It’s been a long journey since his humble beginnings as a boy in Puerto Rico, but Huntsville resident Edwin Núñez believes he is right where he needs to be.
Elected as the new Chair of the Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council (HLAC), Núñez is eager to bring his experience and love for Hispanic culture to the Huntsville community.
Recent census data shows meteoric population growth in Huntsville. As the local Hispanic population increases, Núñez said it’s critical to embrace these groups and their unique skills and experiences.
“We want people with all of these influences to be able to enrich our culture here,” he said. “At the bottom of everything is not only the progress of our youth but also the understanding of one another. The goodwill that generates – that is what we’re seeking.”
HLAC was formed to open dialogue and communication between the Hispanic/Latino community and City of Huntsville. The group values inclusion and seeks to improve race relations by promoting cooperation, peace and equality.
The Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council is currently led by Núñez, a retired senior scientist at COLSA Corporation who replaces outgoing Chair Ramon Santiago. Briseida Ruelas, an accounting manager for Oral Arts Dental Laboratories, was recently elected as Co-Chair.
Maria Cristina Konsonlas, a Colombia native who came to Huntsville 15 years ago through the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), is secretary of the group, which meets every other month at City Hall.
“I am absolutely honored to be a part of HLAC and very excited to continue supporting Hispanic families so they can better understand the school system and what they provide, including early intervention and other child support services the city offers,” she said.
Ruelas, who previously served as president of the Alabama Hispanic Association, hopes to use her new role to improve communication with the Hispanic community. She also plans to partner with other organizations to host more cultural events for the Hispanic population.
“As Huntsville gets larger, we are making sure we have that diversity,” Ruelas said. “By highlighting organizations like ours, it’s a way to show that there is diversity here.”
HLAC works closely with the City’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI), which was previously the Office of Multicultural Affairs. ODEI Director Kenny Anderson helped introduce the new HLAC officers during a public meeting Wednesday evening at City Hall.
Anderson, whose office works to make Huntsville a more just and equitable place, is looking forward to strengthening the City’s partnership with HLAC.
“Our commitment only deepens now with the transition to the new Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion,” he said. “Together, we can do great things.”
To learn more about HLAC, visit their Facebook page.