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CPAC: a voice for Californians of Portuguese Ancestry in the Political World

The California Portuguese-American Coalition (CPAC) launched in March of 2016 at the Consulate General of Portugal in San Francisco with a grant from FLAD (Luso-American Development Foundation) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to unite elected officials and civic leaders in order to facilitate stronger collaboration in the advancement of the interests of the Portuguese-American community in California.

CPAC has hosted an array of events and gatherings in order to promote a proactive network of Californians of Portuguese ancestry serving in public office at all levels, as well as encouraging those who are thinking of entering the field of public service. CPAC has created a list of Portuguese-Americans elected officials and a list of Portuguese-Americans in nominated positions of leadership in various fields, from deputy district attorneys to education leaders, from political directors to legislative assistants. Through mixers and forums, CPAC strives to be an inclusive force of Portuguese-Americans residing in California who are contributing to the state and to our communities in a variety of fields and leadership positions.

The California Portuguese-American Coalition is lead by a team of volunteers who understand the mission and are committed to the advancement of the Portuguese-American Community in California. The Board consists of Diniz Borges, John Pedrozo, Elmano Costa, Maria Hortência Silveira, Angela Costa-Simões, Idalmiro da Rosa and Cliff Costa. John Martins, who recently passed is an honorary emeritus member. CPAC is in the development of other directors and an advisory board, as well as updating our member list of Portuguese-American elected officials, now at 122 throughout the state.

Recently, CPAC hosted a luncheon with Portuguese-American elected officials and other community leaders in honor of the President of the Government of the Azores, Vasco Cordeiro. The event attended by 75 people was attended by elected officials from Tracy to Tulare and gave president Cordeiro a glimpse of the work CPAC does daily to advance the interests of our community, with roots in the Azores, in this great state. CPAC, with its work with elected officials and community leaders can be another avenue in the ongoing working relationship between the Azores and its vibrant diaspora in California. The event was also attended by leadership from California State University. Fresno; diplomatic representatives in Fresno; leaders of our cultural and statewide organizations, such as Luso-American Education Foundation, Portuguese Fraternal Society of America, Luso Financial, Portuguese Education Foundation of Central California and the Silicon Valley Portuguese Education Foundation. The event was also attended by two parliamentarians from the Azores: José San-Bento of the PS and Jorge Jorge of the PSD. Also present the Regional Secretary for External Affairs, Rui Bettencourt and the Regional Director of Azorean Communities Paulo Teves.

The California Portuguese-American Coalition is working to build bridges between the community and public officials in California, through an amalgam of initiatives, in order to advance the interests of our community, including the teaching of the Portuguese language and Culture in our public schools, colleges and universities. CPAC with its annual summit in Sacramento, this year scheduled for the month of October, will pursue the work of bringing together all the synergies in our community in order to foster a stronger presence of Portuguese-Americans in public office and continue to bridge the interests of our state and those of Portugal, especially the Autonomous Region of the Azores.

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