The Office of Afro-Latino Relations, formed in December 2010, intends to provide a professional, supportive community for Latinos of African Descent within the dance/movement therapy field, as well as in related fields. We are interested in creating cross-cultural dialogues and generating research on the therapeutic benefits of dances of African origin in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our group is committed to exploring and understanding the psychosocial and political reality of Afro-Latinos/Black Latinos in the United States, as well as in their countries of origin, its effects on mental health and on the access to resources and professional opportunities. Even though our focus is on Latinos within the African Diaspora, we are conscious of the different sentiments, historical perspectives, sensitivities, and cultural manifestations of the various Latino populations. Our members are committed to engaging in a self-reflective journey in order to increase their own multicultural competence as mental health professionals. We hope to contribute to the current DMT training an Afro-Latino perspective and ultimately devise a strength-based psychotherapeutic approach consistent with the needs of the Afro-Latino population.
OALR is currently accepting interest, membership, and leadership* requests. Visit the OALR website and click on the "Contact Us" page.
*See below for open position descriptions.
Director of Afro-Latino Relations: Maria "Mara" Rivera, MA, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT, was born and raised in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. She currently works as a dance/movement therapist in New York and has acquired extensive experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with severe mental disorders and emotional disturbances. Maria has also traveled to Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica to research traditional dance forms and religion, which have highly contributed to her belief in traditional dance as a healing vehicle. Recently, she has re-explored her own traditional roots of Afro-Puerto Rican bomba dance, using its improvisational element to restore and maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual health. In 2008 and 2010, Maria served as co-faculty at the New School in NYC, for the summer course: "Intercultural Issues in Creative Art Therapies", in which Afro-Caribbean dance was used as the vehicle to explore these themes. She currently serves as Public Relations Chair for the ADTA New York Chapter. She would like to help conduct research and create bridges between dance/movement therapy and African based forms of healing.
Assistant Director of Afro-Latino Relations: Renee Ortego, MA, R-DMT, resides in Brooklyn and recently graduated from Pratt's Dance/Movement Therapy Program in 2010. She works at a pre-school with children with emotional delays and disturbances and special needs. In addition, she is an occupational therapy practitioner. She has been an educator in OTA and OT programs and is currently an assistant professor and academic fieldwork coordinator at LIU (Brooklyn campus) in the graduate OT program. As an independent dance artist, she is a member of a salsa dance company.
Assistant Director of Afro-Latino Relations: Yelimara Concepcion, MA, graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a Master of Arts in Psychology, and is now a student at Pratt's Dance/Movement Therapy Program. She is multi-talented and accomplished as an actress, choreographer, vocalist, and dancer. She has used her many talents to collaborate and perform with Afro-Puerto Rican bomba groups: Los Parranderos de Loiza y Orchestra, Eco de Tambores Loicenos, and BombaYo in Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, and New York; as well as with renowned reggaeton singer, La Sista. She is developing herself in the field of art therapy, taking classes in New School of NYC. She is presently working as an art therapy specialist in Harlem Children Zone Inc. and as a bomba dance instructor. She truly emphasizes and believes that the creative process of art can be both healing and life enhancing.
OALR Secretary of Strategic Planning: Open position to be filled
Duties: Perform the routine functions necessary to implement OALR strategic plans under the direction of the President, Vice President, or other Executive Directors. Record the history of OALR meetings, conferences, and strategic progress. Coordinate OALR presence at ADTA Annual Conference.
OALR Treasurer/Director of Fiscal Relations: Open position to be filled
Duties: Design and implement strategy to finance OALR strategic initiatives. Suggest and implement fundraising and membership donation strategies. Design project budgets and monitor project spending. Provide strategy in the prioritization of fiscal initiatives.