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Champions of Change – Five Young Connecticut Latinos Already Making a Difference

As the end of 2012 approaches, and we in Connecticut have witnessed such sorrow these last few days, is looking ahead to 2013 as a year when we can all increase our efforts to work together to affect change in so many arenas.

While this year ends on such a tragic note, we would like to focus on the good and inspiring deeds of so many in our state that have taken place daily this past year, impacting us all in a positive way.

To recognize these deeds within the Latino community, we launch a series this week called “Champions of Change” that highlights people and organizations that have worked tirelessly to affect change for Latinos and non-Latinos in Connecticut.

They have accomplished change through various means, some through their professional work, others by generously volunteering their time, working for change through policy implementation or by using the legal system.

Our “Champions of Change” were selected by our editorial team and represent many sectors that include: health, business, politics, media, art and law.

We present them to you in five categories – Top Five, Five Young Latinos Already Making a Difference, Five Non-Profit Organizations, Five Latinos in Media & Arts and the Most Visible Latino.

Today we highlight Connecticut’s Top Five Young Latino “Champions of Change”: Victor Diaz, Maribel LaLuz, Stephania Jiminez, Christopher Rosario, and Keila Ocasio Torez.

Victor Diaz

Department of Motor Vehicles’ Deputy Commissioner Victor Diaz has worked for change his entire life. His mother instilled in him a caring for family and community, the importance of education, and the need to create a “seat at the table” to correct injustices.

Following exemplary military service, he earned a BS from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from the University of New Haven.

Diaz has worked on political campaigns since the age of 8 – first carrying signs – and helped to deliver the Waterbury vote for Governor Malloy in 2010. He was appointed Waterbury’s first Latino Deputy City Clerk.

Through a personally financed local radio program, Diaz discovered the problems facing the region’s minority communities were identical, so he built bridges to unite them.

A testimony to Diaz’s ability to serve multiple minority communities is best illustrated by the fact that he serves as the Connecticut Representative on the Dominican American National Roundtable and is also the first Latino to be elected president of a regional chapter (Greater Waterbury) of the NAACP—a feat heralded by the national press.

He is active in the CT Junior Republic and mentors local Waterbury youth. Diaz is committed to his “passion of helping people, especially the disadvantaged who need a voice.”

You can be sure Victor Diaz will be working as a “Champion of Change” to forward that passion wherever and whenever he sees the need.

Maribel LaLuz

The native Connecticut Latina has an impressive career pedigree and since arriving in Hartford this past year has begun to make her mark and serves as a wonderful role model for many young Latinos. An accomplished senior multicultural marketing and public relations executive, LaLuz is currently director of communications and new media for highly watched and sought after Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.

The mayor met her at a national political event and recruited LaLuz, a veteran of numerous high level political communications positions.

Before returning home, La Luz previously served as director of communications for the political campaign of Clyde Williams of New York and vice president of communications for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Manager, New Business for Alloy Media + Marketing. This background has prepared her for her role in Segarra’s office as the official spokesperson for the mayor office, chief speech writer and message developer.

LaLuz lives in downtown Hartford and is passionate about Hartford and its future. A member of a politically active family ( her dad Jose LaLuz, Jr. is a long-time union activist, her mother Isabel is a member of the statewide Connecticut Democratic Hispanic Caucus and her uncle is newly elected State Rep. Edwin Vargas), LaLuz views the road to change through political activism. Welcome home Maribel and becoming a “Champion of Change”!

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