Advancing the Hispanic Community's Diversity of Thought
Founded in 2003, CHLI is a 501(c)3 non-profit and non-partisan organization. CHLI is dedicated to fostering a broad awareness of the diversity of thought, heritage, interests and views of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent.
Advancing the Hispanic Community's Diversity of Thought.
The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) is the premier organization founded by Members of Congress to advance the Hispanic Community's Economic Progress with a focus on Social Responsibility and Global Competitiveness.
It is my pleasure to welcome our four accomplished "CHLI Global Leaders Internship and Fellowship Program" participants for this semester: Alejandro Alba, Lyana Cortes, Ivan Marchena and Nancy Talamantes.
Our fellows are over halfway through their program, having recently completed their service on Capitol Hill. They are currently interning at the Government Affairs offices of several of our CHLI corporate partners. They have also been simultaneously taking a course in Applied Politics at the George Washington University.
This unique, blended experience of academic course work, exposure to Capitol Hill, and Government Affairs in the private sector, will certainly enhance the great talents of Alejandro, Lyana, Ivan, and Nancy with powerful resources to become leaders in their chosen professions.
I am proud of our students and pleased that CHLI has been able to help so many young people succeed during our first 10 years. Our students' achievements are CHLI's greatest legacy. Your support has been absolutely key in allowing us to make a difference in the lives of so many future leaders. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you!
With your support, we will continue to build upon our achievements, to develop the next generation of Hispanic leaders in the United States.
Executive Director's Message
We're in the process of finalizing our details for CHLI's 10th Annual Gala & Leadership Awards which will be held on May 8th at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. We are looking forward to reuniting with our founders, partners, supporters, friends and our program alumni from across the country and the world. We will be celebrating our achievements and successes of the past decade of serving the Hispanic and Portuguese communities, and preparing today's college students be future global leaders in business and public service.
As you may know, each year at our Gala, CHLI recognizes outstanding individuals for their leadership. On behalf of the CHLI Board of Directors, I am delighted to announce our 2014 Award recipients:
2014 CHLI Leadership in Public Service Award
Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia
House Majority Leader
Senator John Cornyn of Texas
Michael C. Camuñez
Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance
Department of Commerce (2010-2013)
2014 CHLI Corporate Leadership Award
Chairman, Estefan Enterprises
We invite you to join us as we celebrate the important role the Hispanic community continues to play in American society. For tickets, or to sponsor the gala, please contact Ms. Mari Cabrera, Director of Development and External Affairs, at
At CHLI, we recognize that none of our successes would be possible without the support of our sponsors, partners, staff, volunteers and the very dedicated Board of Directors and Corporate Advisory Council members. Thank you for your continued support.
Mary Ann Gomez
Meet Our BP Fellow: Alejandro Alba
Spreading His Wings,
Globe Trekking Eagle Takes on Washington
By Nancy Talamantes
Alejandro Alba was born in Miami, FL and raised throughout South Florida. Despite not growing up a native Spanish speaker, he frequently traveled to Colombia to discover his Hispanic heritage and extended family. This international exposure fostered his curiosity to travel abroad.
At the dawn of high school, he embarked on a one-year study abroad journey at the Lycée International in Paris, France. His satisfaction with the rigorous international baccalaureate program and the opportunity to interact with foreign classmates encouraged him to remain culturally immersed abroad.
Upon his return from Europe, he invested his summers to construct a library and teach English in rural Colombia and Honduras through his family's grassroots organization, Kids in International Community Service (KICS). Travelling abroad through KICS, Alejandro has mentored kids, helping them thrive academically.
After discovering his third-culture persona, Alejandro proceeded to major in international relations at American University's School of International Service in 2009. An interest toward U.S. Foreign Policy, the complexity of Mandarin characters, and the desire to understand East Asian culture as a Latino, inspired Alejandro to study abroad at Peking University as a National Security Education Program Boren scholar. He finished his undergraduate career by defending his thesis on U.S.-China cooperation in discouraging North Korean nuclear proliferation at the 1st Annual Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs Conference.
After having assisted the Embassy of Ecuador with social media outreach and political research this past December, Alejandro is planning to focus on either intelligence, foreign policy, or political diplomacy in graduate school.
Yet, in order to succeed in such a career, Alejandro understood the necessity to immerse himself in the legislative process of public and foreign policy, thus becoming a CHLI Global Leaders Program fellow.
During the program, Alejandro has assisted the internationally renowned Heineken USA in reporting on trade and commercial affair hearings on Capitol Hill affecting the wine, beer, & spirits industry. As one of the world's most prominent alcohol brands, Alejandro enjoys Heineken's innovative marketing strategies as well as the brand's corporate responsibility in ensuring consumers are of legal drinking age.
In addition to this introduction to the corporate world, he addressed constituent concerns, facilitated border security research, and prepared legislative hearing memos for Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar. Among the many discoveries, Alejandro appreciated Congressman Cuellar's efforts to bridge Democrat and Republican contrasting views on nationally urgent issues, such as immigration reform.
Beyond the importance of compromise within Congress, Alejandro values the networking and social gatherings coordinated through CHLI as they promote friendships and future collaboration opportunities with Capitol Hill staff.
After the culmination of the program, Alejandro will remain in Washington, D.C. and fulfill his Boren Scholarship requirements by working with the U.S. government. In this capacity, he will implement the research skills and apply his knowledge of the legislative and lobbying process that he strengthened during is CHLI fellowship. He also plans to continue to expand his KICS community service program throughout Latin America.
Alejandro is not only grateful for CHLI connecting him to the legislative spectrum of U.S. politics, but also humbled to continue assisting and representing the Latino community in the U.S. and beyond.
As a native Puertorriqueña and a resident of the culturally diverse Sunshine State, Lyana Cortés considers herself a Latina with a global mindset. Always aiming to expand her horizons, she moved out of her small hometown of Deltona, Florida at 18 to pursue her bachelor's degree at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. Her studies in international relations allowed her to find her niche in national security and consequently focus on an intelligence analysis career. Ultimately, Lyana desires to integrally join the battle against the organized criminal networks that have terrorized Latin America and beyond.
After graduating from FIU in 2013, Lyana moved to University Park, Maryland for an open source intelligence internship at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Her work involved analyzing Department of Homeland Security documents in order to evaluate individual state preparedness for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. The experience enabled her to develop her research and analysis skills. Nevertheless, she has recognized the necessity to understand the inner workings of government processes in order to make an impact within the intelligence field.
The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute presented the perfect learning experience. Lyana transitioned to Washington D.C., and began her fellowship with Congressman Albio Sires' office, representing New Jersey's 8th Congressional District. While interacting with constituents, staffers, and Members of Congress on a daily basis, Lyana gained a solid understanding of how Congress functions, what goes into successfully passing a piece of legislation, and how government actions directly impact all facets of life within the country.
Lyana has utilized that knowledge in the Governmental Affairs division of General Motors, where she recently transitioned as part of her CHLI fellowship. As a pillar of the American automotive industry, General Motors has already demonstrated its efficiency in governmental relations as well as the importance of the relationship between businesses and the government working together to ensure consumer needs are met. In business, just as in the government and intelligence community, it's imperative that professionals keep their focus on those whom they are serving.
Overall, her experiences in the Global Leaders Internship and Fellows Program has given Lyana an alternate, yet extremely valuable perspective on how to impact change within the United States and abroad. She is confident that her new found knowledge will allow her to thrive in research and analysis within her field in order to become a more effective decision-maker who will work to efficiently ensure national security. The constant influence of prominent Latino leaders throughout the program has provided an additional source of both inspiration and motivation to become an example of Latina excellence.
After her CHLI fellowship, Lyana plans to return to Florida where she will spend time with family and friends while training for the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School. She received her nomination to become a Naval Officer in February 2014 and will join the service as an Information Warfare Officer later this year.
Meet Our Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo Fellow: Ivan Marchena
Tomahawk-Chopping His Way Through the Capitol
By Lyana Cortés
Ivan Marchena was born and raised in Miami, Florida. His parents immigrated from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, and from early on they instilled into him the importance of education and hard work. He graduated from Florida State University (FSU), having earned a Bachelor's Degree in Media Communication Studies and Editing, Writing, and Media.
Ivan is deeply committed to public service and the Latino community. As a student at FSU, Ivan had the opportunity to serve as Director of the Hispanic/Latino Student Union (HLSU); the largest student organization representing Hispanics at FSU. As Director of HLSU, he helped revamp a Latino Leadership Program dedicated to cultivating future leaders of the Hispanic community, as well as creating the first-ever Latino Film Festival during Hispanic Heritage Month.
His passion to serve his fellow students at FSU led him to serve as Student Body Chief of Staff of the Student Government Association. In this position, Ivan assisted the Executive Office of the President advocate for student rights at the university at both the state and national level. In recognition of Ivan's leadership service to the FSU community, he was awarded the 2013 Florida State Senior Hall of Fame Award.
Ivan was accepted into the Summer Bridge Program of the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) at FSU. CARE is dedicated to giving first-generation college students a foundation for academic success. For Ivan, this was a life-defining experience and showed him the importance of mentorship and giving back to the community. As a CARE Ambassador, he directly mentored and guided 15 first-generation students through their first two months of college. For him, this is one of his most memorable and impactful moments of his collegiate experience.
Ivan's interest in CHLI's Global Leaders Internship and Fellowship Program stems from his deep interest in domestic politics, and passion to help increase the Latino representation at the local, state, and federal level, which he believes is essential to the future successes of the Latino community in the U.S. Through the program he has had the opportunity to gain in-depth experience in the intricacies of our federal legislature. The fellowship program has given him a unique combination of experiences in the public and private policy arenas. Ivan considers all the skills and knowledge he has gained to be vital to his future aspirations of becoming more actively engaged in politics.
Having been placed in the office of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, he was able to attend meetings and briefings on issues affecting the constituents of his hometown district and provided research support on various domestic policy issues to the legislative staff. Ivan is now working at the Government Relations Department of Heineken USA. There, he helps monitor state and federal legislative issues affecting the beer, wine, and spirits industry.
Ivan plans to be more involved in public service, aiding first-generation students as they transition into college. He is also currently studying for the LSAT exam and plans on starting law school in the fall of 2015.
Meet Our Altria Fellow:
Latina Trojan Fighting On For Her Community in D.C.
By Ivan Marchena
Nancy Talamantes was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and immigrated to Los Angeles, California with her mother at the age of five. She is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) where she earned a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Global Business. She chose this double concentration to study the nexus between public diplomacy and global marketing.
Nancy is a committed advocate for women's rights and her experience and work history reflects that. As an undergraduate, she was President of USC's Phi Chapter of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a sorority committed to raising awareness of all types of violence against women. As an intern at the Raben Group's Los Angeles office, she collaborated in the research and development of the new strategic plan for a national Latina domestic violence organization called Casa de Esperanza. Furthermore, last spring, she spent a semester in Washington, D.C. as the Programs and Political Fellow with the Women's Campaign fund (WCF). While at WCF, she had the opportunity to spearhead outreach to partner organizations in order to increase national awareness of the "She Should Run" program, aimed to increase the number of women running for public office. Additionally, in a joint project launched by WCF's foundation, she participated in conducting extensive research on scenarios of media-sexism against women of color for their new "Name it. Change it." Diversity Research.
She has enhanced her knowledge of international relations by embarking on life-transformative field work in Latin America. During her study abroad experience in Brazil, Nancy published an article in the Southern California International Review Journal on soccer as a tool of diplomacy titled "The World Cup and World Order." Last summer, she conducted interview-based research in Washington, DC and Havana, Cuba as part of the University of Southern California’s International Policy Task Force. During her academic research trip, she interviewed government officials from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. SenateCommittee on Foreign Relations. Once in Cuba she took classes at the University of Havana and had the opportunity to meet with academics, as well as students from the Higher Institute of International, Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry to discuss problems and opportunities to build a foundation for revived bilateral relations. As she sought to make her research inclusive of the Cuban community’s perspectives, she also interviewed representatives of the People’s Council in Havana, who oversee the community integral transformation project “Principe,” as well as specialists on Cuban policy on sexual diversity from the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). She created a policy memo describing specific policy proposals designed to advance the process of engagement and reduce mistrust in the context of the reforms implemented by Cuba's government.
Nancy became interested in CHLI's Global Leaders Internship and Fellowship Program as she considers it crucial for women to increase their visibility and participation in the political sphere in order to advance the women's rights agenda locally, nationally and globally. The fellowship program has been a vehicle for the continuation of her front-line research and leadership training in the fields of public policy and women's rights.
Her congressional internship with Rep. David Valadao provided her with the chance to attend Committee on Foreign Affairs hearings. This allowed Nancy to gain an in-depth understanding of the way domestic factors, such as political structures and processes, influence American foreign policy dynamics. She is currently working at the Government Affairs office of Baxter Pharmaceuticals. Her experiences with Baxter thus far has allowed her to immerse herself in the global health industry and become better acquainted with the lobbying and advocacy of these issues to the government.
Her collective work, academic, and volunteer experiences inform her future career objective to one day become a Foreign Service Officer. The Global Leaders Internship and Fellowship Program has afforded her valuable preparation, mentorship and guidance along her career track.
On February 20, The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) welcomed over 150 high school, college students, and young professionals to the CHLI Regional Future Leaders Conference on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, Florida.
"The Future Leaders Conference is one of CHLI's linchpin programs to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and public servants. By introducing these young minds to the opportunities available to them should they work hard and reach for them, this program succeeds in inspiring students to realize their full potential. I would personally like to thank the Ford Motor Company for helping make this event possible," commented CHLI Chairman and former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
This year's theme, "Explore the World. Discover your Future!", included speakers with diverse backgrounds and expertise who shared their stories, challenged students to reach their highest potential and encouraged them to make a difference in their community and in the world.
CHLI's Vice Chairman, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and CHLI Founding Board Member, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, co-chaired the event. CHLI Chairman, Lincoln Diaz-Balart; Florida International University (FIU) President,Dr. Mark Rosenberg; FIU's College of Business Dean, Dr. David Klock, and Ford Motor Company's Manager of Community Outreach, Joedis Avila, also shared their inspiring stories, provided students with tips on how to plan their careers and gave life-long lessons on leadership, character building and integrity.
The first of three panels titled, "Opportunities and Career Choice Advice" kicked off with career tips by Yisel Cabrera, Alumni Director at St. Thomas University. She encouraged participants to follow their own path. Liane Sippin, Student GovernmentAssociation President at FIU, emphasized the importance of developing one's work ethic. She advised the audience to learn what they enjoy doing and look for jobs that match that purpose. She learned that she enjoyed helping people, which drove her to serve in student government. Brian Fonseca, Manager of Operations for the Applied Research Center at FIU shared the importance of traveling, learning about different cultures and learning new languages.
The second panel, titled "How to Use Your Current Skills in Today's Tough Job Market" included Joedis Avila, Manager Community Outreach, Ford Motor Company; Jose Mallea, National Strategic Director, The LIBRE Initiative; andIdalberto de Armas, Senior Vice President, Sabadell United Bank. Mr. Avila shared how he started his career in his homeland of Venezuela and how he planned his career to the United States. Mr. Mallea shared how he started in public service and reinforced the importance of integrity and establishing positive long term relationships. Mr. de Armas referenced the importance of understanding how other cultures work and think. He also stressed communications skills as a key asset in the business world.
The third panel focused on a "Leadership" consisted of: Omar Franco, Managing Director of the Washington, D.C. Office, Becker & Poliakoff; Michael Mena, Partner, Akerman; andReny Diaz, Director of Research, FUSION and Univision Noticias. Mr. Franco shared his experience and advice to students on working in Washington D.C. He stressed being genuine and to be of service to others. Mr. Mena challenged the students to become involved in their communities and network. Mr. Diaz offered recommendations on how to combine academic talents, skills and hobbies to find the right job opportunities.
Keynote speaker, Melissa Medina, Vice President of Strategic Engagement, Technology Foundation of The Americas shared her leadership experience with eMerge Americas and the Technology Foundation of the Americas. She emphasized that technology is changing very rapidly and with that comes new opportunities including jobs that will be created by today's students.
CHLI concluded the conference with a networking luncheon. The luncheon provided a platform for participants to havemore face-time with corporate leaders, conference speakers, sponsors and non-profit organizations. Conference participants explored internship and entry-level job resources offered by the FIU's College of Law; College of Business; Office of Engagement; Hospitality Services; and College of Engineering.
Miami area high schools in attendance included: Miami Northwestern Senior High School; Medical Academy for Science and Technology at Homestead; Medical Academy for Science and Technology at FIU's Biscayne Bay Campus; Miami Beach Senior High School; and Booker T. Washington Senior High School.
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