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On Saturday, June 17,  Hispanic Federation/FUERZAfest hosted "The "Power of Storytelling to Drive Change" Panel.  A discussion that explored the importance and power in using our stories as a tool to counter voices that viciously try to take away what our LGBTQ+ community has achieved.


The event was open to members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies, who came together to connect with other community members and engage in meaningful conversation.  Below you will find information about our amazing group of panelists.


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SAMY NEMIR is a queer Latinx writer, speaker, organizer, and social justice advocate fighting for equality and social justice, particularly for marginalized communities. Samy currently works as Public Information Officer at Lambda Legal. Samy is an outspoken activist for Latinx, LGBTQ, immigrant, and women's rights, as well as housing, education, and healthcare as human rights. Samy and their work have been featured in The New York Times, Vogue, Huffington Post, CNN, Washington Post, Them, OUT magazine, and more. With a strong passion for community service, Samy co-founded the mutual aid network Bushwick Ayuda Mutua during Covid and provides transformational coaching, particularly to youth. Samy has been named by City and State one of New York’s Power Latino 100, Brooklyn Power 100, and Pride 100.


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AMANDA BABINE (she/her) is the Executive Director of Equality New York. She has been working in the social sector for the last 15 years, focusing on leading impactful campaigns and programs using an equity lens. Amanda joined Equality New York after being the Director of Policy & Programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG). At NYTAG, she led advocacy and organizing programs, a state-wide coalition, and a gender diversity know your rights curriculum development. During her time there, the coalition assisted in passing 4 landmark pieces of legislation that helped us move towards our goal of creating a more equitable state for all LGBTQI New Yorkers. Amanda has a Master's in Social Work and Public Policy from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.


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VALERIA A AVINA - Award-winning Queer Nonbinary Film Director, Actor, Clown and Voice Coach from Durango Mexico based in NYC. Valeria teaches Voice at Rutgers University Masson Gross School of Arts, and they are The Regional Coordinator of Latin America of The Fitzmaurice Institute and a Pediatric Clown at Healthy Humor. They are currently working on an upcoming Film Even In The Light. Valeria has appeared in dozens of performances, workshops and readings with theaters such as New York Theater Workshop, INTAR, Boundless Theater, Phoenix Theater Company, to name a few. Valeria has won Film festivals and nominations across the country and Internationally as an actor and Director such as: SeriesFest, Fuerza Fest, The New York Long Island Film Festival, and more.  They are a City Artist Corps Grant Recipient 2021, PANO grants Semi- Finalist 2022, and NALIP 2021 Diverse Women in Media Forum Emerging Content Creators Scholarship Recipient, 2023 Doreen Montalvo ‘Do It Anyway’ Scholarship Finalist and 2023 PANO Micro grants Finalist.

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MIGUEL CERON -  is an experienced Product Development and Sales Executive with extensive Brand Management and Event Planning experience. Through collaborative efforts he has succeeded in building multi-million dollar businesses across multiple Home product categories and commercial platforms including Brick & Mortar, Off Price, and E-Commerce. Miguel is a Creative Director & Executive Producer for a beauty, fashion and arts company (Melange Movement). His work has been featured on NBC News and in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign. As a professional dancer, he has worked with various dance companies and dance creatives. His performance experience in the US includes shows and productions at Queens Theater in the Park, Alvin Ailey Studios, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, New York Summer Stage and the New York International Salsa Congress. Internationally, he has performed in Canada, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Peru and Turkey. Miguel is also Co-Founder of a social and professional organization for gay Latino men (Gay Latino Collective) that focuses on leadership development, mutual support and community impact.

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C. QUINTANA, or CQ (she/any) is a queer writer with Cuban and New Orleans roots based on Canarsee and Munsee Lenape land in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. CQ's Audible Emerging Playwrights Fund Commission, The 126-Year-Old Artist, is now available on the Audible platform. Other plays include AZUL (Diversionary Theatre), Scissoring (INTAR), Citizen Scientist (Barrington Stage Company Burman New Play Award), Evensong (Astoria Performing Arts Center), Enter Your Sleep (Yale Cabaret), and more. CQ is the recipient of grants & fellowships from NYSCA, Café Royal Cultural Foundation, MacDowell, Playwrights Realm, Van Lier/New Voices at The Lark, CubaOne, Lambda Literary, and Queer|Art, as well as commissions from the Carthage College New Play Initiative, The Kennedy Center, The Civilians, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Project. Television writing credits include Orphan Black: Echoes (AMC) and The Baker and the Beauty (ABC). CQ is a proud graduate of the now defunct College of Santa Fe (RIP) and holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. For more, visit or @cquintanatown.

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