By Victor Landa, NewsTaco
On any given day, an army of young Americans is hard at work in the halls of power of Washington DC – advocating policy, negotiating legislation, pushing the country forward. They go mostly unnoticed by the public at large, but our government would be hard pressed to function without them.
Through the years the ranks of Latinos among these Washington influentials has grown. They come from every part of the country, from every national background – American citizens doing the lifting that we later hear or read about in the media. And for the past year or so these Latino influentials have been meeting on a regular basis to network and support each other. They meet monthly, in restaurants or gathering places around the capitol to trade stories, and support each other’s careers.
In recent months the group has formalized under the name Latino Influentials, with a basic aim: according to Latino Influentials organizer David Romo, “What we are doing here is very simple. We are trying to get Latinos from across the spectrum in Washington DC meeting and talking to each other on a periodic basis. ”
Networking is a basic way to accomplish that. “Even though our numbers are exploding across the United States,” Romo says, “we remain a tiny minority in the corridors of power within the U.S. Federal government. We aim to change that.”
And with that in mind, this month being Hispanic Heritage month, the Latino Influentials group will be honoring two Latinos in their ranks for their example and service: Angela Arboleda and Arthur Estopiñán.
Arboleda is Senior Policy Advisor for Hispanic and Asian Affairs for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Since joining Reid’s office nearly 5 years ago, Arboleda has helped it become a quiet but significant curator for Latino talent in Washington. Formerly of NCLR, in 2004 Arboleda co-wrote Lost Opportunities — one of the first books to focus on Latinos in the criminal justice system.
Estopinan is not only Chief of Staff to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, “but also a friend and trusted counselor,” according to the longtime congresswoman from Florida. Estopinan has been Ros-Lehtinen’s Chief of Staff for 18 years during which time he has traveled all over the world for work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Ros-Lehtinen chairs. In 2010, Estopinan won Fundación Azteca’s prestigious “Outstanding Achievement Award” for his two decades of service and leadership on Capitol Hill.
They’ll both be receiving their award from The Latino Influentials on Thursday of this week. The gathering, sponsored by Coca-Cola, is slated for the well-known DC restaurant Bobby Van’s Grill, at 6pm.
If you’re in DC and would like to join the festivities, drop David Romo a line at [email protected] I’m sure they’d love to have you.
And congratulations from NewsTaco to The Latino Influentials and their honored guests, Angela Arboleda and Arthur Estopiñán.[Photo by vpickering]