This is a continuation of #VLPowerSummit: Voto Latino Launched it's Four-City Leadership Tour in NYC on April 11-12, Exclusive Interview with CEO Maria Teresa Kumar [Part I] and  #VLPowerSummit and the #VLInnovatorsChallenge: Voto Latino's President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar Shares the Development of the Tech Contest [Interview] [Part II]

VLPowerSummit's breakfast plenary on Saturday, April 12 headlined a full-day of happenings. Business leaders, community activists and well-known faces populated both the stage and the audience. Latino successes stories shared space with future leaders of the industry; at 9 in the morning, the event was already filled to capacity with ingénues and veterans.

Maria Teresa Kumar, the Voto Latino's CEO and President and fearless leader, welcomed everyone to the event, reminding each member of the audience about the organization's history, and its ambitious goals for the future. She also discussed what the attending Millennials could look forward to during the full-day of leadership activities.

"We recognize, with the MacAuthur Foundation, that what you learn, often times, exceeds the classroom expectations. So, if you do an internship, or you attend conferences... if you do anything that enriches yourself or your skillset, that is not taught in the classroom... how do you tell an employer that, aside from listing it on your resume? What we basically want to do is quantify what you have done at Voto Latino conferences, and help spread the word that the internships that you do outside of the classroom are being counted. So, you'll get a digital badge, just like you do with Foursquare, but these badges... you'll be able to use on Facebook and LinkedIn, so that when employers and colleagues, who want to network, see that you got these badges at the Voto Latino Power Summit, they will see that you represent a larger ecosystem; where MacAuthur is working with DePaul University and the city of Chicago. It's going to basically spread around the country... and we're the first organization to do it on such a national scale. So, you guys, Badge Up!"

Kumar then went on to discuss the VL Innovators Challenge, a tech competition, which arms young Latinos to create large and small technological applications, with the help of Google and MacAuthur Foundation. After, she introduced the zealous Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who was elected in a special election on April 21.

Diaz shared that he was introduced to politics at the tender age of 7; at the age of 20, he was a district leader. He ran for the state assembly at the age of 22 years old for the first time, and lost that race. When he was 23 years old, as a young husband and father of two, he knocked on ten thousand doors, and became the youngest person in the state legislature at the time. Diaz reminded everyone that "strong politics make for strong policy."

"I think my perspective, or my job here today, is to let you know exactly why this is important, and exactly why an area like New York City really depends on the labor, work and commitment of Voto Latino. I was born and raised in the Bronx. Mami and Papi are from Puerto Rico," shared Diaz. Diaz's father ran for state senate, when Diaz was a child, which first acquainted him with politics. "Now, Papi didn't win that race, and he didn't win other races, fast forward... he continued to help out people in some shape or form."

PHOTOS: Voto Latino Power Summit 2014 in NYC: A Decade of Celebrating & Empowering Latinos

"Out there, you don't just want to work on civil rights... you don't just want to do well for your community as a representative, but you also have to face some of the subtleties of the negative stereotypes. For instance, I'm happy that we're doing this on a CUNY campus, I'm a CUNY twofer... I graduated from Laguardia and Lehman College. So, get a load of this... I go up to Albany, I'm 23-years-old; I'm with my wife, my two sons... my mom and my dad. I get sworn in, and I sit next to a gentleman, who's also an assembly member. I'm CUNY, Laguardia, and I'm still a student at Lehman, at the time. And, he's Harvard and Yale Law... and so we're talking to each other, getting to meet each other... know one another. And, he asked, 'So which college did you go to, again?' And, I said, 'I went to Laguardia Community College in Queens, and I'm currently attending Lehman College in the Bronx.' And, he goes... 'Oh, I went to Harvard...and Yale Law.' Now, nothing against anyone who went to Harvard or Yale, but it was just his tone, it was the way he was talking to me... he was, like, condescending. So, I was like, 'Get a load of this, I am CUNY, and you're Harvard and Yale Law, and here we are sitting next to one another, with the same job... and the same salary. So, either I am wonderful success, or you're a terrible failure.' But, these are the type of things that we have to deal with... whether you're young, whether your parents come from the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Central, South America... people are going to try to push you down, and tell you to stay in your lane, the same way they did to Maria Teresa [Kumar]," said Diaz.

The Bronx Borough Prez went on to say that people will try to push you down in a way that's covert... more subtle or stealth... it's more sophisticated now. And, it's important to recognize this, because in spite of all of the gains that Voto Latino has been able to bring forth, the Latino community still has a long way to go.

While Latinos make up about 25 percent of the population in New York City, and nearly 20 percent of the population in New York State, when it comes to policy, Latinos still are not respected. The percentage of Latino officials and elected representatives in no way matches the population; with 20 percent of the population being Latino in the state, according to Diaz, only 10 percent, are Latino. And, with 25 percent of the city being Latino, there still has not been a city-wide Latino elected official in the city's history.

"So, who's to blame? You got up early, you're obviously motivated. Latinos are registered... The most registered last name in the city of New York is Rodriguez. Yet, why can't we have a mayor in the city of New York that's of Latino descent? I am Puerto Rican; and out of 435 members of the House of Representatives living in the nation, there are only three Puerto Ricans," Diaz said, looking down at the quiet audience. "And, this is important, because you can't get to good policy... the DREAM Act just failed in the state by two votes, one of the two votes came from a Democrat. I'm embarrassed, I'm ashamed. We always point fingers at Republicans; one of the Democrats is from Brooklyn, is he going to pay the price? When you look at education and how the funding is spliced... where are we getting shortchanged? In the Latino community. Why is it that Latinos are increasing in population, and Millennials are being born at 800 million+ a year, why is that ESL classes being reduced? It's a set up. I, as the Board President, can scream until I'm blue in the face, but if I don't have an army behind me, and the elected officials don't have an army behind them, then we'll continue to be blue in the face. You want strong policy? You, the DREAMers, want to make sure you have the DREAM Act? Want to make sure we have more funding for education? You want to make sure that you have respect? Show it at the ballot box. This is why it's important, strong politics, makes for an even stronger policy."

He explained that when he was growing up, he had pioneers who opened doors for him, individuals who are no longer here, and he went on to name many who he looked to for inspiration, including the first Puerto Rican woman elected to a state legislature, Olga A. Méndez. He stated that all of the men and women that he mentioned gave blood, sweat and tears for the collective advancement. They were beaten, slapped and shunned, but they kept going, in spite of having less education than those present at the Voto Latino Power Summit; they had no pioneers; and even less elected officials to look to.

"History is being made every day. Don't you wait for tomorrow, the world is yours today. Make those individuals proud, we stand on their shoulders. We are a beautiful, eclectic people, and sometimes people want us to be divided, don't fall for that," said Diaz. "If you look at somebody like Sonia Sotomayor, Puerto Rican and from the Bronx... Sonia Sotomayor makes Puerto Ricans proud, but there's no way in the Universe that that Puerto Rican sister from the Bronx would be sitting in the highest court of the land if it wasn't for the Mexican leadership of this nation. If we work together, unidos, hashing out the differences indoors, instead of throwing our laundry out into the street... if we believe what Cesar Chavez did, if we come together... the forces and efforts of Voto Latino, not only will we be a political power house, but we will also get the policies, so that our future generations can be in a better place than we are today." Diaz then thanked everyone for showing up; reminding the youngsters that showing up was 90 percent of success. Then proclaimed, "Let's take over the city, let's take over the state, let's take over the world. Voto Latino!"

The 40-year-old Democrat was elected into office five years prior to his father's election to the New York City Council, and was in fact the youngest person elected to the legislative since Theodore Roosevelt. During his stay with the Assembly, Diaz has sponsored, co-sponsored and passed legislation that's addressed public record access, healthcare, insurance fraud, minimum wage and overtime pay, environmental protection, pedestrian safety, tenants' rights, environmental racism and senior citizens' rights. Diaz is a civil actor on behalf of the Latino community and is an advocate for the disenfranchised.

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