Virginia notable latinos
Bolivar, Fernando (c. 1810-1898). Venezuelan-born Fernando Bolivar, the nephew and adoptive son of Simon Bolivar (the great hero of South America’s wars of independence), provided the first historical connection between Latin America and the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1827 Fernando became the first Latin American to attend the University of Virginia even preferring it over West Point. Although he stayed for a brief period, Fernando always treasured his days in Charlottesville and wrote about them in his memoirs. Later, he became a distinguished South American diplomat. Today, the Bolivar Network, a University of Virginia alumni organization, is named after him.
Soza, William (c. 1936-). Born in a small border town on the Rio Grande in Texas, Mexican American William Soza is currently one of the most prominent Latino business leaders across the commonwealth. A Virginia resident since the 1960s, Soza built Soza and Co Ltd. from a small business operation to a $137-million consultancy giant based in Fairfax County that offers services in information technology, management, and accounting. In 2005 Soza sold the company to Perot Systems Corp., but he continues to be active in civic, religious, community, and state organizations. He presently chairs the board of directors of Security One Bank, a new institution recently opened in Bailey’s Crossroads to focus on the underserved Latino market. He has served as member and vice chairman of the board of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and as member and treasurer of the board of directors of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington. Likewise, he serves on countless boards, including the Board of Visitors of George Mason University and the board of directors of the Enterprises for Hispanic Youth Foundation. He is currently commissioner of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
Tobar, Andres (c. 1945-). Born in Texas to Mexican parents, Andres Tobar currently chairs the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO), serving as governmental liaison and advocate for Latino interests in Virginia’s General Assembly. A 30-year resident of Virginia with a long history of civic and community activism across the state, Tobar also serves as the executive director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) in northern Virginia, an organization that oversees the hiring of day laborers at the Shirlington Pavilion. Currently a member of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, Tobar has served as executive director and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and as a diversity recruiter and educational program administrator at the U.S. Department of Education. In 2003 he cochaired the Immigrant Educational Rights Coalition, opposing Virginia’s Attorney General Kilgore’s initiatives to deny undocumented students access to Virginia state colleges.
Violand-Sanchez, Emma (unknown). A native of Bolivia, Emma Violand-Sanchez is the leading academic and administrative authority on ESL (English as a second language) instruction across northern Virginia. Having arrived in the United States as a high-school senior in the 1960s, today she is supervisor of English for Speakers of Other Languages/High Intensity Language Training (ESOL/HILT) from kindergarten to 12th grade for Arlington public schools, where she is responsible for staff development, curriculum development, parent education, registration, placement, and counseling for more than 265 staff members servicing approximately 8,025 language-minority students. Violand-Sanchez is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a consultant on family involvement, multicultural education, language-minority education, learning styles, and multiple intelligences, on which she has published several works. She is past president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Council 4606, and was responsible for initiating Escuela Bolivia (Bolivian School), a heritage language school for Spanish speakers. In 2005 she became the first Latina ever appointed to the Northern Virginia Community College Board.
Castro, Isis (c. 1948-). Cuban-born Isis Castro was the first Latina publicly elected to serve on the Virginia State Board of Education. A northern Virginia bilingual instruc-
tional leader with over 20 years of experience in K-12 education and community outreach, she arrived in the United States at the age of 14 as a refugee in the program Peter Pan the largest recorded exodus of unaccompanied minors in the Western Hemisphere. In 1999, Castro was publicly elected to serve a 4-year term on the school board for Fairfax County public schools. Three years later, she was elected as that board’s chairperson. Most recently, in 2004, she was appointed to serve on the State Board of Education for the Commonwealth. She is also cofounder of El Progreso Hispano (Hispanic Progress), a nonprofit organization that provides low- and moderate-income migrants with English and citizenship classes. She also serves on the board of the Fairfax County Hispanic Leadership Alliance.
Quintana-Baker, Maricel (1948-). Cuban-born Maricel Quintana-Baker is a prominent educational administrator in the Richmond-based Virginia State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV), where she serves as senior associate for academic affairs. Having arrived in the United States at the age of 14, she has several years of senior-level experience in the education, business, government, and nonprofit environments. In 2005 Governor Warner appointed her to the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, where she currently cochairs the Language Access Taskforce. Quintana-Baker serves on the National Advisory Board of the Computing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Social Science Research Network, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, and the Women Executives in Virginia Higher Education.
Gordon, Ronald (c. 1955-). A native of Lima, Peru, Ronald Gordon is a key business figure at both the state and national level. As founder and CEO of ZGS Communications, which owns and operates 10 Spanish-language television stations and three radio properties serving the Latino community, Gordon has created an empire within the Latino communications industry. A leading firm for more than 20 years, ZGS is the largest affiliate of the Telemundo network, with stations in Boston, El Paso, the Fort Myers-Naples area, Hartford, Orlando, Providence, Raleigh, Springfield, Tampa, and Washington, DC. Today his television and radio stations reach more than 1 million Latinos. In 1997, ZGS Communications Inc. and ZGS Broadcasting Inc. had combined revenues of approximately $8 million. Gordon’s company has received numerous awards for its productions, marketing, and community programs, including five Emmys. Currently, Gordon serves on the board of directors of the Latino-focused Security One Bank in Bailey’s Crossroads.
Hoyos, Jose Eugenio (c. 1956-). Colombian-born Father Jose E. Hoyos is the first Latin American religious leader ever to be appointed director of the Spanish Apostolate for the Arlington Diocese. Having arrived in northern Virginia in 1988 to serve in the rapidly growing Diocese of Arlington, Father Hoyos has displayed charisma and indefatigable activism on behalf of Latinos, making him one of the Latino community’s paramount leaders. First appointed as a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Father Hoyos moved to St. Anthony of Padua in 1993, where he served until
2001. A member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, he was named Washington of the Year in 1996. Father Hoyos has helped develop television and radio programming for the Latino community in northern
Virginia, and he is founder and president of the Mapavi Inc. Youth Center, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to newcomers and youth, including educational programs and activities, to discourage them from joining gangs.
Tejada, J. Walter (c. 1958-). Born in El Salvador, the Honorable Walter Tejada was the first Latino ever elected to the Arlington County Board, where he is now serving a 4-year term. Arriving in the United States at the age of 13, Tejada went from a poverty-stricken childhood working as a shoeshine boy back in El Salvador to a publicly elected position in U.S. local government. A Virginia resident and community leader since 1992, Tejada was appointed to serve as the first chairman of the Virginia Latino Advisory Commission (created by then-Governor Warner in 2003). He currently serves on numerous boards, including the Washington Council of Governments (COG) Human Services and Public Safety Policy Committees, the Communications Committee of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary Advisory Committee, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Latino Advisory Council, and others. Most recently, in October 2006, Governor Timothy Kaine appointed Tejada to the Urban Policy Task Force.
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