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Global Climate Action Day: Organization calls legislature to demand climate justice NOW

Today, Puerto Rican climate justice organizations are calling for action, demanding “no more empty promises” in regards to the climate crisis. Amnesty International and Sierra Club summon citizens this March 19th to “a call” to the Puerto Rican legislature to demand climate governance. 

climate justice

Climate Action NOW. Call Puerto Rican legislatures to demand for climate justice.

In the midst of the various public health, socio-political and economic crises that the world continues to face this new year, as part of the Climate Action NOW Campaign, the organizations Amnesty International Puerto Rico and Sierra Club Puerto Rico are demanding immediate and concrete action by legislators in response to the current climate crisis on this March 19th, Global Climate Action Day.

Latinas in Business board member, Maria Santiago-Valentin, has been actively involved with these organizations and other grassroots movements to push for climate justice. She is also the founder of the Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance whose mission is to  “[apply] the power of deep grassroots organizing to win local, regional, statewide, national and international shifts” regarding climate change and unjust exposure of marginalized communities to its damaging effects.

The “call-athon” hopes to bring legislatures attention to the important climate issues in Puerto Rico. Part of what activists want to emphasize is the urgency to take immediate action and to consider three urgent elements to legislate and ensure climate action. 

climate justice, Global Climate Action Day

March 19: Global Climate Action Day. Organizations summon citizens to call legislatures to demand climate action in Puerto Rico.

The 3 key elements to consider are:

Make sure PUBLIC FUNDS RESPOND TO THIS CRISIS.  We have a unique conjuncture: millions of dollars in mitigation funds for infrastructure, research, database creation, jobs and recovery. The use of these funds requires a common thread with the climate issue and social and racial justice.

That they ACTIVATE AND LEGISLATE SO that land use planning responds to sustainability in the face of the climate crisis. The current Joint Permit Regulation will worsen the crisis. It is vital to repeal them and begin a broad process for a new regulation in keeping with what is stated here. 

That it be INSPECTED AND LEGISLATED FOR THE PROTECTION OF OUR COASTS. We already see the impact of the increase in sea level on our coasts. In other places they are preparing to protect the coasts while here construction continues in the maritime terrestrial zone. It is time for them to STOP the sale and destruction of our shores and beaches. OUR CONSTITUENT COMMUNITIES, PROPERTY AND ESSENTIAL INFRASTRUCTURE ARE AT RISK.

Hernaliz Vázquez Torres, from the Sierra Club organization, declared that “what we need now are not false promises. The climate crisis is here and the most affected people and communities have to deal with floods, displacement, deforestation, air pollution, food insecurity and loss of homes. Our lives depend on immediate action.”

For more than two years, Amnesty International Puerto Rico and Sierra Club Puerto Rico have taken to the streets demanding climate justice. Currently, with the COVID-19 pandemic, actions will take different forms and they make a call for # NoMásPromesasVacías calling on all people to join in making a “call” to the legislature asking them in phone calls to their offices to sign and publicly commit to the Citizen Declaration for the Climate Crisis.

This today, the organizations summon all citizens to call the legislature to demand Climate Action Now. “We are fed up with empty promises,” Vázquez declared.

Introducing Latinas in Business Inc. Executive Board Members

In a simple virtual ceremony last Friday, five new Trustees were sworn in to Latinas in Business Inc. Executive Board. The 2020 Annual Executive Board Meeting welcomed member’s Beth Marmolejos, Pilar Avila, Danay Escanaverino, Adriane Medeiros, and Maria Santiago-Valentin into their new positions as Board Members. 

Present also was the Founder President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, and one of the Founder Board Members of the organization, Brenda Nava. Brenda now leaves the position of Treasurer to stay on the Board as a Committee Member and passes the torch of Treasurer on to Pilar Avila. 

Executive Board

Latinas in Business Inc. Executive Board Members

On the new Executive Board, Baumann said:

“I’m ecstatic that this group of unstoppable Latinas are coming in to strengthen and grow our organization at a national level. We are extremely grateful for their time and efforts, which are already bringing results in the crucial event we are launching this October 16 and October 23 to energize the Latino Vote. This was my vision for Latinas in Business, a group of young and determined Latinas who will take the torch, the symbol of our logo, and run with it. My legacy as a woman, mother, Latina and immigrant will remain in an organization by Latinas and for Latinas.” 

Introducing the LIB’s Executive Board 

Brenda Nava, Founder Executive Board

Brenda Nava, Founder Executive Board 

Brenda Nava is an avant-garde Hispanic entrepreneur who entered business at the age of 23. Currently the owner and founder of various businesses, including CEO at Daniela Events and CEO at Dafer Business Development Solutions.

With degrees in International Business, Accounting, Taxes and Business Development, Brenda is focused on sharing her experience and knowledge with her community. With several years of experience in the business field, she knows that education is an important foundation for the success of every entrepreneur and is committed to being an example and supporting the development of the community.

Beth Marmolejos, Programs and Events Coordinator & LIB Vice President 

Beth Marmolejos is a business leader, activist, and advocate who strives toward serving as an champion for change daily in both her personal and professional life. Beth serves on numerous boards that support and serve these communities. Some of her positions include  Madame Chair of the Passaic County Workforce Investment Board, Chair of the Passaic County Advocacy and Abilities Committee and Diversity & Inclusion Chair of the American Association of University Women – Greater Wayne Area, and President of the New Jersey Prospanica Chapter, formerly known as The National Society of Hispanics MBAs. 

Pilar Avila, Governance & Treasurer

Pilar Avila, Governance & Treasurer 

Pilar Avila is the founder and host of interDUCTUS, an organizational change management consulting practice, & Renovad, which provides experiential retreats to countries around the world. She is a passionate human striving for higher self-awareness, health, happiness, living free, eradicating judgment and lifting every living being with compassion. As a business and civic change leader, Pilar is strategic, innovative and results-oriented. She launched  interDUCTUS & Renovad after over 26 years providing leadership at institutions across private equity, hospitality, and nonprofit sectors. 

 

Danay Escanaverino, Marketing and Outreach

Danay Escanaverino, Marketing and Outreach

Danay Escanaverino is the CEO of LunaSol Media, a digital agency she has owned for 9 years to help brands connect with Hispanic consumers online. She is also the Founder of MiraClick, an affiliate network for Hispanic and Latino bloggers and creators to monetize their following with campaigns made for Latinos. She is passionate about marketing and technology and her goal is to  help Hispanic entrepreneurs expand their reach through her expertise and services and specifically expand the Hispanic market and unite and support Hispanic businesses. 

Adriane Medeiros, Trustee

Adriane Medeiros, Trustee 

Adriane Medeiros is a Financial Services Professional with New York Life Insurance Company and specializes in life insurance and retirement investment planning. She is a tremendous resource to our community, offering financial tips, seminars, and one-on-one appointments in financial and investment planning. Originally born in Brazil, she has lived in New Jersey for over 32 years and has a degree in Business with a minor in Economics and Finances, from Kean University in New Jersey. Adriane strives to help all her clients achieve a life of abundance and financial empowerment through investment planning so that they can support their families for generations to come.

classroom inclusion

Maria Santiago-Valentin, Trustee

Maria Santiago-Valentin, Trustee 

Maria Santiago-Valentin is a fierce activist, educator, and author who uses her platform to advocate for quality education, classroom inclusion, and environmental causes. A passionate, energetic and creative educator with over twenty-five years of experience in her field, she has taught in Puerto Rico, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and has been recognized for her achievements nationally and internationally. One of the founding members of CURE  — Community United for the Renaissance in Education– a bilingual parent advocacy group working to improve the educational system in New London, Connecticut, Maria has dedicated her life to making the pursuit of knowledge accessible to all. She is also the founder of the NJ Coalition for Climate Justice, an organization that works to bring together social justice movements with environmental movements.

Upcoming event: Regain Our Latino Power 

The main topic of discussion at the year’s Annual Executive Board Meeting was the upcoming virtual event: Regain Our Latino Power. The multi-day event will take place on the two upcoming Fridays: October 16th and October 23rd. 

With less than six weeks until the election, Regain Our Latino Power will focus on discussions about Latinxs essential workers, Latinxs and the economy, Immigration Reform, Deportations and Incarceration of Latino Children and more. The event will also feature guest speakers from Latina Leaders including Keynote Speaker, Maria Elena Salinas. 

We are calling YOU and all Latina leaders because these are URGENT TOPICS TO DISCUSS.

Register now for this FREE virtual event! 

TENTATIVE AGENDA

Friday October 16, 2020 12pm to 2pm EST – 9am to 11am PST

  1. COVID-19 AND ESSENTIAL WORKERS: More protection for Latinxs frontline workers in factories and farms dying of COVID-19; more testing, sick-time leave and protection equipment.

Sign our petition to both Houses of Congress

  1. INCARCERATION OF UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN: We demand the immediate freedom of ALL immigrant children held at deportation facilities where COVID-19 has been detected. They are victims of abuse and neglect; their lives are in our hands, and they are OUR children!

Sign our petition to both Houses of Congress

  1. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR FAMILIES: We request additional financial assistance for families who lost their jobs by no fault of their own; both parties are dragging their feet in approving funding to help families with essential needs.

Sign our petition to both Houses of Congress

Friday October 23, 2020 12pm to 2pm – 9am to 11am PST

  1. IMMIGRATION REFORM: Stop massive deportations that hurt regional economies and break immigrant families. Immigrants bring significant income and tax revenue to regional economies, while provide vital work that bring food and essential products to our homes and our tables

Sign our petition to both Houses of Congress

  1. SMALL BUSINESS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: Finally, we also request immediate forgiveness for small businesses who received PPP Loans of $150,000 or less. Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs are closing their doors every day. They need OUR help!

Sign our petition to both Houses of Congress

6. WHAT’S NEXT FOR LATINOS IN THE USA? How will future generations of Latinxs live and succeed in this country? What is left of the AMERICAN DREAM?

Reopening Schools

Reopening schools during Covid-19? Educator and activist Maria Santiago-Valentin weighs in

As we near the end of summer, schools across the country are preparing for the start of a new year. But what will this school year look like for students and parents? The central debate among districts, educators, and families is whether reopening schools during Covid will be possible or safe. It may seem like a no-brainer, stay home! But the issue becomes more complicated when you begin to factor in the fact that not all parents have the luxury of being able to work from home during these times. The truth is, many families rely on schools as childcare during the work-week.

Reopening Schools

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The uncertain future of education

Maria Santiago-Valentin is an activist and educator with over 25 years of experience in her field. She is passionate about education, having taught in Puerto Rico, Connecticut, and New Jersey. A life-long learner herself, she knows and values the importance of a quality education.

“Education is a crucial foundation for our youth,” she says. “We need quality education to help younger generations pave the way toward better futures for our society.”

However, the future of education for our youth is currently uncertain as Covid threatens another school year.

Since spring, schools have been getting by through online instruction. This has helped lessen the spread of the virus by keeping student populations distant as they learn remotely from home. But this was never meant to be a permanent solution, and many school districts simply are not equipped to provide long-term online instruction.

“At the beginning I thought it was going to be a three-week lock-down, but it turned longer,” says Maria, reflecting back on the early days of the outbreak back in March. “I continued working for my school remotely during this time, I am a Child Study Team member in a public school. In the evenings I continued with my online classes with Walden University. I am in the last course before starting my dissertation. There were some inconveniences, but I adjusted to the new normal and I am very thankful to God to be here today.”

The debate: reopening schools during Covid

Online education has helped us all stay afloat during these uncertain times, but the big question on everyone’s minds is when will things ‘go back to normal?’

Reopening schools during Covid has brought on a fierce debate. Parents and teachers worry over health and safety, while others also struggle with the harsh reality of having to juggle their careers and parenting. Without schools, many working parents will have no one to look after their children should they have to attend online school.

Working from home

Working parents struggle to juggle their careers and parenting. Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

In a recent press release, New Jersey’s teacher union head said it’s “not plausible” to reopen schools on time in September amid the coronavirus crisis, contending that Garden State’s educators, staff, and administrators don’t have nearly enough time to get ready.

As an educator and champion for Latino families, Maria weighs in on the issue of reopening schools during Covid.

“My take is that there are many issues that need to be taken into consideration,” says Maria. “Covid-19 can easily spike if a school district is not following precautions for children and staff, causing deaths. However, many working families, among them many Latinos, do not have a caregiver nor the money to pay a caregiver to leave their children with while working.”

fighting for education

Maria Santiago-Valentin, Educator and Activist for classroom inclusion and environmental sustainability

Maria has always fought for education, and she is prepared to continue that fight against the threat of Covid-19.

“I am an educator since 1992. I understand some teachers have sick relatives they have to take care of because of Covid-19. I understand we are getting paid with the taxes of working families. I understand we chose this career for the good and the bad. I feel we need to show up to work. Imagine a military not wanting to go to war. Our war is Covid-19. We show up y que Dios nos proteja.”

In the end though, this is a debate that has no clear solution. “Covid-19 is totally unpredictable,” says Maria, “and all the solutions we have are the ones prior to the pandemic. We need a plan for a new, green, sustainable normalcy.”

Fighting for a sustainable future

In addition to her work as an educator, Maria also works with various organizations as an activist and leader. During the pandemic, she was appointed administrator of the ALL Ladies League Chapter in Barcelona of the Women Economic Forum (WEF), Spain. “The WEF is an associate of ALL Ladies League (ALL), the world’s largest All-inclusive international women’s chamber and a movement for the Welfare, Wealth, and Well-being of ALL. As a superhighway of ‘Internet of women’​, ALL is a worldwide web of women’s leadership, friendship and entrepreneurship.”

Maria was appointed the 2020 Chairperson for the ALL New Jersey Chapter for Business Networking and was the recipient of the highest and most prestigious WEF Global Award by the judges of the WEF Bangalore Committee: “Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All.”

Maria’s commitment to making a difference in the world extends to the environment as well. As a devoted climate change advocate, Maria has co-founded the Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance. Founded with 7 other Latinos living in the Diaspora and a member from Trinidad Tobago, the non-profit is an environmental justice organization for humanitarian relief, advocacy, and education purposes.

On the topic of climate change and it’s effect on the pandemic, Maria says there are a couple of intersections within the topics of climate change, environmental justice, and Covid-19.

classroom inclusion environment

Maria Santiago-Valentin, speaker at climate change rallies in New Jersey

“The impact of climate change in communities of color has shown how vulnerable our communities are to Covid-19 with health prevalent conditions that aggravates the situation. Environmental justice issues such as poor water quality, indoor/outdoor air pollution, and poor ventilation increase the spread of the disease. The climate crisis that is changing the intensity of the meteorological systems is intersecting with the public health system and Covid-19. If, in addition, we take into consideration the economic crisis, and the disparities in communities of color, the recovery of those communities is compromised. For example, systems like Isais, storms and fires. Florida had to close the Covid-19 testing sites prior to the storm. These events accelerated by climate change expose the level of preparedness and response our governments and agencies must deal with both circumstances at the same time (Covid-19 and a hurricane).”

These are also the same communities likely to be the most affected by the issue of not reopening schools during Covid. Facing environmental and economic difficulties, these communities will continue to be hit the hardest by the pandemic.

You might be interested: Ojala Threads social entrepreneur supports underserved communities during the pandemic

While there are no definite solutions to these issues, we can only continue to work toward a better future that will help and protect all, including our most vulnerable communities. That is what Maria will continue to do across all her platforms, as an educator, environmental activist, and leader.

Through her experiences during the pandemic, Maria has learned not to take like and routines for granted, since the future is uncertain and “to thank God everyday for the miracle of life.”

fighting for education

Latina activist and educator Maria Santiago-Valentin advocates for classroom inclusion

Maria Santiago-Valentin is a fierce activist and educator who has used her platform to advocate for classroom inclusion and the environment. A passionate, energetic and creative educator with over twenty-five years of experience in her field, she has taught in Puerto Rico, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and has been recognized for her achievements nationally and internationally. 

Lifelong learning

“Education is a crucial foundation for our youth. Now more than ever we need quality education to help younger generations pave the way toward better futures for our society,” said Maria Santiago-Valentin, one of the many great educators who are fighting for education and advocating for our youth. One of the founding members of CURE  — Community United for the Renaissance in Education– a bilingual parent advocacy group working to improve the educational system in New London, Connecticut and an educator for over twenty-five years, Maria has dedicated her life to the pursuit of knowledge.

“Education is a lifelong experience,” she shares with Latinas In Business. “To achieve success one must acknowledge that they do not know everything.  We need to update our skills and open ourselves to other cultures, to opposition, to failure and strive for classroom inclusion to see what we need to work on internally to be where we want to be in order to have an impact in our field.”

Maria has lived by this motto all her life as one can see by looking at her extensive list of degrees and certifications. Living in Puerto Rico she studied Language, Literature, and Translation in English, Spanish, and French. In 1991 she began her career as an ESL teacher in Puerto Rico where she taught for several years. Later her love of language lead her to the United States where she pursued her second M.A. in French and Francophone Literature at the University of Connecticut which she completed in 2002.

Challenging herself to reach new heights, Maria sought to become a certified Learning Disabilities Consultant / Case Manager and now works at a public high school in New Jersey to help meet the learning needs of students who require extra attention and inclusion in the classroom. 

And with several M.A.’s and certificates under her belt, it is only natural that Maria is now pursuing her Doctorate in Education, specializing in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment. The learning never stops!

Sharing messages with future generations

classroom inclusion

Maria Santiago-Valentin receives a recognition from Sira Macias Chacon, Human Rights International Commissioner and President, Caminando Juntos por el Cambio in Santiago de Guayaquil, 2018.

“The message and principles we share with the future generations in our homes and our schools is what is going to bring changes and paradigm shifts in society,” says Maria.

This is the core message Maria imparts to others, especially the youth. “In order to advance, there must be continual knowledge and education both at school and in the home. Children must always be learning to become adults who will continue to learn and be open and tolerant to new experiences, cultures, and ideas. Our futures depend on our children, so we must equip them with the necessary tools for success, and that all begins with education,” she affirmed. 

This educational foundation extends to all children regardless of their background or abilities. Always striving for acceptance and inclusion in the classroom, Maria has used her experiences as an educator and Learning Disabilities Consultant to write a book for educators on the topic of mental health. Her book Bipolar Disorder: Etiology and Treatment Overview: Mindfulness, Medication, Digital Psychiatry and Classroom Accommodations explores ways of approaching issues of mental illness in the classroom and how to accommodate for these students so that they may receive the proper attention and care. Maria works diligently as an educator to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education as it is the foundation that they will build a lifetime of learning upon.

Her call to advocacy

During her years in Connecticut, Maria first became rigorously involved in the education advocacy community. Working at public schools in New London, Connecticut, Maria saw that there was much work that needed to be done to improve the quality of education. Two of her main areas of focus were to incorporate multilingual programs into schools’ curriculum and to fight for public school funding.

A staunch supporter of multilingual studies—being that she is fluent in Spanish, English and French— Maria has championed for multilingual programs in schools since her time teaching in the New London Public School District. With CURE, Maria helped support local public schools and bring awareness to multilingual studies by organizing a variety of events including parades to the public library, translated events, and community forums.

classroom inclusion

Maria Santiago-Valentin, Educator and Activist for classroom inclusion and environmental sustainability

From 2004 – 2007 Maria also served as one of the plaintiffs of in the “Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding” which sought to ensure that adequate funding was being “distributed equitably based on student learning needs, fair measures of town wealth, and fidelity to the tax equalization principles underlying the ECS.”

In March of 2015, Maria’s advocacy work was honored with an award presented by the New Jersey Hispanic Newspaper Poder Latino USA, which commended her contributions to improving education in urban public schools and her advocacy and volunteer work in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Environmental activism  

Another issue close to Maria’s heart is protecting the environment. Anyone keeping up with current events will know that our environment is in dire need of help. Environmental crises such as the California wildfires, the increase in devastating hurricanes, and the deadly drops in temperature this winter have shown that our planet is crying out for help. Still the political world is full of debate and controversy over climate change, with deniers holding important positions in office. If education is to ensure that our youths have the knowledge to advocate for change, then environmentalism is to ensure that our youths will have a habitable planet to enact change upon.

classroom inclusion environment

Maria Santiago-Valentin, speaker at climate change rallies in New Jersey

Maria is just as passionate as an environmental activist as she has been for education advocacy. She has worked diligently with organizations and local legislation attending marches, representing projects such as the Climate Reality Project, and speaking publicly about critical issues. In 2016 she spoke alongside Assemblyman John McKeon about new bills passed by the New Jersey State legislature that would make critical steps towards helping the environment.

In 2017 Maria took her activism a step farther, founding the NJ Coalition for Climate Justice, an organization that works to bring together social justice movements with environmental movements. The organization has lead community events, marches, and provided aid to those in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria.

Currently Maria serves as Vice-Chair of the NJ Environmental Justice Committee and has worked for OFA (Obama for America/Organizing for Action) as a volunteer for 8 years. Through OFA Maria became a Climate Reality Project Leader, a role that has allowed her to be a mentor to a diverse group of individuals from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and New Jersey.

Overcoming opposition

As a resilient Latina, Maria has persevered through all the challenges she’s faced over the years in her career. She has never let opposition get in her way of achieving her goals. Still when she came to the U.S. over twenty years ago, she struggled with an issue many immigrants face: she was self-conscious of her accent –despite being fluent in three languages! She worried about the biases people would have toward her when they heard her accent and this lead to an intense fear of public speaking.

She however did not let that fear stop her. “I faced bias, skepticism, and opposition,” she says, “but that did not scare me or make me shy away. That was the fuel that motivated me to continue to prove the skeptics that I was being underestimated.”

She has since made various major presentations at the Learning Disabilities Association of America NJ Chapter, the GSA Forum, and the NJEA Teacher’s Convention and will also be presenting at the NECTFL this year on a talk about Dyslexia and the Foreign Language learner.

Maria is filled with gratitude for all the experiences she’s had, both positive and negative for they have only made her stronger and more inspired to learn and grow. She hopes to continue to be an inspiration for others and to advocate for education and environmentalism, be a mindful and inclusive educator, and of course never stop learning.