Candidate Statements 2020

Candidate Statements for HBA-DC Elections 2020

Below you will find the statements of candidates running for Officer and Board Member positions.  Elections will take place on Wednesday January 15, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. at Fried Frank, 801 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20006
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Dear HBA-DC Members:


I seek your support for the position of President-Elect of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (“HBA-DC”).


The HBA-DC provides important programming and member benefits designed, among other things, to develop future leaders, provide mentorship and resources to law students and attorneys, advocate for and support the Hispanic community, and foster diversity. It would be an honor to continue to build on the legacy and foundation of past HBA-DC leaders as we work together to further develop our capabilities and expand our initiatives.


Having served on the HBA-DC board since 2015, including as Vice President of External Affairs, Vice President of Internal Affairs, Vice President of Membership, and most recently as Treasurer, I have gained extensive experience and insight into each aspect of this organization.  Some significant examples include:

  1. Equal Justice Awards: Taking a leading role in planning HBA-DC’s annual Equal Justice Awards and generating revenue to fund HBA-DC;
  2. Strategic Planning: Leading planning efforts with the American Bar Association to develop a strategic plan for HBA-DC as the organization continues to expand;
  3. Increased Membership: Driving the largest membership increase in HBA-DC’s history as VP of Membership and increasing membership revenue; and
  4. Operations: Managing the key operational aspects of this organization, including the website, communications, and overseeing all finances for HBA-DC.

In addition to HBA-DC’s standard programs and initiatives, I plan to focus on three areas:

  1. Leveraging HBA-DC’s Network: Implementation of more targeted programming to connect HBA-DC members with similar interests and practices, and partnering with more legal and non-legal organizations to expand HBA-DC’s network;
  2. Diversity and Inclusion: Establishing new initiatives to increase, retain, and promote diverse attorneys within DC-based organizations; and
  3. The Hispanic Community: Providing more legal content and resources for the local Hispanic community on our website and across our social media platforms as well as through partnerships with other organizations and community leaders.

Ultimately, the HBA-DC’s mission—the professional development of its membership and support of the Hispanic community—is of critical importance and one that we cannot take lightly. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the HBA-DC.


Adam Acosta





Dear HBA-DC Members:


Please consider my candidate statement to serve on the 2020 HBA-DC Board as the Vice President (VP) of External Affairs. I have been an active member of HBA-DC since 2010, including serving as an At-Large Board Member, member of the Professional Development Committee, Chair of the Student Affairs Committee and look forward to making an even more substantial contribution to HBA-DC this year.


I am committed to the principles to which HBA-DC is dedicated, including advancing and developing Latinos in the legal profession; promoting equal justice and opportunity for all Hispanics; promoting the professional developing of Hispanic lawyers and law students; and promoting the appointment of Hispanics to leadership positions. As the VP of External Affairs I will pursue those principles in my interactions with external stakeholders on behalf of HBA-DC. Moreover, I will continue to take a leadership role in professional development initiatives to empower HBA-DC members to grow sustainable, successful careers. My long-term, active membership in the District of Columbia Bar and legal services community further give me the credibility to represent the goals of HBA-DC in the DC legal community and collaborate with other organizations to promote diversity and highlight the issues impacting Hispanic lawyers and law students in the District.


Thank you for considering me to serve as the Vice President of External Affairs. My genuine commitment to serve and empower the Hispanic legal community in the District will make me an active contributor to the HBA-DC 2020 Board. I welcome any questions concerning my qualifications and interest to serve as the VP of External Affairs.







Dear fellow HBA-DC Members:

My name is Maritza Perez and I ask for your vote to serve as Vice President for Internal Affairs of the HBA-DC. Last year, in 2019, I served as Vice President for External Affairs and as the Board liaison to the Legislative and Policy Issues Committee (LegPol Committee). In 2018, I was an at At Large Board Member and the Board liaison to the LegPol Committee. Prior to that, I was an active HBA-DC member. Through these roles, I have contributed to many HBA-DC events and products. I have also helped make numerous decisions that guide the organization’s vision and mission. I have co-led the LegPol Committee’s advocacy initiatives, commenting on policy issues affecting immigrants, Latino law students, and DC’s Latino residents, among other constituencies. In 2020, I will continue to this work by once again joining the LegPol Committee as the Board liaison and continuing to support important programming such as the Latina Leadership Academy.

I appreciate your consideration of my nomination and would be honored to continue my service on the HBA-DC Board of Directors.




Maritza Perez





Hola HBA-DC Familia,


My name is Shirley Diaz, and I want your vote for Vice President of Membership. I have two goals for 2020: 1) conduct a membership survey to learn more about who our members are and what their needs are; and 2) recruit more members to expand our familia by increasing our visibility and reaching into our organizations to invite our co-workers to get involved in HBA-DC.









Dear fellow HBA-DC Members:


I humbly request your support to serve as Treasurer on the 2020 Board. If elected, this would be my fourth year on the Board, and I believe that my experience has provided me insight into the budgetary and financial needs and practices of the organization. I am familiar with, and indeed have voted on, HBA-DC’s standard budget of ordinary expenses, as well as unique expenditures requiring Board approval. I am also familiar with the organization’s sources of income, investment strategy, and financial outlook. I strive to be diligent, detailed, and responsible in all that I do, and serving as Treasurer would be no different.


During my previous three years as an At-Large Director on the Board, I have worked hard to support our organization, other Board members, the committees, and, of course, all of you. Specifically, I have been the Board Liaison to the Public Service Committee and, most recently, the Student Affairs Committee; I have helped coordinate multiple events, including HBA-DC’s student reception and Evenings With; I have served multiple times on the Equal Justice Awards committee; and I have consistent attendance and participation at Board meetings.


If selected to continue on the Board — now as Treasurer — I am committed to continuing to serve with dedication.


I sincerely thank you for your consideration.




Jaclyn E. Martínez Resly





Hello HBA-DC members,


My name is Eissa Villaseñor.  I have been a member of HBA-DC since 2010 and this year I am seeking your support to serve as Secretary of the HBA-DC Board of Directors.


I joined HBA-DC soon after I arrived in Washington, DC and it quickly became an invaluable resource as I established myself professionally and personally in this city.  It would be an honor to serve as Secretary and have the opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me so much these past 10 years.


Throughout my time with the organization, I have attended numerous HBA-DC sponsored events, been a member of several committees and chaired the Legislative and Public Service Committees. HBA-DC has introduced me to great individuals doing fantastic work throughout the city and in different arenas.  Working and leading HBA-DC committees throughout the years has given me a greater understanding of the many services HBA-DC offers not only to its members, but also the Latino community in the area.   Likewise, volunteering with HBA-DC committees has illustrated the time and dedication required to provide programming that is relevant to our members.  And most importantly, it has demonstrated what we can accomplish when we come together.  It’s my hope that I can add to the great work that HBA-DC will continue to do as an organization.


Many thanks for your consideration.




BOARD OF DIRECTORS - AT LARGE (listed alphabetically)





Dear HBA-DC Members:


I write to ask for your support for my candidacy for the position of at-large board member.


I have been an active member of HBA-DC since 2014 and have held various positions since then, including twice serving as the chair of the Public Service Committee and co-chairing the Legislative and Policy Committee. While I was chair of these committees, we recruited bilingual attorneys to volunteer with the D.C. Bar Immigration Legal Advice and Referral Clinic, penned op-eds with other area bar associations to encourage attorneys to lend their servicespro bono, and recorded a Spanish-language educational video about how to hire an attorney. I now run for an at-large board position at a time when immigrants and refugees—including many children—struggle to find safe haven from persecution, forced to wait for their day in court outside the country in camps, shelters, and tent cities along our southern border. As an at-large board member, I seek to work with HBA-DC members to give voice to migrants and refugees in the DMV, and those at the southern border.


Thank you in advance for considering my application.




Adrián Alvarez




Dear Members,


I respectfully seek election as an at-large member of the Board of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (HBA-DC).  I joined HBA-DC even before I moved here from California in 2016.  Since then, mentors and friends have invited me to be more involved.  Starting in 2016 I have served each year as a mentor for law students and young lawyers.  In 2019 I began serving a co-chair of HBA-DC’s Endorsements Committee.  I now seek to get even more involved, this time helping to steer this exceptional institution.


I have been a part of groups HBA-DC since my teens: La Gente in high school, the Association of Latin American Students in college, and LaLSA in law school.  Today I serve on the board of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Association of Hispanic Employees for Advancement and Development (DOJ-AHEAD), where we work towards increasing hiring, promotion, professional development, and other supports for Hispanic employees across all components of the DOJ.  This kind of work is my passion.


We are representation.  We are exceptional professionals.  We are advocates for our communities.  We are mentors who hold the ladder so others can climb up.  We are critical thinkers and problem solvers.  And—as my work on the Endorsement’s Committee has confirmed through all the smart lawyers seeking our blessing to their candidacies—we are powerful.


I am proud to be part of HBA-DC, its history, and its accomplishments.  I hope you will support my run to join its board as an at-large member.  I look forward to the chance of continuing to fulfill HBA-DC’s mission of developing and advancing the careers of our members.




Jorge M. Castillo




Friends and Colleagues,


My name is Catherine Cone. I am running for the position of At Large Member on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC (HBA-DC) to build on my first year of service on the HBA-DC board. In this position I hope to advance and develop Latinos in the legal profession and promote equal justice and opportunity for all Latinos.


I have been an active member of the HBA-DC since my first year of law school because I recognize the value HBA-DC brings to my career and sense of community it creates for Latino lawyers and law students. Through my membership, I have received valuable mentorship and professional growth opportunities. It is my hope to pay these forward for another year by developing engaging programming and creating relationship-building opportunities for our membership. Additionally, I will support our incoming president in efforts to diversify the legal profession to ensure Latinos are represented in every sector of the law and included in positions of increasing responsibility and power.


I hope I can count on your support to move these initiatives forward and serve you for one more year. It would be my honor and privilege to do so.


Thank you.




Dear HBA-DC Members,


Greetings, my name is Julian Gonzalez and I humbly ask for your vote to serve as an At-Large  Board Member for the 2020 HBA-DC Board of Directors. As an at-large board member in 2019, I worked with the HBA-DC Public Service committee to plan HBA-DC pro-bono opportunities in collaboration with the DC Bar, and also began to expand the committee’s public service work to include non-legal opportunities for HBA-DC members to help our community. As an at-large board member in 2020 I would work with the committee chair to continue that expansion, as I sincerely believe that our members are eager for opportunities to work together and better our communities here in the District.


I joined HBA-DC after I graduated from law school here in Washington, D.C. in 2013. HBA-DC provided me with an outlet for public service, community engagement, and networking that I did not have in my first job out of school. I was able to do volunteer research and writing for the legislative and policy committee, which I eventually chaired from 2015-2017. I have also participated in EJA Awards Subcommittee, as well as several volunteer charity events throughout the years.


As an At-Large Board member, I provide a unique perspective as an environmental attorney who has worked at both small and large non-profits. I recently transitioned from working at GreenLatinos, a small but impactful environmental non-profit which strives to address issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States, to Earthjustice where I serve as legislative counsel and work primarily on water policy. My environmental policy work is a natural extension of my personal commitment to public service and the well being of underprivileged communities. If elected, I am committed to helping law students and young lawyers find ways that they can support communities in need, whether in their professional or personal capacity. I look forward to the chance to build on HBA-DC's past efforts in advocacy and community building, and to use this position to assist the board in managing the daily workings of the organization.


Thank you for considering my candidacy for this position.


Julian J. Gonzalez




Dear Fellow HBA-DC Members:


I am running for the position of At-Large Member of the Board of Directors for the HBA-DC.  I am a counsel in the energy group at Reed Smith, LLP. I have worked with the HBA-DC since 2000 supporting the HBA-DC’s activities and securing firm sponsorship for various events during that time. In the past two years I have worked closely with Leila Jade Levi and Richard Rodriguez in partnering with the HBA-DC to host and sponsor events for the HBA-DC. In addition, I have actively sought to include the HBA-DC in our firm’s efforts on behalf of the American Immigration Council, a non-profit which advocates for immigrants' rights at the border and for the reunion of separated families.


As we are well aware, Latinos continue to be underrepresented in the legal community in the D.C. market. In my experience, it is still rare to encounter another Latino lawyer in private law firm practice. I believe that the HBA-DC can work to try and improve such numbers by continuing to promote awareness of the statistics, engaging in dialogues with private law firms and encouraging such firms to see the potential business advantages of considering Latino candidates. Growing numbers of general counsel are demanding that their outside law firms improve the diversity of their legal teams and have indicated this will be a factor in selecting panel firms for their work. I look forward to potentially working with President Elect Ruben Reyna and the rest of the HBA-DC leadership in attempting to engage local law firms on this issue.


In addition, given the current climate with respect to immigration, I believe the HBA-DC will need to continue working with various non-profit organizations and maintain it's outreach programs to assist Latino immigrants in need of representation. I look forward to potentially working with HBA-DC leadership and the Board to leverage our member's expertise in assisting such efforts.


For these reasons, I respectfully ask for your vote in support of my candidacy as an At-Large Member of the Board of Directors at the annual elections meeting.




Edwin Nazario




Dear Members of HBA-DC:


I look forward to continuing my tenure as an At-Large Board Member with the Hispanic Bar Association of DC in 2020.  I am currently a sixth-year associate in the Commercial Litigation Group at Blank Rome LLP.


My dedication to maintaining a connection with and strengthening the Hispanic community began prior to attending law school.  My first career involved advising Latino high school students in Chicago through the postsecondary education process.  I received a Master of Arts in Educational Policy and produced a thesis analyzing how state and federal laws affected undocumented student access to postsecondary education.  I decided to leave the education world to practice law at 29 years old.  I knew, however, that I would continue to be involved with the Latino community despite the career change.


And I have.  For four years, I have served on the Advisory Board of AYUDA, a non-profit that provides social and legal services to newly arrived immigrants to the DMV area, many of whom are from Latin America.  Last year, I joined the board of the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Charter School in DC. I have dedicated my pro bono practice to asylees from Central America, and, in that effort, I have won asylum for three minors from El Salvador.


My involvement with the Hispanic Bar Association has been an integral piece of my post-law school commitment to the Latino community.  Upon graduating from University of Maryland and moving back to D.C., a law school colleague introduced me to the HBA-DC.  I was immediately impressed by the participation of individuals from all stages of the legal profession: from law students to judges.  Furthermore, as a first-generation college student, I appreciate the significance of a supporting network as one enters law school and embarks on a legal career.  In the past three years, I have served as a mentor and been an active member of the Endorsements and Social and Special Events Committees of HBA-DC.


Last year, as an At-Large Board Member, I acted as liaison to the Social and Special Events Committee and helped execute the vision of the HBA leadership.  I hope to continue this work in 2020.


I thank you for your consideration of my nomination as a 2020 HBA-DC At-Large Board Member.


Best regards,






HBA-DC Members,


In 2012, I started law school in DC in the hopes of joining the 4% of U.S. attorneys who are Latinx. Thankfully, that is also the year I found my familia - the Hispanic Bar Association of DC. Over the last seven years HBA-DC has given me so much - mentors, mentees, lifelong friends, community, scholarships, and guidance, just to name a few. I have sought to give back as well, in my capacity as the co-chair of the Student Affairs Committee for the last two years, as well as a Board Member of the Foundation for the last year. I now seek to serve as a Board Member at Large. Drawing upon my experiences in the organization, I plan to work alongside Ruben and the rest of the board to continue organizing our successful roster of annual events and to also create new events, find more opportunities for our membership, and grow our community. It would be an honor to give back to HBA-DC in this capacity.




Paulina Vera


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