Susan I. Santana serves as Assistant Vice President, Federal Relations for AT&T. In this capacity, Ms. Santana is responsible for representing AT&T’s legislative interests before the U.S. Congress on matters related to technology, internet, taxes and telecommunications. Prior to this role, Susan served on the External Affairs team of AT&T, developing and managing long-term strategic relationships with key constituency groups. Previously, Ms. Santana served as Government Affairs Counsel for Dell Inc. where she was charged with conveying Dell’s key policy messages and business interests to the U.S. House and Senate in the areas of Trade, Energy & Environment, Telecom, Diversity and Education. Prior to going in-house, Ms. Santana was practiced law as a Senior Associate in the area of Corporate Diversity Counseling in the Public Policy Group of Holland & Knight.
Before that, Ms. Santana served as the Executive Director of the Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation in Washington, DC. In 1998, Ms. Santana was a corporate attorney for the international law firm of Baker and McKenzie in San Diego, California specializing in cross-border transactions. During her tenure there, Ms. Santana was elected to serve as the General Counsel for the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to practicing law, Ms. Santana received a fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and clerked for a federal judge on the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. She received a double bachelor degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and earned her law degree in from UCLA School of Law.
Ms. Santana’s involvement in the community has been extensive including board service and leadership positions on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Education Fund, past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C., and current President of the Hispanic Lobbyists Association in Washington D.C.
As Senior Legislative Director, Susie Saavedra is charged with developing advocacy strategies that support the Urban League’s stated goals to provide quality, accessible healthcare; and education that prepares children for college work and life. Ms. Saavedra monitors and analyzes legislative and regulatory activity, provides direction and counsel on advocacy strategies and is the Urban League’s representative on a number of coalitions related to education reform and healthcare.
Ms. Saavedra also leads the education and healthcare Affiliate Task Force groups, helping Urban League CEOs stay abreast of national policy developments and offering counsel on the implications at the state level and providing technical assistance so they canadvocate for their interests at the state and local level.
Ms. Saavedra brings more than a decade of congressional experience working on policies to meet the needs of underserved and underrepresented communities. She has worked in both the House and Senate for high-profile members including then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and most recently as a Legislative Director for Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37). In 2011, Ms. Saavedra was elected by her peers to serve as the President of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association.
Ms. Saavedra received a Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from the University of Denver.
Omar Franco is a federal government lobbyist in the firm's Government Law & Lobbying Practice and is the Managing Director of the Washington D.C. office. Omar was named one of the nation's most powerful Hispanic lobbyists by Latino magazine. He serves on the Board of Directors for the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) where he completed the ALL’s Lobbying Certificate Program (LCP).
Omar's client base includes Intuit, Algenol Biofuels, Safrema Energy, Dade Medical College, University of Southernmost Florida, Gold Coast Florida Regional Center, Hi-G-Tek, Realauction.com, Palm Beach County, FL and the Town of Southwest Ranches, FL, among others.
Omar served as the President of the Hispanic Lobbyist Association (HLA) after having served on the Board of Directors for five years.
Omar began federal lobbying in 1999 when he became Director of Governmental Relations for the University of Miami’s School of Medicine. In 2001, University of Miami President Donna Shalala promoted him to Assistant Vice President of Governmental Relations where he represented the university at both the federal and state levels of government and primarily worked on appropriations and health care issues.
In 2003, Omar was named Chief of Staff for Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). Omar held this position for over four years, managing the Congressman’s Washington D.C. and district operations and closely counseling the Congressman in his areas of expertise which include federal appropriations, health care, transportation, higher education and issues dealing with Hispanics and the state of Florida. During his tenure, Omar assisted in founding the Congressional Hispanic Conference and the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute.
In 2007, Omar joined Petrizzo Strategic Group where he was the lead government relations consultant for the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, Stratus Pharmaceuticals, Pacer Health, FalconTrust Air, Florida Gulf Coast University, Secure Wrap, Medica HealthCare Plans, and the municipalities of Hialeah, Miami Lakes and North Bay Village. He also worked on federal issues for CNL Financial Group, Vulcan, Inc., Charter Communications and Frontier Communications, among others.
Omar founded Franco Government Relations in 2010 where he represented the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the Town of Miami Lakes and continues representing the municipalities of Hialeah, North Bay Village and Hialeah Gardens.
Omar began his government service in 1993 as the District Legislative Assistant for Florida State Representatives Art Simon (Democrat) and Annie Betancourt (Democrat) and then Florida State Senator Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican). He also worked as a Field Office Director for the Florida Medical Association before joining the University of Miami.
Liz Lopez has eight years of private sector experience advising clients in the formulation of national legislative policy and building strong relationships with internal and external partners to achieve clients’ business objectives. Her clients have included Fortune 500 companies, national trade associations and a Native American tribe.
Ms. Lopez develops and communicates policy positions to members of Congress and administration officials. She regularly works with House and Senate leadership, Minority Congressional Caucuses and other key Washington stakeholders. She assists clients in lobbying efforts primarily in the areas of appropriations, education, tax, transportation and telecommunications.
Ms. Lopez often is featured on national political shows on radio and television, including CNN, CNN en Español, NTN 24, Univision, Telemundo, and Voice of America. She is fluent in Spanish.
In 2012, Ms. Lopez was selected by the U.S. Department of State to participate in its international outreach program surrounding the 2012 presidential elections and the U.S. electoral process. She travelled to Colombia, Ecuador, and Paraguay as part of a bipartisan State Department delegation. Ms. Lopez shared her perspective as a political strategist and engaged a broad audience of students, political and business leaders, and numerous media outlets.
Ms. Lopez currently serves on the board of the Hispanic Leaders Association. She has held numerous other elected leadership positions, including Hispanic Lobbyists Association (HLA) Board Member and Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) National Vice President of External Affairs.
Ms. Lopez graduated with an A.B. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1997 and earned her J.D. from Boston College Law School in 2000.
Board Members At-Large
Roberto Adrian Fierro is a Senior Associate at D&P Creative Strategies and represents clients' interests on Capitol Hill. Roberto assists in the development of strategies for clients and works with third party organizations on policy issues. Most recently, Roberto served as Vice President of Solidarity Strategies, where he honed his political skills and helped to elect the most diverse U.S. Congress in American history and re-elect President Barack Obama. His work at Solidarity Strategies allowed him to forge strong relationships with new and returning Congressional Members and their respective staff.
After the fellowship, Roberto taught 9th grade World History in Washington D.C. His dedication to young people and education coupled with his passion for social and environmental justice inspired him to create a nonprofit organization with his wife Natalie. The Institute for Student Health continues the work it started in San Diego, CA by now facilitating and encouraging healthy eating and an active lifestyle in Washington, DC
Roberto holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego and an M.A. from the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He began his public service at the San Diego County's Auditor and Controller Department where he garnered vast administrative and financial experience. Ultimately his interest in global issues led him to pursue his Masters Degree in International Studies. Roberto was born in San Diego, California raised in Tijuana, Mexico and educated in American schools. His dual cultural and bilingual upbringing heavily influenced his commitment to foster more productive and positive relations between communities, organizations and leaders on both sides of the border. Roberto’s combination of administrative, financial, educative and community organizing experience allows him to take a multi-disciplined approach that facilitates cooperation and collaboration through positive communication.
The former head of NALEO’s Washington, DC office and an experienced participant in policy-making at the federal and state levels, Larry Gonzalez helps clients develop and implement comprehensive strategic plans to engage the Latino community and Hispanic members of Congress.
Larry joined The Raben Group in 2006 and is a leader in the LatinStrategies practice group. In addition, Larry represents a growing client portfolio before the House and Senate banking and judiciary committees. A leader in numerous legislative battles, Larry has a deep understanding of the importance of coalition building and the nuances of the policy making process.
Before moving to Washington D.C., he served as a legislative aide in the Illinois State Senate. Larry also worked as an aide for the Cook County, Illinois Board of Commissioners and as director of communications at the Cook County Clerk's office. He has extensive political campaign experience, having run successful state senate, state representative and county board campaigns.
Larry was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and holds a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from Western Illinois University.
Allen Gutierrez serves as the National Executive Director of The Latino Coalition, a national organization that represents Latino interests with senior executives of many Fortune 500 companies and government agencies both federal and local.
He is also the founder of The MCA Group based out of Southern California with emphasis on Federal & private sector procurement, special events management and multicultural marketing. Prior to joining the entrepreneur spirit and starting his own company he was the Chief Operating Officer of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce a national organization that represents the interest of over 2 million Hispanic Owned Businesses.
Prior to joining USHCC, Mr. Gutierrez previously served as Senior Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as the Senior Advisor to the Office of International Trade. Mr. Gutierrez was part of the senior team that executed the President’s Management Agenda that help create a more transparent and results orientated agency. He was also a member of the Executive Resource Board that advises the Administrator on matters involving senior management. During his tenure in the Office of International Trade one of his accomplishment was he served as the key representative for SBA during the CAFTA-DR negotiations as well as coordinated and executed bilateral agreements within the APEC and OECD organizations.
Maritza Kelley is the Senior Director of Advocacy and Legislative Affairs for First Focus,an organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy decisions. In this role she works closely with the First Focus team to implement strategies to support First Focus’ priority initiatives.
Before coming to First Focus, Maritza worked as an Associate at the Ibarra Strategy Group, where she handled a diverse portfolio of non-profit and corporate clients, advancing their public policy goals with elected officials, communities of color and advocacy organizations.
Prior to joining ISG, she worked four years at the Texas State Capitol. During the 2009 81st Legislature, she led the policy direction and coordinated consensus building among 44 Members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the largest and oldest Latino caucus in the United States. During the 2007 80th Legislature, she worked as a research analyst at Moak, Casey and Associates, providing in-depth analyses of education legislation for client school districts.
Maritza attended graduate school at the University of Texas Austin, receiving a Master’s of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Master’s of Arts from the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz. In 2008, she was selected to join a team of researchers to execute the study, “Risk and Vulnerability Assessment in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic,” which received the 2010 American Planning Association National Award for Best Applied Research Project. In 2007, she was the recipient of a Ford Motor Company Social Enterprise Fellowship to provide consultation to an NGO in Puebla, Mexico.
She is a native speaker of Spanish.
Rich Lopez currently serves as Director of Federal Government Affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers whose membership is comprised of over 85 percent of the world’s automakers who have a presence in the United States. In his role at the Alliance, Rich works with the Hispanic community on issues of concern to the auto industry, formulates coalitions with Hispanic groups that hold similar auto related interests and helps organize Hispanic representatives from each of the auto companies to discuss issues of concern to the community and where the industry can be of assistance.
Prior to being recruited by the Alliance, Rich was Executive Director of Legislative Affairs at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) where he helped promote Latino issues such as the DREAM Act and the Latino Museum to Senators, Members of Congress and their staff.
He also worked with Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to help them navigate Congress and department reauthorization bills to expand research and development grants to HSIs whose main focus was on specific sectors of the economy that lacked Hispanic representation. Rich also spent many years on Capitol Hill as the Executive Director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s political arm, BOLD PAC, and as Senior Legislative Assistant / Deputy Floor Director for Congressman Joe Baca. He also spent several years working for Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, both on his re-election campaign in Nevada and in his Washington DC office as Director of Advance and Legislative Correspondent.
Rich has remained active in Hispanic politics and continues to provide support to both the community as well as to candidates seeking both federal and state office. He sees the next generation of Latinos as the future of the country and has been a mentor to Hispanic staff through the CHSA mentor/mentee program and through social activities both on and off the Hill. As a HLA founding board member and recently re-elected board member, Rich would like to continue his efforts to assist the community and those that are looking to rise in the political realm as Congressional staff, corporate professional and/or an elected official.
Rich is a native Texan that has spent the last 12 years working in DC with a short stint in Austin at the Texas Legislature, where he got his political start as a Senate Messenger over 15 years ago. He has two older brothers and spends his time traveling around the world learning about the vastly different communities and cultures each country provides. He loves DC and often calls it his adopted home and has no plans of leaving anytime soon.
Isaac Reyes has more than fifteen years of experience in government and public affairs. Before joining Target Corporation’s Government Affairs office, Mr. Reyes was at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the Director of Congressional & Public Affairs.
Prior to working at the Chamber, he was a principal in the government relations firm of Austin, Copelin & Reyes, specializing in the design and execution of successful legislative policy and political strategies.
Mr. Reyes served as a Policy Advisor under Senator Tom Daschle’s Democratic Policy Committee, where he worked with all Democratic Senators and staff to build consensus and implement policy to advance goals of the Democratic Leadership. Mr. Reyes also served as Legislative Director for Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX). Additionally, Mr. Reyes served as an advisor to Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in the critical swing state of New Mexico.
Chuck has 25 years of political campaign experience and is an expert in mail and phone services, Latino engagement and outreach, coalition building and fundraising. He has worked for the United Steelworkers for 13 years as a Political Director and also at Blue Green Alliance until he launched Solidarity Strategies as President in 2009.
Solidarity Strategies is a firm that reflects the values he learned in Texas and across the country running campaigns. Solidarity brings together his 25 years of political experience and draws on the talents of other progressive partners.
Born and raised in Tyler, Texas, Chuck Rocha followed in his father’s footsteps as a union worker for the Springfield Tire Company and a member of United Rubber Workers Local 746. His passion for organizing for Local 746 earned him the record of youngest officer ever elected in their Local. Eight short years later, Chuck was appointed to the post of national political director of the United Steel Workers of America. At the time, Chuck was the only Latino serving as a political director in a major national union.
Chuck is a graduate of the Harvard University Trade Union program. He has served on the board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and is a current fellow for the Center for National Policy.
Estuardo Rodriguez, Jr. serves as the Counsel on Media and Communications at The Raben Group where he brings years of experience with media and message development consultation, in addition to extensive experience with government affairs and specialized marketing to Hispanic communities.
Mr. Rodriguez works with a number of non-profit organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) as well as private sector companies that include V-me Media, Inc. (V-me) and The Home Depot. His work involves development of messaging campaigns, grassroots outreach, legislative monitoring, federal lobbying and coalition building.
Mr. Rodriguez currently leads an initiative supporting Congressman Xavier Becerra’s National Museum of the American Latino Community Commission Act, which calls for the creation of a national museum in Washington, D.C. to house the cultural contributions and experience of Hispanic Americans. Mr. Rodriguez works closely with both parties in the House and Senate to garner support for the bill. He and the firm have worked to create the infrastructure for a non-profit organization that will unify the resources, supporters and partners that will ultimately make this museum a reality.
Prior to joining The Raben Group, Mr. Rodriguez was an independent consultant and attorney providing political marketing and media relation services in New York and Washington, D.C. In addition, he worked closely with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the 2004 presidential race to manage and direct their media relations effort on a three-state bus tour through Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. He worked closely with House members Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Xavier Becerra (CA), Grace Napolitano (CA), civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, former Secretary Federico Peña and others during that campaign.
Prior to his independent consultancy, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), through Cohn & Wolfe - New York, engaged Mr. Rodriguez to promote a national diabetes education and awareness initiative in top U.S. Hispanic markets. The effort brought national exposure to the campaign through national television programs on Telemundo, more than 50 Spanish language newspapers, and several national and top market Spanish language radio programs and networks.
Mr. Rodriguez began his professional law career at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, where he worked as an attorney under Secretary Henry Cisneros and later Secretary Andrew Cuomo. His focus was federal program enforcement, which entailed filing complaints against and debarring individuals and companies who misappropriated or mismanaged funds secured through HUD programs.
Raised in Washington, D.C., Mr. Rodriguez received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Barry International Catholic University in Miami, Fl., and his Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law in New York City. Mr. Rodriguez is a co-founder and President of the Hispanic Lobbyists Association, a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C. and a Board Member of the Fairfax County Medical Care for Children Partnership.
As President of Tonio Burgos & Associates of Washington, D.C., Max directs the firm's operations in the Nation's Capital. He brings a broad background of experience that includes the non-profit sector and government sector at the federal and state level. Max is a former Senior Policy Advisor for Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez where he gained expertise on issues relating to telecommunications, health care, and homeland security as well as issues important to the Latino community and Puerto Rico.
Prior to his work in Congress, he was the Advocacy State Director for AARP in Puerto Rico where he worked on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid issues and on consumer issues that impacted the senior population.
Mr. Trujillo has also served in State government, first, as a Deputy Advisor to the Governor for Social Welfare and Civil Rights and later as Legislative Counsel for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico House of Representatives' Committee on Economic Development.
His experience in government work, advocacy and coalition building brings to our clients a professional that knows how to manage political relationships, develop policy positions and strengthen partnerships with national or local organizations.
A graduate of Marquette University with Majors in Political Science and History, Max also holds a law degree from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law and a Master of Laws from American University Washington College of Law in International Legal Studies. He is a licensed attorney in the State of Maryland.