essex county commissioners hold annual hispanic heritage month event

Essex County Commissioners 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month Ceremony

Pictured from left to right – District 1 Commissioner Robert Mercado, honoree Alejandro Echevarria, honoree Vereliz Santana, Commissioner Vice President Carlos M. Pomares, honoree Newark Councilman At-Large Luis A. Quintana, District 4 Commissioner Leonard M. Luciano, Commissioner At-Large Patricia Sebold, Essex County Registrar – the Honorable Juan M. Rivera, Jr., and Superintendent of Newark Public Schools – Roger León. PHOTO BY LLOYD HOLMES

(Newark, NJ) – On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners held its annual Hispanic Heritage Month Event. This event is held yearly to celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanic men and women everywhere and honor outstanding Essex County citizens for their unique contributions both to our county and society as a whole.

This year, the Board recognized The Honorable Luis A. Quintana of Newark – Newark Councilman At-Large; Alejandro Echevarria of Bloomfield – Principal of Abington Avenue Elementary School in Newark; and Vereliz Santana of Newark – Co-Vice President of the Newark Board of Education and Director of Lawmaker Engagement at Lawmaker Network.

Commissioner Vice President Carlos M. Pomares began the program with opening remarks speaking to the diversity of Essex County, while noting there are many Hispanic residents across the county that consistently make positive contributions to our communities. “Today we celebrate Hispanic Americans and Hispanic culture.” Commissioner Vice President Pomares stated, “Our honorees are just a mere reflection of the outstanding people that have done great things here in Essex who are of Hispanic descent.” He continued, “We know because of your contributions, we are all the better as a community. We thank you for all you do, and we congratulate all of you on this honor.”

District 1 Commissioner Robert Mercado also brought greetings to the audience echoing Commissioner VP Pomares’ thoughts on diversity. He also touched on the pride he feels as a member of the Hispanic community, and sense of gratitude we should all feel now that gathering restrictions have been relaxed, and we are once again able to meet in large groups, as opposed to holding events virtually. “As a Hispanic American, I am certainly proud to take part in today’s ceremony. The Hispanic community is defined by culture, history, pride, and diversity.” Commissioner Mercado stated. “Last year, due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, our Hispanic Heritage event was held virtually. Thankfully, through the diligent work of our County leadership with respect to vaccination sites, testing sites, and numerous safety measures, we are now able to resume holding events in person.”


The Honorable Luis A. Quintana, presented by Commissioner Patricia Sebold, is a Councilman At-Large for the City of Newark. He was re-elected to his eighth term on May 10, 2022, and made history as the first person of Hispanic descent elected to this position in June 1994. He was also the first person of Puerto Rican ethnicity appointed City Council President, and the first Hispanic person to serve as interim Mayor of Newark – a position he served from October 2013 to July 2014. During his career in public service, he has been driven by his concern that all Newark children receive a fair and equitable education regardless of race, creed or color. He has also served on the Board of the Essex County Vocational Schools; the Board of Trustees of the United Way; the Black & Latino Coalitions of Black & Hispanic Clergy; and as a member of HELO (Hispanic Elected and Local Officials) and President of its Board

Alejandro Echevarria, presented by Commissioner Vice President Pomares, is the principal of Abington Avenue School in Newark. He has worked in the Newark Public School system for 21-years as an elementary teacher, science teacher, vice principal and principal. He is a Newark native and product of Newark Public Schools having attended Roberto Clemente Elementary School, Broadway Junior High School, and Science High School. During the 2017-2018 school year, he was elected Chief Innovation Officer with the City Association of Supervisors and Administrators (CASA), and serves as the president of the Latino Educators Association. He is proud to have his two children attend Abington Avenue School, and is a firm believer that, “if you don’t stand up for children, then you don’t stand for much.”

Vereliz Santana, presented by Commissioner Mercado, is the Director of Lawmaker Engagement at The Lawmaker Network, where she provides the tools and resources needed to connect a diverse community of state lawmakers. Additionally, she currently serves as Co-Vice President of the Newark Board of Education. As the proud daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, she has dedicated her career to public service and has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to championing social, racial, and educational justice. Prior to serving in her current roles, she worked as the Legislative Director to New Jersey Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, and in the office of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka as a Senior Aide where she established and maintained relationships with constituents, community stakeholders, local businesses and partners.

Reverend Leslie A. Ramos, Senior Pastor of La Hermosa Christian Church in Newark delivered prayers during the occasion, and the audience was captivated by the musical talents of singer Jomirys Lozano.

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For Additional Information – Contact:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of County Commissioners
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)
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Board of County Commissioners,
County of Essex
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.,
Room 558 Hall of Records,
Newark, New Jersey 07102