President’s Letter
Sunday, July 25, 2021
by: Oscar Baeza

Section: President's Column

Spring/Summer 2021

Oscar Baeza
REFORMA President 2020-2021

Reformistas, I hope you are all doing well and are staying safe. This article will be my last as your President of REFORMA National. It has been an honor to serve in this capacity. This past year has been exciting, stressful, and sometimes, well, I have to admit, very exhausting. But if I were asked if I would do this again, yes, yes, I would! 

This last year I have learned so much more about our organization. I truly felt comfortable with what I thought I “knew” about REFORMA, but I was surprised to learn that there is so much more to know about our beloved organization. 

REFORMA is an ever-changing organization. It seems to breathe on its own, and change is inevitable. There are times that the tides of change shift your way, and other times where they shift opposite, and yet sometimes the waves are still. Still and waiting and waiting and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the tide rises and you have to be prepared. 

So, my advice to our incoming leader Nicanor Diaz and to future presidents is to always be ready, to always be prepared, because those tides hit and when they hit... they hurt. They will knock you down, but being ready means that you are able to jump back up and keep moving forward. In essence, I feel that many of us Reformistas do this day in and day out. We are always ready, always willing to take on that challenge. Always ready for that fight. Whether we are protecting the rights that safeguard our freedom to read or securing books for children at the border, REFORMA is always ready!

Our REFORMA team has accomplished many good things this past year. We have reached further into building international relationships with the help of our good friend Loida Garcia-Febo. Our commitment to the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color conference led by Kenny Garcia, Madeline Peña, and Alexandra Rivera continue to flourish. The national conference committee led by Roxana Benavides and Abigail Morales, along with team members Star Khan and Eduardo Arizaga, has done extraordinary things and is now leading our first virtual conference, set for this November. 

The REFORMA budget continues to be strong and I am proud to say that we have stayed pretty much within our budget this year. 

We continue to work with the REFORMA Educational Foundation to ensure a smooth transition from two separate entities to having just one, where the educational trust fund will now be overseen by the REFORMA Executive Committee. 

This year, I finally got closer to working on a national REFORMA book award. These efforts will be led by myself, Romalia Salinas, and Louis Munoz this coming year. So, stay tuned for more on this venture.

The Pura Belpré 25th anniversary is another big project, led by Jenny Lizarraga and Ramona Caponegro, that REFORMA helped form. Our organization worked with the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and made sure that we paid tribute to one of our most cherished awards and celebrations, honoring Ms. Pura Belpré. The 25th anniversary was a big success. A big thank you to Jenny and Ramona for all of their hard work. 

The REFORMA Children in Crisis (CIC) project is another one of our projects that has done so much good throughout our communities. CIC has donated thousands of books since its inception and it has no plans of slowing down. Thank you to Patrick Sullivan, Oralia Garza de Cortes, and Ady Huerta for their tireless work in bringing a small but worthwhile smile to all of the children coming to our borders. 

So much hard work has been done by so many of you, so I apologize if I forget to mention you or your efforts in this message. But rest assured, your hard work is always appreciated. 

I want to thank the REFORMA Executive Committee (EC): Kenny Garcia, Nicanor Diaz, Alma Ramos-McDermott, Denice Adkins, Allina Migoni, Manny Figueroa, and David Lopez. The EC Team has been with me since day one and to this day they continue to be my top advisors and team supporters. Not only did the EC team fulfill their REFORMA responsibilities, but they were also always willing to give an extra hand, so thank you so much team! 

I also have to thank many of those who are not on the EC team that offered advice and mentored me this past year: Madeline Pena, Tess Tobin, Mario Ascencio, Patrick Sullivan, Loida Garcia-Febo, Ana-Elba Pavon, Cesar Caballero, and Luis Chaparro. These individuals worked with me on projects and were always there to counsel and advise me when I needed them. 

To all of my committee chairs, thank you so much for the great work you did. Many of you led projects and events while others completed tasks to ensure our organization moves forward. I am very grateful to you and your committee volunteers for all of the great work you did this past year. A special thank you to María Estrella, who was my right-hand person on all Children’s and Young Adult Service Committee (CAYASC) matters. Your work and commitment have made a big impact on the current and future relationship we have with ALSC and now YALSA. I could not have done this work without María’s expertise and knowledge. Our awards committee, led by Mary Marques, took on extra work to ensure that this year we would also honor last year’s award recipients. Kudos to Dr. Villagran for her work on education and ensuring that our future library professionals enter their careers better prepared. A big thank you also to the Membership Committee and Organizational Development and New Chapter Committee for your tireless work on our bylaws and policies. To our technology team, Edwin Rodarte and Madeline Peña, your work this year was amazing and we could not have done so many wonderful things without your knowledge and assistance. Every time I or someone else needed something from the tech team, you both answered and delivered some amazing work. To our PR team, Celia Avila and Libbhy Romero, thank you so much for all of the work you did with the newsletter and marketing REFORMA. I have to say, our REFORMA social media is the best!

I would also like to thank the thousand or so REFORMA members. I see many of your posts on our listserv or on our REFORMA social media pages. I belong to several organization listservs and REFORMA’s is by far the best! The information our members post is always intriguing. Many post their thoughts and opinions, which leads to interesting conversations or outside listserv discussions. Other posts are about job opportunities, events, projects, research, and so forth. Thank you so much members for always being willing to offer advice, or congratulate a fellow Reformista for their accomplishments. The listserv not only serves as a tool of engagement but is also a gateway to learning new things and exploring different avenues. For some like me, it is also a resource I use to read up on good stuff happening across the country and just pass the time as well.

I close this presidential year with hope for the future, and that our organization continues to flourish and accomplish many great things. This past year was difficult because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, we succeeded. Not once did I hear any of our Reformistas say “I can’t” or “that is not possible.” Reformistas stayed positive and turned impossible challenges into possible solutions. So for that, I thank you REFORMA for a wonderful year!

Adelante REFORMA!

Oscar Baeza

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