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Latinos and Hispanics have roots in Virginia dating back five centuries. In honor of Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month in Virginia (15 September to 15 October), Out of the Box is spotlighting the Virginia Latino Advisory Board (VLAB) and related records at the Library of Virginia.

On 7 October 2003, Governor Mark R. Warner (2002-2006) issued Executive Order 57 creating the Virginia Latino Advisory Commission (VLAC) to provide the administration with information about the growing Latino community in the Commonwealth.

Governor Warner said in a press release:

One of the things that makes [sic] Virginia special is the rich diversity of its people, and my administration views our diversity as a source of strength. Our diverse and growing population of Virginians of Latino descent presents new opportunities for the Commonwealth, and the members of this new Commission bring a wide variety of professional, cultural, and entrepreneurial experience, as well as extensive records of community leadership.

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2005 turning the VLAC into a permanent board.

Renamed the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, the board has the power to:

  • Advise the Governor regarding the development of economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Latino community in Virginia, and Latin America;
  • Undertake studies, symposiums, research, and factual reports to gather information to formulate and present recommendations to the Governor relative to issues of concern and importance to the Latino community in the Commonwealth; and
  • Advise the Governor as needed regarding any statutory, regulatory, or other issues of importance to the Latino community in the Commonwealth.

The Library has archived the VLAB website from January 2011 to the present. The archived site include annual reports from 2003 to the present, meeting minutes and agendas from 2010 to the present, and links to government resources in Spanish.

In addition to the archived websites, the Library also has the records of the Latino Liaison from 2004 to 2009. Since its creation by Governor Warner in November 2002, the Latino Liaison has worked with the Governor’s office, various state and local government agencies, community organizations, the private sector, and Latino leaders to better serve this growing community. The Latino Liaison also represents the governor on the Virginia Latino Advisory Board.

On 19 January 2006 Governor Tim Kaine named Sindy Benavides as Deputy Director of Constituent Services and Latino Liaison. As the liaison, she provided outreach to Latinos statewide and educated them on available state services. Benavides later served as Director of Appointments for the Secretary of the Commonwealth. In 2009, Benavides joined the Democratic National Committee as the Director of the Community Outreach and Voting Department.

The Latino Liaison records, as well as Sindy Benavides emails, document the Kaine administration’s outreach to Virginia’s Latino community. Notable topics in the collection include immigration legislation and Governor Tim Kaine’s meeting on 6 February 2008 with President Elias Antonio Saca of El Salvador. The Latino Liaison records from Governor Robert McDonnell’s administration have not yet been processed and are currently closed to researchers.

-Roger Christman, Senior State Records Archivist

Roger Christman

Senior State Records Archivist

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