Reencuentro Taíno Conference would not be possible without the help of an incredible team of coordinators, writers, graphic designers, event producers, and countless volunteers who have shared their skills, time, and expertise to create an incredible event. Jajóm (thank you)!
As a writer, artist, teacher, and language nerd at heart, Priscilla Colón has shared her passion for education, working on language programs for more than 20 years. As co-founder and creative of Casa Areyto, her mission is to promote the Taíno language and culture via online videos, live events, and children’s books.
Carlos Colón Padilla
Carlos Colón Padilla dedicates himself to serving others in his community of Canóvanas. His work with various non-profit organizations led to his current position as Manager of the Office of Culture and Tourism for the municipality. Among his initiatives are the Culture Nights, which showcase the culture and music of the island, partnerships with the National Forest Service to promote the use of local trails, and a collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico to create the first school in the eastern zone to train and graduate certified artisans.
Norma Carrión Portela
From a very young age, Norma Carrión Portela was interested in history and archeology. Though she studied Medicine at the University of Puerto Rico for four years, she went on to obtain a Doctorate in History from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. A lover of change and challenges, Norma decided to study and become an artisan in the noble material of clay, receiving a license from the Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico. She has received professional recognition, such as the Silver Star of the Caribbean from the Puerto RicoTourism Company and Wyndham International. Today, Norma not only stands out as a university professor at her alma mater, but also as a tour guide, historian, defender of historical heritage, and potter.
Sponsors Team Director
Sayalí Robles is an Afro-Taíno artisan and member of the South Portland Human Rights Commission of Maine. She also has a background in social work and mediation. Sayalí enjoys walking in the woods and growing food in her garden. For Sayalí, connecting to the earth and working the soil allows nature to embrace you while providing a healing space in difficult times in your life. Sayalí enjoys hearing the stories of her ancestors and finding ways to celebrate and honor them. She is also a mother to two children, whom she calls her Sun and Moon. Her sons are great teachers, and she learns much from them.
Content Team Director
Pedro A. Vázquez is a uniquely experienced community leader and human rights defender, concentrating on litigation and legal proceedings benefiting the public good. As a community leader, Pedro’s work centers the needs and concerns of marginalized individuals. He has partnered with the United States Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights, among other organizations, and is the Founding Chair of the South Portland Human Rights Commission of Maine.
Zayda Rivera has been a professional writer for the past 20 years. In 2016, she launched 3L Communiqué (3LC), an event production and public relations business that has produced high-profile, black-tie and awards galas, celebrity speaking engagements, and conferences with attendees ranging in the hundreds to thousands. In 2019, Zayda launched Mindful Living with Z, a spiritual wellness company, offering support to those seeking a deeper connection with theDivine and healing.
Board of Advisors
Transparent Language, Inc.
As a Senior Executive at a language learning technology company,Lorie Roule is dedicated to inspiring a love of languages. As a retired federal government executive, she has extensive experience in foreign language learning and linguistic services within the U.S. Intelligence Community. Her areas of expertise are linguistic services management, talent and leadership development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2015, she was the recipient of a Presidential Rank Award for leading change to promote gender equity.
Stephanie Witkowski has over 10 years of experience in both language revitalization and the nonprofit sector. She holds an MA in Linguistics from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with an emphasis on Language Documentation and Conservation, and has worked with speakers of multiple under-documented languages, including native languages of California, the Pacific, and Russia.
Vivionne Grace Keli
Vivionne Keli is an author and advocate for people suffering from adverse childhood experiences. She uses her M.S. in Psychology, her skills as a chaplain, and her own personal experience of healing to lead adults into recovery. For over two decades, Vivionne has collaborated with social services and the US court system to work with at-risk youth and families as a certified behavior intervention specialist, counselor, mentor, and spiritual advisor. She wrote Awaken the Silence When Silence Isn't Golden and the Emotional Triage Workbook. As the founder and speaker of Emotional Triage Seminars & Workshops, Vivionne has received national recognition as a dynamic speaker and leader within her community. Vivionne and her husband recently relocated to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where she enjoys walks on the beach, writing, and working with colleagues in the film and television industries.
Founder and Designer
Richard Smith is an alumnus of the State University of New York where he graduated with a degree in Visual Art and Communication. It was during his final year in college that he met the love of his life, Linda, who, as it turns out, recently discovered she is Cuban Taino; the synchronicity of life abounds. As an author, speaker, graphic artist, and content creator, Richard Smith has utilized his skills as a human origins advocate since the early nineties, which includes a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from ancient astronauts and official first contact to human rights and cultural genocide. As the founder of 11:22 Creative, he brings 20 years of graphic design and customer service experience, which means you get the relationship, understanding, and perspective you've been looking for.
Carmen Serrano Luna
Taíno Artist and Founder
Born in Hatillo, Puerto Rico, Carmen’s greatest influence was her art teacher, Norberto Ruiz Nieves, who introduced her to Puerto Rican artists of times past like Francisco Oller and Oscar Colón Delgado. As a self-taught artist, Carmen gained practical experience, learning through trial and error, and studying the works of Oller, Colón-Delgado, Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera, and many others. In addition to working primarily with acrylic, charcoal, and graphite, Carmen also holds a diploma in digital design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Taíno Artist and
Coming from a very large Puerto Rican family, Vic Rodríguez has always been proud of their roots. They have an extensive passion for art, design, and learning about people in all ways possible. The past few years allowed them to explore and learn about their Taíno heritage, which has greatly influenced not only their personal identity but where they see their role in the world. Their experiences growing up and learning about their culture have greatly influenced their current study of Psychology at UMass Dartmouth. They plan to use this degree to pursue a career in counseling, focusing on communities of color and decolonizing views surrounding mental health issues. Their passions for art and design are not forgotten, however, as their culture inspires their art pieces and crafting hobbies.
Taíno Artist and Spiritualist
Born to a Puerto Rican mother and a Polish father, Madison Lanza studied graphic design and pursued a degree in Digital Media Technology from Fulton Montgomery Community College. She is inspired by the work of Van Gogh, Aaron Draplin, and Diego Rivera. While growing up, Madison’s grandparents, who helped to raise her, explained that she is Indigenous. But she wasn’t able to learn a lot about her Taíno roots, as her grandmother succumbed to dementia. To honor her grandparents, Madison has made it her personal mission to learn the history of her family and about her Taíno roots. Through her art, she expresses herself and her culture.
Taíno Graphic Designer and Illustrator
Giovanny López received a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Liberty University.His work includes illustrations, as wellas website and promotional ads for businesses. Both of his parents are Puerto Rican though he never quite felt like he was part of a community. In his quest to reconnect to his Taíno roots, Giovanny is using his illustration and design skills to help us bring the Reencuentro Taíno Conference to life.