Role Model Program

NJ Homeland Security Director Richard Cañas to Join Other HISPA Role Models at New Brunswick Middle School Career Day

PRESS ADVISORY NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Richard Cañas, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, will join other HISPA role models at the New Brunswick Middle School Career Day on Friday, May 29. Director Cañas will speak to about 200 8th-grade students at 11 a.m. The school is at 30 Van Dyke Ave., New Brunswick.

He will be accompanied by Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, president of HISPA, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional Hispanic role models for young students. HISPA, which stands for Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement, held its national launch this past September in New Jersey.
They will be joined by HISPA role models from AT&T, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Elizabethtown Gas, and Verizon. This is the second time that Director Cañas, a HISPA role model, has spoken to students as part of the HISPA Role Model program. Earlier this year, he spoke at the Red Bank Middle School.
Media representatives who plan to attend the event are asked to contact Ivette Mendez at or call 973.518.1537.
Since its launch, HISPA’S Role Model Bureau has been providing support to educational programs across New Jersey. Role models have shared their life stories – with an emphasis on educational achievements and professional accomplishments – during visits with more than 1500 students in numerous cities including New Brunswick, Paterson, West New York, Summit, Red Bank, Freehold, Passaic and Perth Amboy.
One of HISPA’s key strategies is to support existing educational programs in which at least half of the students are Hispanic. HISPA has previously supported the New Brunswick Middle School Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program during the 2008-09 school year; 60 percent of the students are Hispanic. In Red Bank, HISPA is working with the school district’s AVID program under the direction of Laura Morana, school superintendent.
HISPA’s also partners with existing organizations that have mentoring programs. The organization is working with Hudson County-based Save Latin America’s “Reaching Our Dreams” program, which is run by Johnny Torres. In Summit, HISPA has teamed up with the YMCA’s Latino Leadership Institute, which is run by Janet Maulbeck, director of community development.
HISPA’s Role Model Bureau is a national network of role models and resources that showcases the participants’ educational experiences, careers, and ethnic backgrounds. HISPA, which has reached and surpassed its initial recruitment goal of 100 role models in New Jersey, encourages Hispanic professionals to become active role models by visiting schools and sharing their educational and career experiences with students in an effort to inspire academic performance and achievement.
The following is a partial list of organizations who have pledged to provide role models, as well as individuals who have joined HISPA’s efforts: Employee Resources Groups: AT&T – HACEMOS; Merck Hispanic Organization (MHO); PSE&G – ADELANTE; Chubb Hispanic and Latino Employee Network (CHLEN); Microsoft – HOLA; Johnson & Johnson – Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement (HOLA); Professional Organizations: National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) – NJ Chapter; Latinos in Information Science and Technology Association (LISTA) – NJ and NY Chapters; U.S. Hispanic Advocacy Association (USHAA); Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR); and Government: Perth Amboy (NJ) Mayor Wilda Diaz.
Dr. Diaz-Claisse’s professional background includes 10 years with AT&T Labs. The New Jersey resident holds a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, a Masters in engineering from Cornell University, a Masters in mathematics from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Arizona State University.
HISPA’s goals are:
• To reduce the drop-out rates by targeting middle schools students and emphasizing the importance of higher education in each role model presentation.
• To further develop strategic alliances with employee resource groups, professional organizations and alumni networks in order to select, recruit and support a pool of role models.
• To become a one-stop resource that provides access to thousands of professional Hispanic role models willing to share their motivational stories on an ongoing basis to schools and community-based educational programs.
• To support and expand existing community-based educational programs with similar goals that have an existing need for a Hispanic pool of role models.
For more information, contact and visit Media representatives may contact Ivette Mendez at, or call 973.478.5400, Ext. 14.