From left to right: Moderator Paola Tristan Arruda, Nilda Ruiz APM’s CEO Maria Quiñones Sanchez, former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Emilio Buitrago GACLA Commissioner talking about all the contributions Latinos are making in the history of the United States. (Photo: Lili Daliessio)

“Together, we are a community of over 1 million strong!” Norman Bristol Colón

Harrisburg, PA: The city of Harrisburg proudly played host to the 5th Annual Pennsylvania Latino Convention, (PALC) an transcended boundaries and brought together communities.

From September 20 to 22, 2023, this convention, renowned as the pinnacle of professional development, went into every facet of Latino life, from policy and civic engagement to youth leadership and agenda-setting. 

The convention tackled critical issues head-on with over 25 workshops, panel discussions, enlightening keynote addresses, and engaging fireside chats. It stood as a testament to the resilience and promise of the Latino community in Pennsylvania.

Since its foundation in 2018, the Pennsylvania Latino Convention has been unwavering in its commitment to ushering in positive change across various key topics: economics, social issues, education, culture, and politics.

It aims to create opportunities that leave an indelible mark on the lives of Pennsylvania’s 1.1 million+ residents of Latino heritage, who constitute a significant 50% of the state’s population over the past two decades. This vibrant diversity of Latinos comprises various ethnicities, with Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Colombians leading the way, per the PA data center.

Edith Gutierrez–Hawbaker, Te lo juro Collective’s founder, honors her Latinx culture through her designs at the PA Latino Convention. (Photo: Lili Daliessio)

One of the convention’s highlights was the Latina Women’s Conference, led by accomplished panelists, including Arianne Bracho, the Executive Director of Centro Integral de la Mujer Madre Tierra from Philadelphia. Her focus was on Domestic Violence Prevention, a topic of importance for the family.

State Representative Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, representing Berks County, brought her expertise to the forefront, emphasizing self-care and overall health as the foundation of a healthy individual; other topics include powerful Latinas in technology, leadership, government, corporate America, and many more. 

PALC Chair Norman Bristol Colón and PALC Vice-Chair Olga Negrón, alongside their partners, serve as a bridge for educational, health, housing, employment, and economic advancements in Latino communities throughout the Commonwealth. It’s also a way to recognize the Latinos contributing through the state with the Legacy Awards. 

The youth also play a significant role at the convention because they are the future of PA and the nation. Melany Melendez from Harrisburg High School shared Cesar Chavez’s famous quote in education: «We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.» as a reminder of the importance of our roots. She adds her quote and invitation «To my fellow Latinos. «Puedes ser más de lo que imaginas, vales más de lo que crees.» 

The convention served as a hope of unity, illuminating the path forward for Pennsylvania’s Latino community. Next year, the PALC (Pennsylvania Latino Convention) will be in Philadelphia. 

To connect with PALC, visit

Lili Daliessio is the Community Information Manager at Esperanza Housing and Economic Development.


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