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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. 

Awilda Reinoso Lopez, Policy Associate

Awilda Reinoso Lopez holds her Bachelor’s in Economics from Clark University and a Masters in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.

She has over 8 years of professional experience working and advocating for systemic change, social justice, and equity on behalf of the BIPOC community through public policy, education policy, strategic planning, grantmaking, community empowerment, economic mobility, leadership representation, and advocacy.

She is passionate about creating spaces for black and brown communities to tell our own stories. Awilda believes in lifting our existence and amplifying our narratives and journey. Her work primarily focuses on the design for liberation of our people by pioneering innovative ways of teaching decolonized mindfulness, community empowerment, financial literacy, wealth, and overall healing and wellness for the BIPOC population through a culturally relevant and equitable lens.

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.

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. 

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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. 

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.

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