(LOS ANGELES), June 22, 2016 – After months of excited anticipation, Latino Outdoors (LO) Founder José González has announced the appointment of Richard Rojas Sr., Chuck Rocha, Jenny de la Hoz, Annie Burke, Midy Aponte, and Carol Olson to serve as Latino Outdoors’ first Advisory Board. José adds, “I am excited to announce such a strong team of talented and strategic leaders who are invested in the future and growth of Latino Outdoors. From the beginning, this has been about building a community, and now this support is welcome and critical as our work continues to expand on a national scale.”
As Advisory Board members, appointees will assist Latino Outdoors staff and volunteers with developing policies, procedures and governing guidelines, as well as assisting with the business of operating a new and growing organization. “On behalf of our entire LO Advisory Board, we all are very excited, eager and ready to assist Jose, Graciela Cabello (LO National Director) and their dedicated community of volunteers in supporting LO’S mission and vision” said Richard Rojas, Sr., newly appointed Advisory Board Chair. Rojas also added, “Connecting youth with nature, mentoring the next generation of Latino conservation stewards and telling and sharing the stories of our collective Latino outdoor experience holds special meaning for each of us. So, we are prepared and committed to laying a strong organizational foundation that we are certain others will continue build on.”
Advisory Board members shall serve for two years. At their first meeting, the Advisory Board appointed Richard Rojas to serve as Chairman, Chuck Rocha as Vice-Chairman and Jenny de la Hoz as Secretary.
Richard A. Rojas, Sr., Chairman
After completing a 32-year career with California State Parks — raising from the ranks of journey-level Ranger to District Superintendent, Rojas believes that public service doesn’t end at retirement. Since retiring in 2008, Rojas has become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer assisting kids in foster care, has served as Goleta City Parks & Recreation Commissioner, and continues to serve on a variety of historic preservation, parks, open-space and youth oriented community organizations. He and his wife Ophelia live in La Habra, CA.
Chuck Rocha, Vice-Chairman
Born and raised in Tyler, Texas, Chuck Rocha followed in his father’s footsteps as a union worker for the Kelly – Springfield Tire Company. Chuck started his union career at 19 as a member of the United Rubber Workers Local 746. He soon after became the youngest officer ever to be elected of Local 746 and later was appointed as National Political Director. Chuck became the only Latino to serve as the National Political Director of a significant U.S. labor union. He served as Dick Gephardt’s and John Edwards’ National Labor Director during the 2004/2008 presidential election cycles.
In 2010, Chuck founded Solidarity Strategies, a consulting firm that specializes in providing political services including mail, phones, and general consulting to progressive candidates, corporations, and non-profits. Solidarity Strategies is a 100% minority owned small business. Clients vary from Vote Vets, NCLR Action Fund to Bernie Sanders for President.
Chuck served on the executive boards of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Labor Council of Latin American Advancement. He currently serves as an Executive Board Member for the Hispanic Lobbyists Association, Demos, and is a Senior Advisor to Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign. He is a graduate of the Harvard University Trade Union program.
Chuck frequently makes appearances on the news providing insight on Latino issues and current political races. He is a regular contributor to FOX News as a Latino vote expert and democratic strategist.
Jenny F. de la Hoz, Secretary
Jenny Fabiola de la Hoz’s personal mission is to share her passion and love of the natural world with people from all cultural backgrounds. Born in Colombia and raised in United States, she considers herself a cultural broker who helps decipher and interpret different cultures and systems. She fell in love with nature as young child by watching Jacques Cousteau on television despite living in a very urban environment not close to the ocean. She has taught for over 20 years in both formal and informal environments always with an eye to equity and inclusion. When she is not working, she loves to hang out with her family and dog, read, binge watch shows and documentaries, and dance hula.
Annie Burke is Deputy Director at the Bay Area Open Space Council, a regional network of organizations and agencies protecting and stewarding parks, open spaces, and farmlands. She leads three key aspects of the Open Space Council’s work: the ‘Communications and Outreach’ program area including the Outdoor Voice program and diversity and inclusion efforts; ‘Convening and Community Building’ program area which includes Gatherings and the Open Space Conference; the organization’s fundraising department.
In 2015 she produced a film Here and Now which tells four stories of partnerships between Native Americans and land conservation organizations. The film has been accepted into film festivals and has been shown at a variety of conferences and events.
Prior to the Open Space Council, Annie held a variety of roles in small and large nonprofits in the Bay Area. She was Director of Development at Rubicon Programs for 5 years, and there she more than tripled the unrestricted revenue for the $15m nonprofit. In consulting roles at the Women’s Earth Alliance and the Business Council for Climate Change, Annie learned about the power of convening people around shared values and goals while she worked on fundraising from diverse sources. She spent 4 years in the national offices at Kaiser Permanente deeply involved with change management, organization development, and process redesign. Annie started Outside Kids which makes it easier for families to get outside together. Annie has a B.A. in Psychology from Denison University and a Masters in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco.
Carol Olson is the founder and principal of Basecamp Strategies, partnering with non-profit organizations, foundations, and other collaborators to engage young people in the outdoors and advance environmental stewardship. She brings her 20-year background in non-profit and foundation management to find collaborative solutions to complex problems. Previously, Carol was the Director of Environment & Stewardship Programs with the Morgan Family Foundation where she spearheaded major collaborative initiatives, including the Northern Sierra Partnership, the California Stewardship Network, and the Environmental Education Funders Collaborative. Carol served for ten years as the President/CEO of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, where her cooperative approach engaged the business, government and non-profit sectors to better serve the community at large.
Midy Aponte is an accomplished communication strategist whose collective work experience spans the public, private, and government sector.
She is currently a vice president at Spitfire Strategies, a campaign planning and training firm serving foundations and non-profits based in Washington, D.C. She reports into the agency’s San Francisco office.
Between 2011 and 2014, Midy served as the Founding Executive Director of the American Latino Heritage Fund (ALHF) of the National Park Foundation. A position created by the Former Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar. Her charge was to build a national non-profit fund, ALHF, and inspire awareness of historic preservation, outdoor recreation, and conservation and stewardship of national parks among American Latino audiences.
In 2009, she founded her own consultancy, The Sánchez Ricardo Agency, aimed at building strategies for reaching Hispanic audiences through social media.
Midy’s career began in 1999 at Golin where she worked for more than six years in public health communications. She joined the reputation management firm, Walker Marchant in 2006 and gained valuable experience in corporate communications, litigation and reputation management, public affairs, and diversity and inclusion counsel.
When not on a plane, train or automobile, Midy can be found at the gym, or hosting brunches and dinner parties. She is a graduate of Florida International University and is an alumna of the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Executive Leadership Program Class of 2011 and the Hispanic Leaders Program with the U.S. Spain Council’s Class of 2014.
A native of Miami, FL, Midy relocated to Denver, Colorado after a decade in Washington.
Jose Gonzalez, Ex-Officio
José González is an experienced educator in formal and informal education in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. He has broad experience as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University Of Michigan School Of Natural Resources & Environment. He is the Founder of Latino Outdoors, a founding member of the Latino Conservation Alliance, a Board Member for California Releaf, and serves on the Urban Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board, among other steering committee appointments.