Parades and Festival Bios

Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez

Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez is the Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations & Government Affairs at EmblemHealth. She is responsible for strengthening EmblemHealth’s relationships with key government, community and industry stakeholders, better positioning EmblemHealth for new growth opportunities. Lorraine was the former executive vice president for Multicultural Markets & Engagement at AARP.

She brought to this position a distinguished career in the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors that extends more than 30 years. At AARP, she ensured that the interests of multicultural audiences age 50-plus were integrated into everything AARP does, with the goal to increase multicultural presence among AARP membership and increase AARP’s presence and involvement in multicultural communities. Prior to AARP, Lorraine was New York’s Secretary of State, the first Hispanic to serve in that role. She also served as vice president of Government and Public Affairs at Cablevision Systems Corporation, a leading media, entertainment and telecommunications company. Her work in the nonprofit sector has gained her national recognition and numerous awards for over seven years.

She served as president of the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit network of 90 Latino health and human service agency in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, aiding more than 2 million Latinos annually. Lorraine has extensive experience organizing major community awareness and civic participation educational partnership campaigns. In the early 1990s, she served as executive director of ASPIRA of New York, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit Latino youth leadership development and education advocacy agency..

Orlando Plaza

Orlando Plaza, Master of Ceremonies, Orlando Plaza, Board Member, National Puerto Rican Day Parade & Owner, Camaradas El Barrio

Orlando Plaza serves as a member of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Board of Directors. Orlando Plaza was born and raised in New York City’s Lower East Side. His mother came to the United States from Puerto Rico in the 1950s and his father in the 1960s; they raised him with a deep sense of cultural pride and identity.

In the early 1990s, Orlando attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) where he met his first academic mentor professor Salvador Ocasio and he immersed himself in the Puerto Rican Studies courses offered at BMCC. However, his experience at BMCC was only the beginning of his academic journey. After having finished the two-year program at BMCC in a year and half he received a partial scholarship to Fordham University. Once again, he was fortunate enough to meet yet another academic mentor who would have a profound influence on his life, professor Mark Niason. After having written a paper comparing and contrasting the political ideologies of Puerto Rican nationalist leader, Don Pedro Albizu Campos and UNIA leader, Marcus Garvey, Naison called Orlando into his office and told him, “Young man, you are a scholar.” Orlando graduated from Fordham University in 1995 with a B.A in history and a minor in sociology.

After having worked nearly two years for the Board of Education as a drug prevention counselor and serving as interim director at the Lower East Side-based Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center (named after a Puerto Rican poet), Orlando applied to the Ph.D. program at New York University. In 1999 he was granted the Opportunity Fellowship and the Warren Dean Fellowship. He earned a master’s degree in History majoring in the African Diaspora and Latin America. In 2002, while working on his prospectus for his dissertation, the opportunity arose to open the bar/restaurant, Camaradas El Barrio.

After a great deal of thought and deliberation Orlando decided that the academy could wait and that entrepreneurship could not. He submerged himself completely into building and developing the bar/restaurant and brand that is known today as Camaradas El Barrio in East Harlem. From the beginning it was important that Camaradas become more than just a local for food and drink. It needed to be organically connected to El Barrio and its rich cultural and artistic history. He, along with his business partners, were keenly aware of the importance of El Barrio to the Puerto Rican Diaspora and Camaradas needed to be a place that expressed that with pride and respect.

After nine years he can confidently say that Camaradas El Barrio has achieved its goal and to many it is more than just a place for food and drink it has become an institution.

Ululy Rafael Martinez

Ululy Rafael Martinez, Moderator, Cultural Entrepreneurship: Evolving Models of Sustainability vs Commercialization

Ululy Rafael Martinez serves as Vice Chairperson and Executive Board member for the Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. Ululy Rafael Martinez began his legal career in public service as a staff attorney for the Bronx Defenders. Ululy’s interactions with the local community, as a public defender, lead him to accept a position as General Counsel to a New York City Council Member. Ululy acted as a legal resource to constituents trying to navigate housing, debt, bankruptcy, social security, judicial proceedings and not-for-profit matters.

Inspired to learn election law, Ululy became Chief of Staff to the Bronx Democratic County Committee. Ululy continued his involvement in government when he accepted an opportunity to become Deputy Chief-of-Staff to the Speaker of the New York City Council (Council), Christine C. Quinn, where he helped revise the Harassment and Discrimination policy and served as a procedural legislative resource to 51 Council Members. After several years in the public sector, Ululy made a transition to the private sector as the Director of Government and Business for a telecommunications company, which provides cable, telephone and Internet service to millions of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents.

In his spare time, Ululy is an active board member of the scholarship foundation for Bronx Community College. Ululy is also a salsa dancer and a poet who has recited his poetry at the Nuyorican Poets Café and featured at The Inspired Word.

Louis Maldonado

Louis Maldonado, Moderator, Street Festivals, Cultural Activism, and Community Based Organizations)

Louis Maldonado is a consummate marketing professional and champion for the Hispanic community. At d expósito & Partners, Louis leads key agency accounts, including AARP, ConAgra Foods, as well as pro-bono assignments, the National Puerto Day Parade and the José Limón Dance Foundation. His account leadership has yielded several awards for the agency’s work, including a David Ogilvy Award from the Advertising Research Foundation, several Telly Awards and a Hispanic Account Planning Excelencia Award.

In early 2014, Louis was appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, where he was instrumental in implement in ushering in a new era for an iconic institution. His work, in partnership with his fellow board members, resulted in an Emmy nomination for the 2014 Parade broadcast and laid a solid, fiscally sound foundation from which to build in 2015 and beyond. An avid musician, Louis also serves on the Board of Directors for the José Limón Dance Foundation, he sits on the Latina Advisory Panel for Girls Inc. Formerly, he was part of the Next Generation Council for the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and provided pro-bono consultation to Start Strong Bronx, an organization dedicated to fostering healthy, positive relationships to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. Louis earned an MBA from Indiana University, with concentrations in Marketing and International Business.

He completed his undergraduate studies at Baldwin-Wallace College, where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Music. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Louis is also a professional clarinetist. He and his life partner, Wilson Guzman, reside in New Jersey and are proud parents of their Standard Schnauzer, Picasso.

Raquel Ortiz

Raquel M. Ortiz was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, and has been making art and telling stories ever since she was a little girl. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Salamanca and has worked at The Brooklyn Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum and El Museo del Barrio. Raquel is the author of El arte de la identidad (Editorial Universidad de Granada, 2011), the documentary Memories on the Wall: Education and Enrichment through Community Murals and textbooks and educational materials for children in Puerto Rico and the United States.

She lives in New York City and is a professor at Boricua College.

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