambassadors program is a national partnership of youth, cultural and educational institutions and community leaders devoted to promote and support teaching and learning about Puerto Rican culture and history. The program will coordinate efforts among partners to promote effective classroom and community teaching and learning about Puerto Rican history and culture.


5:00 p.m. Reception 

Hors d'oeuvres will be served

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6:00 p.m. Adjourn

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