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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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Juanita serves as Generation Citizen’s Associate Director of Program Content and Design, responsible for improving the student and teacher experience and impact with innovative pedagogy and strategy. Before joining the GC team in 2017, Juanita taught Action Civics (project-based experiential 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 proud is the long-lasting impact on her students’ sense of civic power and responsibility, 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 such as the RI Department of Education’s Learning, Equity & Accelerated Pathways (LEAP) Task Force, and the RIDE Community Design Team, RI Latino PAC, and RIOT (formerly Girls Rock!). Juanita is an alumnus of Classical High School, Rhode Island College, and the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.


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. 

Rachel Flum is currently a consultant focused on helping clients understand and navigate Rhode Island’s policy and advocacy landscape. She is the former Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute where, in addition to her work leading the organization, she also gained subject matter expertise in family economic security issues including paid family leave, low-income tax credits, and childcare assistance. Rachel is a graduate of Wellesley College and Georgetown University Law School.

Omar Reyes currently serves as the Director of Adult Programs and Policies at the RI Office of the Post Secondary Commissioner. His role involves overseeing the development of programs and policies that assist Rhode Islanders in their pursuit of higher education. Omar has played a pivotal role in creating the RI Reconnect initiative, which supports low-income adult students who encounter obstacles beyond the classroom. He is also spearheading a community of practice that seeks to improve the education and workforce services provided to refugees and migrants in Rhode Island. Omar has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Roger Williams University and a Master’s in Youth Development from Rhode Island College

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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. 

Lehidy is the Director at the Unity Center at Rhode Island College and Director of Restorative Justice RI. Previously, Lehidy has worked at the Brown Center for Students of Color and as a Restorative Practices Specialist at RYSE, where they partnered with the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s office to implement restorative conferencing with youth who had committed arrestable offenses and minor felonies.

Lehidy has worked as a restorative justice facilitator in Central Falls and Providence, RI through the Youth Restoration Project. As the former Dean of Culture for a Denver charter school, Lehidy implemented restorative justice in system-wide procedures. Lehidy holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Public Health from Brown University and a Masters degree in Restorative Justice from Vermont Law School. Lehidy is a proud Dominican that grew up on the West End and Southside of Providence, RI and knows justice and community are intertwined.

Maggie Chung is an experienced attorney. She has served the people of Rhode Island for 9 years as an Assistant Public Defender and for 5 years as a staff attorney at the RI Office of the Mental Health Advocate. Currently, she is senior counsel at RIHousing.

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