The Latino Action Network (LAN) is a grassroots organization composed of individuals and organizations committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state, and national levels in order to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of American society.
Founded in 2009, LAN advocates on the issues of greatest importance to the Latino community, including Immigrant Rights, Education, Healthcare, Affordable Housing, Criminal Justice Reform, Voting Rights, youth empowerment, environment, community organizing and poverty.
LAN was founded by a group of Latino leaders from across New Jersey that agreed that the time had come for progressive Latinos to come together to take action against the attacks our community was facing. Since its inception, LAN has played an important role in influencing legislative redistricting in the state and been a clear voice on the need for diversity on the state’s highest court and marriage equality.
Our members continue to testify at public hearings, write opinion pieces for many publications, and meet with legislators to champion our various causes. We have participated in numerous legal challenges promoting fair housing, equitable health care delivery, desegregation of New Jersey schools, and electoral integrity. The Latino Action Network has promoted quality public education and spoken out against the proliferation of unaccountable charter schools and voucher gimmicks.
The Latino Action Network invites you to learn more about our organization and to connect with other Latinos and our allies that are working hard every day to improve the lives of Latino families.
Javier Robles, J.D.
Javier Robles is a is a Juris Doctor graduate of Seton Hall Law School and has a double degree in Sociology and Puerto Rican and Caribbean Studies from Rutgers University. Mr. Robles is a faculty member and professor of The Kinesiology and Health Department. He is the Director of the Center for Disability Sports, Health and Wellness and Co-chair of the Rutgers University Disability Studies committee. He was a member of the Rutgers University Academic Master Plan Committee. He is the Chair of the New Jersey Disabilities Covid-19 Action Committee and was appointed by Gov. Murphy to the Puerto Rico commission, and is the President of the Latino Action Network of New Jersey (LAN). In addition, he is a Board member of the United Spinal National Board, a Commissioner of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems, and served as an Advisor to the Health Affairs Special issue on disabilities. Robles has written for numerous publications, including Latinos NJ, ThisAbled Nation, and New Mobility. One of his poems was recently published in the book Access Granted. Additionally, he is a beekeeper and gardener in the Central Jersey region. He has two children and lives with his wife and service dog Delbert in New Jersey.
Executive Vice President
Beatriz is a prominent community leader, influential change agent, and capable administrator with expertise in developing and managing vital, high-impact community programs and initiatives. Since February 2010, Beatriz has served as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Community Affairs Resource Center in Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Keansburg and their newest office in Lakewood, Ocean County. During her tenure, Beatriz strengthened the organization’s infrastructure, built solid community alliances, enhanced services, and improved the center’s financial position. Beatriz holds leadership positions with several organizations she is a board member of the VNA Community Health Center and the Asbury Park Charter School. In addition, she is a member of the Governor’s Council for Disability and is the chair of the Interagency Lead Task Force at the state. Beatriz holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Non-Profit Management Certificate from Brookdale Community College.
Vice President of Communications
Calandria Calandria Ortiz-Resende, Policy Coordinator at New Jersey Coalition To End Domestic Violence. Licensed Master of Social Work from Rutgers–New Brunswick School of Social Work with a Management and Policy Specialization and Area of Emphasis on Social Policy in conjunction with the Violence Against Women and Children, an Equitable Community Change Certificate from Cornell University and the Eagleton Fellowship Program in Politics and Government Certificate. Recipient of the Harold and Reba Martin Fellowship and Robert Gutman Sociology Award. Summa cum laude bachelor’s degree studies in sociology at Rutgers–New Brunswick. Member of the National Association of Social Work, the Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society, and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. I also volunteer in the Juvenile Conference Committees at the Family Division of Superior Court in Trenton, where I make recommendations to judges to ensure a resolution supporting juvenile offenders' rehabilitation.
Labor Committee Chair
Henry Pena is the Chief Electrician for plant operations at Carewell Health Hospital in East Orange, New Jersey. A member of Latino Action Network since 2016, and steering committee member since 2017, Pena currently chairs the membership committee at LAN. Pena is also on the labor, criminal justice, and Bylaws committee. In 2014 Mr. Pena and 2 friends began uniting street respected Latino "big bros" that had achieved personal and professional success despite their past mistakes or the neighborhood they come from. Throughout New Jersey's roughest barrios, rehabilitated business owners, correction officers, construction workers, barbers, and single fathers came together to form UPLIFT Barrio Outreach with Pena as its co-founder and State Director. Aside from everyday one-on-one guidance (with a specialty in street organizations), Mr. Pena utilizes UPLIFT and Latino Action Network to introduce the average at-risk youth or recently released brothers, to the importance of networking and community service participation to better one’s own life and community. Henry Pena has an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies from Berkeley College of Business and is currently studying for his Master Electrician’s License.
Born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, Christian has a strong record of community leadership at the state and local levels. The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Christian understands the struggles of working families trying to provide a better future for their children. Christian earned his Bachelor's degree from Rutgers University where he studied Labor Relations and Latino Studies. He was an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University where he taught a course on Latino Workers in the United States. His career in the labor movement includes serving as Education and Training Coordinator for the New Jersey AFL-CIO from 2002-2009 and as a Union Representative for Communications Workers of America Local 1037 since 2009 where he currently serves as Executive Vice President.
Frank is a Professor at Kean University and serves as Board Chair of the Latino Action Network Foundation. He was previously Press Secretary to Senator Bob Menendez when he was a Member of the House of Representatives.
LAN Advisory Members
Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina is a researcher and labor educator focusing on the intersection of race, immigration status and worker's rights. She is a Senior Extension Associate and the Executive Director of the Worker Institute at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University where she leads research, policy innovation and training to advance worker justice, collective bargaining rights and the interest of workers in today's economy and society. She is community leader serving as President of Latina Civic and PODER PAC, two organizations advancing women representation in state legislatures and in theUS Congress. She is the current PAC Chair for NJ Citizen Action, an organization advancing policy reform for working families and is a board member of NJ WorkingFamilies Party. She currently serves as an Advisory Committee Member for ELLA Wins/Ready to Run, a program of the Center for American Women in Politics and she is a Visiting Fellow at the Eagleton Institute, Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She holds a PhD in Global Affairs, focusing on political science and immigrant integration from Rutgers University. She holds a BS from Cornell ILR and an MPA from Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. She is the Host andExecutive Producer of her podcast Activista Rise Up, a forum for activists to engage everyday people on the work of promoting social and economic justice.
Roberto Frugone is president of The Frugone Group, a neighborhood development & government relations consulting firm. With more than a decade of extensive experience in organizational leadership, project management, media, and mentorship, Frugone trains local leaders on strategies to influence policy and create sustainable change in their neighborhood. He also works with community groups to identify and develop strategic partnerships and works with elected officials and political candidates to develop and/or strengthen community support for projects or initiatives. A resident of New Jersey, Frugone holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Rutgers University.
Public Policy Committee Chairs
Endorsements Chair, and Criminal Justice Reform Chair
Cuqui has been a Latina community leader and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate in New Jersey for over 30 years. She is employed by the Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB) as a Records Coordinator & the Latino Action Network Foundation (LANF) as Programs Director. In addition to her position with LAN, she is Board President of the Anti-Poverty Network, and the Campaign Coordinator for the JUNTOS/TOGETHER Puerto Rico Disaster Relief efforts, to name a few. She also has extensive service in areas of Nonprofits, Youth, Community Building & Race Relations. She has also worked at La Casa de Don Pedro as a Case Manager for the Newark Re-Entry program and as the Outreach Manager for the Hispanic Directors Association of NJ.
Health Committee Chair
Dr. Ann D. Bagchi is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on reducing health inequities among members of under-served populations, including those living in poverty, people with limited English proficiency, and people living with HIV. She is also a member of the Latino Coalition of Monmouth County where she co-coordinates a soup kitchen in Freehold during the winter months to serve the area's day laborer community and residents who are homeless.
Environmental Justice Committee Chair
Cynthia is an Environmental Advocate. She worked as an Environmental Justice Organizer for the Ironbound Community Corporation where she worked on issues at Port Newark. She received an M.A. in Sociology from the International Institute in Sociology of Law and a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies.
Dr. Jose Laureano
Chair of Education Committee
Dr. José Laureano serves as the Chair of the Education Committee for LAN and as the Executive Dean for Student & Enrollment Services at Middlesex College. His research focused on Hispanic Serving Community Colleges in New Jersey and building a culturally engaged campus environment for Latino/a/x students. Besides serving on the LAN Steering Committee, he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development in Perth Amboy NJ, and as an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Latino Arts and Culture at Rutgers University.
Katy Sastre is the immigration committee chair of the Latino Action Network. From 2019 - 2021, Katy was the Campaign Strategist for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ), responsible for coordinating and supporting NJAIJ's campaign priorities, ensuring members and partners throughout the state were actively engaged. Prior to joining NJAIJ, Katy worked as the Program Coordinator for the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, providing programmatic support to both the legal services and education programs. Katy is a graduate of Cornell University (BA, Sociology & Government) and SOAS, University of London (MA, Gender Studies). After completing her undergraduate degree, she initially worked in the private sector, for a legal recruitment firm in NYC. Following this, she transitioned to the non-profit sector, and from 2010-2012, worked as a Program Coordinator for the Middle East North Africa region at the International Center for Transitional Justice. From 2012-2015, Katy held various roles at the International Rescue Committee, including Program Manager for the CASAMENA Region and Syria Regional Response in NYC, Senior Grants Manager in Erbil, Iraq, and then Grants Coordinator for the Ebola Response Consortia Coordination Unit in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Following her post in Sierra Leone, she completed her master's in Gender Studies, with a focus on migration and the intersections of gender, class, and race.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Steering Committee Member
Maria Andrade is a proactive Newark resident with an ardent drive for Social Equality and all it encompasses. Throughout the last several years she has worked closely to develop, direct and coordinate many Social and Strategic Impact Projects in the state of New Jersey. She is currently the SITE Director of NJ GEAR UP/College Bound at NJIT and a proud ALUMNI and REGIONAL AMBASSADOR OF NJ GEAR UP. Her free time is used for professional development in her interest areas. Social Justice, Equality and Equity concerns in Minorities, Criminal Justice Reform, Education, Advocacy for the underserved community, and interrelated issues.
Steering Committee Member
Lazaro Cardenas is a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Law – Newark. Upon graduation, Mr. Cardenas and two other colleagues opened their law firm. Currently he is a managing partner at Patel, Cardenas & Bost, LLC, headquartered in Freehold Borough, New Jersey. He also serves as the firm’s policy director. In his legal career, Lazaro takes pride in assisting clients in various legal matters, from foreclosure defense to probate and real estate matters. In addition, he serves on the boards of directors of some of the leading Latino advocacy organizations in New Jersey including the Latino Coalition of New Jersey where he serves as Deputy Director, and the Latino Action Network where he is a member of the steering committee. Since 2016 he has worked with the Latino Action Network Foundation where he is currently their Chief Compliance and Legal Officer.
Carlos Doel Hendricks-Verdejo was born in Trenton, NJ. At the age of three his family relocated to Carolina, Puerto Rico where he would enjoy his formative years. He returned to New Jersey 16 years later and began his studies at Livingston College Rutgers University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Spanish and Puerto Rican Studies. During his years on the bank he was a Student/Athlete lettering on the RU Baseball Team, as well as the Panthers varsity Football team of Livingston College. Carlos was also active in a number of student organizations such as the Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, El Congreso Estudiantil Latino Americano, Rutgers University Hispanic Coalition (RUHC) and the Paul Robeson Athletic Association (Black Knights), to mention a few. One of his greatest achievements is being a charter member of Latinos Siempre Unidos (Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Latino Fraternity, Inc.), which was founded in 1979 at Rutgers University.
Dan Ulloa is a Journalist covering Hudson County politics for Hudson County View and New Jersey Cannabis for headynj.com. In 2021 he was named the 82nd most influential person in New Jersey Cannabis by InsiderNJ.com. He represented the Latino Action Network on the ACLU-led NJ United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) pro-cannabis coalition.
Alberto is a founding member of the Greater New Jersey Pride at Work Chapter and currently serves as its President. He worked with some of the most prestigious Labor Unions in the state. For eight years he was proud to serve as the Latino Caucus Chairperson for the Middlesex County Democratic Organization. Currently he is a Writing Assistant and a graduate student at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations. He owns his own insurance agency.
Daniel Santo Pietro
My career started with nearly twenty-five years of international experience working with non-profits. From 1998 to 2010 I was the Executive Director of the Hispanic Directors Association of NJ (HDANJ) , a network of thirty-two Hispanic organized community based organizations in New Jersey. While with HDANJ I served on various State Commissions including Governor Whitman's Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Protection Services and on the Governor's Early Childhood Advisory Commission. In 2005, I co-chaired Governor Corzine’s Department of Human Services transition advisory group. I also served on the boards of the NJ Immigration Policy Network and Citizen Action. I participated in the leadership team of the Consumer Voices for Coverage, a project supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advocate for universal health coverage. I worked with the NJ Healthcare Coalition in support of the Affordable Care Act implementation. After retiring I continued to serve on the Steering Committee of the Latino Action Network. I concentrated on creating a LAN Foundation and served as Executive Director until I moved to San Diego in 2018. I received my B.A. from Harvard College in 1966. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil and completed graduate work in Political Science and Latin American Studies at Stanford University. I am fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish. I have four children, Patric, Cristiana (McCarthy), Sara and Erica (Sayko) as well as seven grandchildren.
An extensive public policy background having served as a senior legislative and executive branch administrator with policy and management expertise in health care, transportation, telecommunications, homeland security and urban affairs. Knowledge of the inner workings of the legislature and executive agencies, coupled with a vast network of resources and contacts, both in and outside of government. One of the most sought-after public affairs strategists in New Jersey.
Laura Bustamante, Organizational Member
New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice
As an immigrant Latina queer woman, I have dedicated my career to amplifying the voices of the voiceless. Through my experience, I have focused on helping underserved communities through public service by formulating creative and effective ways to communicate and engage them. Through my work in communications and working for elected officials, I have developed outreach programs and campaign strategies that have increased our reach to minority constituencies by 95%. My experience in data-driven strategies, community partnerships, communications, and establishing trust in the communities I serve has been the cornerstone to my success.
Ms. Hernandez is the Secretary of the Latino Coalition of New Jersey and a member of the LAN Steering Committee. She attended Brookdale Community College and is now a student at Rutgers University, where she is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sociology. Ms. Hernandez has been involved in the NJ Drivers License Movement, Occupational Licenses, and many other initiatives. She began advocating for the immigrant community at the age of 11 and has never stopped fighting for them. Ms. Hernandez aspires to follow in the footsteps of her mentor and to inspire others during her journey. Ms. Hernandez recently had the honor of being a part of the ACLU 2020 Summer Advocacy program and was awarded a scholarship by Peggy Anastos for the school year 2022.
Francesca Baroni, MSW, LSW is the Policy Director for the Latino Action Network Foundation and is also currently completing a fellowship in Washington, D.C. In 2020, Francesca graduated Summa Cum Laude with her BASW from Rutgers University-New Brunswick and as an Honors College Scholar and Matthew Leydt Society Inductee. In 2021, she graduated from the Rutgers School of Social Work’s (RUSSW) MSW program with an Outstanding MSW Student Award. Francesca’s specialization is Management and Policy and her area of emphasis is Social Policy. During her time at the RUSSW, Francesca was a Policy Fellow and a part of the Latino/a/x Initiatives for Service, Training, and Assessment (LISTA) certificate program. In addition, Francesca worked as a research assistant during this time, conducting research on child welfare and child support policies.
Cory Garriga was born and raised in the Greenville section of Jersey City. From a young age, Cory saw the importance in being of service to his community. Currently, Cory is on the Steering Committee for the Latino Action Network, a local Committeeman in Jersey City, and is a
Commisioner for the Jersey City Preservation Commission. Cory is the inaugural President of the Jersey City Young Democrats, an organization that promotes political and community involvement for Young Democrats ages 18-40.
Sara Cullinane, Esq is Director of Make the Road New Jersey (MRNJ) and Make the Road Action New Jersey. Founded in late 2014, MRNJ is a membership-based organization that builds the power of immigrant and working-class communities of color to achieve respect and dignity through community organizing, the provision of legal and support services, policy innovation and transformative education. MRNJ operates three organizing hubs in working class immigrant cities in New Jersey that also provide legal and support services, including adult education and youth development. In the past 8 years, MRNJ has won more than a dozen landmark pro-immigrant and pro-worker policies including the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund, drivers licenses and occupational licenses for undocumented immigrants, a $15 minimum wage and the nation's first guaranteed severance law. Previously, Sara was a staff attorney and Equal Justice Works fellow at Make the Road New York. She has also taught at the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service as an Assistant Adjunct Professor. She holds a JD from NYU School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern public service scholar.
Ana Cecilia Delgado Santana
Kimi Wei's passions are justice, community building, conserving nature and traditional cultures- which are all components of the field of sustainability. Kimi founded the merch, media and marketing agency The Wei LLC, which is a for-profit social enterprise with a give-back commitment to underserved communities. The Wei helps community based small businesses, NGOs and also government agencies to reach multicultural audiences. Team members are Kimi's sons Jorge, Ivan, and Ari, aged 31 and 27.
Nicole Rodriguez is President of New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), a nonpartisan think tank that drives policy change to advance economic, social, and racial justice through evidence-based, independent research, strategic communications, and advocacy. Driven by lived experience, Nicole is deeply committed to centering Black and brown communities in policy change in pursuit of equity and justice. Nicole brings ten years of experience driving strategic campaigns through rigorous research, boosting prosperity for Massachusetts and New Jersey residents.
Sofia Rosa, a multi-talented individual from Honduras, holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Advertising from Winona State University. She has leveraged her education to excel as a freelance graphic designer, creating a wide range of advertising materials for her clients. Beyond her design work, Sofia is passionate about her role as Housing Access Organizer at the Latino Action Network Foundation. In this role, she is dedicated to promoting access to affordable housing for all residents of New Jersey, particularly those from immigrant and minority communities. With a focus on policy and advocacy, Sofia is working tirelessly to close the racial wealth gap in the state and provide equal opportunities for Latino residents to benefit from home ownership.
LANF is a sister organization dedicated to similar goals:
Latino Action Network Foundation (LANF)
Dr. Jesselly De La Cruz
Latino Coalition of New Jersey. [Founding Organization -- January 2010].
New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice
Make the Road New Jersey
Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB)
Jose C Montes