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*All workshops will have interpretation services in English and Spanish

 Wednesday, May 22nd 

Main Stage Speakers Anchor

 Meet the Main Stage Speakers 

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Paola Mendoza

Familias en Acción is thrilled to bring award winning filmmaker, best-selling author, and activist, Paola Mendoza, to this year’s Latino Health Equity Conference stage. Paola is a Queer Latinx artist, film director, author, and cultural organizer who has organized some of the largest mass movements in this country in the past decade, including the Women’s March, Families Belong Together, and Trans Prom.

Her films Igualada, Entre Nos, On the Outs & Free Like the Birds have garnered international and critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival just to name a few. Her novel, Sanctuary, was a critical darling and is currently being adapted into a motion picture. Her most recent novel, SOLIS (the sequel to Sanctuary), will be released in the Fall. Paola's work has been published in The New York Times, Glamour, InStyle, Elle and Teen Vogue. She is a Pop Culture Collaborative Gender Justice Fellow, a Race Forward Fellow, an Opportunity Agenda Fellow and a Pop Culture; Becoming America Fellow. She was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2017 and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Paola is a founder of The Resistance Revival Chorus, The Meteor and The Soze Agency.

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Carmen Rubio

Carmen Rubio knows the power of community. She has seen firsthand when community comes together and organizes. She knows that we can accomplish more together than any of us can alone. That value—centering community—is what has defined her career and it was what powered her successful campaign for Portland City Hall in 2020.


Carmen began her career of serving others in the offices of Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. She served as a policy advisor and worked to engage Portlanders on critical issues. In each of those roles, Carmen was known for her dedication to making local government more accessible and more responsive to all of our communities—making Portland work for everyone.


Carmen Rubio was born and raised in Hillsboro, the granddaughter of immigrants who came to this country as migrant workers. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and is the first Latina on the Portland City Council. She currently lives in Northeast Portland with her partner.


Colleen Puentes is a former teacher and educator who started teaching in 1993 in a predominantly Vietnamese and Latinx school district. From the start, her career has centered on program development and making learning accessible for immigrants, second language learners, and ethnically diverse individuals. Colleen is currently the Director of the Empowerment and Leadership for Youth and Young Adults (ELY) program and a Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant at Interface Network. She believes a comprehensive and effective DEI action plan goes beyond training. Colleen has decades of experience helping organizations conduct cultural audits, focus groups, staff development training, and strategic planning for private and public sector clients.

Moderator -
Colleen Puentes, Interface Network
Veronica Leonard.jpg

Veronica joined Latino Network in 2015 as the Youth Sexuality Education Coordinator, where she expanded the agency's sexuality education programming to reach middle and high school youth and parents with culturally adapted curricula. In 2020, she launched the Department of Health and Wellness and later became Associate Deputy Director of Programs, overseeing program administration, development, and strategy. She serves on the Reproductive Health Equity Fund's steering committee, leading initiatives to increase access to reproductive health services. With prior experience at Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir in Mexico City, she has implemented youth sexual health programs in North Carolina and Guatemala. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Oregon and dual master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Veronica Leonard,
Latino Network
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Cherilynn Tsosie, a Diné/White Mountain Apache, brings her roots from the Southwest to the Pacific Northwest, where she's called home for the past 18 years. With over two decades in healthcare, including 6 years with Planned Parenthood and 1 ½ years as an Abortion Patient Navigator, Cherilynn is dedicated to serving her community. Passionate about breaking down barriers in healthcare, advocating for bodily autonomy, and protecting reproductive rights, she works tirelessly to make a difference. Off-duty, you'll find her on the river fly fishing or on the  mountain snowboarding, passionately advocating for diversifying the outdoors and fostering community connections.

Cherilynn Tsosie,
Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette
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Emily Elman, MPH, has been the Oregon Reproductive Health Program’s Senior Policy Analyst in the Oregon Health Authority for nearly two decades. In her role, Emily oversees the program’s policy priorities, assessing and responding to state and federal-level policies related to reproductive health. In 2018, Emily led implementation of the state’s landmark Reproductive Health Equity Act which codified the right to abortion in Oregon and expanded coverage for a broad range of reproductive health services, including abortion, to uninsured immigrant communities. Emily is also responsible for the state’s family planning Medicaid waiver, Oregon ContraceptiveCare, which expands Medicaid coverage for contraceptive services for people across Oregon. Emily received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Emily Elman, MPH,
Oregon Health Authority
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Megan Kovacs is a board member and volunteer for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and co-chair of the Reproductive Health Equity Fund. Originally from Pennsylvania, Megan has lived and worked in Portland for the last 18 years building programs and policies that expand reproductive justice.

Megan Kovacs,
Northwest Abortion Access Fund
Denise Figueroa.jpg

Information coming soon!

Denise Figueroa, Interface Network
Panel Discussion
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