From California’s San Gabriel Mountains to the sustainable eco-friendly city streets of Chicago, our VOCES leaders are making a difference every day in their communities and workplaces.
We are proud to acknowledge these leaders and thank them for their tireless commitment to confronting the challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability.
Andres Ramirez served as the Nevada state director of Nuestro Rio (Our River), an organization that led a direct effort in Nevada to raise greater awareness of the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin among Latinos. The river runs more than 1,400 miles through seven U.S. states, supplies municipal water to more than 30 million people in the U.S. and Mexico. In 2011, Nuestro Rio worked with local musicians to record a ‘corrido’ (a narrative song, or ballad) about the river that was released online in Spanish with English subtitles, to help promote their conservation cause. The work of organizations like Nuestro Rio helped drive a 2012 agreement between the United States and Mexico for sharing the Colorado River, bringing a decades-old accord up to date with modern realities.
Jorge Madrid is a dedicated environmentalist that has devoted his career to advocating for sound environmental policies in the United States. He is currently the coordinator of partnerships and alliances for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) where he spearheads the cultivation and development of new relationships with private and public partners for the EDF in California. Prior to his time at the EDF, Jorge worked with renowned environmental advocate, Van Jones, at the Center for American Progress. While working with Senator Robert Menendez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Jorge advanced critical work in the areas of clean energy, transportation and economic development. Today, Jorge sits on the board of Voces Verdes and also finds time to write about the importance of advancing sound environmental policy, his work is regularly featured in the nation’s leading news publications.
As the head of the largest Hispanic business association, the United State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Javier Palomarez ardently works to enhance economic growth and development of Hispanic-owned businesses. He is at the forefront of innovative programs and initiatives that help Latino businesses thrive. One of the most notable efforts Palomarez lead is the Green Builds Business Initiative. The Green Builds Initiative educates Hispanic business owners and entrepreneurs about environmental sustainability while teaching them how to reduce their company’s environmental footprint that is beneficial to the environment and for business. Poder Magazine named Palomarez one of the Top 100 Latino Green Leaders for his visionary work in business and environmental preservation.
Guillermo Garcia is the founder and CEO of GSG Consultants, Inc., a firm that specializes in geotechnical engineering, infrastructure development and environmental remediation and assessment. Garcia oversaw the tremendous expansion of GSG that started as a small environmental services company and has since become one of Chicago’s lead consulting firms in the industry. A clear passion and dedication to promoting environmental sustainability has guided Garcia’s work. He is also an active community leader and is currently the Chairman of the Board for the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Voces Verdes honored Garcia in 2010 as the Green Business Leader of the Year for his ongoing commitment to enhancing private sector engagement in environmental preservation and policy.
Giselle Achecar is a renowned “eco-tegrity specialist” who created Eco-Rico, an innovative and groundbreaking cooking show that marries her passion for the environment and passion for cooking, entertaining, and educating. As an environmental steward, Giselle helps thousands of people and small business owners around the country create an eco-friendly home and business. She is highly sought-after speaker because of her unique message of empowerment and the importance of preserving one’s “eco-tegrity.” Giselle is currently concentrating on expanding her organic, Fair Trade adobos that are sustainably sourced and produced in order to provide consumers with a healthy and environmentally responsible product.
Among the many issues Elsa Ramirez is passionate about, the environment and passing meaningful climate change policy is a cause she has fully committed herself to. Ramirez worked for the League of Conservation Voters where she worked as the Global Warming Program Field Director. She also served as the Latino Outreach Director for the Clean Energy Works campaign that sought to advance sound climate policies at the state and federal level. Additionally, Ramirez is a dedicated champion of women’s health and immigration reform and has run national campaigns that promote and advance these issues.
Dr. Juan Andrade is a highly revered leader that currently runs the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), as the organization’s co-founder and president; Andrade works to promote voter registration and participation, education, and leadership development among Latinos. An unshakeable work ethic and resilience led Dr. Andrade from cotton farms, where he worked as a cotton picker to meaningful community activism. His unique background is precisely what equipped Andrade to become prolific community leader because he was uniquely attuned to the needs of his diverse community of farm workers and laborers. Today, Dr. Andrade has become an instrumental voice and leader in the field of higher education and consistently stresses and works towards elevating further support in higher education for climate change policy. His work has been recognized in the U.S. and internationally, President Bill Clinton gave Andrade the Presidential Medal for his extraordinary service and Andrade was also awarded Mexico’s highest civilian honor, the Ohtli Award.
Carlos Zegarra is an Emmy Award-winning Marine Biologist who has dedicated his work to raising awareness about the global climate crisis. As a deeply committed environmentalist, Zegarra works on designing and developing cutting-edge strategies and projects that will spur community action to combat climate change. He is also behind one of the largest environmental events in the country, Climate Reality Project. Born in Peru and raised in Colombia - his upbringing sparked a genuine desire to improve the environmental realities of Latin America which ultimately led him to work for Sachamama, an organization that is dedicated to increasing Latino outreach about the environment and climate change.
Dr. Antonio Flores is the third president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). As of September, Dr. Flores along with other prominent leaders from across the country launched Solution Generation, a national initiative to catalyze higher education leadership on climate change solutions, officially launched in September 2014. The Educational Policy Institute also honored Flores with a Lifetime Achievement Award and for the second year, he was listed among the Top Influential Leaders in the U.S. and Latino Community by Latino Leaders Magazine.
Arturo Carmona is the executive director of Presente.org, the largest online Latino advocacy organization in the nation. In April 2014, he and 300,000 Latinos campaigned to demand President Obama to reject Keystone XL on grounds that Latinos are heavily impacted by climate change. Previously, he was the founding Executive Director of the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM).
Belinda Faustinos retired in May 2011 as the Executive Officer of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, where she had worked since 2002. Her current activities include serving as the Senate Pro Tem alternate to the California Coastal Commission and as a board member on the Land Trust Alliance, California Audubon, Eastside Heritage Coalition, and working as a volunteer Executive Advisor to the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Foundation.