2013-2016 New Executive Board Member information will be posted soon
Past Executive Board (2009 - 2012) members are:
|C. Sonia Martinez||Chairwoman|
|Kay Lanaux|| Interim Treasurer
My name is Carmen Sonia Martinez and I was born in the Dominican Republic. I arrived to the United States in May 1972 to live in New York City. I came to the Mohawk Valley, attended Herkimer County Community College and graduated with an A.A.S. degree in Travel & Tourism. However, my career took a turn towards the healthcare field after my daughter was born.
Since then, I been have working in this field for about 20 years with an insurance company Excellus, BC BS. Upon my arrival to Oneida county back in 1990, I realized that while there were many Latinos in this area, there was not enough awareness regarding different educational or cultural services to guide them towards resources for assistance. Due to the Language barriers were the main impediments to Latinos seeking assistance when needed. This does not mean that anyone is at fault. Latinos are very proud people. This makes it difficult for this culture to seek the help from persons that do not speak the same language. I have raised two children, Cristina (22) and Michael (17) in this area hoping that they also follow me, in raising their own children. I realized there is no better area to raise kids than in the Mohawk Valley.
One of the many reasons for starting this organization was to unite the Latino community to act as one voice. There were many times that I spent helping someone with different services such as housing, the department of motor vehicle, immigration, healthcare, social services, court and/or employment issues. Whether it's a person that has been here all their lives or newcomer, someone is always in need of help and/or information. MVLA will be there for everyone that needs assistance. My long range goal is to see the MVLA organization become a common household name in the Latino communities of the Mohawk Valley, to be a place to find answers to common questions, just as other cultures get their questions, answered.
I have written a motto from my own life experiences, “Every moment of your life has movement and direction” / “Cada momento en tu vida tiene movimiento y direccion”.
It just means that every one moment in your life, can get you closer to the goal that you aspire to reach. I believe the movements made in my life have led me to reach the goal of creating this organization, the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc., and with the help of the other members of the organization we can meet meet the community’s needs as they arises.
Marabella Colón moved from the New York City area to the Mohawk Valley with her family in early 1986. She believes it is important to provide community aid and services to all Mohawk Valley residents in need. She is driven by the belief that the MVLA, Inc. can make a difference in the Mohawk Valley and will be one of the leading community organization.
Besides her role as Secretary of the MVLA, Inc., she also serves as Worship Leader at Southgate Ministries in Waterville, NY. She also sings at local Christian coffeehouses in the Utica, NY area. She lives in Utica with her husband, Anthony and has two children, Christina and Christopher.
Is a native of Opp, Alabama, a small town at the southern tip of the state near Florida. Growing up in the south during segregation, Lanaux says she has never been afraid of adversity. "When you're born and raised under those conditions you don't really know that it's not the right thing to do," she says. "I never knew the conditions were as unfair as they were unitl I grew up. We were proud people, we worked hard and we were taught to show respect and to expect it in return. I went to an all-black school with all-black teachers who taught me the values I carry with me even today."
A resident of Utica, NY and Oneida County for approximately 39 years, Lanaux is the mother of two children. Ms. Toinetta P. Caldwell, a licensed Psycho-Therapist in Bowie, MD., and Mr. Raymond Lanaux Jr. of Utica, a drug and alcohol counselor with the New York STate Corrections System. She has two grandchildren Jordyn Ray and Ava Kaylynn. Lanaux recently retired with a disability from the New York State Mental Health System after more than 28 years of service. She was a volunteer community activist for many years and after months of physical rehabilitation and medical treatment she continues to remain active for the betterment of the community to the extent that her health will allow. A strong advocate for Racial Justice in the Mohawk Valley community, Lanaux has served on several community boards and committees over the years.
My name is La Toya Richardson; I am a native of Utica, NY. I currently work as a secretary in the President’s Office at Mohawk Valley Community College. I have two children, ages 8 and 2, whom give me every reason to be as productive and successful as possible as a mom and a person in general, so that I can be the great example of a true “role model” in their eyes since I am their first teacher. I came across the Latino Association through a previous employment at the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area. That is when I met Sonia Martinez who is a committee member for the United Way. I have always been passionate about humanitarianism. Engaging in an initiative that possesses a strong commitment to excellence, outstanding service with long lasting results is rewarding to me.
As a person that is highly driven by challenge and variety, MVLA complements my qualities by bringing an essence to the community through its inspiring culture which promotes diversity and bringing people together from many walks of life despite differences. MVLA is one of the few organizations that also exist to help different ethnicities with language barriers excel and become successful in their new environment in which I believe, makes them unique in what they do. Others, like me, are able to have a great experience with exploring life outside of their usual comfort zone and way of life. I am looking forward to being part of the success of MVLA and the people they serve.
My favorite quote, above the many, is: “Leadership is Action not Position”, (anonymous author). Successful people are those that generously share their talents or abilities in order to positively affect others. Regardless of the amount of talent you have to offer, you have the ability to succeed. No one truly achieves success until they become a person of service. Successful people don’tlook for the opportunity to use others, others benefit from the opportunity to use the successful.
I arrived to the United States in 1996 from Havana, Cuba. After my arrival, started working on my education and decided to have a career in computers, which has been a hobby of mine since Cuba. My first degree received was in Computer Information System, then transferred to SUNY IT-Utica/Rome to continue into a Bachelors Degree in Telecommunications and graduated in December 2002.
In 2001, I started working at the Utica Public Library as the Information Technology Specialist. I love what I do, there is not one day that goes by without learning something new, and that makes my job very exciting. At the library, I also teach computer classes (Computer Fundamentals) and have designed the Library’s website.
In 2006, I became a member of the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, being a member of MVLA and working at the Utica Public Library has given me the opportunity to help the community. Living in the Mohawk Valley has been a little tough, especially when you have to be so far away from your family and everything that you grew up and were accustomed to. Getting used to the cold and the snow has not been an easy task, but it has been worth it. I do miss my mother and the nice, blue beaches.
However, sometimes we have to make sacrifices to obtain what we most want in our lives. Dreams, at times, are hard to get to, specially when you have to make decisions that will not only change your life but also the life of those around you; and at the same time the future might as well be as bright as the dreams that you once had.