2020 Virtual Conference Speakers

Register to join in the conversation! Meet our event speakers and moderators

Guillermo Z. Lopez, Program Moderator

Guillermo Z. Lopez retired from the City of Lansing, Human Relations and Community Services Department after 30 years of service.  He is a member of the Lansing School Board of Education (2000-2020) and is on the 2020 ballot for a 4th term. Mr. Lopez is an appointed member of the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging,  a member of the MI Association of School Boards, the Ingham County Fair, chairs the Cristo Rey Church (Lansing) Fiesta Committee and is Chair of the LLEAD Lansing chapter. Mr. Lopez attended Pan American University, Edinburgh, Texas; Saginaw Valley State University; and Lansing Community College.

Latinos: Get Out and Vote!






Javier Cervantes is the first Bilingual Communications Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Public Schools, the  largest public school district in west Michigan. He manages district social  media outlets and does public media relations. Javier believes in meeting people where they  are and connecting community to vital resources.   Javier is a proud Mexican American first generation college student whose future plans  include establishing a non-profit organization serving under-represented communities. He attends Cornerstone University.


Pete Vargas is an Indigenous/Xicano organizer from Adrian, now residing in Lansing.  He earned a B.A. degree in Business from Eastern Michigan University.  His career has included being an organizer for the United Steel Workers, the SEIU, the United Food, and Commercial Workers and currently with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC).  His organizing skills have earned him opportunities to manage campaigns and field outreach for local, state, and federal campaigns. He is the campaign manager for #ROCMIVOTE, the massive statewide campaign initiative to engage BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous/Latinx, People Of Color) and low propensity voters to vote early and safely from home during this pandemic. With less than a month left in the 2020 campaign, ROCs effort has reached over 280,000 Michigan voters, including Latinx and Indigenous voices!

COVID-19: Michigan Latinos Surviving the Virus

Diana Marin is a Supervising Attorney with MIRC Michigan Immigrant Rights Center Farmworker & Immigrant Worker Rights team. Diana has been practicing employment law her entire legal career. First as an associate at a plaintiffs' side employment firm in New Paltz, NY handling class and collection actions across the country and in a variety of industries. Then, at the Urban Justice Center's Community Development Project supporting New York City worker centers organizing against wage theft and representing low-wage immigrant workers in employment matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Diana moved to Michigan in late 2016, and prior to joining MIRC, worked for Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan litigating on behalf of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the state of Michigan. In August of 2020, Diana was appointed to Michigan's Food Security Council by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 


Celeste Lloyd is a Program Manager at Strong Beginnings-Healthy Start in Grand Rapids, supporting the elimination of disparities amongst prenatal African American and Latina mothers and their families within Kent County. Being able to relate due to her experience as a first-generation Dominican-American, she began to work diligently in eliminating social and structural social determinants of health.  Lloyd focuses on implementing the use of Community Health Workers and the value they add to communities of Color.  She earned her B.A. degree from Purdue and her M.A. from Western Michigan University. Lloyd sits on various boards focused on serving and eliminating racism and disparities amongst the most vulnerable communities. She is a current W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow and was appointed a member of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. She is a published author and the recipient of several awards and recognitions showcasing leadership.  

Immigrant Detainees | DACA

Felipe Lopez Sustaita is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan. He earned a BA in Criminal Justice, an MSW from Michigan State University, and his Doctorate in Education with a specialization in Community College Leadership from Ferris State University.  He is very passionate about higher education, as he knows that higher education is a pathway out of poverty. Along with his family, he was a migrant farmworker in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Michigan until starting college in 2001,  Dr. Lopez Sustaita continues to work in the fields a few times a year to show his four sons the value of hard work and to keep himself grounded. He is very passionate about higher education, as he knows that higher education is a pathway out of poverty.  He is a current W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow.


Oscar Castañeda, a Guatemalan immigrant, is a community organizer with the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and is based in Lansing.  He has been involved in Lansing area and state community organizing focused on immigrant rights for more than five years.  Oscar himself, experienced multiple challenges with the US immigration system. As a result, he took formal training on immigration subjects and has used his expertise to lead actions related to DACA, detention prisons, and immigrant rights. 


Crisis Response System: How to report bias and hate crimes

Diana Rivera, Librarian Emeritus established and was head of the Cesar E. Chavez Collection/Coleccíon Cesar E. Chavez at the Michigan State University Libraries from 1994-2019. She is a member of the Lansing LLEAD Chapter and is on the LLEAD State Board, chairing the Crisis Response System Committee. She has been a member of several professional library and Chicanx Studies organizations including the Latino Studies Association and the National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies (NACCS), national and Midwest region. Rivera is an alumna of the Smithsonian Institution Latino Museum Studies Fellows Program (LMSP) and the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) Fellows program. She has been involved with several campus organizations both as student, alumna and Libraries Faculty. She was an editor of MujeresTalk (LatinxTalk.org) and has presented at several conferences and community forums.

Keynote Speaker Moderator: Honorable Lupe Ramos-Montigny

The Honorable Lupe Ramos-Montigny earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas.  Her dream to return to the beautiful state where she left as a migrant farmworker a few years before, became a reality when she was recruited as a senior in college to teach in Michigan’s Migrant Education Program. First and foremost, an educator, Ms. Ramos-Montigny, worked for the Michigan public schools for 36 years and worked with students and families who harvested various crops like herself.    She was elected to the Michigan Board of Education in 2012 for an 8-year term and is the recipient of several awards including an Honorary Doctorate in Education from GVSU. She is the Inaugural Chair of the Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez and has served in that capacity for 20 years.

Keynote Speaker: Honorable Joaquin Castro, Chair Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Now in his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Castro is Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. Castro is active on several boards of education-related, non-profit organizations, including the National College Advising Corps, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ (NALEO) Taskforce on Education. His respect for public service developed at a young age and was deeply influenced by his parents’ involvement in political movements and civic causes. His father, a retired teacher, and his mother, a renowned community activist, instilled in him a deep appreciation for the democratic process and the importance of serving one’s community.