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September 19, 2013


Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla Hosts Event and Honors
Anibal Alcantara, Jr., Jorge Gutierrez, Angelica Guevara, Luis Maisonave,
Santiago Paniagua, Nieves Ramos, Oscar Rodriguez, Sr., and Esther Tanez

(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders held its first-ever Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration on Wednesday, September 18th, at the Hall of Records.  The event was hosted by District 1 Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla of Newark, who was born in Honduras.  During the celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage, the Board also honored the following deserving individuals: Anibal Alcantara, Jr., Angelica J. Guevara, Jorge Gutierrez, Luis A. Maisonave, Santiago Paniagua, Nieves Ramos, Oscar Rodriguez, Sr., and Esther Tanez.

Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla of Newark (back row, 2nd from right) hosted the Freeholder Board’s first-ever Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration during the Board’s Wednesday, September 18th, meeting at the Hall of Records and is pictured above with the event’s honorees: (front row, l. to r.)  Angelica Guevara, Esther Tanez, Nieves Ramos and Santiago Paniagua; and (back row, l. to r.) Oscar Rodriguez, Sr., Luis Maisonave, Anibal Alcantara, Jr., and Jorge Gutierrez. (Photo by Glen Frieson)

“Last year I wrote the resolution to make this event possible”, said Freeholder Bobadilla, “and to be sure it will take place for years in the future so we will always have an outlet, all of us, from all of our cultures, to celebrate our common heritage together.” He went on to comment that Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the nation’s population, and that they will continue to make their mark in every facet of the nation’s life.  “We come from so many different places with great histories and cultures and food”, he said, “and today we will honor individuals who represent the breadth of our community.”  Bobadilla also encouraged the audience to be positive and forward-looking in order to advance the progress of the Hispanic community, and to be vigilant in resisting the efforts of some to drive wedges between their various nationalities for their own personal gain or political agendas.  “Unfortunately”, he said, “there are those in our community who look to destroy instead of bond, and are not above resorting to racist remarks to accomplish their goals.”
Bobadilla introduced the first two honorees, Anibal Alcantara, Jr., and Santiago Paniagua, together, as men who accomplished something special for the Dominican community this past summer.  Alcantara explained, “This past summer, we were able to have the State of New Jersey declare the second Saturday of every July to be ‘Dominican Pride Day’, and we’re working with the U. S. Senate right now to have that date celebrated throughout the United States.”  In his remarks Paniagua said, “In our community, we have to build connections, build friendships and come together, no matter what our nation of origin, to do something good and make positive change in our community, and I support Freeholder Bobadilla 100% in his efforts to do that.”

Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla of Newark (right) introduces two of his honorees: Santiago Paniagua (left) and Anibal Alcantara, Jr. (center) during Hall of Records ceremony. (Photo by Glen Frieson)

Anibal Alcantara, Jr., of Newark has enjoyed great success in the corporate world and has since become an accomplished and respected entrepreneur and community volunteer.  He was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the U.S. in 1977 where he grew up in Newark and earned his B. S. in Electrical Engineering from NJIT.  He was first employed by PSE&G as a lead engineer, then by Hoffman La Roche in Nutley, and finally by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield as an Executive Business Director, before leaving that position and the corporate world in 2002 to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, including: Solutions for Success, a technology company with a focus on point-of-sale systems; and Solutions Multi-Service Center, an accounting firm for small businesses.  Currently he is also involved in hotel promotion and management as the General Manager of the Best Western Regency House in Pompton Plains. 

Mr. Alcantara is a sought-after commentator on cable, national television, radio, bulletin boards and in the print media, as well as for schools and community-based organizations.  He has also volunteered his time in the community as President of the Newark Literacy Campaign Board of Directors, Chair of the Community Mental Health Services Public Relations Committee, Board Member of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and as a Bloomfield Auxiliary Police Officer.  He is also a member of the NJ State Law Enforcement Officers Association and the co-founder of the Meritorious Dominican Awards, the “Orgullo Dominicano” Award and the Duarte Institute.  Mr. Alcantara is the father of five children: Anibal, III, Michael, Joshua, Nicholis and Lianne.

Santiago Paniagua is the Founder and Editor of Quisqueya International newspaper, the most important newspaper in the Dominican community, as well as a well-known activist in the Dominican and Hispanic communities.  He was born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in Rio San Juan and Santo Domingo, and studied accounting at several universities in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela before beginning his career as Promotion and Recruitment Manager at University CETEC and then the Department of Metropolitan Bank Audit.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1988 and moved with his family to Newark in 1996, where he first worked as a building superintendent, then for 2 years as a superintendent for New Community Corporation before being promoted to Community Relations Coordinator in the Hispanic Development Department, where he has worked for 16 years. 

In 2003, Mr. Paniagua founded and published the newspaper, Quisqueya News, and then Quisqueya International newspaper in 2004, which has grown to have a presence in 19 cities in NJ, NY and the Dominican Republic, and on the Internet.  He serves as a Coordinator for the Urban Institute Entrepreneurs Institute and GNEC, and is the founder/co-founder of other civic organizations in Newark, including: the Dominican Parade and Cultural Festival of Essex County, the Newark Merchants Association, The Mexican Newspaper of New Jersey, the Dominicans in Action Movement (“La Movida”), the company Dominican News Enterprises, and the Duarte Institute of Newark, Inc.  Mr. Paniagua is an active member of Emmanuel Christian Church.  He resides in Newark with his wife, Julia (Castro), and they have 3 children: Julissa Celeste, Santiago Augusto (deceased) and Ameleen del Pilar.

Angelica Guevara expressed her appreciation for being honored as Freeholder Bobadilla looked on during the Board’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

Angelica J. Guevara of Belleville is an accomplished journalist who currently works as the Content and Special Segments Producer for the New York-based news magazine morning television show, “Buenos Dias Nueva York”, that airs on Telemundo NY/NBC.  She was born in Ecuador and immigrated to the U.S. in 1984, settled in Newark and earned a B. A. in Communications with a Minor in Public Relations at Seton Hall University. 

She began her professional career in 1998 at Telemundo 47/NBC, where she served through 2007 as a Senior Creative Services Producer and Assistant Manager to the Director and produced programs covering key events in the tri-state area such as the Puerto Rican Day Parade, NYC Marathon, Tribeca Film Festival and NY International Auto Show.  She then joined Colamerica Corp. for a year as Director of Promotions/Public Relations and writer/producer of a half-hour television show that aired on Telefutura/Univision 41 – New York.  She returned to Telemundo in 2008, where she continues to work today.  In 2008, she co-produced the Emmy Award-nominated “Perú, Tierra de los Incas”, and in 2009 she was Executive Director of “Guatemala, La Joya de Centroamérica”, which won an Emmy Award for “Best Documentary”.  She also earned broad recognition for her most recent production, “13 Bak’tun, La Predicción Maya”, a documentary about the Mayan prophecies that drew wide viewership and the support of the Guatemalan government.  She also served as the General Producer of the weekly news magazine television show, “El Informador”, from 2010-2012.  Ms. Guevara resides in Belleville and is the mother of three children: Andrea, Erika and Erick.

“Tonight it is a pleasure for me to honor and introduce Angelica Guevara, an accomplished person who has worked for Telemundo for many years and even won an Emmy award!” said Bobadilla.  Ms. Guevara stated that it was a great honor for her to be recognized by the Board, “and to accept this award on behalf of Ecuadorian professionals who work in different areas and industries.  I’m so proud of my community.”  She downplayed her impressive personal accomplishments and emphasized how important it is for her, and others, to take advantage of every opportunity to help everyone in the community.

Jorge Gutierrez spoke during the Board’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at the Hall of Records.  He is pictured above with Freeholder Bobadilla.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

Jorge Luis Gutierrez, a successful businessman and a lifelong resident of Newark, graduated from Our Lady of Good Council High School in 1989.  After high school, he opened his first business, a jewelry store on the corner of Mt. Prospect and Elwood Avenues in North Newark, and owned Jay’s Grill from 2010-2013, a diner located in Bloomfield.  He also currently owns two other businesses in Newark: El Pepino Bar and Liquor and a piña colada stand.  A successful and prolific business owner, Mr. Gutierrez has been active with the New Jersey and Essex County Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, both of which named him their “Merchant of the Year” in 1991.  He has also been active in the civic life of his community and the City of Newark.  Beginning in 1999, he served as a Commissioner on the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment for four years before becoming a full-time City employee in the Mayor’s Office of Affirmative Action, where he worked until 2009 when he transferred to the Newark Police Department’s Division of Taxicabs, where he is currently employed.  Mr. Gutierrez has a son, Jorge, Jr.

“Jorge Gutierrez has been a community activist for as long as everyone has known him; he’s also a business owner in the City of Newark who contributes to our economy and who was named ‘Merchant of the Year’ by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in1991.”  “I love the City of Newark, and have lived here my whole life”, said Gutierrez, who also thanked Freeholder Bobadilla and the Board for recognizing him saying, “This is a great honor.”


Honoree Luis A. Maisonave (left) spoke about mentoring young people during the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration as Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla looked in agreement.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

Luis A. Maisonave was born in Moca, Puerto Rico, and moved to the United States with his family in 1960.  He grew up in Newark and graduated from Central High School in 1976 before marrying his childhood sweetheart, Myrna, at the age of 19.  To support his family, Mr. Maisonave joined the workforce as a driver for DHL Express in 1988, where he was employed for the next 25 years. 

He has been extremely effective in providing and supporting recreational activities for Newark’s young people through his volunteerism as a coach and administrator.  He has been a baseball and basketball coach for Project Pride and a baseball coach for the Roberto Clemente Little League, where he also served as a Coordinator and currently serves as Vice President.  Mr. Maisonave also served as a baseball hitting coach for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), an initiative of Major League Baseball through Boys & Girls Clubs, for boys and girls ages 13-15 and 16-18; its Mission is to increase urban and inner city youth interest and participation in baseball and softball.  He also served as an Advisory Board member for the Broadway Unit of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark for 5 years, and currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Family Success Center at La Casa de Don Pedro.  Mr. Maisonave and his wife of 36 years, Myrna, reside in Newark and have three children: Jennitza, Louis and Stephen.

“Luis Maisonave has dedicated his life to youth and youth development”, said Bobadilla.  Accepting his commendation, Maisonave said it is everyone’s moral obligation to give back to the youth, one way or another.  “I really believe that, and that’s why I do what I do.”  He concluded his remarks by challenging everyone in the audience “to be a mentor, whoever that child might be, because if you do we can be a great community and a great City of Newark.”

Honoree Nieves Ramos (center) poses with her Commendation with Freeholder Bobadilla (2nd from left), and they were joined by her family and friends.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

Nieves Ramos has been employed by the North Ward Center’s Casa Israel Senior Day Care Center in Newark since 2011, where she is responsible for the recruitment of potential clients and the promotion of the services it offers.  She was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the U.S. in 1976 where she settled in New York City, attended the Panamerican Traveling School in Washington Heights and graduated from Washington Irving H.S.  Ms. Ramos owned and operated a clothing store, Nieves Fashion, in New York from 1986-87 until she relocated to Newark, where she then owned and operated a new clothing store, Nisal Fashion, until 1991.  She became a resident of Bloomfield in 1993 and then turned her entrepreneurial talents to the food industry by opening a Spanish food restaurant, Tu Pais Restaurant, which she owned and operated in Newark from 1994 until 1999, when she opened a new Spanish food restaurant, Tu Dulzura Restaurant, which she owned and operated from 1999-2008, also in Newark. 

Ms. Ramos has been very active in the political and cultural life of her community by assisting local elected officials and candidates for more than 23 years.  She has been especially active in promoting Dominican culture and pride as a volunteer with the Dominican Parade and Cultural Festival of Essex County since 2011, where she has served as an etiquette and protocol specialist and has been responsible for hosting and organizing the organization’s events.  Ms. Ramos resides in Bloomfield and is the mother of three children: Moises Olivo, Virleny Garcia and Luis Garcia.

“Whenever I am going through difficult times, Nieves Ramos always inspires and lifts him up by saying, ‘Lo tenemos que hacer’ (‘Let’s get it done’)”, said Bobadilla.  “Nieves believes in people… she believes that people are inherently good and mean well for their community, and I have great respect for her.”  Ramos, in turn, thanked Bobadilla and the Board for honoring her.

Oscar Rodriguez, Sr., has served as the Executive Director of the Just One Neighborhood Program, Inc., since 2011, and is a leading advocate for youth recreation programs in Newark.  He was born in Quito, Ecuador, immigrated to the U.S. in 1987 at the age of 25 and settled in Newark, where he has lived ever since.  In 1995 he co-founded and became a volunteer soccer coach with Just One Soccer League (JOSL) through a partnership with the City of Newark and the non-profit organization, Newark Do Something.  Under his leadership, JOSL has grown to become a nationally-recognized urban soccer program serving more than 700 children between the ages of 5-19 that is successfully working to build the community and develop leaders.  Mr. Rodriguez has also been very active in another program under the umbrella of Just One Neighborhood Program, Inc. – Leaders Entrusted with the Growth of Advancing Community Youth (L.E.G.A.C.Y.), which was formed through a partnership with the national organization UP2US.  L.E.G.A.C.Y. strives to expose college-age athletes to become volunteer coaches themselves through the UP2US program, Coach Across America, a school-based sports program to mobilize young athletes to be coaches in our nation’s most underserved neighborhoods. 

Mr. Rodriguez has been employed since 1988 by Comint Apparel Group, a family-owned and operated outerwear manufacturer, where he began his tenure as a data entry operator and has since risen to his current position of Operations Manager.  He and his wife, Annette, have three children: Oscar, Jr., Katelynn and Bryan.

Freeholder Bobadilla listens as Oscar Rodriguez, Sr., (left) accepts his commendation and speaks about the young people who participate in the Just One Soccer League and L.E.G.A.C.Y. program.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

“I met Oscar a few years ago when I enrolled my daughters in his soccer league”, said Bobadilla.  “He is a great coach, a great administrator, and provides young people with a great outlet where he teaches them not only about soccer, but also about discipline and about being moral.”  Rodriguez began his remarks by thanking Freeholder Bobadilla “for bringing the family together.”  He explained that he answered an ad in the newspaper for youth soccer coaches 18 years ago, “and now, 18 years later, we’ve built a program with hundreds of volunteers that help kids in a safe environment.”  He also spoke about the success of his latest project, L.E.G.A.C.Y, through which former players in the Just One Soccer League are now coaches and mentors for younger players themselves, and who are “our future leaders.”  He also expressed his appreciation to the County for the tremendous improvements to soccer facilities, saying “We used to play in dirt until the County build the state-of-the-art soccer fields in Branch Brook Park.”

Esther Tanez of West Orange is a successful insurance professional and businesswoman with 25 years of experience in the industry.  She was born on Staten Island and lived in various locations in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico before her family settled in Newark in 1980, where she graduated from Bethel Christian Academy in 1988.  She earned her license to sell Property & Casualty, Health and Life insurance in 1989 from the Professional School of Business in Millburn, and her Certification in Corporate Credit Analysis at New York University. 

In 1999, Ms. Tanez started her own insurance agency, E.S.T.I.R., Inc., which has grown and moved from being an operation in her parents’ basement to its own building on Bloomfield Avenue in Newark.  In 2007, Ms. Tanez embarked on a personal campaign to educate people about money management and the importance of credit by writing a recurring column and articles in Spanish-language newspapers, magazines and radio stations and teaching classes at local churches and non-profit organizations.  She is also an active member of professional insurance industry organizations: Board Member of PIA, where she serves as Co-Chair of Legislation; President of BNI Right Track, a networking group located in Millburn; Member of The Alternative Board; and serves on the New Jersey Supreme Court committee, Unauthorized Practice of Law.  Ms. Tanez is the mother of three sons: Eduardo, Nicholas and Francisco.

Esther Tanez of West Orange thanked Freeholder Bobadilla and the entire Board for honoring her during the event at the Hall of Records in Newark.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

“I first met my friend, Esther Tanez, about 10 years ago when I moved to Newark, and when her insurance business was located in a basement next to the Pueblo Supermarket.  Today, she has more than 6,000 clients”, said Bobadilla.  He explained that in addition to her business, she also serves on a New Jersey Supreme Court committee addressing the unauthorized practice of law.  “Esther and I will be working together in the near future to help members of our community who are being taken advantage of and cheated out of thousands of dollars by unethical lawyers, other so-called professionals and contractors.”

“I love what I do”, said Tanez, “but it’s not just loving what I do, but the opportunity to serve and make a difference in the community.  I’m here to serve”, she continued, “so if anyone feels that they have been used or abused or taken advantage of by someone who says they’re a lawyer and they’re not, or anyone else, please contact me and I’ll be sure your voice is heard.”

In concluding the program, Bobadilla said, “We are a diverse America, and I truly believe that we are lucky to be here, because I don’t believe there are many countries in the world where someone can say, ‘That’s what I want to be’, and actually get there.”  He went on to say, “I’m a proud Latino-American, but I’m also a proud American, and every day I continue to learn from people like tonight’s honorees, because they are true public servants.”

The Celebration was attended by many of the other members of the Freeholder Board, including Freeholders Carol Clark, Rufus Johnson, Leonard Luciano and Brendan Gill, as well as Newark Councilman Anibal Ramos and former Councilman Hector Corchado.  Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., and State Senator Teresa Ruiz also addressed the audience, and entertainment for the event was provided by vocalist Mino de America.  A catered reception for the honorees and their guests followed the program.


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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders




Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695