Meet The Fellows

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) is proud to announce the inaugural class of Journalism Camp: covering race, ethnicity, and culture!

Danna Matheus, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, is a first-generation immigrant; currently residing in the Washington DC area. Danna is a Communications graduate from Frederick Community College and a Journalism student at the University of Maryland. Danna has experience as a news reporter for “The Commuter,” a student-run newspaper, and as a producer for “Discovering your Future,â€� a podcast that helps students to find their passion.

“I believe the more we know about different cultures, ethnicities, and races, the more tolerant and less judgmental we will be,” she said.

Giana Aguilar-Valencia is a junior at the University of Central Florida. Giana grew up in a Colombian-Immigrant household. She is a first-generation American and first-generation college student. “Navigating both the American lifestyle and educational processes has been a handful,” she said. “Speaking Spanish at home and English everywhere else felt like a built culture shock. Although I am grateful to have learned my beautiful language and grew up very attached to my culture, I find myself unique from those around me.”

Jacqueline Cardenas is an undergrad student majoring in journalism with a concentration in Latino Communication at DePaul University. Jacqueline is a first-generation Mexican American who wishes to diversify the news industry. She is the editor-in-chief of the first Spanish-language student newspaper in Chicago— La DePaulia.

“This program would allow me to be a part of critical discussions surrounding the harsh realities of being a Latina women reporter and become prepared to face challenges that will help me become a stronger journalist,” she said.

Kiara Coll Ramirez is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo (UPRA), and the recipient of the 2022 Hortencia Zavala Foundation Scholarship. Coll was also president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Student Chapter at UPRA. She plans to attend graduate school. “I am a proud Latina puertorriqueña searching for new opportunities and experiences to keep growing,� Coll wrote in her scholarship application. She said she never saw herself as a leader, but with the help of her colleagues worked hard to become one.

Nadia Carolina Hernandez is a junior at DePaul University studying journalism. Nadia is the print managing editor of The DePaulia and president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists – DePaul.

“My passion is reporting about marginalized communities and diversifying newsrooms and their coverage,” she said. “This city (Chicago) and its Latino community are unique. I will engage in this Bootcamp with curiosity and grit.”

The FREE virtual workshop is led by award-winning news media veteran and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), Hugo Balta.

As part of the program, all of the stories produced by the fellows were published on one or all of the Latino News Network news outlets. Balta is the owner and publisher of the Latino News Network.

“It is imperative that students get real work experiences and mentoring to navigate a newsroom that more often than not is not diverse and inclusive,� said Balta.

Due to a lack of equitable representation in newsrooms, there is an urgent need to train journalists to be transparent in news gathering and reporting on the complexity of racial identity, social constructs relating to ethnic terms, and cultural competence.

Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling is a course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.

Guest speakers also share insights on networking with a purpose, strategies for managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.

The weekly class will begin on September 7.

Publisher’s Notes: Special thanks to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) for their help in promoting the Journalism Camp. May of the candidates who applied are members of the organization.

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Please consider making a donation to HZF: Support Journalism.

MALN Opinion+: Vanessa Calderon-Rosado

Welcome to another episode of Massachusetts Latino News Opinion+, where we talk about major issues the Latinx and underrepresented communities face.

This week we spoke with Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción.

“Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción or IBA was founded in 1968 by a group of Puerto Rican activists that fought for their rights to stay in the neighborhood of the South End in Boston. They basically stopped the city bulldozers, and the displacement threats that they faced when the city was planning to do a whole process of urban renewal in the South End.

This group of Puerto Rican activists created Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción to become the community development organization that would redevelop and revitalize the neighborhood and create secure affordable housing.

Almost 55 years later IBA continues the legacy of their founders by creating, developing, and reserving affordable housing in the South End and across Boston.

IBA also offers an assortment of programs to support young people such as bi-lingual preschool programs, financial empowerment initiatives, youth development projects, and arts programs. This assortment of programs combined with their work to secure affordable housing makes IBA a driving force in modern community development. 

Coming up this Saturday July 16th, 2022 IBA’s Festival Betances returns to Plaza Betances here in Boston after a multi-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have a full day planned of exciting activities for everyone. This year’s theme is ¡De Bomba a Reggaetón! They’ll be celebrating and enjoying an assortment of bands and artists. There will also be plenty of food, arts and crafts, a parade, and their annual greased pole climbing competition. Vanessa shared that the competition is one of the most exciting parts of the festival, “People gather around that greased pole. Its so exciting to see the power, the grit, and the determination of these teams to keep climbing the pole until someone finally grabs the flag on top of it. It’s truly very exciting.â€�

IBA hopes that anyone and everyone in the Boston community will come out this Saturday and join them in celebrating the rich history and culture they have fostered right here in the city’s South End.

For more information about IBA, and The Festival Betances be sure to watch this weeks full episode of Massachusetts Latino News Opinion+.

Resources: (IBA Main Website) (Festival Betances Info)

Facebook: @IBAboston

Twitter: @IBA_Boston

LinkedIn: @IBA – Inquilinos Boricuas en AcciónInstagram: @ibaboston

Supreme Court EPA Ruling Will Disproportionately Impact Vulnerable Communities

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency last Thursday, restricting the agency’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the country as climate change continues to disproportionately impact low-income communities and residents of color. 

Moving forward, the EPA will need explicit permission from Congress to enforce such regulations. The 6-to-3 decision has also sparked concerns nationwide that the ruling might affect the regulatory efforts of similar federal agencies, according to GBH. 

“The consequences of this decision will ripple across the entire federal government, from the regulation of food and drugs to our nation’s health care system, all of which will put American lives at risk,â€� said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. 

Research experts and environmental advocates continue to study the variety of ways climate change continues to affect vulnerable communities throughout the country. 

“Disasters can have the effect of widening existing inequalities,� said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior economist at the Office of Research at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Black residents who experience extreme weather encountered financial issues three times the rate of white people while Latino residents faced financial problems more than twice the rate of white people, according to a nationwide survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  

“Facing extreme weather has had a substantial impact on millions of Americans, who have had serious property damage, health, and financial consequences,” said Professor Robert J. Blendon of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from GBH.

Cover Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP

Community Experts Prepare for Abortion Restrictions’ Disproportionate Impact on BIPOC

Community experts and advocates expect the overturn of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey to disproportionately impact people of color across the country. 

Suffolk University Law School Professor and Director Renée Landers explained that women of color mostly choose to get an abortion for financial reasons or because they lack adequate healthcare and insurance coverage.

“This notion that this is a decision about respecting the health and wellbeing of women and children, or pregnant people and children, is just not credible given [the] current status of things,” Landers told GBH.

Local leaders are especially concerned about potential criminal charges that may follow BIPOC women seeking abortions in restrictive states or if they travel out of state for the procedure, as criminalization currently disproportionately impacts communities of color. 

“We need to be extraordinarily vigilant about how we go about organizing our day-to-day lives,â€� said Executive Director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston. “With the landscape, the risk of criminalization, it is really important to get legal advice, especially if you’re in a state where these trigger laws are starting to pop up.â€� 

Experts also expect the Supreme Court’s ruling to disproportionately impact low-income residents living in rural areas of states where abortions are now banned since these individuals likely lack the transportation to travel out of state for an abortion.  

Rural communities have become more racially and ethically diverse over the last decade, according to Brookings. In 2020, census population data found that 24% of rural Americans were people of color. 

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services,” Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday.

Baker responded to Friday’s ruling with a “shield lawâ€� that aims to protect abortion providers from out-of-state lawsuits. 

“The Commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access,â€� Baker said. “This executive order will further preserve that right and protect reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents.â€� 

In 2020, the State House passed the ROE Act, which established abortion access up to 24 weeks with exceptions after 24 weeks and authorized anyone age 16 and over to get an abortion without consent from a parent or judge. 

Advocates expect these established protections to attract large numbers of patients seeking abortions to the state, as about 26 states are expected to ban or heavily restrict abortion access. 

“It could mean wait times at clinics are longer,â€� said Smith College Professor Carrie Baker. “You know, certainly people here in Massachusetts are going to be spending a lot of time and energy to help people in other states — the abortion funds and potentially doctors.â€� 

Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from GBH.

Cover Photo: Meredith Nierman / GBH News

Mass. House seeks to Combat Mental Health Crisis Heightened by COVID-19

The Massachusetts House unanimously cleared a mental and behavioral health bill last Thursday, representatives now have around six weeks to adjust their plan alongside its Senate counterpart before the end of formal legislative sessions, July 31st, GBH reported

Bill S.2584, an Act Addressing Barriers To Care For Mental Health, is a response to the growing mental and behavioral health crisis across Massachusetts. Rep. Adrian Madaro, the House chair of the Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee said the situation has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic continues to disproportionately impact communities of color, including the state’s diverse Latinx communities that make up 12% of the population. However, equal access to adequate health care and treatment has been a long-time struggle for Hispanic and Latinx residents. 

In 2018, Hispanics were found to be 50% less likely to receive mental health treatment compared to non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. A few factors that contribute to this statistic include the lack of health insurance, general inaccessibility to health resources, and cultural barriers, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“We’ve seen alarming rises in emergency department boarding for mental health concerns, and increasing demand for services without a sufficient workforce to address the need,� Madaro said. “The situation is compounded by continued disparities and how behavioral health and physical health treatment services are covered.�

Read more in Mass. House joins Senate in mental health push by GBH News at

Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from GBH.

Cover Photo: Paris Alston/WGBH News

Latino News Network appoints Rocha and Dumont as news editors

The Latino News Network (LNN) publicly announced today that Annabel Rocha and Belén Dumont have been named Editors of its five local multimedia news outlets.

Among the duties Rocha and Dumont add to their current writing and reporting responsibilities are research, plan, develop and implement new content. They will also build relationship with partners and establish collaboration with other news team members.

“I am elated to work with Annabel and Belén, two journalists that I respect and admire,” said Hugo Balta, Owner, and Publisher of the Latino News Network. “They are talented writers/reporters, and I am confident they will elevate the quality of our coverage and storytelling in their new roles even further.”

Dumont joined LNN in 2021 as a writer for Connecticut Latino News (CTLN) and host of the CTLN Opinion+. “I’m incredibly grateful to be stepping up as an editor at LNN,” said Dumont. “It has been a great pleasure working for such an inclusive and innovative news outlet, alongside its talented team. I have learned a lot from my experience reporting for MA Latino News, NH Latino News, and now CT Latino News. I’m thrilled to play a larger role in our New England coverage of local Latinx communities and continue my growth as a journalist at LNN.â€�

Rocha joined Illinois Latino News as its first writer/reporter when it launched last October. “I’m beyond excited to venture into this new role with LNN,” said Rocha. “I’m thankful to Hugo Balta and LNN for believing in my potential as a writer, and now editor. Since launching with IL Latino News last year, I’ve seen tremendous growth in myself as a journalist. I’m proud of the stories we’ve produced thus far, and I look forward to continuing to provide greater visibility to the Latinx community through the work we produce.”

While the editors will collaborate across all LNN sites, Rocha will primarily focus on ILLN, NHLN, and RILN. Dumont will oversee CTLN and MALN. As the network expands to Wisconsin later this year, the editor’s oversight will recalibrate. �We are working towards Annabel leading LNN Midwest and Belén leading LNN East,� Balta said.

Both Rocha and Dumont have helped lead the Democracy SOS and Advancing Democracy, solutions journalism initiatives for LNN, thanks to grants by the Solutions Journalism Network and Hearken.

“Solutions journalism is one of the four pillars in LNN’s mission,” said Balta. “It provides us the skillset to produce in-depth stories that do more than just shed light on social problems but lend our platform to analyze the responses in solving them. Annabel and Belén will help me lead our newsroom in providing the public with news and information that empowers.â€�

Rocha has been named as a Fellow for USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. The program provides interactive workshops and inspiring discussions by policy experts, practitioners, community innovators and leading journalists to help participants explore how community health, child and youth welfare, educational, economic and racial inequities – and access to health care – influence health and life outcomes. 

The Latino News Network (LNN) oversees five independent news and information, multimedia, and digital outlets with a statewide coverage and Hispanic-Latino editorial focus in New England and the Midwest. MALN is one of the five newsrooms.

LNN’s mission is to elevate the visibility and voice of the Hispanic-Latino community, amplify the work of others in doing the same, mentor young journalists, and produce investigative stories using the principles of solutions journalism.

Annabel Rocha is a Multimedia Journalist for Illinois Latino News (ILLN). A native Chicagoan, Annabel graduated with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 2018. Her areas of experience include broadcast production, news writing and interviewing. In addition to her work with Latino News Network, Annabel is a freelance writer and copywriter for various publications. She currently resides on the south side of Chicago, with hopes of amplifying local Hispanic/Latino voices and sharing stories of inclusion and diversity.

Belén Dumont is a multimedia reporter and editor for Latino News Network’s (LNN) New England websites. She graduated from Emerson College in 2021 with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a Minor in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Originally from Bloomfield, Connecticut, Belén has experience in multimedia and print journalism across New England and non-profit work in Washington D.C. Aside from covering issues relating to Latinx communities, her professional passions include photography and video editing along with social media and website management.   

MALN Opinion+: Noah Grigni

Welcome to another episode of Massachusetts Opinion+, where we talk about issues and opportunities of interest to the Massachusetts Latino community 

This week on Opinion+ we are joined by Noah Grigni an artist and illustrator whose work comes to Boston from Atlanta Georgia. Noah’s work explores gender, trauma, resilience, and the future of queer identity with aims to celebrate trans joy, empower trans youth, and uplift their community. 

Noah’s most recent exhibition Protect Trans Dreams: A Portrait Project is currently on show at the Boston Children’s Museum. The project focuses on a series of portraits Noah created in collaboration with local trans youth from Massachusetts. Using input from the kids, Noah was able to create depictions of the kids that showed their biggest dreams for their future selves.

 Noah worked on this project because they remembered how hard it was to come out as trans at 13 years old. Noah described it as “really isolating […they] wanted the kids in [their] community and life to feel celebrated and affirmed and connected to each other. Not only that but also to feel connected to the larger trans community and to have examples of trans adults who are thriving because that’s something [they] didn’t get as a child, and it can make it really hard to imagine a future for yourself when you don’t have examples of adults who look like you and share your lived experience.â€� 

On top of this, trans representation in popular media can often portray the community as traumatized and suffering. In the news, trans kids have become, in Noah’s words, “hyper-visible and hyper-politicized.â€� This makes it increasingly necessary to give them spaces and representation that allows them to be kids, and express themselves as they wish. 

If you’re interested in following Noah’s future work you can check their website and Instagram. Be sure to also go see their project Trans Dreams on display in the Boston Children’s Museum’s Lavender gallery until July 24th, 2022. 


Boston Children’s Museum:

Protect Trans Dreams: A Portrait Project

Latinos Face Greater Challenges In MA than In Any Other State

In one of the nation’s richest states, many of the more than 800,000 Latinos in Massachusetts are struggling to deal with threats of social and economic hardship and unequal educational opportunities heightened over the past two years.

They’re often facing greater economic challenges here than other Latinos nationally, according to ¡Avancemos Ya!, a new report from The Boston Foundation’s research center Boston Indicators, UMass Boston’s Mauricio Gastón Institute and the Latino Equity Fund.

Researchers aimed to deeply understand the historical context to develop effective solutions to inequities now, finding that the demographic was hit hard overall during the pandemic and that there are substantial gaps in the financial status and educational attainment among Latinos of different origins.

SUGGESTION: Advocating For Systemic Change

“Latinos have a higher entrepreneurship, education, and labor force participation rates than in years past,â€� Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, Executive Director of Amplify Latinx said in an interview on the Latino News Network podcast, â€œ3 Questions With…â€� this month. “But it is still a disproportionate share (in the state),â€� she said referencing the ¡Avancemos Ya! report.

About 327,000 Puerto Ricans and 150,000 Dominicans make up the largest share of the Bay State’s Latino community at 40 and 19 percent, respectively. Mexicans make up just 6 percent of the state’s population, a significant variation from the national average in the United States, where more than 60 percent of Latinos have Mexican roots.

WGBH reporter Sarah Betancourt spoke with Dr. Lorna Rivera, director at the Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development & Public Policy and other thought leaders about the need to pay attention to the over 20 different ethnic groups.

Read New report lays bare the origins of Mass. Latinos and struggles in equity to learn more.

Publisher’s Note: Massachusetts Latino News (MALN), part of the Latino News Network (LNN), amplifies the work of others in providing greater visibility and voice to the Hispanic-Latino community.

Advocating For Systemic Change

Massachusetts is home to more than 30,000 Hispanic-Latino businesses, 3,800 of which are employer firms that generate over $4.2 billion dollars in annual revenue and create more than 27,000 jobs, that’s according to Betty Francisco, co-founder of Amplify Latinx.

The state is also home to 9 percent of Hispanic-Latino eligible voters, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Still, while those numbers are impressive, systemic barriers are keeping the community from realizing equitable wealth and political power. Amplify Latinx works to “significantly increase Latinx civic engagement, economic opportunity and leadership representation across sectors.

“Massachusetts is among the wealthiest states in the country, yet the Latino communities have struggled economically,” said Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, Executive Director of Amplify Latinx.

Ubiera-Minaya was this month’s guest on the Latino News Network podcast, “3 Questions With…â€�. “Latinos have a higher entrepreneurship, education, and labor force participation rates than in years past,” she said. “But it is still a disproportionate share (in the state).” Ubiera-Minaya referenced ¡Avancemos Ya!, an analysis by Boston Indicators, UMass, and the Latino Equity Fund that illustrates “the unique challenges facing our state’s Latino communities and concludes with a brief discussion of opportunities for greater prosperity and well-being.”

Ubiera-Minaya is originally from Quisqueya La Bella, the Dominican Republic. She shared how her cultural background and experience coming to the U.S., at one point, an undocumented immigrant, shaped the person she is and her work.

“I grew up in the North Shore, in Salem, Massachusetts. That community welcomed me. It was a low income, Afro-Latino community. Most of the residents were also undocumented,” she said. “We bonded together in empowering each other. I had an opportunity to develop my voice and my advocacy.”

‘Afro-Latinx Front & Center: Showcasing Voices from Our Black Latinx Diaspora’ is a collaborative series of vignettes, capped with panel discussions, as they explored the topic of “Blacknessâ€� in the Hispanic-Latino community. Amplify Latinx partnered with EmVision Productions, Cojuelos’ Productions, and Creative Collective LLC, along with community stakeholders on the initiative, which included panel discussions.

Do you have a suggestion for a guest to be featured on “3 Questions With…”? Send us your ideas to

Hispanic-serving colleges in Mass. support Latino students, but some schools fall short 

When Jennifer Reyes emigrated from the Dominican Republic in 2016, she wanted to make a better future for herself. Upon entering the United States, she listed a few of her goals: to continue her education, find a better job and make more money. But at the time, she couldn’t speak English. 

“One of the reasons why I chose the Urban College was because they have Spanish classes, something that I thought was impossible to find in this city,� she said. “I can say that it was the biggest motivation.�

The Urban College of Boston is one of the state’s seven Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs, federally recognized colleges whose enrollment is at least 25% Latino. Achieving that recognition opens the door for specially designated federal funding.

A broader look at statewide degree achievement presents a mixed picture of Latinos in higher education. Though Latinos in Massachusetts graduate from four-year institutions at a higher rate than those nationally, they still lag behind the state’s whites in college degrees. Only 27% of Latino adults in the state had earned an associate degree or higher as of 2018, about half of the rate for white adults, according to Excelencia in Education.

“The Latinx population is the fastest growing in the state. In a region like New England, where the overall population is getting lower, it’s absolutely essential,� said Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago. “If we don’t educate the fastest-growing group, we’re going to be at a real disadvantage.�

Diane Adame, production assistant with GBH News’ Higher Education desk explores why making schools of higher learning financially accessible ro Hispanics-Latinos isn’t enough.

Read more by clicking on Hispanic-serving colleges in Mass. support Latino students, but some schools fall short.

Cover Photo: Urban College of Boston student Jennifer Reyes sits in front of the school’s main building on April 27, 2022.

Photo by Meredith Nierman.