By Sarah McGlinchey
Just on the heels of the 2017 Hispanic Heritage Month, a Conshohocken resident was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) on August 30 as the first-ever GACLA Commissioner for Conshohocken.
GACLA, a governmental agency comprised of 30 Latino citizens representing towns and regions across Pennsylvania, is driven by Governor Tom Wolf and is regarded as the highest representation of the Latino community in the state.
Jacqueline Rocco, the newly-appointed GACLA Commissioner for Conshohocken, has been a Conshohocken resident since 2002.
GACLA commissioners act as ambassadors for the Latino community of Pennsylvania, advocating for policies, programs, and resources to support the needs of their local and the overall Latino community. Each commissioner is appointed to serve a 2-year term. This year’s term has 14 new commissioners, including Rocco, and 16 returning commissioners.
Luz B. Colon, Executive Director of GACLA, said she chose Rocco for this position because she saw an undeniable passion to serve her community.
“If you do not have it in you to want to serve, it defeats the purpose of this agency,” said Colon. “Jackie is what we call a fire-starter. She will go in and fight if she needs to. At the end of the day, it comes down to ‘what are our needs?” It’s those that we have to fight for as Commissioners.”
Rocco is an active member of Conshohocken Plymouth Whitemarsh Rotary, and the founder and president of EduGroup of PA, a local nonprofit organization that seeks to decrease the high school dropout rate as well as provide mentorship for students who do graduate, aimed at helping economically disadvantaged students.
“As a Commissioner, my goal is to bring awareness to the community about GACLA and to begin to inform local Latinos that we are here for them,” said Rocco. “We are looking forward to connecting with local leaders, the Rotary, and our local Borough Council representatives. We want to keep communication open for residents to participate and join us in this exciting endeavor.”
GACLA was founded in 1971 by a group of Latino leaders who believed that they needed to be represented in the Commonwealth. As more Latinos migrated to the U.S. and to Pennsylvania, there was an increasing language barrier that made it difficult to access fundamental resources, such as education.
The agency has three main initiatives: Government that Works, Education that Teaches, and Jobs that Pay.
In working to educate the community, GACLA helps facilitate Hispanic Heritage Month, a nationwide celebration of Hispanic culture in the U.S. that kicks off on September 15. This year’s theme, “Shaping the Bright Future of America,” aligns with GACLA’s mission and core values for a better and sustainable community.