Tributes to Florida’s Puerto Rican Heroes

Several Central Florida leaders from Puerto Rico were honored on the floor of the House of Representatives by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) last month in recognition of for Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends on October 15th.

Betsy Franceschini

Educated at the Catholic University of Ponce, Betsy Franceschini came to Central Florida in 1985. Since her arrival, she has worked to uphold and advocate for the Latino community in her adopted state. Currently, as the Senior Director of Florida and Southeast Programs and Policy for the Hispanic Federation, Franceschini has implemented innovative community programs to assist Hurricane Maria evacuees.

As Florida Director for the office of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, representing the Government of Puerto Rico and the million Puerto Rican residing in the State. She successfully developed partnerships with 43 community organizations to serve Central Florida’s Latino community.
Jacob Ruiz

Major Jacob Ruiz was a Marine and then went into law enforcement, ending up in the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. He has held positions including Patrol Deputy, School Resource Officer, Persons Crimes Detective, and SWAT team operator. He is now the leader of the School Safety Division and Court Services Division, and the director of Media and Public Relations

Edwin DeJesus

Dr. Edwin DeJesus is a faculty member at the University of Central Florida, School of Medicine in Orlando, Florida. Educated at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, Dr. DeJesus led a major clinical trials center in Central Florida. His work has been instrumental in the development of treatments for HIV and Hepatitis C.

Fernando Rivera

Dr. Fernando I. Rivera, Associate Professor of Sociology, Interim Assistant Vice-Provost for Faculty Excellence, and Director of the Puerto Rico Research Hub at the University of Central Florida, has a degree in sociology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagu. He completed a National Institute of Mental Health fellowship at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University. His work includes research on the mental health effects of disasters.

Fernando Miguel Negron Rodriguez

Fernando Miguel Negron Rodriguez has hosted the radio show “Quedate con Miguel Radio” for 20 years. His focus is on voter education and community advocacy in Central Florida. He has risen to prominence in national as well as local political life.

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