SCLPC Events

Latino Policymakers Get Wired-in at Technology Forum

By Bill Britt
Latino Policy Connection Contributing Writer

Norma Fernandez from EveryoneOne emphasized the importance of bridging the digital divide especially in working-class Latino communities.

Local Latino elected officials and policymakers representing a wide swatch of Southern California recently converged on the Cal State LA Campus for the Latino Policy Forum’s “21st Century Cities and Schools.” The main themes — Bringing technology to cities and school districts, and addressing the technology jobs gap — were offered in a series of presentations and workshops geared for an audience that has a significant role in shaping California’s use of technology.

Michele“If you want to be relevant you need to be connected,” said Santa Ana City Councilmember Michele Martinez. “You need to know how to engage your constituents, and you do that by being innovative and using technology.

South Gate City Manager Michael Flad said he couldn’t agree more, and was there to remind elected officials that city managers are their go-to people. “My interests are always in imparting some pretty basic information. When you look at IT-type things, sometimes policymakers just look at an initial upfront cost. The other thing I really hope folks would get out of this is the need to plan it out.”


Both Flad and council member Martinez were among the panelists on “Wired Cities,” one of three 90-minute workshops. “Wired Schools” focused on bringing classrooms into the 21st Century while the third workshop’s title posed the challenge, “How Can We Get More Latinos Into the Tech Jobs Pipeline?”

AVV_5217Alhambra Mayor and Latino Policy Center Board President Luis Ayala regarded the offering as a perfect panel trifecta. “In this era it’s very important to be able to take advantage of technology to make government more efficient and these panels today focused on that.” Ayala helped kick off the event by telling attendees how impressed he was by the tech savy of a neighboring city while he was at a soccer field and noticed the lights weren’t on. “The Parks and Recreation director turned on the lights with his mobile device. We should be able to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.”


The panel focusing on the technology jobs gap was moderated by tech entrepreneur Deldelp Medina, who proudly admits to growing up as “a geek girl with a geographic advantage” of living in the Bay Area. The co-founder and CEO of Avion, the first accelerator dedicated to Latinas in the mobile tech space, says the Policy Forum was “a really interesting conversation for me, listening to folks to see what their day-to-day needs are.”

Of course, it was only fitting that attendees used their smartphones to answer before-and-after surveys, which revealed the majority of them were interested in attending even more technology workshops and panels. It was exactly what Latino Policy Forum organizers were wired to hear.


Summer 2015 Latino Policy Forum


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21st Century Cities & Schools 

June 6, 2015 – Cal State LA


  • 8:30am –  Registration and continental breakfast/networking
  • 9:15am – Program begins
    • Welcome – Victor Abalos, Executive Director, Southern California Latino Policy Center
    • Hon. Luis Ayala – Latino Policy Center Board President & Vice-Mayor Alhambra
    • Raquel Beltran, Associate Director, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs
    • Hon. Ron Garcia – Latino Policy Center Ex Officio Board Member
    • Lupita Sanchez Cornejo – AT&T, Event Sponsor
  • 9:45am –  Technology Demonstration and Participant Technology Survey – Hon. Michele Martinez, Latino Policy Center Board Member & Santa Ana City Councilmember
  • 10:05am –  Break for Panels
  • 10:10 – 11:30am – Panels and Workshops
    • Wires Cities Panel – Moderated by Ed Coghlan, Director of Communications, CA Fwd
      • Roy Hernandez – President/CEO, Third Wave Corp.
      • Hon. Michele Martinez – Santa Ana City Councilmember
      • Michael Flad – City Manager, City of South Gate
      • Norma Fernandez – California Regional Manager, EveryoneOn
    • Wired Schools Panel – Moderated by Marco Torres – Teacher/Blogger/Techie, Digital Promise
      • Dr. Darryl Adams – Superintendent, Coachella Valley Unified SD
      • Ben Gaines – Principal, Rancho Minerva Middle School, Vista Unified SD
      • Dr. Vanitha Chandrasekhar – Educational Technology Coordinator, Long Beach Unified SD
  • 11:40 – Technology Demonstration and Short Participant Survey Hon. Dr. Sandra Salazar – Latino Policy Center Board Member & Cerritos Community College Trustee
  • 12:00 noon – Lunch
  • 12:20 –  Hon. Aide Castro – Latino Policy Center Board Member & Lynwood City Councilmember introduces Keynote Speaker – Deldelp “Del” Medina, Co-Founder & CEO of Avión
  • 12:25 – Keynote Speaker – Deldelp Medina, Latina Tech Entrepreneur
  • 12:40pm – Medina introduces Tech Jobs Panelists and moderates panel: How Can We Get More Latinos Into The Tech Jobs Pipeline? 
    • Liliana Monge – Founder, Sabio.LA
    • Juan Salazar – Associate Manager of State Political Outreach, Facebook
    • Salomon Davila – Dean of Workforce Education and Economic Development, Pasadena City College
  • 1:20pm Program Ends


Speakers & Panelists

Dr.Darryl S. Adams.Crop

Dr. Darryl S. Adams, Superintendent of Schools for the Coachella Valley Unified School District began his career as a professional musician, songwriter and music publisher in Memphis. He came to Californian and followed his love for music and went on to serve as a Music Teacher and Band Director, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and now Superintendent. Dr. Adams earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Memphis, his Masters of Education Administration degree from California State LA, and his Doctoral degree from Azusa Pacific University. Dr. Adams has been named as one of the Top 100 Superintendents in the Nation helping to reform Education by Eliminating the Digital Divide. He recently visited the White House where President Obama praised his innovative collaborative spirit in ensuring that his students have the tools and the broadband to create a 21st Century learning environment.

Deldelp Medina HResolutionDeldelp “Del” Medina is the co-founder and CEO of Avión, the first accelerator dedicated to Latinas in the mobile tech space. Asking big questions is her passion; she is now driven to make Latinas the next tech superstars. She has spent over ten years working with the Latino community in the tech, arts, humanities, non-profit, and social justice fields. She has her B.A. from New College of California and her Masters from NYU. Her family is originally from Barranquilla, Colombia. She has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the age of eight. She is fluent in Spanish and French as well as English.


Marco Antonio Torres taught middle school and high school for ten years. He also was a media coach, an education technology director, and one of the professional learning leaders for one of the nation’s largest urban schools in Los Angeles. In addition to his work in the classroom, Marco is also a professional filmmaker and photographer who uses digital storytelling skills to add value to his curriculum and showcasing evidence. He has been recognized locally and internationally for his accomplishments in the classroom, focusing on teacher learning and storytelling. Marco is also a keynote speaker who focuses his talks on the why, what, and how of creativity. As the Senior Specialist/Learning Engineer at Apple, he was in charge of designing and implementing a professional learning plan for teachers, leaders and students of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Norma E. Fernandez.HR-PicNorma Fernandez is helping shape and implement strategies that link “unconnected” communities to the power of the Internet and technology. She has extensive experience in community engagement, building strategic partnerships and developing programs in the non-profit and public sectors. Past projects include coordinating a local hire program for the Los Angeles Unified School District and managing neighborhood revitalization projects while at Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative. Norma is passionate about helping all communities thrive and volunteers with several organizations. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended UCLA where she earned a B.A. in sociology and a M.A. in urban planning.

Juan M. Salazar.FB

Juan Salazar is an Associate Manager of State Political Outreach at Facebook. He travels around the country to provide state and local government officials with tips and best practices on how to use Facebook to communicate more effectively with the public. Juan also works with the Facebook Diversity Team to expose women and people of color to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Prior to joining Facebook, Juan was a Program Manager for Growth Sector, Inc. where he developed education/workforce development pathway programs across various California community colleges. Juan focused on increasing the participation, support, and success of Latino/a and African American students in the field of Engineering and STEM education. Juan is originally from Santa Maria, CA. He received his Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelors degree in History from the University of California, Berkeley.


Liliana Aide Monge is the Co-Founder of Sabio.LA, an innovative social enterprise working to increase the number of women, and people of color that become software engineers. Liliana was born in Northern Mexico, and came to the U.S. when she was five years old. She lived in Los Angeles for most of her childhood with her mother and older sister. She attended Wellesley College and graduated with a BA in Biology in 1999. Since then she has made Los Angeles her home, alongside her Co-Founder, and husband, Gregorio Rojas.

Benjamin Gaines

Benjamin Gaines has been the principal at Rancho Minerva Middle School for the past two years. During his tenure at Vista Unified School District, he has brought an underperforming school with a tarnished image to a school in the national spotlight for its innovation through a 1:1 iPad program partnered with Digital Promise and the Verizon Foundation. Under his leadership, Mr. Gaines has also taken Rancho Minerva from the school with the highest suspension rate in the district to one of the lowest, reducing suspensions by over 85%. Mr. Gaines and his school were recently feature as part of the Digital Learning Day in Washington D.C. as well as included in the Spring 2015 edition of the CSBA publication. Mr. Gaines is a native of Detroit, Michigan. He is currently finishing his dissertation in Educational Leadership and Social Justice at the University of California San Diego.


Dr. Vanitha Chandrasekhar graduated from the UC Irvine/Cal Poly Pomona Ed.D. program in 2009. Her dissertation: Promoting 21st Century Learning: A Case Study of the Changing roles of Teachers in One-to-one Laptop Programs. Dr. Chandrasekhar was born, raised, and educated in the northern city of Kanpur in India. She states that she was not motivated as a student and it was this experience that helped her empathize with her students as she went into a career as a teacher. Dr. Chandrasekhar started as a fourth grade teacher 20 years ago in the Long Beach Unified School District and moved up to her position as Educational Technology Coordinator in which she oversees the training and district-wide implementation of instructional technology. Dr. Chandrasekhar is the President of Beach City Computer Using Educators, Inc. (CUE). She also was the recipient of the Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship which provided her the opportunity to visit Japan for three weeks and visit educational institutions and study their teaching practices.

Roy Hernandez Headshot

Roy Hernandez is the founder, President and CEO of ThirdWave Corporation, a full service Systems Integration firm established in 1987 in Los Angeles. He pioneered Internet technologies in government in the 1990s and is considered a thought leader and innovator in the areas of Information Technology Strategic Planning and Business Process Reengineering. He has managed numerous multi-million dollar enterprise-wide development/systems integration projects for local, state and federal government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations. He has been appointed to serve on numerous prestigious government advisory boards, including the California Information Technology Commission, a principal advisory body to the California Department of Information Technology. Prior to ThirdWave, Mr. Hernandez worked at IBM for 8 years. Roy received his MA Architecture and BA Architecture with Honors from University of California, Berkeley. He attended post-graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on Computer Aided Design Systems.

Michael Flad south Gate City Manager

Mike Flad was selected as the City Manager of South Gate in October of 2012. He currently provides leadership and direction for this community of 95,000 residents through the efforts of over 400 employees and a budget of $115 million dollars. Mike began his career in public administration with the City of Burbank in 1988 working in a variety of positions for the Finance, Risk Management, Community Development, City Manager’s Office and Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PR&CS) departments. Mike Flad is a graduate of UCLA, with a degree in Political Science. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University Northridge. Born, raised and educated in Burbank, Mike currently lives in Pasadena with his daughter, Isabella, who is now 11.


Spring 2014 Latino Policy Forum

June 7 – USC Campus

Download our Policy Forum Report

Download (PDF, 2.03MB)

Policy Forum Crowd

Forum Participants mingle before the event starts.

Barrales and audience

Morning Keynote Speaker Ruben Barrales, President/CEO of GROW Elect, addresses the audience.


Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra (D), who represents the Northeast corner of the SF Valley, was on our Local Economic Development Financing Panel.


Yolie Flores, former LAUSD Board Member and Sr. Fellow with Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, moderated a panel of influential education advocates including Oscar Cruz, Families in Schools; Maria Casillas, Interim Deputy Superintendent LAUSD; and Ryan Smith, United Way’s Director of Education Programs & Policy.


Our Forum also featured an Energy Infrastructure Panel with Maria Martinez, Southern CA Gas; Henry Martinez, Southern CA Edison and Tupper Hull, Western States Petroleum Association.


Southeast Cities Holiday Reception

Walnut Park, December 18, 2013

Southeast Cities Holiday Reception sponsored by The Meruelo Group
Southeast Cities Holiday Reception sponsored by The Meruelo Group
Sonia Lopez, Compton Community College; Karina Macias, Huntington Park City Council; Violeta Alvarez, Bell City Council
Jorge Morales, South Gate City Council; David Conforti, Annenberg Foundation; Laura Barrera, LB Consulting
Southeast Cities policymakers and community leaders mixed a little networking with holiday cheer at Don Chente’s Bar & Grill December 18 in Walnut Park. The evening was hosted by the CA League of Cities, the Southern California Latino Policy Center and Council Members Karina Macias and Jorge Morales from Huntington Park and South Gate, respectively. Our host was the Meruelo Group.

Fall 2013 Latino Policy Forum

East LA College – November 9, 2013

ELAC President Marvin Martinez addresses Policy Forum participants. (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)

The Southern California Latino Policy Center (SCLPC), in partnership with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), convened Latino elected officials from throughout the Los Angeles area for its first policy forum. The Fall 2013 Latino Policy Forum, which marked the first partnership between the two organizations, was held on Saturday, November 9.

Forty Latino elected officials from throughout the Los Angeles County, Orange County and Inland Empire area attended the half-day event at East Los Angeles College. Participants at the Forum attended workshops and panels designed to help them become more effective advocates for their communities.

State Sen. Alex Padilla being interviewed at the Forum. (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)

“Ensuring Latino elected officials have the skills and information necessary to be successful advocates for their communities is a mission that is near and dear to our hearts,” stated Ron Garcia, Mayor, City of Brea; and NALEO and Latino Policy Center Board Member.

Brea Mayor Ron Garcia, NALEO and So CA Latino Policy Center Board member, explains the mission of the Latino Policy Center. (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)

Issues addressed by Southern California policymakers during the Forum included:

    • Implementation and impact of the new school Local Control Funding Formula
    • Economic development for local communities
    • Ethics and Governance
Newly elected Azusa Unified School Board Member Helen Jaramillo learning more about the benefits of So CA Latino Policy Center membership. (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)

The forum was organized by the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials and the Southern California Latino Policy Center.

We’d like to thank our sponsors, which included:


2013 Latino Policy Forum Report

Download (PDF, 3.29MB)