At gala, Hispanic chamber celebrates community’s impact

More than 350 people attended the Winter Gala in Pompton Plains. – Anjalee Khemlani/ROI-NJ

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held its inaugural Winter Gala on Saturday evening, with local, state and federal government representatives highlighting the sold-out event, which surpassed an initial capacity limit of 350.

Some of the notable guests at The Legacy Castle in Pompton Plains included master of ceremonies and actor J.W. Cortes, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz and members of Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s campaign and transition teams.

Chamber Chairman Carlos Medina spoke about the impact of New Jersey’s 119,000 Hispanic businesses on the state, as well as the benefits of the chamber.

“These are businesses that don’t have three generations of business (experience) to count on,” Medina told the crowd.

Menendez also touted the contributions of the Hispanic communities in the country.

“Across America, Hispanic families are united by common values,” he said. “Our values are American values.”

He also highlighted the various sectors in which Hispanic-Americans have excelled, including education, politics and business.

“We are the largest (ethnic) minority population in the United States,” Menedez said. “It’s up to us to keep the dream alive. No one believes more in that American Dream than the people in this room, because you worked, and through sacrifice and hard work realized success. Our community has enlivened this country for generations. That is part of what makes New Jersey great, you are part of what makes this country great.”

The chamber also honored three Latinas for their work within the community:

  • Lizette Delgado-Polanco, political director of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, which covers five states, and the vice chair of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee.
  • Lili Gil Valleta, co-founder of cultural intelligence firm CIEN+ and creator of Dreamers Ventures, which empowers minority entrepreneurs and offers them a chance to appear on HSN’s “American Dreams,” where Valleta is a guest host.
  • Alixon Collazos Gill, a public affairs specialist and business partner working with the BGill Group LLC (founded by her husband and former Murphy campaign manager Brendan Gill), which has also worked with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and other elected officials to help them market to the Latino communities.