Maria T. Centeno, Honorary Ad Hoc President
she was still 11 my Mom entered the Julliard Institute of Music (now simply
known as Julliard) which then was located near Columbia University. My Mother was assigned to be in a top tier
class of musicians in which only she and one other (Leonard Bernstein) were the
top two elites amongst elites as they were the only musicians determined to
have the gift of "perfect pitch" meaning that from within any
phrasing, or arrangement of notes, they both could correctly identify the key,
timbre, identity and beat of each note from merely hearing it played by any
instrument. At 15 yrs old, she received the degree from
also played "No Me Toques", "Recuerdos de Borinquen" and
"Mis Amores" at the Teatro
the time of my early
In her later years, during my early teens I had the opportunity to see her be spontaneously invited to play on the stage and jam with the band whenever she was spotted within a venue amongst the crowd by Tito Puente, Machito or another musical colleague. She also was also invited by Bobby Capo to accompany him in several venues whenever he spotted her in the audience. My mother also had a standing invitation from Myrta Sylva herself to play at The Alameda Room (which she owned) and at La Bodequita del Medio, whenever my mother felt in the mood. Watching my mother play was always an education in Music.
work life included working for the Federal Government's Air Force, then the
Navy Department, and then the U.S. Department of Education - Office for Civil
Rights. After 18 years as a Federal
Investigator, she transferred to Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair
Housing and later Equal Opportunity. It
was during her employment with Equal Opportunity when she investigated a
complaint based on disability against the Co-op City complex. My Mom and the Attorneys for Co-op City
(Riverbay Corporation) argued the case based on the no-pets policy of the
complex. My Mom won the case based on
the mental disability of the tenant affected by this discriminatory
policy. It was the first winning legal
her retirement from the Federal Government (October 1994), she became a
volunteer for Lenox Hill Neighborhood
My Mom belonged to a variety of organizations that paved the way for women to reach their goals. Out of all of them, however, only NACOPRW NY survived. She was especially aware that role models for Puerto Rican and Hispanic youth, but especially girls, would be a helpful inspiration towards encouraging their continuing education.
- Distinguished Service and Contribution to the All Nation's Women's League - May 1974
- Certificate of Honor - All Nations Women's Club - May 1974
- El Comité Pro Niños y Adultos Lisiados de Puerto Rico - NY Chapter. Certificate of Merit. In Recognition of Your Many Years of Untiring Care, Concern and Love for the Handicapped Children of Puerto Rico. 12/10/1989.
- NACOPRW Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in the Preparation of Chapter Reports, 18th Annual Conference, Washington, DC November 199
Certificate of Recognition, #1 Treasurer
.. inrecognition of her continued commitment and dedication as Treasurer of the NYC Chapter of NACOPRW. Washington, DC, 21st Annual Conference, November1993.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
...Award (presented upon the occasion of her retirement) in Recognition of Faithful Service (36 years) to the U.S. Government and her individual contribution to the Mission and Goals of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Carmen Delgado Votaw, NaCOPRW National Parlimentarian
CARMEN DELGADO VOTAW- LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS LEADER, MEMBER OF THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR COMMISSION, CO-CHAIR (WITH BELLA ABZUG) OF PRESIDENT CARTER'S NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON WOMEN, PRESIDENT OF THE INTERAMERICAN COMMISSION OF WOMEN
An only child, I was not born a feminist on September 29, 1935, although as I look at my 76-year-old life I keep wondering where I got the instincts to become the lifelong feminist I have become. It came through exposure to injustice and contact with outstanding women like Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Millie Jeffries.
I was born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in a small town on the southeastern coast, Yabucoa, among sugar cane fields, lovely rivers and streams, gentle mountains and a seductive sea. Hurricanes, which accost the island often, traditionally hit land along that coast and my parents used to say that my volatile, frisky personality derives from the influences of those hurricanes.
After I graduated from elementary school
with high honors in a school system where my mother, Candida Paz, was my third and fifth grade teacher and my father, Luis Oscar Delgado, was about to become my seventh grade teacher, I went to junior and high school in San Juan, our capital city, old in history and charm and modern in its cultural manifestations and splendor. There I acquired leadership skills through the Girl Scouts, the Juvenile Red Cross and continued to excel educationally, writing poetry and essays and developing my English reading skills through comic books and Mickey Spillane detective stories.
Two years at the University of Puerto Rico in 1952 -54 launched my working career at the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico in 1955, then the hub of the rapid industrialization effort to lift up the island by its own bootstraps. In 1960 I married a "mainlander," Gregory Votaw, who worked for the Economic Development Administration; shortly thereafter we embarked on a life of international dimensions by going to live in Tehran, Iran for two years. While Greg worked on the development plan for Iran, I learned about Muslim culture, visited orphanages, organized women to have play days at their homes for the orphans in their homes and petitioned the Government and the Mullahs for authorization of adoptions of Iranian kids by foreign persons.
That was my initial "advocacy" effort that launched my second career in lobbying for worthy causes as a professional and
By 1972 I was heavily involved with the League of Women Voters Overseas Education Fund under whose banner we helped organize and strengthen women's organizations in Latin America. As its Vice President, I traveled wide and far in the hemisphere to help women organize to protect their rights and institute practices similar to those the League promoted in the U.S. I was a member of the first committee, under the aegis of the League, who organized and oversaw the first presidential debates in the United States.
So naturally, in 1972 I also joined and soon led the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women to advance Latina women's rights. Pretty soon
Needless to say, this heady and fruitful engagement with women's rights allowed me to play key roles during the Decade for Women, starting in 1975 with the first United Nations World Conference on Women in Mexico City and all the ensuing U.N. Conferences (1980 Copenhagen, Denmark; 1985 Nairobi, Kenya; 1990 Beijing, China). Always straddling the "official" and NGO (non-governmental) Forums, I was entranced with the progress women united had been able to forge.
My concern with women's rights also led me to gravitate toward action on human rights, serving for more than a decade on the Board of the Inter American Institute of Human Rights located in Costa Rica.
Professionally, I became the first Hispanic female Chief of Staff for a Member of Congress, Representative Jaime Fuster, serving the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico for seven years and being his staffer for international affairs in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. During these years I attended The American University, getting a B.A.
The between years found me listed in the leadership or the ranks of the National Women's Political Caucus, the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Independent
Currently I preside the Public Members Association of the Foreign Service (PMA). I have also helped, as George Santayana advised, to recapture "
My personal life has been full with two outstanding sons, Stephen and Michael, and an equally outstanding daughter, Lisa, as well as six grandchildren. The four girls, Alexandra, Anna, Taylor and Abby, have benefitted from my advocacy on Title IX of the Education Amendments (the Equity Act) with their excellent academic records and sports achievements in soccer, basketball and softball; the two males, Daniel and Michael Todd, are doing exceptionally well in science. Michael, the younger one, on lacrosse and Daniel, the eldest, on soccer and softball.
Oh, the memories my life as a mother, professional and feminist
Carmen Delgado Votaw has received many awards and recognition for her work, including the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, Las Primeras Awards from the Mexican American Women's National Association, (MANA). She was inducted into
A Memorial Video with Carmen Delgado Votaw follows below.
We are sad to announce that Vivian Ortiz passed away on April 18th, 2017. The Philadelphia Chapter of NACOPRW would like to extend our sincerest & deepest condolences to the family, friends, and community of our former Chapter President and NACOPRW National President, Vivian Ortiz.
She was a respected leader, a woman of motivation, a positive mentor and role model to all women, specifically of the Puerto Rican community and culture.
She dedicated over 10 years of service to The National Conference of Puerto Rican Women and has become an icon of her times.
We take with us Vivian's strength, as she fought for so long and hard, wisdom, as she enjoyed speaking of tackling the weaknesses of our community around women's issues, loyalty, as all knew they could count on Vivan to be an open mind and a listening ear, and her passion and dedication to the human race, as she loved all whom she welcomed into her space.
Remembering Alice Cardona, one of our Founders
Alice Cardona, a leader in the New York Puerto Rican and Latino community who advocated for women’s rights, minority rights, and bilingual education, died
November 1, 2011 at her Queens home. She was 81.
The author of “Puerto Rican Women Achievers in New York City” (© 1995) and “Rambling on random thoughts”
(© 2004) Alice was the first Latina to receive the Susan B. Anthony Prize, awarded to her in 1983 by the National Organization for Women. Through the years, she was presented with numerous community awards for her tireless work with women and children.
Her legacy also lives on at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter
During the 1960s, she served as Program Coordinator for United Bronx Parents, overseeing programs that facilitated parental involvement in the school system and youth programs. She was also involved with the first Head State program in New York.
Her career flourished in the
From 1983 to 1995, she served as the Assistant Director of the New York State Division for Women during the administration of New York Governor Mario Cuomo. This position allowed her to advocate for bilingual education and women, including those in prison. She also worked to fight HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and domestic violence.
She was either a founder or member of several organizations. She was the Director of the Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs and cofounder of Atrévete, a voter registration and political participation program. She served on the Boards of several organizations, including the National Women’s Political Caucus, the National Association for Bilingual Education, and the Puerto Rican Educators Association.
If you would like to explore her other contributions, legacy and research, you will find them here at El Centro.