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New York Post
Top 25 - A Look At The Most Outstanding Latinos Of The Last Year, As Well As Whose Stars Are Rising, And Who Has Fallen Off The Map
by ELBERT GARCIA and SANDRA GUZMAN
13 October 2004
Since Marc Anthony did keep his Hampton estate, the married couple are sort of New York residents. And, ugly breakups for both of them aside, theres no denying that singers Marc and Jennifer Lopez are this nations and citys official Latino power couple. Both 35, both Puerto Rican and native New Yorkers hes from East Harlem, shes from the Soundview section of the Bronx - there is some hope that this partnership might last the year and allow J.Lo to catch a good dose of community responsibility (Anthonys romantic life may show him to be a cruel ex, but plenty kind when it comes to his community). We hope he brings her back to the block, for real.
Political movers and shakers
Carmen Gomez-Gold-berg was the Latina hostess during the Republican Convention this summer. The 51-year-old proud Boricua entrepreneur makes a point of stressing that she is a real Republican. And you know youve got juice when the governor of your state (Pataki) goes to your home to welcome your son from his duty in the Iraqi War. This year, the owner of C-Lines Transportation Inc. and the Yonkers-based AVET Coach was chosen to be one of the Electoral College voters for President Bush. Making major moves with top-gun Republican players, Gomez-Goldberg tells us that "success only means something if you bring your community along for the ride."
Corporate attorney Das Elius Valezs bulldog personality may not win him any ambassadorships but it gives him a chance to rub elbows with politicos looking for honest advice. Deft politics defines this 41-year-old Harlem-born Puerto Rican. Now the lawyer for Greenberg Traurig is the head of the citys Latin Media and Entertainment Commission and the main hombre Mayor Mike turns to for honest advice on the Latin community.
For 50-year-old Dominican-born New York State Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, making our list means that you are reaching across neighborhoods, building coalitions and on the cutting edge of progressive change. After a decade bringing home the bacon from Albany to Washington Heights, the Northern Manhattan politician, who became the first Latino in 22 years to head the Assemblys Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus, stands a good chance to make history again if hes elected Manhattans Borough President in 2005.
This former Marine took on the mayor, won and lost 50 lbs. - all in a days work. Which is why Councilman Hiram Monserratte makes this years list. The proud Queens resident has a history of successfully suing the city for discrimination against minority cops as co-founder of the Latino Officers Association. Now, the 37-year-old co-chair of the councils Black, Latino and Asian Caucus wants to make sure that city schools provide translated documents and interpreters for all the systems non-English-speaking parents.
Fashion and Entertainment
Debonair restaurateur Phil Suarez, 61, makes our list again this year, but not for his multimedia production skills, but for being a powerhouse businessman with partners Bob Giraldi and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. While their signature restaurant, Jean Georges, lost a star in some publications, the partnership has bounced back with top-notch dining, an A-list clientele and some of the most expensive and fabulously designed restaurants. The Boricuas magic touch looks to have also resurrected his Lucy Mexican Barbecue, which after some initial poor reviews, seem to be hitting its stride.
No matter who wins the presidency, one thing is clear: Dominican-born designer to the fab and famous - Oscar de La Renta- will dress the First Lady. Coy about just who hell vote for, this 72-year-old legendary fashion icon has dressed every presidents wife since Jackie. And now he is hotter than ever, celebrating a spring 2004 collection to die for, a new moderately priced line for those who want to look fabulous without breaking the bank, a new fragrance called Roseamor and the grand opening of a new Madison Avenue store in November.
It was a roller-coaster year for El Diario/La Prensa publisher Rossana Rosado. On the down side, her papers dominance apparently diminished when Hoy triumphantly trumpeted huge circulation gains, putting her 90-year-old paper in second place. Then, as the paper war raged - the shoe dropped for Hoy. Real numbers came in showing Hoy inflated their circulation. El Diario and Rosado are on top and vindicated. Though she remains shy about her age, (we place her in her late thirties) Power 105s Cherry Martinez raspy voice and energy is no mystery to New York listeners. Neither is her talent - after making stops in Boston, Detroit, Philly and L.A. over a seven-year span, she landed in the number-one media market. And, La Doa has quickly ingratiated herself into the homes of hip-hop heads. "I am here to offer my story," she says, "and hopefully this will inspire other Latinos to go out and make things happen."
Even when she was an assistant, everyone at VIBE looked to Hells Kitchen-born Puerto Rican and Cuban-American Mimi Valds as the local hip-hop expert and sounding board. The 34-year-old editor-in-chief, having worked her way up from intern to cover interviews, now leads the magazine that determines whats hot in the suburbs and urban America. In addition to her editorial role, she has produced VIBEs weekly television show, "Weekend VIBE," and served as creative executive producer of the VIBE Awards on the UPN network. "Lots of times people think that they get to a certain point and they can just relax," she says. "I dont have that attitude."
When she isnt burning the midnight oil at the highly influential firm Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett, Bronx-raised attorney Julissa Reynoso is a tireless advocate for immigrant rights and female empowerment. A rising legal scholar in her own right - she also teaches at Columbia Law School - the 30-year-old Harvard graduate has also organized a number of conference and organizations, including the citywide female political action committee LATINA PAC. Look for the Dominican-born Reynoso to run for public office soon.
Traveling from the projects of the Bronx through the elite halls of Princeton University and Stanford Law School has given American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero a keen perspective and deep commitment to social justice and human rights. The aggressive defense of diversity and civil liberties, even in the face of the security concerns of a post-Sept. 11 world, is as much a personal crusade as it is a professional one for the 39-year-old Puerto Rican, who four years ago became the first Latino and openly gay man to head the venerable organization. The former Ford Foundation executive has also presided over the greatest membership drive in the groups history, registering 75,000 individuals in his first year alone.
A variety of learning experiences have marked the 59-year life of Brooklyn community activist Luis Garden Acosta, from graduating St. Marys Seminary to being a Harvard Medical School student to founding the Massachusetts Young Lords Party. However, the Puerto Rican and Dominicans proudest achievement lies is having helped found Brooklyn-based non-profit, El Puente. Since 1982, the community and youth development organization has been promoting peace and developing the leadership abilities of young souls through arts, culture, education, scientific research, wellness and environmental action.
Lower East Side Councilwoman Margarita Lopez has been on fire since getting elected to the City Council. The 43-year-old Puerto Rico-born lawmaker and openly lesbian politician has been active in everything from challenging real estate development to pushing through protections against stray voltage after a local resident was killed walking over an electrified metal lid covering a service box. But it was her defiance of the anti-gay-marriage movement - she married gay and lesbian couples - that won herkudos around the city.
In less than a year, Cesar Perales, the head of the Puerto Rican Legal and Education Fund (PRLDF) has made the venerable civil rights organization relevant again. Under the leadership of the 63-year-old Puerto Rican and Dominican attorney, the group has successfully defended the rights of day laborers to solicit jobs in New Jersey. And hes currently suing the state for denying licenses to those without social security numbers - all while continuing to provide services to train and encourage the next generation of Latino lawmakers.
The one politico behind the scenes making power moves in Ferrers possible candidacy is Bronx powerbroker and former Bronx Democratic Chair Roberto Ramirez. The 47-yearold Boricua lawyer remains one of the citys top political consultants, and the go-to guy if you are courting the New York Latino vote.
Nearly five years after its founding, 27- year-old film lover Calixto Chinchilla has made the New York International Latino Film Festival the cinematic event of the summer by appealing to both casual movie lovers and industry insiders.
The Source Editor- in-Chief Kim Osorio, 30, continues to rely on her unique cultural heritage - African American, Puerto Rican and Chinese - and her love of rap in the pages of the hip-hop bible.
Still a force, even after death
No Latino figures memory is likely to continue to inspire activism and change more than that of community leader Richie Perez, who died at the age of 50 this past spring. Hundreds of new and old supporters gathered last month at Riverside Church for the six-month anniversary of Perez death. The memory of the former Young Lord and founder of the Congress for Puerto Rican Rights still serves as a reminder to all Latinos that much work still needs to be done. Not even Tito Puente or Celia Cruz can boast that.
More players with juice ...
Omar Minaya: New Mets GM.
Moises Prez: Alianza Dominicana Executive Director.
Fernando Ferrer: Bronx Borough President.
Sonia Sotomayor: Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals judge.
Rosita Romero: Executive Director of the Dominican Womens Development Center.
Jos Fernandez: Executive Director of the Bodegueros Association.