The California Portuguese American Coalition (CPAC) was founded by a group of Portuguese-American community leaders who saw a need to increase the political advocacy and involvement of the Portuguese-American community in California. As a tax exempt non-profit organization, CPAC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by partners in the Portuguese-American community.
Diniz Borges was born in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Açores. He immigrated to California with his parents at the age of ten, and went on to earn a BA from Chapman University and an MA from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is currently a Portuguese language teacher at Tulare Union High School and College of the Sequoias, Visalia.
Diniz has been an active member of the Portuguese-American community since the age of 18 when he began the Portuguese Language radio program A Voz do Emigrante Português. He has been a contributing writer for several newspapers in the Azores and the Portuguese-American communities, and is the coordinator of the literary page Maré Cheia and the Portuguese language television program Os Portugueses no Vale.
Diniz serves on the Board of several Portuguese-American organizations including the Luso-America Education Foundation, the Tulare-Angra Sister City Foundation, and a founding member and President of the California Portuguese-American Coalition (CPAC).
John Pedrozo was elected to the Merced County Board of Supervisors in 2004, representing the communities of El Nido, Le Grand, Livingston, Planada, Tuttle and South Merced. As a lifelong farmer, Supervisor Pedrozo is well known as a strong advocate for agriculture.
Supervisor Pedrozo formerly served on the Merced Union High School District Board of Trustees, where he brought a common-sense approach and stood up for students, parents and educators. As a proud graduate of Our Lady of Mercy School, Supervisor Pedrozo fully understands the value of a Catholic education. Supervisor Pedrozo served on OLM’s School Board for 9 years and his entire family remains ardent supporters of this outstanding faith-based educational institution.
Supervisor Pedrozo has long been an active member in our community and serves on many boards and committees including as Chair of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Joint Powers Authority, the Merced County Dairy Advisory Committee, the Governing Board of the Merced County Association of Governments and the Area Agency on Aging, amongst many others. Pedrozo is credited with helping lead the effort to implement the County’s first-ever groundwater management ordinance.
Supervisor Pedrozo is a distinguished public servant who has long demonstrated his full commitment to the County of Merced. He is proudly married to his wife Kelly for 37 years and has three adult children and six grandchildren.
Board of Directors
Elmano Costa is a Professor of Teacher Education and Department Chair at California State University, Stanislaus and is the Director of the Center for Portuguese Studies. Prior to this, he was an elementary school principal for ten years, and an elementary teacher for six years. For 18 years he has coordinated and proctored the California Department of Education Bilingual Cross-cultural Language Development (BCLAD) Assessment to earn the State bilingual certification in Portuguese and the language test to earn the credential to teach Portuguese in California.
He was elected in April 2008 to the “Conselho das Comunidades” (Council of Communities, an organ of the Portuguese government) representing immigrants in the Western United States. He is a founding member of the Portuguese Education Foundation of Central California and a past president, founder and chair of the Board of Directors of the Valley Area Living Enabling Resources (VALER), a social services referral agency serving the Portuguese community in Central California, and a member of the Board of Directors and current president of the Portuguese American Citizenship Project. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Portuguese Heritage Publications.
On June 10, 2008, he received the title of “Comendador da Orden de Instrução Pública” from his Excellency, the President of the Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva. He is a recipient of the “Causa Portuguesa” award bestowed by the União Portuguesa do Estado da Califórnia (UPEC) in 2002, and the California State University, Stanislaus Alumni Service Award (2001). He also received the Outstanding Leadership Award presented by the Portuguese Education Foundation of Central California (2001).
He was born in Terceira Island, Azores and immigrated at age 10 to California. He is married to Albertina and has two sons, Paulo and Daniel.
Steven Nascimento is the founder of CPAC. He has spent his career working closely with elected officials and community leaders throughout California. Having previously served as the District Director for Congressman Dennis Cardoza and State Senator Anthony Cannella, Steven has a deep understanding of the legislative process and how decisions made in Washington and Sacramento impact our communities.
The son of Portuguese immigrants, Nascimento currently serves as a Board Member of the California Portuguese American Coalition, and as a member of the board for the Center for Portuguese Studies at California State University, Stanislaus.
Nascimento holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Stanislaus. He is a lifelong resident of Turlock, where he currently serves as a member of the Turlock City Council.
Angela Costa Simões
A 3rd generation Portuguese-American, Angela spent the last 16 years doing high tech public relations in Silicon Valley. Recently, Angela left corporate America to become an entrepreneur and is pursuing multiple ventures including a tech start-up called BBook, Inc http://www.bbook-app.com., and a consumer products development company called Red Roof Industries. She is also co-host of two podcast shows, Our Portuguese Table and Wearable Progression.
Angela has been actively involved in the Portuguese community throughout most of her life. From marching in parades for the Festas do Espirito Santo, to serving as State Youth President for the Luso-American Fraternal Federation, dancing with Rancho Folclorico A Portuguesa, serving on the Board of Directors for PALCUS (Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States), and is an officer for West to West. She is also the founder of Angela’s List, a free online resource that informs the community of news and events in the worldwide Portuguese community. Started in 2000, Angela’s List now has more than 8,500 members and is published through PALCUS.
She has a BA in Communication from the University of San Francisco, and lives in Fremont, California with her husband, daughter and a Puggle named Foguete.
Cliff Costa, Vice President of California Advocates, Inc. has over 15+ years’ experience in advocacy, public policy and political campaigns. California Advocates, Inc. is California’s oldest contract advocacy firm established in 1970 and currently provide legislative and regulatory advocacy services to nearly 70 clients. Cliff works with clients ranging from real estate and financial services to legal and general business issues. Just a few of the clients include Apple, Delta Airlines, Equifax, California Judges Association, Chime Financial, and many others.
Before joining California Advocates, Cliff served as the Director of Government Affairs for the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) for almost 7 years. At CNCDA, he oversaw all lobbying efforts at the California Legislature and also directed the association’s political contributions to candidates and Independent Expenditures. Prior to CNCDA, Cliff served almost a decade in the California State Senate and State Assembly as Legislative Director and Legislative Aide to a number of different legislators representing Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cliff is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the McGeorge School of Law. He is admitted to practice before the state courts in California. Cliff’s wife, Trang, is a former elementary school teacher in West Sacramento.
Cliff can be reached at: CCosta@caladvocates.com
Idalmiro da Rosa was born in São Roque do Pico, Pico, Azores. In 1967, with his parents, Idalmiro immigrated to San Diego, California where he still resides today. After graduating from High School he went on to earn his AA in Architecture at San Diego Mesa Junior College and his BS in Engineering from the California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, California.
Upon graduation from Cal Poly he worked with a couple Engineering firms in San Diego, CA and in 1985 he started his own Architecture and Engineering Consultant Firm called Da Rosa Design which he still operates on a part time basis. Since 2001to the present he has been employed as Engineer/Manager with the City of San Diego, CA.
Idalmiro was appointed in May of 2017 as Honorary Consul of Portugal in San Diego and since 2010 is a Member of the Counseling Board of the Portuguese Consulate in San Francisco, CA. Since 2008 in San Diego he serves on the Board of the Cabrillo Festival currently as Director also served as Vice-President and President. In 2015-2016 he was an Organizing Committee Member of the XL Annual Luso-American Education Foundation Conference held in San Diego. From 1989-2014 he was Director of the United Portuguese Sociedade Espírito Santo (UPSES), San Diego, CA chairing the Community Functions and Construction Committee amongst others. At the UPSES in 2005 his family hosted the 2005 Festa do Espírito Santo, the oldest continuous ethnic festival in San Diego, and also chaired the Street name change into Avenida de Portugal.
Idalmiro is married to Filomena with a son Paulo and daughter Amanda.
Maria Silveira was born in Piedade, Lajes do Pico, Azores. In 1967, with her family, she immigrated to Turlock, Califórnia, where she still resides today. Maria Hortência graduated from CSUS and attended graduate school at UC Davis. She is also a certified Collective Bargaining Negotiator by Harvard University.
Maria is the Vice President of Labor Relations for Foster Farms. She is honored to oversee an outstanding team of Human Resources Professionals. Her area of responsibility consists of the Turkey Division, Chicken Manufacturing, Northern California Distribution Center, Logistics, Truck Shops, Prepared Foods, including the States of Alabama, Oregon and Louisiana Chicken Manufacturing, Cooked Chicken Plant, Truck Shop, Hatcheries and the Feed Mill. She is also responsible to negotiate eleven Collective Bargaining Agreements for Foster Farms.
She was one of the founders of the House of the Azores and the Portuguese Education Foundation of the Central California and has served as President for both Organizations. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Portuguese Education Foundation, The Rolling F Credit Union, the California Poultry Federation and serves in the Human Resource and Safety Council for the National Chicken and Egg Association. Maria Hortência has served in many committees organizing visits of Portuguese Government Dignitaries.
1989 received the Honor of “Comendadora por Ordem de Mérito” by the President of Portugal, Dr. Mário Soares.
1998 Named Woman of the Year by the State of California Legislature.
1990 received “Ordem the Mérito” Metal by the Concelho de S. Roque do Pico
Paulo Menezes is the son of immigrant who came to the United States of America on 1966 from the island of Terceira, Acores. Paulo and his family have been actively involved in the Portuguese community and several organizations in Southern California for many years. His father, Isidro Menezes, a was elected as the first Luso-American to serve in the city.
Paulo completed his undergraduate studies at the California State University of Fullerton and latercompleted his Jurist Doctorate degree at Western State College of Law in 1999.
He currently is a Licensed Attorney in the State of California authorized to appear in both state and federal courts. Heis the managing partner with the Law Offices of Duarte and Menezes and is also the owner/broker of Addax Realty Company. Paulo has been very active the local Portuguese communities and has served as President of the Artesia D.E.S.
Valeria Sasser an immigrant from Brazil. She has a MA in Education, Language Instruction from SFSU and a BA in Humanities and Cultural Studies from the Dominican University of California. Passionate about promoting Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language, she co-founded IBEC-Instituto Brasil de Educação e Cultura in 2011, a Portuguese language community school, and before, led for many years the Projeto Contadores de Estórias, a Portuguese storytelling project.
Currently, she works for the Judicial Council of California, she is a member of the Community Advisory Group for Affordable Housing in Marin County and the Bus Passenger Advisory Committee also in Marin County, and she ran for Corte Madera Town Council last year, among many other activities. She participates as subject matter expert speaker in conferences across the USA and abroad. She is an author and a community advocate.
She is a member of the AOTP (Association of Portuguese Teachers) and the Brazilian Citizen Council of San Francisco, where she was elected as the spokesperson to work with the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations on an array of public policies to address the needs and development of the Brazilian communities abroad. She ran for city government and is an active participant in her community.
Monique Kelly-Vallance was born and raised in Modesto, California, and is a second-generation Portuguese American. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Monique was heavily involved in the Portuguese community as a youth: she played in two Portuguese marching bands, served as side maid and queen, and danced in three Portuguese folklore groups. She has always been passionate about the Portuguese culture, and she has always considered it to be a part of who she is.
Monique decided to pursue history in college, and she eventually earned a Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara in Portuguese history. She wrote her dissertation on Queen D. Luisa de Gusmão and published that work through Circulo de Leitores (Lisbon) in 2006. She taught at University of the Pacific, Modesto Junior College, Sonoma State and UC Santa Barbara before making the difficult decision to leave academia and made the radical career change to accounting, joining the family firm.
Today, Monique continues to be heavily involved in the Portuguese community. She is on the board of directors of the Modesto Portuguese Pentecost Association, Casa dos Açores in Hilmar, and the Portuguese Education Foundation of Central California. She is also currently the Supreme President of the Portuguese Fraternal Society of America (2019-2021), but that does not stop her from continuing to dance, as she is a member of the Grupo Etnográfico Pérolas do Atlântico of Hilmar. Her career also involves the Portuguese community. Because a large percentage of her clientele is Portuguese, her clients also turn to her for help with matters such as social security and Medicare. Her office also assists with Portuguese citizenship and procurações (Portuguese powers of attorney). In her spare time, she enjoys writing a Portuguese history blog and has a regular Portuguese history segment on the Portuguese-American hour radio program put forth by PBBI-Fresno State on Multicultural radio in Fresno.
CPAC Portuguese-American Community Survey
In order to help us focus our efforts on the issues that matter most to the Portuguese community in California, we hope that you will take a moment to complete our short survey and share your priorities!
John Martins in memorium—honorary emeritus Board member