Nestor Montilla picture

The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey is pleased to host its Summit: Present and Clear / Presente y Claro, celebrating 20 years of advocacy, leadership, and empowerment. On Saturday, March 2, 2019 leaders from around the state will convene at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, to discuss their current status in education, health, civil rights, public policy, economic development and political representation.
     As the board of delegates sat to plan this Summit, we tossed around ideas for a theme. We thought of Unity, Solidarity, Empowerment, Struggle, Achievement, Challenge, and other adjetives to describe what we thought should be the central theme of this Summit. Chairman Paul Perez suggested: Presente y Claro, ‘because now more than ever, Latinos need to be Presente and committed to our honorable cause of inclusion, and Claro, as to not loose focus and keep our eyes on the prize,’ he stated in deep voice and persuasive tone.
     In 1999, over 400 leaders, educators, professionals and activists convened under one roof with the purpose of unifying New Jersey Latino voices to empower ourselves. As leaders, they knew that the potential of our communities and the impact of our contribution increase exponentially when we, 2 million of us, rally around one goal. The Latino Leadership Alliance has done precisely that for the past 20 years with commendable success.
    We have made strides in the fight for a thorough and efficient education for all New Jersey children; we have been at the forefront of the struggle for equal and fair treatment of our law enforcement officers; researching, reporting and making coalitions against police brutality; we have helped established collaboration channels between law enforcement and the attorney general’s office for the benefit of both, our law enforcement officers and the public; we have been in the front lines of the fight for humane and dignified immigration reform; we have shone the light on health disparities and insufficient inclusion of the Latino Family at all levels of government; we have been a voice for the small business sector, which is the backbone of the economy of cities with large Latino populations; and via The Leadership Academy initiative we have identified  and developed emerging, independent-minded and contentious leaders from within our ranks that they may better represent us.
    Please allow me to share 3 points of information where New Jersey Latinos have made substantial contributions: first, 28 million US Latinos were eligible to vote in 2016, and 800,000 young US Latinos turn 18 every year, becoming eligible to vote. A sizable number of these Latinos are from NJ. Second, studies have found that Latinos are US ‘economic salvation’ as they were responsible for $2.13 trillion of gross domestic product, and 12% of the country’s $18.04 trillion GDP. In New Jersey, Latinos enjoy a $46 billion annual purchasing power. And third, an impressive 59% of Latino high school graduates enrolled in college in 2016, surpassing the rate of White and Black high school graduates. A significant percentage of them are from the Garden State.
   Looking back at the past twenty years, we consider with satisfaction all we have accomplished; and look forward with anticipation at all that remains to be accomplished, for all of us, hailing from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica,  Ecuador, El Salvador,  Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Mejico,
    Now more than ever, we look at the diverse Latino interests represented in The Alliance, at the men and women in the front lines of the challenges we face in New Jersey, and we call on them to say: ‘Presente y Claro, our Latino Family can count on me for the next two decades!’
Presente! Claro!

Registration Open


Leadership Summit of NJ Latinos at Berkeley College

– second in twenty years –

Presente y Claro.horizontal jpg

Registration Open (Click Here)

New Jersey (February 6, 2019).–With the theme Present & Clear / Presente y Claro, the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ) sets out to hold its second statewide leadership gathering in twenty years. The first took place in 1999, when over 400 Latino leaders in academia, business, government, sciences, law enforcement, and public service convened at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and founded LLANJ.


“It is time for people from diverse communities rooted in New Jersey to come together for the second historic nonpartisan summit of Latino leaders who are CLEAR and committed to say PRESENTE; we are all committed to active participation, discussion of our socio-economic reality, strategizing, planning and supporting the work of LLANJ and like organizations advocating for empowerment, equality, and the inclusion of all,” said LLANJ President Nestor Montilla, Sr. “The Summit creates an unprecedented platform for New Jersey Latinos to set an all-encompassing strategic policy agenda to advocate for the socio-economic and political advancement of the state diverse populations.”


The Summit’s program, to be carried out on Saturday, March 2, 2019 from 8:30AM to 3:00PM at Berkeley College, 44 Rifle Camp Road, Woodland Park, NJ 07424, includes two plenary sessions and breakout roundtable discussions on education, economic development, faith-based initiative, and representation. It also features a youth leadership pow-wow with Perth Amboy and Paterson High School Students.


The Summit will open with a breakfast plenary session. LLANJ founding President Martin Perez, Esq. will open with a brief recount of LLANJ twenty-year history mobilizing, advocating and empowering NJ diverse communities. The Honorable Gurbir S. Grewal will talk about public safety and civil rights. LLANJ Civil Rights and Public Safety Committee Co-Chair Richard Rivera will talk about LLANJ investigative reports reviewing police conduct, use of force and how police departments investigate citizen complaints. Senator Thomas Kean, Jr.  will speak about the upcoming redistricting process and fair political representation.


The breakfast plenary forum will be followed by concurrent roundtable forums led by experts in their fields; forums are designed for open discussions. Resulting policy recommendations will be included in the LLANJ’s advocacy agenda.  Featured topics of discussion and panelists include:


Education focusing on the status of NJ Latinos in this field and on innovative methods guaranteeing educational opportunities for all students. Participants: LLANJ delegates Patricia Bombelyn and Nelly Celi; Paterson Board of Education Commissioner Manny Martinez; Consuelo Bonillas, Ph.D., from Kean University; Dario Cortes, Ph.D., former President of Berkeley College; Dr. Ivan Lamourt from St. Benedict’s Preparatory School; and Guillermo “Will” de Veyga, Ph.D., from New Jersey City University.


Faith-based Initiative. This roundtable will raise awareness about the importance of building a coalition and a network of faith-based leadership, organizations and civic leaders to advance the Latino/Hispanic Agenda in their respective communities. Participants: LLANJ delegates Rev. Jose Lopez, and Rev. John Muniz, Rev. Jose Martinez, RVC President, Rev. Cleo Santiago, Rev. Joshua Rodriguez, Jose F. Medina-Lasso, Jose Rafael Martinez, Rev. Jesus Sevilla, Rev. Julio Roman, and Passaic Mayor Hector Lora.


Youth Leadership.  There will be a Youth Leadership pow-wow where Angela Harrington will make a presentation on Financial literacy and management for young leaders; and historian Hector Bonilla will conduct an interactive stimulating session on Latino pride and idiosyncrasy.


The Economic Development forum willaddress the contributions and challenges of the New Jersey small business community.  Participants: SHCC President Luis de la Hoz, LLANJ delegate, Jose Colon from BP Bank, Jaime Lucero, CEO of Gold & Silver, Inc., Eleazar Bueno, Alminda D’Agostino, Horizon NJ Health, Gregorio Antonio Luciano, John Estevez from FoodTown Supermarkets, and Maria Trusa, CEO of Forme Health Care.


RepresentationThis multifaceted roundtable forum offers a rare opportunity for diverse Latino leaders to review the migratory circumstances surrounding their arrival in New Jersey, their accomplishments and challenges in education, economic development, and fair political representation. They will agree on issues, and will submit their policy recommendations for inclusion in LLANJ Advocacy Agenda. The concurrent roundtable discussions will be led by leaders healing from NJ diverse Latino communities. Confirmed participants will represent Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Central America and other Latino communities rooted in New Jersey and beyond. The list of panelists and participants includes: LLANJ Chairman Paul Perez, LLANJ Delegate Dennys Talavera, Julio Pabon, Willie Sanchez, Felipe Luciano, Council Members Luis Velez from Paterson, Luis Quintana and Anibal Ramos from Newark, and Carlos Menchaca from New York City, Lydia Valencia, PR Congress, Dr. Edwin Melendez, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, Antonio Martinez, Esq., PR Legislator Claribel Martínez-Marmolejos, Hector Bonilla, Sonia Rosado, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz, South Hackensack Mayor Yris Encarnacion, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, LLANJ Delegates Heidy Hernandez and Gino Hernandez, Sebastian Rodriguez, Ariagna Perello, Julio Malone, Juana Edmond, Commissioners Altagracia Barcelo and Joel Ramirez, Rossanna Genao, Fernando Aquino, Teofilo Javier, Dr. Carlos Lugo, Erick Cedano, LLANJ Delegate Rosa Vasquez Zaremba, Eduardo Peñaloza Pérez, Stephanie Rodriguez, Claudia Vazquez, Mario Solodkin, Alejandro Roman, Natalie Lemon from Center for Immigrant Representation, Dr. Hector Castillo, Rev. David Rios,  Maria del Pilar, LLANJ Delegates Frank Miqueli and Jorge Ciprian, Jose Arango, Antonio Ibarria, Publisher of El Especialito, Nieves Pimienta, LLANJ Delegates Sara Batres and Waldemar Ronquillo, Delfin Vazquez Vice President of the National Dominican American Council, Hon. Caridad Rigo, and Bergen County Freeholder Board President Germaine Ortiz.


In the Luncheon Plenary Session LLANJ President Nestor Montilla, Sr., will deliver the ‘State of New Jersey Latinos’ address.


The Luncheon Session also will include a special presentation titled ‘America’s Hidden Hispanic Heritage’ by Historian/Journalist Miguel Perez; and brief thoughts on empowerment by New Jersey Mayors Wilda Diaz, Hector Lora, and Yris Encarnacion.


Governor Phil Murphy has been invited to address LLANJ delegates and conference attendees regarding how his administration is keeping the campaign promise to improve the socio-economic and political conditions of Latinos in the state of New Jersey.


Paul Perez, LLANJ Chairman, said: “Everyone is encouraged to participate as this historic Summit promises to bring forth, the non-partisan Latino advocacy agenda we urgently need to mobilize and empower our communities along the next decade.”


“This forum is an opportunity for leaders in the state to come together to construct a vision that will bring clarity to the voices of Latinos in New Jersey,” said Angela Harrington, Secretary to the LLANJ Board of Delegates. “As a beacon for change and mobility in higher education, Berkeley College is proud to host this important dialogue.”

To RSVP visit


The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey is the largest and only statewide non-partisan non-profit advocacy organization composed of local, regional and state community-based organizations, leaders and professionals advocating for the socio-economic and political development of New Jersey diverse



You are invited to join us at LLANJ’s Non-Partisan Annual Leadership Summit

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For the second time in twenty years, generations of Latino leaders from the 21 Latin American communities rooted in New Jersey are summoned to meet under one roof at Berkeley College to reaffirm their socio-economic and political agenda.

It is time to come together for the second historic summit of Latino leaders who are CLEAR and committed to say PRESENTE, to actively participate, discuss our reality, strategize, plan accordingly, support the work of LLANJ and nonpartisan advocacy organizations, to mobilize for empowerment, equal opportunity, respect, inclusion and fair representation.
Summit to reaffirm NJ Latino Agenda


LLANJ 2019 Summit Sponsorship Levels

Click here to Register



Latino leader: The Force Report shows we can no longer ignore the evidence of police brutality. We need reform and transparency.

By Nestor Montilla, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey


Much has been said from New Jersey’s attorney general and police leaders in the wake of NJ Advance Media’s release of public data on police officer use of force. After the release of The Force Report on — the online home of The Star-Ledger — there is no mystery that some of the officers applying force most frequently were also the targets of years of internal affairs complaints and lawsuits naming them as defendants. Countless times police officials failed to intervene.

The Latino Leadership Alliance has been at the forefront of this issue since 2008, when we embarked on a statewide initiative to review police conduct, starting a dialogue centered on use of force and how police departments investigate citizen complaints.

Our efforts were later supported with a fellowship by the Open Society Foundation, which led to more than 5,000 force reports to be compiled and analyzed. We were shocked and dismayed to learn police departments were not required to examine these publicly available reports.

Black activist and scholar: Discrimination is clear, here’s how police practices could be improved

(Illustration by Jen Cieslak and Susana Sanchez-Young, Advance Local, Shutterstock) (Advance Local)

Black activist and scholar: Discrimination is clear, here’s how police practices could be improved

The database’s The Force Report shows hard evidence of racial disparities in police use of force across New Jersey.

Most troubling was the routing of citizen complaints that appeared to get lost in a vicious circle. Those who filed directly with county prosecutors for brutality incidents were sent to local police departments, which were incapable of objective investigations of their fellow officers. Citizens’ complaints filed with Attorney General Paula Dow’s office received the same indifferent response. They were forwarded to county prosecutors, then to the same local police departments with which filers had hoped to avoid additional negative contact.

Police encourage residents to say something when they see something wrong. Clearly this was not meant for those who were inappropriately brutalized by police officers.

 The trends in force data were alarming. We immediately reached out to law enforcement partners to share our findings. The Attorney General’s Office at the time adjusted the internal affairs policy and the prosecutors from Morris and Salem counties instantly revamped their oversight of local police agencies, with Salem County hiring an expert to oversee countywide accountability.

After sharing our data with then-Mayor Donald Guardian of Atlantic City, that police department reduced its complaints of excessive force by 19 percent, use-of-force incidents by 35 percent and overall complaints by 27 percent.

This proved that community collaboration truly works.

We also found a pattern throughout New Jersey in which “Hispanic” people subjected to force were recorded as “white,” thus underreporting the frequency force was used upon that group. This was prominent in Bergen County, where force was used in numerous towns at a far higher rate upon Latinos than their relative population in those communities.

Using this example, we learned language barriers existed and officers resorted to force in some instances because they perceived that people “resisted” when they simply did not understand officer commands in English.

 Much could have been learned from analysis and auditing had police taken the time to properly report incidents.

Black people in N.J. say they're more likely to be punched, kicked by cops. Now, data backs that up.

Black people in N.J. say they’re more likely to be punched, kicked by cops. Now, data backs that up.

Black people are three times more likely to face police force than whites, according to findings in The Force Report.\n

In their joint statement, policing officials were disingenuous in baiting the public to believe that use-of-force data were somehow not uniform and are unreliable — that we should collectively sit back and wait for them to interpret their own data behind closed doors after they abandoned their responsibilities to monitor officers who used excessive force years ago. The fact is the state attorney general houses the Police Training Commission, which oversees basic academy courses statewide. The state does not devote enough resources to that commission.

All 21 counties in New Jersey standardize the training, definitions, report forms and how the data are collected. We cannot afford to wait for the same law enforcement leaders to secretly devise solutions for the very debacle they created while police officers and people subjected to force continue to sustain generally preventable injuries.

If police are better trained, supervised and equipped to humanely deal with situations, they should not have to resort to seriously hurting or killing someone when safe and reasonable alternatives would be available to them.

 The Attorney General’s Office and police chiefs have once again lost public confidence in their abilities to hold officers accountable and to be transparent. Instead of pointing fingers elsewhere, they should now partner with our Legislature for sustainable legal reforms in police oversight that include decertification when officers lose the capacity to wear the distinguished and honorable badge for good cause.

Communities need to partake in the oversight of law enforcement practices in civilian review boards. Police executives and labor unions will argue that ordinary citizens do not understand policing and have no business in oversight. We argue that every police department already has civilian oversight through elected leaders and consent by society.

Our experiences since 2008 in sharing and interpreting police data with law enforcement executives is a testament to effective community-police partnerships and collaboration. We support police officers who uphold the Constitution and protect society around the clock.

We are concerned for their well-being, and our vision of collaborative policing is to reward good officers and identify the few bad ones who tarnish the badge.

The time when law enforcement secretly police themselves is long gone. We need inclusion and accountability now. Pa’alante! – Onwards!


Nestor Montilla is president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.



You are invited to actively participate in LLANJ’s Non-Partisan Annual Leadership Summit

For the second time in twenty years, first, second and third generations of Latino leaders who descent from the 21 Latin American communities permanently rooted in New Jersey have been summoned to meet under one roof at Berkeley College to reaffirm their socio-economic and political agenda.

It is time to come together in a historic congress of Latino leaders who say PRESENTE to actively participate, discuss clearly our reality, strategize, plan accordingly, support the work of LLANJ and nonpartisan advocacy organizations and mobilize for empowerment, equal opportunity, respect, inclusion and fair representation.

Presente y Claro



LLANJ Board of Delegates Meeting

Typically the agenda includes a public session and presentations by experts, candidates running for office and people from across the State of New Jersey. To address the Board of Delegates, send your request via Your name and the name of the organization you represent will be liste in agenda.