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Commissioner & Staff



Richard A. Cruz,


LPRAC Chairman Cruz is a lifelong native and resident of Bridgeport. He holds an A.S. in Respiratory Care from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. Chairman Cruz was appointed to LPRAC in January of 2010 and re-appointed by several Speakers of the House including the current leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives Brendan Sharkey. Chairman Cruz has served in different leadership capacities at LPRAC where he excelled as its Priorities & Legislation Committee Chair, Vice-Chairman of the Board, and currently serving as Chairman of the board. Chairman Cruz is also the official representative of LPRAC to the Health Equity Commission. Chairman Cruz is well known and respected by his peers as a great community leader in Bridgeport where he is currently serving as the President of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network and several other committees in town. For the last 28 years Chairman Cruz has worked at the St Vincent Medical Center in Bridgeport as a Respiratory Care Practitioner. Chairman Cruz is married with one son and one daughter on the way.

Yolanda Castillo
Yolanda Castillo,
Vice Chair

Yolanda Castillo of Puerto Rican descent was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut by parents who were one of the first Puerto Rican families to arrive in Hartford seeking employment and better opportunities. Ms. Castillo’s father Juan Castillo (deceased) was also actively involved in the community and was one of the original founders of the Hartford Puerto Rican Parade which taught Ms. Castillo the importance of being involved and acknowledging one’s heritage. Ms. Castillo is a proud graduate of the Hartford Public Schools system then moving on to gain her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of Arts in Counseling Education from Southern Connecticut State University. Ms. Castillo is currently employed with the State of Connecticut Department of Rehabilitative Services as a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; for the past 25 years she has provided assistance to people with disabilities in finding competitive employment. Besides her degrees from Southern Connecticut State University, Ms. Castillo has a Paralegal Certificate from the University of Hartford and a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Certificate from Boston University. Ms. Castillo has received several recognitions and awards for her work in the community and has held various political positions throughout her involvement. Ms. Castillo has 1 adult daughter, Jasmine and 1 granddaughter, Sadayah and currently resides in the town of Manchester where she is actively a member of the Democratic Town Committee. Ms. Castillo was appointed as a commissioner in 2010 due to her activism in the Latino community with 20+ years in the political arena. She is honored to serve as Treasurer of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission’s Board and has served on several committees and believes through this effort she can help in implementing legislative policies that will assist and improve the lives of Latino and Puerto Rican communities throughout Connecticut.

Emanuela Palmares Leaf

Emanuela Palmares, Secretary


Emanuela Palmares is a Brazilian-American immigrant raised in Danbury, Connecticut; Emanuela Palmares's first community engagement was at an early age of 15, when she contributed her time to support operations of Danbury Library. Since then, strongly believing in her personal mission of “creating a meaningful social change”, Ms. Palmares has leveraged her talents in bringing the utmost positive impact to her hometown. Her impressive history of engagement with public and non-governmental organizations includes her being a Domestic Violence Victim’s Advocate at the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury focusing on Portuguese-speaking victims; Board Member at the Regional YMCA; Member at the United Way of Northern Fairfield County, Emerging Leaders Council; Member at the United Way of Northern Fairfield County, Community Impact Grant Selection Process; Member at the Danbury Housing Partnership; Chairwoman at the Association of Religious Communities' Blue Ribbon Commission on Immigrants; a Volunteer Translator at AmeriCares Free Clinic, as well as a Teacher of English as a Second Language at the Center for Brazilian Assistance (CBA). Since 2000, she has been one of the organizers of the Brazilian Flag-Raising Ceremony in Danbury, the first of its kind in the state. The event, now in its 14th year, celebrates Brazilian Independence Day and the contributions Brazilians have made to Greater Danbury and Bridgeport communities. Most recently in 2013 she was elected as the executive secretary of the Citizens Council to the Consulate General of Brazil in Hartford, made up of members of the Brazilian community with the purpose to serve as liaisons of the consulate, Brazilian authorities, and the communities it serves. That same year she was appointed as the first Brazilian to serve at the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC). Ms. Palmares, now 31 years old, is also currently serving as LPRAC’s representative on the Governor’s Emergency Communications Task Force. A state wide Task Force to review and make recommendations to enhance both emergency and non-emergency communications between the State and its residents whose primary language is not English. She was also invited by House Speaker Rep. Brendan Sharkey (D-88) to join a new work group charged with reviewing, assessing, and proposing recommendations to the House of Representatives designed to improve the educational outcomes of English Language Learners (ELLs) in Connecticut during the 2015 Legislative Session of the Connecticut General Assembly. She also holds what she refers to as “the most meaningful position of all” – being a mother to her son Caio and the proud daughter of her parents Celia Bacelar and Genilson Palmares.

Elena Trueworthy
Elena Trueworthy, M.S.


Elena Trueworthy is a resident of New Britain, CT and has over 15 years experience working on behalf of children and families. Born and raised in a bilingual home by her father and Colombian mother, she received an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut, and a Masters degree in Human Services from Springfield College. Elena currently works for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving as the director of the Hartford Area Child Care Collaborative, an initiative that focuses on improving and sustaining the quality of care child for children and families in the greater Hartford region. Previous to her current position, she worked in early care and education for ten years working up the ranks to be a supervisor with oversight of departments focused on health, mental health, nutrition, and parent involvement for low-income children and families, primarily Latino. She has also been on the ground as a community organizer. Prior to being promoted to her supervisory role, Elena provided and continued to be actively involved with bilingual leadership development to New Britain residents to enhance protective factors and well-being in children, families, and communities in a largely Latino neighborhood of New Britain. Elena is passionate about advocating and supporting the Latino community, especially as it relates to equity and having a voice. She currently supports the work of the Latinos for Progress group in New Britain, served as Secretary of this group for two years, and has worked on the election campaigns of several Latino candidates for office. She is also an active member of the North-Oak Neighborhood Revitalization Zone. Elena is married to Michael Trueworthy and they have two daughters, Nadia age 7 and Abigail age 5. Elena and Michael also coach the Central Connecticut State University Diving Team.


Ramon L Arroyo
Ramón L. Arroyo, Commissioner


Mr. Arroyo of Hartford was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Special Education; also has a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut.  Mr. Arroyo after 23 years of service retired from the City of Hartford Municipal Government as a Special Assistant to the City Manager. Mr. Arroyo was appointed to LPRAC by House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey.


Migdalia Castro
Migdalia Castro, Commissioner


LPRAC Commissioner Migdalia Castro was born in Bronx, New York to parents of Puerto Rican descent; Commissioner Castro migrated to New Haven with her family at the young age of 12 and has lived there since.  Commissioner Castro’s interest in public service stemmed from her own personal experiences dealing with poverty.  At one point in her early adulthood, she was displaced, alone, and with very limited resources. It didn’t take long for her to discover that she was part of a larger group of people who were also poor but filled with love, support, and possibilities.  Commissioner Castro was first known for her work in the arts and culture as an organizer for a local dance team, and also as director for the Hispanic Women’s Softball New Haven-Puerto Rico Exchange. However, her community involvement began at her daughter’s school.  As Alder in Ward 16, Commissioner Castro addressed the need to protect Social Security, sliver lots, and new businesses in Fair Haven. She helped promote local businesses on Grand Avenue, identified the businesses’ needs, changed zoning regulations to allow new businesses to open their doors and current businesses to expand and operate in a supported environment, and lifted restrictions to allow businesses to better serve their customers’ needs.  Commissioner Castro plans to continue her studies at Southern Connecticut State University in the fall of 2014.  She was appointed to LPRAC by Senate Majority Leader, State Senator Martin M. Looney.

Commissioner Gonzalez

Jay Gonzalez, Commissioner
Commissioner Jay Gonzalez was born in the City of Bridgeport and is a lifelong resident of Waterbury. He attended 12 years of Catholic school in Waterbury and graduated from Sacred Heart High school in 1998. After some college he went to work at Verizon, where he has been employed for over 10 years and currently employed in Sales. Commissioner Gonzalez is presently serving on the Rivera Memorial Foundation Board and is very involved in the local community. Commissioner Gonzalez is also a member of the Waterbury Republican Town Committee and was appointed to LPRAC by House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero.

George Hernandez George (Jorge) Hernández, Commissioner


Commissioner Hernández Is a well-rounded Latino professional with over 25 years experience in Business Development in both the for-profit and the not-for profit sectors.  For the past 7 years he has been the Windham Region - Small Business Specialist for the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA).  Currently he heads up VIProfessionals - his own Strategic Planning & Personal Development consultancy.  He has extensive experience as a Business & Personal Development Consultant, and as an Interpreter & Translator, having most recently served as such in the CT Superior Court system. He has taught English/Spanish at Berlitz International School of Languages, Business Administration at Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC) and has lived and traveled extensively throughout the US, Latin America, Caribbean, Africa & Europe.  Born in NYC, raised in Puerto Rico and has enjoyed living in NYC, Los Angeles, Hartford and now Willimantic, CT. He is certified in Total Quality Management from the U of Phoenix and has a BA in Ministry from an outreach program of Azusa Pacific University.  He has extensive Board of Directors experience; he has served on the Northeast Economic Alliance (NEA), the Northeastern Connecticut Community Development Corporation (NCCDC) Board of Directors and currently he is the Chairperson of OPP’s Windham Charter School Corp.

Ruby Corby O'Neill Dr. Ruby Corby O'Neill, Commissioner


Dr. Ruby Corby O'Neill was born in Tela, Honduras. She immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 1½ years old, arriving Thanksgiving Day, 1954. They lived in the Bronx, New York, on College Avenue, very appropriate considering she spent most of her life in academia. Dr. O’Neill holds a Ph.D. in Psychology (Developmental) from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, a Doctoral Certificate in Women's Studies from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, an M.Phil. in Psychology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, an M.A. in Psychology from Hunter College, and a B.A. in Psychology (summa cum laude) from Bloomsburg University. Her doctoral dissertation, Resistance and Resignation as Components of Adolescent Girls' Talk about the Objectification of Females, informs her continued commitment to the development of adolescent girls and educational opportunities for Latinos. Her varied experience includes researcher for the documentary film, Toys and Us, on the effects of toys, television, and advertising on children; developmental assessment at a therapeutic preschool for developmentally delayed children; co-facilitator of a parenting skills group; and researcher for Johnson & Johnson’s Child Growth and Development Corp. on discipline, toilet-training, self-help skills, and language development. Dr. O’Neill is a recently retired tenured Psychology professor and taught graduate and undergraduate Psychology, Research Methods, and social science courses at colleges and universities in New York and Connecticut. She has worked on political campaigns at the municipal, district, state, and federal levels. Dr. O’Neill is a founding member and Secretary of the Latino National Republican Coalition of Connecticut (LNRCCT), a grassroots movement committed to being a voice for Latinos on national and state issues and policies. Dr. O’Neill was appointed to LPRAC by House Republican Leader Themis Klarides.

Dr. Quinones
Dr. Agnes Quiñones,


Dr. Agnes Quiñones was born and raised in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. As an undergraduate student in Amherst, Massachusetts, she was often the only Latina in many of her math and science classes. Dr. Quiñones holds advanced degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in future studies and Multicultural organization development. For the last 21 years, she has served as Program Manager for after-school programs, Neighborhood Youth Centers Program, and Youth Service Bureaus in the Connecticut State Department of Education. Dr. Quiñones was selected as the 2008 Latina Citizen of the Year by the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission; was named the 2009 Latino de Oro Education Award Recipient by Hartford’s Identidad Latina Newspaper and most recently was awarded the 2013 Literacy Advocacy Award by the Reading and Language Arts Department at Central Connecticut State University. Dr. Quiñones was appointed to the Latino & Puerto Rican Affairs Commission by State Senator Donald E. Williams, Jr., President Pro Tempore and State Representative Brendan Sharkey, Speaker of the House of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Ruben Rodriguez
Ruben Rodriguez,



Commissioner Ruben Rodriguez was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico and grew up in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. When he was 11 years of age, he moved to Chicago Illinois. Mr. Rodriguez graduated in Puerto Rico from the Josefina León Zayas School and went to study with S.E.R for American Airlines as a Travel and Business Agent. He worked for the Authority of Electrical Energy in Puerto Rico. Mr. Rodriguez is a Field Supervisor for Precision Pipeline Solutions. He became a coach for the Police Activity League for their baseball team for children ages 12-14. He is a former City Plan Commissioner and recently was a candidate for State Representative for the 72nd district. In December 2014, Mr. Rodriguez became Chairman of the LNRCCT (Latino National Republican Coalition of Connecticut). He was appointed by State Senator Len Fasano to be part of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission’s Board. Mr. Rodriguez resides in Waterbury, Connecticut where he has been living for the past 15 years with his wife and 3 kids.

Dr. Eugene Salorio

Dr. Eugene M. Salorio, Commissioner


Dr. Eugene Meilán Salorio is a professor of strategy and international business in the School of Business at the University of Connecticut , where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at the Stamford , Hartford and Waterbury regional campuses. He also is an affiliate faculty at UConn’s El Instituto: Instituto of Latina/o, Caribbean , and Latin American Studies. Dr. Salorio has a B.A. in medieval history from Wesleyan University , an M.S. in Business Policy and an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia University , and a D.B.A. in International Business from Harvard University . Prof. Salorio was appointed to LPRAC by Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr., and House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan on February 1, 2010, and reappointed by them in February 2012.

Chris Soto
Chris Soto,

Chris Soto currently serves as the Founder and Director of Higher Edge, a college completion organization that guides Southeastern CT’s low-income & first-generation college-bound students, launching them on the path to a college degree and beyond. After serving five years as a Coast Guard Officer, Chris left the service to pursue a career in education. He received a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and earned a Masters (MPA) from Brown University. Mr. Soto was appointed to LPRAC by State Representative Themis Klarides, House Minority Leader in 2015.

Pablo Soto
Pablo Soto,

Mr. Pablo Soto was born in Newark, NJ and relocated to Connecticut in 1994. He is currently a personal financial consultant and interpreter. He is also President and Program Director of Next Generation Missionaries Academy, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the community.Pablo has also worked in the private and public sector holding various positions. Within the past 10 years he has worked as a Case Manager and Provider Liaison for United Way of CT the Connecticut Department of Social Service Care 4 Kids program administrator. His position included outreach and liaison responsibilities. He has also worked as an Appeals Analyst and Fair Hearing Coordinator for First Coast Service Options, Inc. the former Medicare Part B carrier for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a capacity as a Health Insurance Medical Claim Analyst and Preparer of Case File for Impartial Hearing Officers and Administrative Law Judges. Pablo has served with U.S. Army and Connecticut National Guard. Currently he is a member of the American Legion Post #45 and Antique Veterans World Post #1.  Pablo’s civic engagement activities include the School Governance Council at a local high school in Meriden, CT and the Hispanic Outreach Leaders in Action of the Greater Meriden Chamber of commerce.

Roberto C. Fernandez
Feny Taylor, Commissioner


Mrs. Feny Taylor was born in the barrio "Susua" of Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. She is the proud mother of four and a grandmother of nine children. She has resided in New Haven, Connecticut since 1977.  She is co-owner of Hair Happenings Salon located in New Haven, CT. Mrs. Taylor is currently the President of The National Hispanic Heritage Organization, Inc. (NHHO) a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that was founded in 2006 in the state of Connecticut. Its members are dedicated to providing needed support and services to the Hispanic Community. Mrs. Taylor is a former president of FLECHAS, (Fiestas de Loíza En Connecticut en Honor al Apóstol Santiago), Inc., a non-profit cultural and arts organization established in 1977 to promote the Afro-Puerto Rican heritage.  Mrs. Taylor is also a board member of the Family Alliance Agency in New Haven, CT., which provides services to  victims of domestic violence. Feny Taylor was also involved with the Connecticut Puerto Rican Parade for over ten years and during that time she held several positions both on the Executive Board and on the general committee, such as Secretary (State & Local), 2nd Vice President (Local), Vice President (State), and l!t Vice President (State). In 1996, she became President of the New Haven County Cultural Committee, a former local chapter of the CT Puerto Rican Parade which she founded. She remained President of said committee until 2000. In 1998, she was selected as Godmother alongside actress Jennifer Lopez at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., which is held annually in New York City.  On May 10, 2002, Feny returned to her hometown of Sabana Grande where she was awarded with the "Distinguished Citizen Award." She has represented her culture and her island of birth in an outstanding manner and her hometown found her worthy of the title. Her love and devotion for her Puerto Rican roots has been an asset to groups that support the Hispanic community and enforce pride in their Hispanic heritage. Mrs. Taylor is an excellent example of the triumphs Puerto Rican women can accomplish and she is proof that Latinas have risen in society and will continue to do so.

Danny Torres, Commissioner


Mr. Torres was born in the Bronx, New York in 1957.  In 1984, Mr. Torres became a city firefighter in Meriden, a position he currently holds today.  In addition to firefighting, he is a realtor with Century 21.  Mr. Torres was appointed to LPRAC by Christopher G. Donovan, Speaker of the House of Representatives pursuant to Public Act 09-07.


LPRAC Staff Members

Werner Oyanadel, Executive Director

Lucy Goicoechea-Hernández, Special Projects Coordinator

Orlando Rodriguez, Associate Commission Analyst

Clarisa Cardone, Administrative Assistant

CT Stats

 Latino State Senators in Connecticut 2015 to 2017

 Latino State Representatives in Connecticut 2015 to 2017

Hispanic population in 2014:

Hispanic percentage of

statewide population in 2014:

Hispanic percentage

of statewide population under age 18 in 2014:

Median age of Hispanics in 2014:

28.3 years

Per Capita Income of Hispanics in 2014:

Unemployment rate for Hispanics in 2014:


Hispanic buying power in 2013 as share of state's buying power:

Percent of eligible Hispanic residents who voted in 2014:


Percent of Hispanic households that paid more than 30% of income for housing in 2014:

Poverty rate for Hispanic children in 2014:


Percent of Hispanics without health insurance in 2014:

Infant mortality rate for Hispanics in 2011-2013:

6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Hispanic Unemployment Statistics 2008-2012

Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission • 18-20 Trinity Street Hartford • Connecticut • 06106 Phone: (860) 240-8330 • Fax: (860) 240-0315