RNC IV Invited Speakers

Keynote Speakers

María Guajardo

María Guajardo, PH.D. is an author, a mother, a community volunteer, and a national speaker. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Education and Children in Denver, Colorado. Her leadership initiated and launched the Denver Preschool Program, the nationally recognized 5 By 5 Project, after-school programs citywide and summits on Multiple Pathways to Graduation. She oversees operations from Head Start to providing high school students an even start to postsecondary education. A licensed child psychologist, in 2005 she received a congressional commendation for her contributions to Latino education. In 2008 she co-chaired the Democratic National Convention Committee’s Education Initiative and in 2010 launched Denver’s Youth Agenda. She serves as a board member to The Children’s Hospital and The Denver Foundation. She also serves as a trustee to the University of Denver. Maria was inducted into the prestigious Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. A daughter of migrant parents, she currently has a son enrolled in Denver Public Schools. The Elizabeth Martinez Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Pittsburg and the REFORMA Los Angeles Chapter’s Elizabeth Martinez Master’s Scholarship honor her accomplishments.


Maria Martinez

Throughout her illustrious career, Elizabeth Martinez has been known for her professional leadership, innovative ideas, and advocacy for cultural diversity. She is a co-founder of REFORMA and one of the first librarians to embrace her Chicana identity as an integral part of her professional life. Her commitment to communities of color and the poor has inspired generations of librarians of all backgrounds who have benefited from her leadership in the field.

Ms. Martinez was the Director of the Los Angeles Public Library and the Orange County Public Library systems. Currently, she is Library Director at the Salinas Public Library. As Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA), her ALA Goal 2000 program established the prestigious Spectrum Initiative that has provided scholarships to over 730 library school students from diverse backgrounds. Ms. Martinez continues to serves as an advisor and adjunct faculty for the University of Arizona, Knowledge River program and the Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science.


Author-Luncheon Speakers

Pat Mora

“Ms. Mora’s poems are proudly bilingual, an eloquent answer to purists who refuse to see language as something that lives and changes,” wrote The New York Times of Pat Mora’s poetry collection, Agua Santa: Holy Water. Her most recent collection is Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love written in the voices of teens. Other collections include Adobe Odes, Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints, Communion, Borders, and Chants.

Pat’s new book of nonfiction is Zing! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators and Students. The Washington Post described her acclaimed memoir, House of Houses as a “textual feast . . . a regenerative act . . . and an eloquent bearer of the old truth that it is through the senses that we apprehend love.” Nepantla: Essays from the Land in the Middle was reviewed by Choice as, “Twenty inspiring essays written in a very poetic prose . . . . A valuable contribution to American literature.”

Pat received Honorary Doctorates in Letters from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo and is an Honorary Member of the American Library Association. A recipient and judge of the Poetry Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a recipient and advisor of the Kellogg National Leadership Fellowships.

A former teacher, university administrator, consultant and the author of many award-winning children’s books, Pat is the founder of the family literacy initiative El día de los niños / El día de los libros, Children’s Day / Book Day (Día), now housed at the American Library Association. The year-long commitment to linking all children to books, languages and cultures, and of sharing what Pat calls “bookjoy,” culminates in events across the country. Día celebrated its 15th Anniversary April 2011.

Pat is a popular national speaker at conferences, campuses, libraries and schools. The mother of three adult children, Pat is married to anthropology professor Vern Scarborough and lives in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Manuel Ramos

Manuel Ramos, a Colorado native, is a lawyer, former professor of Chicano Literature and a recipient of the Colorado Book Award and the Chicano/Latino Literary Award. He is the Director of Advocacy for Colorado Legal Services, the statewide legal aid program and the author of seven novels, five of which feature Denver lawyer Luis Móntez. The Móntez series debuted with The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz (1993), a finalist for the Edgar® award from the Mystery Writers of America.

His published works include the noir private eye novel, Moony’s Road to Hell (2002), several short stories, poems, non-fiction articles and a handbook on Colorado landlord-tenant law, now in a fifth edition. He is a co-founder of and weekly contributor to La Bloga (www.labloga.blogspot.com), an award-winning Internet magazine devoted to Latino literature, culture, news, and opinion. Recent publications include a story entitled The Skull of Pancho Villa in the anthology Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery; the story Fence Busters in the award-winning anthology A Dozen on Denver; and the story Back Up in the anthology You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens. His novel entitled King of the Chicanos was published in 2010 by Wings Press.