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Puerto Rican Bar holds inaugural gala dinner.

More than 200 attorneys, elected officials, community leaders, professionals, and their families came together to officially launch the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida at its recent inaugural gala and installation dinner in Miami Beach.

Those addressing the gathering included Miami Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, Miami Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration Director Mari Carmen Aponte, and Florida Bar President Miles A. McGrane, the evening's keynote speaker.

Eleventh Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican, introduced U.S. Immigration Judge Lilliana Torreh-Bayouth, also a Puerto Rican native, who administered the oath to the PRBA's first board of directors and executive board. Taking the oath were Richard R. Robles, president; Yesenia Collazo, vice president for Miami; Samuel D. Lopez, vice president for Broward County; Luis F. Gomez, vice president for Orange County; Hector R. Rivera, treasurer; Joseph F. Lopez; Nydia Menendez, secretary; and Carlos J. Chardon, parliamentarian.

Mayor Penelas lauded the PRBA's founding members for their agenda of service and dedication, and he pointed to its "great potential" and ability to "lay the path and create the blueprint" for future generations of PRBA leaders.

PRFAA Director Mari Carmen Aponte spoke of the importance of diversity in the legal profession and infused her speech with a steady cadence of the mantra: "Que nada nos detenga!"--Spanish for "Let nothing stop us!"

Morales spoke of the need for increased Hispanic representation in the judiciary and the legal profession and likened the Puerto Rican community's relationship to other communities to a rainbow. "Each color needs to stand out and be brilliant, but all be together," Morales said.

Judge Torreh-Bayouth encouraged the new members to continue to "open their arms to their Hispanic brethren" and praised the organization's agenda of honor and service.

McGrane encouraged the PRBA members to continue with their spirit of participation and leadership and asked whether the next president of The Florida Bar might be among its members.

"Enthusiasm and support for this organization is not only palpable in this room but in all of Florida ... and not just because Puerto Ricans are large in numbers but because the PRBA transcends culture, politics, and ethnicity and embodies justice, unity, and excellence," Gomez said. "We are poised to serve the Florida community for generations to come."

For more information about the Puerto Rican Bar of Florida write to 905 Brickell Bay Drive, Four Ambassadors, Tower II, Mezzanine, Suite 228, Miami 33131 or send e-mails to prbarflorida@yahoo.com.
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Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Jan 15, 2004
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