What matters to you.

Melba Depena

president, RI Latino Civic Fund

An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Melba Depena is the first member of her family to go to college, attending URI and latter becoming executive assistant to URI's Vice Provost for Urban Programs John McCray. In '98 Depena, developed the first travel program to provide students with an opportunity to travel to Cuba in the company of faculty from the Psychology Department and the Urban Field Center. It comes as no surprise, then, that in December 2003, the Rhode Island Democratic Party chose her as its first female and first Latina executive director. Beyond direct involvement in specific campaigns, Depena impacted Rhode Island's political landscape as president of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund. Comprised of two organizations, the Latino Civic Fund and the Latino Political Action Committee, it provides outreach to both the Latino community and candidates. The civic fund promotes the importance of becoming an American citizen and voter participation, while the PAC offers nominal financial support and endorsements to those candidates who show interest in working with the Latino and urban communities.