The 2013 Somos El Futuro Fall Conference was held this year in San Juan, Puerto Rico from Nov. 6-10, 2113. Since last year's conference had to be postponed last November because of Super Storm Sandy there was much anticipation and interest in ensuring the success of this year's conference. Sponsored by the Somos El Futuro, Inc. and NYS Assembly//Senate Puerto Rican & Hispanic Task Force, which is chaired by the Hon. Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz it drew major elected officials from U.S. Congress, New York State Assembly/ and NYC Council, among them, the Hon. Congresswoman Nidia Velazquez, Mayor Elect, Bill De Blasio Hon. Assemblyman Roberto Rodriquez, and Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. There were over 500 participants from the business community, Not for Profit organizations, Puerto Rican officials and over 100 legislators from NYS and NYC.
The conference was dominated by major issues such as immigration, national policies in Latin America and the needs of the growing Hispanic population in New York and the United States. The critical nature of these needs transformed the conference into a true policy retreat for all legislators and participants. The workshop topics ranged from issues of Charter Schools vs. District Schools, Economic Development, Hispanic Women Empowerment, Higher Education, Civil rights of the LGBTQ community to Mental Health and Preservation of services for Hispanic and underserved individuals with developmental disabilities The conference included some of the most perplexing issues facing the Hispanic family today.
The Honorable New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, was honored and commended for his commitment to preserving services for persons with developmental disabilities and multicultural providers by the Federation of Multi-Cultural Programs, Sinergia, Inc., Human First and the New York Assoc. of Emerging and Multicultural Providers,. Moreover, Assemblyman Ortiz was recognized by our agency for his vision and foresight in the enormous undertaking of organizing the Somos el Futuro Conference.
On November 9th, the fourth day of the conference, our very own Myrta Cuadra-Lash, Sandra Ruiz and Dr. Len Torres joined other non-profit providers in a workshop focused on the preservation of services for people with developmental disabilities, and the critical role that community based, multicultural organizations play in serving them. The panel focused on the need to advocate for the sustainability of these agencies who serve the most underserved individuals, particularly Latino, other language minority and minority individuals.
Somos el Futuro posed three major questions:
- Who are the most vulnerable among us?
What can we do to guaranteed human rights for all?
- Where do we go from Here?
The mission of the Somos El Futuro is to create opportunities that increase the participation of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic community in the public policy making process and to build the capacity of New York's Hispanic communities to work towards the development of policies, laws, state rules and regulations that address the needs and issues of Hispanics across the state.