The Latino Action Network is a grassroots organization composed of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state and national levels in order to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of United States society.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

LATINO Leadership Coalition Calls on Bergen County Executive to Ensure Diversity on the Board of Trustees of Bergen Community College

The Latino Action Network has joined together with local and statewide Latinos to call upon Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan to appoint more Latinos to the Board of Trustees of Bergen Community College. The LATINO Leadership Coalition of Bergen County expressed our serious concerns regarding the lack of diversity on the Board of Trustees at Bergen Community College (BCC) and Ms. Donovan's decision to not re-appoint Germaine Ortiz to the Board. Bergen Community College has a very diverse student population. 52% of the student body is non-White. However, with the non-renewal of Germaine Ortiz, only two of the nine members of the college's Board of Trustees will be non-White. Our coalition is calling on County Executive Donovan to appoint members of the Board of Trustees that better reflect the diversity of the the student body of the college. You can read a copy of the letter that was sent to Ms. Donovan yesterday below. To get involved in our fight for diversity at Bergen Community College send an email to LAN at:

Please forward to all of your contacts who are concerned about the lack of diversity in the leadership of Bergen Community College.

LATINO Leadership Coalition of Bergen County

November 30, 2012

The Honorable Kathleen Donovan Bergen County Executive
1 Bergen County Plaza Hackensack, NJ 07601

Dear County Executive Donovan:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding the lack of diversity on the Board of Trustees at Bergen Community College (BCC) and your decision to not re-appoint Germaine Ortiz to the Board. Mrs. Ortiz is unquestionably qualified to serve on this board as her eight years of services on the Board has help earn the institution the recognition that it currently holds. On November 21, 2012, the Bergen Record reported that you are making four appointments to the BCC Board of Trustees, of which two are new appointments and two are re-appointments.

Of the four names mentioned in the article, none represent diverse communities. Additionally, counting the two appointments made by you last year, you will have made a total of six appointments to the BCC Board of Trustees in your tenure as Bergen County Executive and none of the appointments represent diverse communities.

If the four names you have submitted for appointments are approved by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, onlyCid Wilson, Trustee Vice Chairman (who is Afro-Latino) and Dorothy Blakeslee, Treasurer (who is Asian American) would be Non-Caucasian among the eleven appointed members to the Board of Trustees. We consider this to be unacceptable for an institution where 52% of the student enrollments are from diverse communities.

According to the 2010-2011 BCC Fact Book, 32.4% of the students are Latino, 10.8% are Asian American, 7.6% are African-American, 1% is from other ethnicities, and 48.1% of the students are Caucasian. Non-Caucasian students are contributing 39.2% of the total annual revenues at BCC; the County of Bergen's share of the BCC annual budget is only 10.7% (using the Fiscal Year 2012 budget).

We believe that it is unjust and biased that BCC, which has 52% student diversity and contributes nearly 40% to the annual revenues, lacks an appropriate and comparable level of diverse representation on the Board of Trustees. We are asking that you please reconsider your appointment decision by re-appointing Germaine Ortiz and/or appointing another Latina/o to the BCC Board of Trustees to better mirror the diversity of the student enrollment.

BCC has a rich history of diversity. It's what makes BCC one of the greatest community colleges in the United States. We are sure you agree that diversity strengthens learning at the campus.

Diversity helps to prepare students for a globally-competitive workforce. Diversity helps to create a better understanding of one another's cultural and racial heritage.
Diversity promotes multicultural and racial unity. Diversity strengthens Bergen County given that most of the students, faculty, and staff live in Bergen County.

However, BCC must show diversity through leadership and that begins with the Board of Trustees which is the governing body of the institution. BCC cannot be a beacon of diversity when the representation on the Board of Trustees lacks diversity.

Four years ago, five of the eleven trustee appointees represented diverse communities on the Board of Trustees. As Bergen County Executive, you have the ability to restore the balance of diversity that better reflects the diversity of the student enrollment.

Accordingly, we are calling on you to please reconsider your recent appointment decision ahead of the December 5, 2012 Bergen County Freeholder meeting and nominate more diverse trustees. As Latinos are the largest percentage of students, we feel it's appropriate to call on you to use this year's appointment opportunity to nominate more Latinos.

We thank you for your consideration and are available to meet with you to discuss further, please contact Arline Mateo at 347-242-1893.


Latino Organizations of Bergen County:

Club Colombia USA, Julio Salcedo President
Dominican American Organization, Inc., Lucilo Santos-President
Fundacion Casita de Legui, Inc., Nick Matos (Garfield)
Hispanic USA, Jesus Galvis-President
Latin American Community Action, Neida Colon
NJ coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leader (CONLAMIC-NJ) - Rev. Miguel Rivera, Board President
Pastor Herando Ruiz
Pastor Ana Guerra
Pastor Israel Torres
Pastor Jose La Luz, Hackensack
U.R.G.E.N.T. (United Residents of Garfield Engaging Neighborhood Transformation)- Miguel Reyes, President
YOBILU, Yolanda Naranjo-President

NJ Latino Organizations with Bergen County Delegates:

New Jersey Conference on Dominican Affairs- Maria Treresa Feliciano, President Latino Action Network, Frank Argote-Freyre, President

NJ Latino Elected Officials:

Marlene Caride, Assemblywoman, District 36
Councilman Carlos Aguasvivas, Bergenfield
Councilman Elect Hernando Rivera, Bergenfield
Councilman Evaristo Burdiez, Bogota Councilman Jorge Nunez, Bogota
Councilman Jorge Meneses, Hackensack

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