It’s not a community without a representative of Hunter!
The director of CENTRO, The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, Dr. Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez, visited the White House December 14 for an event, “Communities in Action: Building a Better New York.”
"I was honored to represent New York’s Puerto Rican community at the event,” said Figueroa. “The support we have received in the last year has been essential in imagining what the future of CENTRO can be for our community. At the same time, this was an important moment to also bring our concerns to state and federal officials while learning about many programs that could help our research and the people we serve."
CENTRO, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, recently has received large grants from the state and federal governments. Governor Kathy Hochul recently awarded CENTRO $20 million in order to expand its programming and services at its library, gallery, and archives in East Harlem. CENTRO also garnered $792,000 in federal funding for the development of an East Harlem accessible learning and creative hub. The funds were secured by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and East Harlem’s Congress member, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, as part of a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill signed into law by President Biden last December.
Figueroa, a distinguished Afro-Puerto Rican writer, teacher, and scholar, became director of CENTRO in June. Figueroa is the author of the award-winning Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature (Northwestern, 2020) and the forthcoming The Survival of a People (Duke University Press).
Hosted by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Office of Public Engagement, the event gathered more than 50 elected officials and community leaders from across the Empire State. Participants heard about administration initiatives from Senior Advisor to President Biden Tom Perez, Director of the Office of Public Engagement Stephen Benjamin, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention Gregory Jackson, and Senior Advisor and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, among others.