Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Los MacArturos

Joan Abrahamson
Community Development Leader

Joan Abrahamson is president of the Jefferson Institute, a public policy institute that identifies and implements innovative approaches to current policy problems. She was assistant chief of staff to Vice President George H. W. Bush from 1981 to 1985. She has also worked with the U.N. Human Rights Commission and UNESCO's Division of Human Rights and Peace, where she designed new procedures for the treatment of alleged violations of human rights. She planned and implemented the Vienna International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights and the International Symposium on the Political Participation of Women. In 1985 she was named a MacArthur Fellow. She is president of the Jonas Salk Foundation and founding chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. http://www.usc.edu/libraries/partners/laih/fellows/JoanAbrahamson_000.php


Luis Alfaro
Writer and Performance Artist

Luis Alfaro is a Chicano writer/performer known for his work in poetry, theatre, short stories, performance and journalism. Alfaro is also a producer/director who spent ten years at the Mark Taper Forum as Associate Producer, Director of New Play Development and co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative. He is featured in over 25 anthologies, has an award-winning spoken-word CD, and was nominated for a local Emmy for his short film, Chicanismo. He is a member of New Dramatists, an associate artist at Playwrights Arena and Cornerstone Theatre Company in Los Angeles.



Joaquin Avila
Voting Rights Advocate

Joaquin Avila, grew up in Compton, California. He graduated as valedictorian from Centennial High School. After graduating he went on to Yale. Following Yale, Joaquin went on to Harvard Law School, where he served as Comments and Case editor on the Harvard Civil Rights Law Review. He graduated in 1973 and went on to clerk on the Alaska Supreme Court. Joaquin followed his passion to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, MALDEF, the preeminent Latino civil rights organization. He became General Counsel in 1982. While at MALDEF, Professor Avila formulated and implemented a national Latino civil rights agenda.Professor Avila has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his distinguished career, including the California State Bar Loren Miller Legal Services Award, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the Benito Juarez award from the Hispanic National Bar Association. http://www.legalfoundation.org/2005/JoshAlex-Avila-Intro.htm


Ruth Behar
Cultural Anthropologist

Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba and came to live in New York with her family in 1962. She received her B.A. in Letters (1977) from Wesleyan University, and her M.A. (1980) and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology (1983) from Princeton University. She resides in Ann Arbor and is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is also affiliated with University of Michigan programs in Women's Studies, Latina/Latino Studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She has written about her experience of crossing cultural borders as a poet, essayist, fiction writer, editor, and ethnographer. She is now turning to documentary filmmaking to seek yet another expression of her unique vision of the meaning of home in an age of travel and homesickness. As a Cuban woman of the diaspora, Ruth Behar is committed to seeking reconciliation and a common culture and memory with Cubans on the island. http://www.ruthbehar.com/ruthbio.htm


John C. Bonifaz
Lawyer and Voting Rights Advocate

John C. Bonifaz is the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI). Bonifaz, a public interest lawyer, uses innovative litigation to reexamine campaign finance reform arguments typically debated on first amendment grounds. Through the National Voting Rights Institute, an organization he founded, Bonifaz recasts the legal arguments to focus on fourteenth amendment protections, challenging the relationship between money and politics. Mr. Bonifaz is a 1992 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He has written and spoken extensively around the country on the anti-democratic nature of the private financing of public elections and on the federal court battle to hold Texaco accountable for its reckless oil drilling practices in the Ecuadorian Amazon. http://www.equaljusticesociety.org/about_bonifaz.html


Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in l954, the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. She studied at Loyola University of Chicago (B.A. English 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. Creative Writing 1978). Her books include a chapbook of poetry, Bad Boys (Mango Press 1980); two full-length poetry books, My Wicked Wicked Ways (Third Woman 1987, Random House 1992) and Loose Woman (Alfred A. Knopf 1994); a collection of stories, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (Random House l991); a children's book, Hairs/Pelitos (Alfred A. Knopf 1994); and two novels, The House on Mango Street (Vintage 1991) and Caramelo (Knopf 2002). http://www.sandracisneros.com/html/about/bio.html


Guillermo Gomez-Pena
Writer and Interdisciplinary Artist

Performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña was born and raised in Mexico City in 1955. He came to the United States in 1978 and has been exploring cross-cultural issues and North-South relations ever since. He works in a wide variety of media, including performance art, bilingual poetry, journalism, radio, television and video, and installation art. His art focuses, on the one hand, the exotic and folkloric stereotypes of Mexico still popular in the United States, and on the other, the cultural nationalism often associated with politically charged Chicano art. He currently lives in San Francisco. http://www.learner.org/catalog/extras/wabios/gomezpena.html


Pedro Jose Greer, Jr.
Physician and Community Health Specialist

Dr. Greer established a network of medical clinics to serve the poor and homeless population of Miami. The Camillus Health Concern clinics are staffed by over 100 physicians and in part by medical students. More than 10,000 indigent men, women, and children are treated at the CHC clinics every year. Dr. Greer was appointed as the first dean of homeless education at the University of Miami School of Medicine.


Ramon Gutierrez

Ramón Gutiérrez is professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego. He founded the university's ethnic studies department in 1989 and is also founding director of its Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Most recently, he coedited, with Richard J. Orsi, Contested Eden: California Before the Gold Rush (1998) and is currently working on two books, Community, Patriarchy, and Individualism: A Cultural History of the Chicano Movement, 1965-1990 and Crucifixion, Slavery, and Death: Genizaro Politics and Identity in New Mexico, 1700-1990. http://www.oah.org/activities/lectureship/2006/lecturer.php?id=135


John Jesurun
Playwright and Director

John Jesurun is a playwright,director,designer living in New York. His presentations integrate elements of language, film,architectural space and media.His exploded narratives cover a wide range of themes and explore the relation of form to content.They challenge the experience of verbal, visual and intangible perceptions. His work is distinguished by his integrated creation of the text,direction,set and media design.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Jesurun


Rueben Martinez

Martinez's business, Libreria Martinez Books and Art Galleries, began its life as a small shelf in a barber shop in Santa Ana, Calif. For years, Martinez, a barber and the son of Mexican copper miners, lent copies of books like Juan Rulfo's El Llano en llamas to his customers. Eventually, he started selling books by Latino writers. By 1993, the book business had so outgrown its shelf that Martinez decided to put down his shears and turn the shop into a bookstore. He began hosting readings and community events, and Libreria Martinez was soon thronged with people. Martinez was fast becoming a leading advocate of literacy and cultural education in the Latino community. From 1997 until 2001, he partnered with actor Edward James Olmos to establish the Latino Book and Family Festival. It has since become the country's largest Spanish-language book exposition, now held regularly in four states.http://www.inc.com/magazine/20050401/26-martinez.html


Amalia Mesa-Bains
Artist and Cultural Critic

Amalia Mesa Baines is a San Francisco based artist, scholar and curator. She has been involved in the Chicano art movement since the 1960s and is best known for her installation work featuring altars and ceremonial themes. The driving force of her artistic vision is what she terms the "feminine Rasquachismo or Domesticana... that is simultaneously contestatory and passionately affirming of our histories as women and our situation of struggle." http://www.csupomona.edu/~plin/women2/part3.html


Hugo Morales
Radio Producer

Hugo Morales is the Executive Director of Radio Bilingüe, Inc. In October 1976, Mr. Morales and an all-volunteer staff of current and former farm workers and artists founded Radio Bilingüe, which began radio broadcast operation on July 4, 1980 over the entire San Joaquin Valley. Mr. Morales is responsible for the administration Bilingüe of Radio. http://www.hablamosjuntos.org/whoweare/nac/hugo_morales.asp


Cecilia Munoz
Civil Rights Policy Analyst

Cecilia Munoz is vice president of the office of research, advocacy and legislation at the National Council of La Raza. Munoz, 37, is a leader in immigration and civil rights policy and is a major force in such issues as the legalization of undocumented immigrants, family-based immigration rights and access to welfare benefits and education. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0DXK/is_10_17/ai_63817007


Hipolito (Paul) Roldan
Community Developer

Roldan is CEO of Hispanic Housing Development Corporation in Chicago. He has Developer over 1,900 affordable apartments and townhouses in 22 developments for families and elderly residents of several Hispanic communities in Chicago.http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentTypeID=3&contentID=63273&ContentID=74497


Maria Varela
Community Development Leader

Maria Varela is a community organizer living in Alburquerque, NM. Her work focuses on how rural communities, rural cultures and rural ecosystems survive and flourish. The balance among "cultural experiences, ecology, and economic activities either sustain or starve our communities." http://www.lajicarita.org/98jan.htm


Baldemar Velasquez
Farm Labor Leader

Baldemar Velasquez, human rights activist and founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) AFL-CIO, was born in Pharr, Texas Feb. 15, 1947. His parents were migrant farmworkers, and Velasquez began working in the fields when he was six, picking berries and tomatoes.He attended Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas from 1965-66. Ohio Northern University in Ada 1966-67 and from 1967-69 attended Bluffton College, where he graduated with a BA in Sociology. He formed Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967. During 1989-90, Velasquez received his degree in Practical Theology. He received his advanced degree in 1991 and was ordained that year as Chaplain to the farmworkers by Rapha Ministries. Two major honors came to Velasquez in 1994 when 29 national Hispanic organizations chose him as the recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. That year he also received Mexico's Aguila Azteca Award — the highest award Mexico can give a non-citizen. http://www.floc.com/html/BVbio.html


Camilo Jose Vergara

Camilo José Vergara (b. 1944) is a Chilean-born, New York-based writer, photographer and documentarian. He was born in Santiago, Chile.Vergara received a B.A. (1968) in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. (1977) in sociology from Columbia University, where he also completed the course work for his Ph.D. (not yet awarded). http://www.answers.com/topic/camilo-jos-vergara

We extend our thanks to Sandra Cisneros for letting us borrow these biographies from her web site.

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