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A debate over how government should identify our ethnicity

Are the racial and ethnic buckets the state uses for education and health data too big for policymakers to make meaningful use of?

For example, can the state education department assume that by-and-large Asian students are doing OK in school since that’s what the overall data show, and focus their efforts elsewhere? Or would a further breakdown of the diverse category of Asian – which includes those from India, Pakistan, China, Japan and many other countries – be more useful?

These are questions facing state legislators.

Two bills take differing approaches to collecting more granular race and ethnicity data. One bill, aimed at preventing what its supporters call an “Asian registry,” would prohibit more detailed ethnic subgroups in education data. Another would require more detailed subgroups to be used in the health realm.

Proponents of allowing more specific data say it is a civil rights issue that disparities are identified – and addressed – and not hidden in a flaw of averages. Opponents say such collection makes them nervous it could be used to discriminate against them, and that they are American before anything else.

How close to look?

The education data bill is a pre-emptive reaction to changes in other states that have adopted or considered using more detailed – or “disaggregated” – subgroups to know which students struggle within the broader Asian and Pacific Islander categories. As a whole, Asians are typically top performers in school, but opponents of the bill worry there are certain subgroups who struggle but are not provided increased attention because they are not identified.

Connecticut has some of the worst racial and ethnic achievement gaps in the country, but the current administration at the state’s Department of Education said it doesn’t have plans for more detailed race and ethnicity data collection than the categories it tracks now. The school data bill aims to keep it that way.

The Department of Education uses the following eight categories, in compliance with federal requirements: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Hispanic/Latino of any race; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander;  Two or More Races; White; and not reported.

Last school year, just over 27,000 Asian students attended public schools throughout the state, or 5 percent of all students.

Nationwide, about 51 percent of Asian Americans 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, far higher than the 30 percent for all Americans, according to Pew Research. However, there are significant differences within that group: 72 percent of those of Indian descent hold bachelor’s degrees compared with just 9 percent of Bhutanese.

Indians make up the largest portion of Asians in Connecticut. The Asian population grew 65 percent from 82,000 in 2000 to to 136,000 in 2010, according to decennial Census data. There were 46,0000 Asian Indians living in Connecticut in 2010, about 48 percent more than the next most numerous group, Chinese, at 31,000.

The other bill, S.B. 465, would expand race and ethnicity subgroups used in health care data and make them uniform across all state agencies and commissions that collect demographic data relating to health. The argument for the bill is similar to that for the education bill, that it would allow for health decision-making that is more finely tuned to small populations’ needs.

Concerns of discrimination

“I don’t enjoy being classified specifically on my ethnicity,” said eighth grader Silvia Chen in written testimony for an Education Committee public hearing last Wednesday. “This bill would mean that I would be stereotyped more as a Chinese person, and not American. What’s the difference between us? Both whites and Chinese are born in America each day, yet whites aren’t classified into subgroups like Caucasian and white Hispanic but us Asians are.”

A sign supporting S.B. 359, which would prohibit breaking student data down into more detailed race and ethnicity categories.


A sign supporting S.B. 359, which would prohibit breaking student data down into more detailed race and ethnicity categories.

Hundreds of supporters of the education bill restricting further disaggregation testified at the hearing at the Capitol Wednesday, despite a snowstorm the night before that closed highways and delayed the opening of state offices. State Sen. Tony Hwang, who supports the bill, said that strong showing was in spite of the fact that two buses of people who planned to testify had to be canceled over weather concerns.

Hwang said a broad Asian-Pacific American constituency in Connecticut has driven the call for this legislation.

Emotional testimony expressed fear of being labeled something other than American.  There were references to a history of discrimination and news that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Harvard’s admission policies discriminate against Asians. Disaggregation of Asian student data was called “discriminatory” and an “Asian registry.”

“Registries like those that could be created under targeted disaggregation assisted in the infamous internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This is an extreme, yet relevant piece of evidence when discussing the harm data disaggregation can cause,” Hwang wrote in his testimony. “Although data disaggregation is not always sinister in nature, it opens up the possibility of intentional and unfair targeting of certain groups, and history has shown the potential consequences.”

Wenliang Zhou, an associate research scientist at Yale wrote, “My son is the only Asian in his class in Reggio Magnet School. While other kids filled their data sheets and identified themselves as white or black, my son was reminded to check before ‘Asian.’ He was confused and asked me why I told him that he is an American, while the teacher still thought he belonged to Asia? Isn’t it supposed all kids are equal?”

Zhou continued, “Despite the confusion caused by current data segregation, I cannot imagine how should I answer my kids if someday they bring me a form and ask me why they should call themselves ‘Chinese’ instead of ‘American.’ Recall that recently the FBI director Wray claimed that Chinese is ‘a whole-of-society threat.’ When my kids choose their race as ‘Chinese,’ isn’t it a potential threat to them as well?”

Larry Li of Avon wrote, “My 11-years-old son, Nash Li, was born in this country. He loves having photos taken under our National flag, only speaks English and eats American food. The United States of America is his only motherland. Labeling him as a Chinese, because of the country of my origin, would have detrimental psychological impact on him. Fearing that our son could be discriminated, his mother desperately wants to change his last name to hide his ancestry. It would forever make my son ashamed of who he is. I feel sad for my son that, after generations of civil right movement for equal right and equal protection, I am here to ask for a basic right for my son: to be treated equal.”

House Minority leader Themis Klarides wrote, “When students walk into classrooms across our state, they should feel safe. They should feel welcome, and free to learn and share their ideas, thoughts, and dreams with their peers and their teachers. Our students should never be in a position that they feel different or singled out among their fellow classmates, and by passing Senate Bill 359, we, as a legislature, will be able to assure them that they will not be required to provide specific data regarding their ethnicity.”

Hidden subgroups

Opponents of the education bill, including advocacy groups for health care and education, say prohibiting disaggregation threatens what could be a valuable tool for identifying and addressing otherwise unseen disparities.

“Disaggregated student data allows for a full and nuanced understanding of community needs by making the specific needs of ethnic, national, and racial subgroups visible,” wrote Tanya Kimball Genn, manager of youth services for Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, or IRIS. “Students who identify as Chinese, Afghan, Korean, and Hmong may all have a limited choice on most forms of identifying as ‘Asian,’ though each community is very unique. […] If the ethnic, racial, and national identities of our students cannot be seen, then the students themselves cannot be seen and the long-time, systemic inequities they face will not be visible to those making decisions on their behalf.”

Genn acknowledged the anxiety expressed by supporters of the bill.

“Families are understandably apprehensive of subjecting their children to a sentence of ‘perpetual foreigner,’ but disaggregated data is not the source of inequity. Data collection that recognizes difference is necessary to assess systemic inequity.”

Ban Tran, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition of Mutual Assistance Associations, which also serves refugees, wrote, “Many of our clients have children in the public schools who suffer from educational challenges. Many come to school with gaps in their education and limited English skills. Some of our most recent refugees have some of the lowest test scores, but without data on these smaller subgroups, schools are unable to identify problems that may be unique to them. When data is collected into one large group of ‘Asians,’ for example, the problems of smaller groups remain unseen. This is true for other subgroups as well, such as Hispanics or African Americans.”

Three members of the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, or CALAS, opposed the bill.

“The passing of this bill will prevent educators in addressing our collective moral responsibility to prioritize efforts to eliminate the inequities that currently exist across our public school system and ensure no student is left behind,” wrote Daisy Torres, a school administrator in New London and member of CALAS.

Quyen Truong of Hartford wrote, “I am a first-generation Vietnamese American refugee. My father fought in the Vietnam War and was sent to seven years in re-education camps as punishment. Our family faces trauma particular to the Vietnamese refugee community. My family struggled to survive in the United States, and we are lucky to be where we are today. However, many other refugee families are not so lucky, and ignoring the healthcare concerns and trauma of ethnic communities does a disservice to our educational system.”

Truong argued that fears of discrimination in data meant to identify disparities are misplaced.

“The most vocal supporters of SB 359 argue that the collected data will disfavor their children in elite college admissions processes. But discrimination and quotas of any kind in college admissions are prohibited by the 14th Amendment, and strict scrutiny is used to review discriminatory intent. There is a big difference between collecting data to discriminate, which is unconstitutional, and the public policy aim of disaggregating data to understand how to empower all students to succeed.”

“Moreover, SB 359 creates barriers to educational success for our students. In the last few years, doing the healthcare reform advocacy work that I do on a grassroots level, I have learned that we need data disaggregation to offer targeted supports instead of squandering our state’s resources on overly inclusive and culturally insensitive measures. In this budget crisis, we need to identify specifically where valuable state dollars need to go to address educational and health care disparities, such as achievement gaps in education and overutilizers of the emergency rooms. “

An even-handed approach?

State Sen. Tony Hwang, a proponent of the bill, said he is sensitive to those in the Asian community who feel their population’s needs are overlooked by what is sometimes called the “model minority” label.

Hwang said the language would allow for even-handed disaggregation if it were applied across all ethnicities, rather than specifically targeting Asians or Hispanics for further scrutiny. He’s referring to an exception that says disaggregated student data could be “collected uniformly for all ethnic subgroups among the entire student population in the state.” That’s an exception that many supporters of the bill want eliminated.

“Why should Asian Americans have to specify whether they originate from Thailand or China when white people do not have to specify whether they originate from Germany or Ireland? Applying different classifications and practices toward different groups based on race, ethnicity or national origin is discriminatory,” Hwang wrote in his testimony.

Opponents of the bill, those in favor of allowing more detailed data, say that exception might be unrealistic.

“Given the sheer number of ethnic subgroups that exist, it is effectively impossible to disaggregate data to this level of granularity,” wrote Camara Stokes Hudson an associate policy fellow for Connecticut Voices for Children. “This level of disaggregation would also pose legal concerns in that it may violate [federal] confidentiality regulations that protect the identities of students.”

Privacy laws prohibit the state from releasing personally identifying information on students, including statistical data based on very small groups. As a result, a lot of public data ends up being redacted when it involves fewer than six students, as in the spreadsheet below:

School-level data broken out by the state's broad race and ethnicity categories is often redacted because the number of students in any given group is too small, as in this screenshot of SAT scores from New Milford High School on the EdSight website. Smaller categories would mean more redactions.

School-level data broken out by the broad race and ethnicity categories is often redacted because the number of students in any given group is too small, as in this screenshot of SAT scores from New Milford High School on the EdSight website. Smaller categories would mean more redactions.

Stokes Hudson continued, “We agree that race/ethnicity data can be sensitive information, and support the ongoing and commonplace methods [the state Department of Education] presently uses to protect students’ individual-level data from the public via data suppression and de-identification. But, when race/ethnicity has such an extreme impact on outcomes for students, it is a disservice to students of color to remove one of the most important tools in combating the gap in achievement and access for them.”

A different direction

A different bill, S.B. 465, goes the opposite direction, requiring agencies that collect race and ethnicity data for health purposes to “expand race and ethnic categories of Asian, African-American, Hispanic, regardless of race, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander to include subgroup identities present in the state.” A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Friday.

Tekisha Everette, executive director of the non-profit Health Equity Solutions opposes the prohibitions on disaggregation in the education bill and supports the passage of 465.

“I am an African American woman born and raised in the south […] I am much more susceptible to hypertension, to diabetes to heart attack, to stroke. But my friend who is Nigerian born and is now an American citizen does not have those same predispositions,” Everette said, offering an example of the need for more granular subgroups than “African American.”

Theanvy Kuoch, executive director of Khmer Health Advocates in West Hartford, wrote in testimony that, “In the health arena, we know that most Southeast Asian American refugees have multiple chronic medical conditions — they suffer disproportionately from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, PTSD and depression.”

Featured Photo: ctmirror: Claire Liao, a 10-year-old from Fairfield, with Ming Li, a mother of two from South Windsor.

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Infosys to Create Hub in Hartford, Bring 1,000 Jobs

HARTFORD — A tech company with 1,000 new jobs will move to Hartford soon.

Infosys plans to build a technology and Innovation Hub in Hartford to be a training site to other companies by 2022.

The company’s president says Hartford is a good fit.

“This is going to be a start of a journey in Connecticut for us. Where we are going to set up centers of excellence for insurance, for health care and for manufacturing. This is such a vibrant set of businesses in the state,” said Infosys President Ravi Kumar.

Mayor Luke Bronin welcomed the news:

“I am thrilled that Infosys, a global information technology company, is making Hartford one of four innovation hubs in the United States,” Bronin said.  “This announcement is huge for Hartford and for Connecticut.”

Bronin said that Hartford’s innovation ecosystem “develop rapidly, with our Insurtech Accelerator up and running Stanley Black & Decker’s advanced manufacturing accelerator on the way, and Infosys’ decision to bring a thousand innovation jobs to Hartford represents the next big step.”

The company was attracted to Hartford because of  the number of insurance companies in the region, and the ability to partner with them to train their workforce.

Congressman John Larson said this was a boon for Hartford and the state.

“ I’m looking forward to Infosys adding to our region’s economy and taking advantage of Connecticut’s skilled workforce,” Larson said.

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Hartford Job Center Offers Employment Workshops

HARTFORD — Hartford American Job Center on Main Street will offer a variety of training and employment workshops in March to assist area residents.

Advance registration is encouraged due to space limitations. Please call (860) 256-3700 to register for these no-cost workshops to be held at 3580 Main St,

The first workshop on March 5 from 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. is for those over 40 and looking for work: Attendees will discuss the challenges and employer expectations for workers over the age of 40. Strategies will be developed to combat the myths of the “older worker” in the hiring process.

On March 9 from 9:15 – 11:45 a.m. there will be a workshop on Interviewing Skills designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to effectively compete with other candidates, this interactive session targets preparation, methods and follow-up and includes simulated interview questions, so attendees should be prepared to participate and share interview
stories. Constructive feedback is designed to help you grow and excel in your interviewing techniques.

Other workshops include:

Fundamentals of Résumé Writing: Intended for those who have never had a résumé or do not have a current résumé, this lecture and discussion will cover the basics of résumé creation. The value of different résumé formats will be presented, along with what should and should not be included. This is designed to give participants a thorough understanding of the essential parts of a résumé and its purpose; the basics of cover letter writing will also be addressed. A manual will be included for
participants to take with them.
March 12 and 23 (9:15 – 11:45 a.m.)

Successful Job Search Strategies: Understanding the process, research involved, and technologies that work are essential in conducting an effective job search. This workshop provides the skills needed to make a job search efficient and focused, and offers tips on utilizing online resources for researching companies and occupations.
March 16 (9:15 – 11:45 a.m.)

Advanced Résumé Writing: Participants can enhance the content of their current résumé by fine-tuning the summary/profile, keywords, accomplishments and achievements. Information about cover letters will also be provided.
March 12 (9:15 – 11:45 a.m.)

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Local Station Receives Workforce Grant

HARTFORD — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting recently announced a grant to Connecticut Public for the American Graduate: Getting to Work initiative to help advance education and career readiness locally.

With the $199,394 grant, the local station will work with partners in Connecticut to assess workforce challenges and opportunities, and produce content focused on the essential skills needed for students and workers to succeed in the job markets of today and tomorrow, officials said.

“Connecticut Public looks forward to working hand-in-hand with community partners from across the state in order to draw attention to and address the needs of Connecticut’s changing workforce,” said Connecticut Public’s President and CEO Jerry Franklin. “We believe the American Graduate initiative underscores our commitment to both community engagement and education, and we are pleased to be part of this national effort.”

The new grants represent the next phase of public media’s successful American Graduate initiative, which was launched in 2011 to address the nation’s dropout rate. During the past six years, public media stations across the country forged community connections and innovative partnerships to help improve student outcomes – substantially contributing to an increase in the national high school graduation rate to an all-time high of 84 percent.

“The American Graduate initiative attracted local business and community leader support and engagement by focusing on keeping young people on the path to success in school and life,” said Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO. “All Americans want our young people to be prepared to fill jobs that currently are unfilled because of a skills gap.”

Connecticut Public is one of 19 stations receiving these American Graduate grants as part of the national effort. The organization will work with a variety of community partners in workforce and youth development as well as secondary and higher education to shape programming and foster engagement. Connecticut Public will produce content for Connecticut Public Television and Connecticut Public Radio that draws statewide attention to the needs of Connecticut’s workforce and the skills gap in our state.

A series of community events – including a televised town hall-style forum and youth networking events with area employers in Hartford and New Haven – will extend the impact of on-air and online content through continued dialogue and engagement.

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CT Dems Pan Trump Infrastructure Plan

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump rolled out his long-awaited infrastructure plan on Monday, which was quickly panned by Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers, who are backing a rival proposal. Both plans face major challenges on the road to becoming reality.

The basics of Trump’s plan to shore up the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, rail and broadband include $200 billion in federal funding over the next 10 with the hopes of raising up to $1.5 trillion in total by providing incentives for investments by state and local governments, as well as private firms.

Connecticut’s Democrats have rejected that approach in favor of a Democratic plan that would invest $1 trillion in federal dollars over the next 10 years on the nation’s infrastructure.

“We need an investment plan that is real, not magical thinking,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, at a press conference Monday at a tunnel construction site in Hartford. “Anybody here want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge? That’s Donald Trump’s plan.”

Trump proposes giving $100 billion in direct federal grants to local governments to help trigger investment, $50 billion for projects in rural areas, $20 billion to large projects to “lift the American spirit,” and $30 billion for miscellaneous existing infrastructure programs.

The proposal is a departure from typical spending on infrastructure, when the federal government usually covers the bulk of the cost. Trump’s plan would see local governments taking on 80 percent or more of the funding burden.

Blumenthal said that new funding formula is a “betrayal” of the traditional way much of the nation’s infrastructure is funded, with 80 percent of the cost picked up by the federal government and 20 percent by state or local governments.

The plan calls for allowing federal authorities to sell assets to state, local or private entities and listed some proposed divestitures, including Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International Airports and the Tennessee Valley Authority. It even proposed “commercializing” interstate rest stops.

“We’re going to have a lot of public-private (partnerships), and that way it gets done on time (and) on budget,” said Trump at a Monday meeting at the White House.

Democrats said the plan was aimed at helping Wall Street, not main street, the public or state and local governments.

“The president today turned his back on the promises he made, “ Murphy said. “This proposal provides pennies to infrastructure projects while cash-strapped communities are forced to spend money they don’t have or else sell off highways and railroads to Wall Street.”

Murphy also called Trump’s plan a “giant tax giveaway to the rich.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Trump’s proposal relies on “phantom” funding.

“I find it appalling that this president would borrow $1.5 trillion for a tax cut that primarily benefits the wealthiest 1 percent while putting forward an infrastructure plan that fails to meet even this country’s most basic transportation and other infrastructure needs,” Malloy said in a statement.

Environmentalist blast plan

Trump’s proposal also would streamline the permitting process for bigger projects to two years and create a fund to repair infrastructure on public lands, such as parks and forests, using money generated from “mineral and energy development on federal lands and waters.”

The president also proposed expanding the use of toll roads and loosening restrictions on the use of revenue from them and limiting legal actions due to environmental concerns that could block or slow projects.

Shelley Poticha of the Natural Resources Defense Council called the plan “a disaster,” and an unacceptable corporate giveaway by truncating environmental reviews.”


The I-84 and Rt. 8 interchange in Waterbury, known as the “mixmaster.”

“That would leave local residents all but voiceless when it comes to the massive projects that will reshape their communities,” Poticha said. “We will fight to protect our future and oppose any effort to undercut these bedrock protections.”

Connecticut’s Democrats have proposed spending $1 trillion over 10 years in direct federal investment.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, has also embraced a bipartisan plan that would ramp up federal dollars spent on infrastructure, but also make it easier for states and local government to enter into public-private partnerships wherever feasible.

‘You can’t build half a Hoover Dam,” Esty said. “We’ve been trying to get by on the equivalent of duct tape…I’ve got a major highway in my district, I-84, and people who come up from New York and New Jersey cut right across my district on the ‘mix-master’ in Waterbury, Connecticut. If you look underneath it, you can look up through the decking. You can see crumbling, rusting rebar. And that has got to be fixed.”

Both the president’s approach and the Democrats’ plan face considerable obstacles. The GOP is in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, making it difficult for Democrats to advance their plan.

In addition, the Democrats’ proposal include raising the federal gasoline tax to raise money, a political risky proposition.

And Trump will need Democratic votes in the Senate to pass a bill that the party already has blasted as “fake.”

Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said tackling the nation’s infrastructure needs will need “long-term, sustainable, dependable federal funding.”

“This is a very timely discussion in Washington and it’s going to take a very heavy lift,” Schubert said.

Congress approved an agreement on the 2018 federal budget last week that contains an additional $20 billion for infrastructure spending that could serve as a down payment on work on a national priority.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he was ready to negotiate a plan.

“Already in this Congress, the House has passed dozens of infrastructure reforms, and we look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue,” Ryan said.

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Real Arts Way Presents Photo Exhibit

HARTFORD — Real Art Ways will present an exhibition of large-scale photographs by Andrew Buck this February through May.

The opening event is scheduled for  Feb. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during Creative Cocktail Hour. The exhibition will be on view through May 27. Gallery hours are 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Andrew Buck’s sense of the term “landscape” is inspired by the writings of John Brinkerhoff Jackson. “He went back to the source word, the German landschaften, which referred to that which results when ‘man’ reconfigures and uses the land, in essence creating his own landscape on the natural landscape.”

Real Art Ways Executive Director Will K. Wilkins says, “Andrew Buck’s work is abstract, specific, tactile and spirited. There is a lot going on in what seems like straight-forward landscape.”

Buck is interested in the documentary aspects of his work, but he also cites abstract expressionism as an inspiration.

“The sheer size of the space of most quarries is awe-inspiring in a strange manner,” he says. “That is, that these spaces are man-made, not natural. Many of them are otherworldly in both appearance and in actual experience. The overwhelming silence enhances the experience.”

Buck lives and works in Farmington, Connecticut. His work is included in many public and private collections, include the Yale University Art Gallery and the New Britain Museum of American Art.

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Ana Navarro to Keynote Latina Symposium

HARTFORD — Ana Navarro, a leading Latino political voice, will keynote the 2018 Latinas & Power Symposium at the Hilton Hotel in May.

Navarro is a popular political commentator currently appearing on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. She is a frequent recurring guest panelist on ABC’s The View.

The event, which is in its 15 year, will be held May 17, 2018, at the Hilton Hotel in Hartford from 8 am – 5 p.m.

Since 2004, the one-day event has grown to be the premier New England gathering of Latinas on the move. Latinas & Power inspires women with a full day of empowering workshops, motivational speakers, a career expo, a business tradeshow, and a treasure trove of networking activities.

In the morning, the event’s Latina View Panel features keynote speaker, Stacie M. De Armas, VP Strategic Initiatives & Consumer Engagement at Nielsen; Patricia Russo, Executive Director, Women’s Campaign School/Yale University; Belen Mendoza, VP for Campaigns, AARP National & State Public Advocacy Campaigns; Bárbara Serrano, author and TV financial commentator specializing in financial wellness and empowerment; Glenda Ciampa, IT Quality Assurance Manager, MassMutual; and Marilyn Alverio, who is also a corporate marketing professional at MassMutual. The panel will focus on Nielsen’s Latinas 2.0 report, Latinas 2.0, released in September, 2017.

Morning and afternoon breakout session speakers and presenters include Barbara Serrano, author of Rica; Anna Giraldo-Kerr, CEO, Shades of Success, Inc.; Yai Vargas, CEO The Latinista;  Karla Medina, owner of Sudor Taino and master trainer; and Luz Ramos, actor, restaurateur, and entrepreneur.

Latinas & Power always attracts high-profile celebrities and accomplished Latinas who come with a powerful and culturally relevant story to share. In past years, Rita Moreno, Andrea Navedo, Vikki Carr, and Rosie Perez provided role models to Symposium participants.

Latinas & Power is supported by the region’s largest and most-respected companies, including MassMutual, Prudential Financial, CHET, Buzz Engine, AARP, Farmington Bank, CIGNA, Eversource, The Hartford, Space Craft, Webster Bank, CT Housing & Finance Authority, Carmelo Communication, and El Show de Analeh.

This year, the Symposium focuses on being “fiscally conscious and how to secure financial wellness and independence.”

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FUBU Founder to Keynote Business Gala

HARTFORD — J. Alexander Martin, co-founder and Vice President of the FUBU clothing line, will keynote the fifth annual Small Business Night Out event Feb. 23 at the Downtown Marriott Hotel.

Martin has externalized many successful ventures in the fashion industry including the iconic clothing line FUBU –“For Us By Us” He is an accomplished designer, has successfully given the fashion industry a unique line of clothing through FUBU or “For Us By Us”, which currently reports over $6 billion in sales.

As Owner Vice President and Creative Director of FuBu/FB and Crown Holder, J’s stylish market trends and industry techniques reflect his strong eye for color coordination, fabric and embellishments have made him a definite one to watch on any runway.

J. was born and raised in Hollis Queens New York. He attended Fashion Institute of Technology in 1992 and served his country in the United States Navy, where he served in Desert Storm. His work in the fashion industry has taken him to a number of countries including China, India, Korea, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Paris, London and South America. He comes from a strong background in business management and entrepreneurship.

He currently is the CEO of FUBU TV, CEO of J. Alexander Martin Men’s Accessories, Afashionmind Consulting & Founder/Exec. Vice President & Creative Director of FUBU. He serves as President of the New York State Black Chamber of Commerce (NYSBCC).

FuBu the Collection became the first recipient of the Essence Achievement Award given to a company, and in 2004, the FuBu partners/owners were the first to receive the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship from Brandeis University.

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Hartford Library Receives Grant to Close Digital Divide

HARTFORD — Hartford residents will soon be able to access the internet for more than two hours at the library.

That’s because the Hartford Public Library’s new push to have digital devices available on loan. Thanks to a grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

In an effort to enable residents and businesses’ access to the internet, the Hartford Foundation awarded a three-year, $297,925 Innovation Grant to the library. Officials said that this new project will support two innovative strategies to narrow the digital divide in Hartford, with a focus on Hartford’s North end.

“We are looking forward to helping even more people in our community access and use critical information resources. Ensuring that our community residents and entrepreneurs have access to the internet, and to the digital content resources they need to be successful in their education, career and life is a critical role of Hartford Public Library,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, Hartford Public Library’s Chief Executive Officer.

The “Crossroads to Connectivity” project will allow low-income adults currently enrolled in a high school diploma or certificate training program to borrow a digital device and Wi-Fi hotspot from the library (along with training on how to use it).

A second strategy coming in 2019 will use TV White Space technology to bring broadband access to Hartford’s North end, where slow and unreliable access stymies the success of small, locally-owned businesses. TV White Space technology, also known as “super Wi-Fi,” performs much like regular Wi-Fi, but uses broadcasting wavelength frequencies to cover greater distances than wireless hot spots or cellular service.

Over three years, the “Crossroads to Connectivity” program will allow 120 individuals to borrow digital devices to further their education and access critical support services. Training provided will increase digital literacy skills among participants in the program. At least ten small businesses in Hartford’s North end will see improvements in service delivery and operational efficiencies through the use of TV White Space broadband access. Hartford Public Library will continue to work with neighborhood associations, leverage existing library infrastructure and adapt its lending and training experience to benefit underserved populations that have largely been left behind by the digital revolution.

“Crossroads to Connectivity is an example of a disruptive innovation that is born from serving a market that is otherwise not served,” said Hartford Foundation senior Community Investments officer Yvette Bello. “What we gain to learn from this project is not just if these strategies will work but also how the Foundation can further support projects in which nonprofits co-create solutions with community stakeholders that address longstanding community needs.”

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Quinnipiac Announces New President

HAMDEN — Quinnipiac University on Monday announced its new president: Judy D. Olian.

Olian is currently dean and John E. Anderson Chair of Management at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and will bring “a rich combination of academic and intellectual expertise” to Quinnipiac, school officials said at a press conference on Monday.

Olian will succeed Quinnipiac President John L. Lahey on July 1, 2018, Lahey, who has been president of Quinnipiac since 1987, announced his plans to retire last April, and the board of trustees conducted a national search for his replacement.

As dean and John E. Anderson Chair in Management at UCLA since 2006, Olian directs a graduate business school that is universally regarded as a leader and innovator in higher education, annually providing management education across master’s and doctoral programs, and to more than 2,000 working professionals through executive education programs.

At UCLA, Olian was known for her commitment to academic and teaching excellence as well as her work as a consensus-building leader and a strong advocate for gender equity.

Olian earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and her master’s degree and PhD in industrial relations at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over the course of her academic career, she has been widely published in journals on human resource management, top management team composition and the business alignment of management systems.

“I like being in touch regularly with the community, whether it is students, alumni, board members, faculty or administrators. I benefit from their ideas and seek different ways to connect with each,” said Olian, who has spent significant parts of her life in Australia, Israel and the U.S. “I grew up in communities around the world. I’m attracted to the purpose and mission of Quinnipiac, and its comfort in leading change. I’ve seen a remarkable trajectory of growth in this university. I am eager to partner across the community in building on that.”

Olian was recommended to the Quinnipiac’s board of trustees by a search committee.

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