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Latinos For Texas :: Executive Committee
image Crystal Viagran, Executive Director
Crystal is a native of San Antonio where her political participation started at the age of 14 Ė volunteering for the mayoral campaign of Maria Berriozabal Ė the first Latina elected to the city council. She moved to Austin in 1994 to work on a Bachelor of Journalism at The University of Texas, where she is now employed.

Her time in Austin has resulted in an increase of civic participation. She has volunteered for the gubernatorial campaigns of Garry Mauro and Tony Sanchez, as well as local down-ballot races. More recently, she has served on the volunteer fundraising committees of several non-profit organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Planned Parenthood and the United Way. Through her leadership efforts with the United Way, her unit was successful in raising over $40,000 in charitable donations.

She is committed to serving low-income and underrepresented communities Ė working as Treasurer of Southwest Voterís Travis County Voter Registration and Education Project and UT Hispanic Faculty/Staff Associationís Holiday Assistance Committee. Crystal has lobbied at the Texas Capitol and participiated in the historic March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C. for the protection of womenís rights and increased reproductive services for low-income women. She is a published photographer and writer, an avid dog lover and animal rescue volunteer.

Mario Champion, former Executive Director
Mario Champion, born in Houston, Texas, moved to Austin in 1988, and believes totally in the power of committed individuals like you and me to recognize and become the forces that shape our communities and culture.

The progressive business, educational and cultural climate of Austin encouraged Mario, in 1994, to found a small business right out of University of Texas' School of Architecture. Having spent ten plus years focused on design, technology, education, and entertainment, he has worked on projects with, among many others, Microsoft, Mattel, Willie Nelson, Democracy For Texas, The University of Texas' IC2 Institute, and he has taught summer workshops for Capital Area Training Foundation (now SkillPoint) and IC2. Mario holds two United States Patents and has twice won SXSW's Texas Interactive Media Award.

Politically, Mario was moved to organize and educate by Howard Dean. Dean's courageous honesty about the political process and the deep appeal and power of Progressive Values to improve society meant travelling to Iowa twice, New Mexico, Dallas, Houston and all over Austin as a grassroots activist. Mario was also Travis County Coordinator for Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, personally registering more than 800 people in the 2004 election cycle, and organizing events with the Coordinated Campaign which led to more than 90% of eligible voters being registered in Travis County.

Mario believes Progressives' best hopes are in Uniting Communities with shared Values and Vision, and being far more strategic in our use of language and methods to help people see how being part of the political process improves everyday life, and is fundamental to the well-being of families, community and culture.

I also blog at BurntOrangereport.com and TexansForObama.com as 'mariochampion'.

Lila Lila Valencia, Communications Director
Lila Valencia, originally from Brownsville, TX, moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas where she received a bachelorís degree in psychology. Upon graduating she made the move to Williamsburg, VA to attend the College of William & Mary where she received a masterís degree in experimental psychology. Homesick for good Tex-Mex and bike rides around the lake, she returned to Austin where she served as Director of Research in a local market research firm and honed her skills in analysis as well as human behavior observation.

Inspired by Howard Dean and his belief in the power of the individual, Lila joined Dean for Texas in October 2003. After the Iowa primary, Lila became even more motivated and joined thousands of other Deaniacs in the battle to take our country back. Leading up to the 2004 election, Lila worked on the Travis County Coordinated Campaign and served as a Field Coordinator for Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, both organizations played key roles in registering over 5,000 voters and winning 9 out of 11 county elections.

Today, Lila continues to be actively involved in empowering minority communities by encouraging their involvement in the political process. She serves as Communications and Outreach Director for Latinos for Texas, a progressive Latino organization that aims to unite progressive communities in direct action for community, family, education, politics, fair representation, and more.

Michael Michael Velarde, Secretary
Born in the Rio Grande Valley, Michael Velarde moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating with a Bachelorís degree in Chemical Engineering, he began work with the City of Austin¬ís Electric Utility, Austin Energy.

Inspired by Howard Deanís refreshingly straight forward approach to politics, he joined Dean for America in October of 2003. During the 2004 elections, he actively supported the efforts of the Travis County Coordinated Campaign and the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, both of which were integral in registering over five thousand voters and winning nine out of eleven elections for the Democratic Party.

Currently, he has joined with Latinos for Texas, the Texas Chapter of Latinos for America in an effort to help unite progressive organizations in the Latino community.

image Sabas Avila, Financial Director
Sabas Avila is a professional engineer and dedicated public servant. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University, specializing in transportation and urban planning. Raised in San Antonio, Sabas worked in Houston for several years and relocated to Austin in 1995 where he currently serves as Assistant Director of Engineering for a rapidly growing local municipality.

In 2004, disappointed with the direction of American politics and the lack of Latino civic engagement, Sabas set forth to make a difference. With no prior political experience or affiliation, he attended local Democratic conventions and was elected delegate to the precinct, county, and state conventions. At the state convention, Sabas was elected as a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon his return from the DNC convention, he worked as the Hispanic Coordinator for the Austin For Kerry organization. Sabas currently serves as Treasurer of Latinos for Texas.

Sabas lives in southwest Austin with his wife of 11 years, Betsy, and his wonder dog, Zorro. Sabas is a member of St. Mary’s Cathedral and is an active volunteer at KIPP Austin College Prep, a free, public middle-school serving low-income, minority students. He is also an active member in many progressive organizations in Austin.


  Latinos for Texas' Mission
Latinos For Texas :: Uniendo Comunidades

Latinos For Texas is Uniting Communities. We aim to bridge the networks of Progressive groups and Latino/Hispanic interests to be better united in direct action for community, family, education, broad prosperity, fair and equal treatment, political participation and more.

Latinos For Texas's vision is to have more people involved in Democracy, our strategy is to show people how politics has a role in everyday life, how being involved can improve everyday life.

Here in Texas we have several goals:

  • Increase progressive Latino participation in all aspects of the political process.
  • Increase progressive Latino representation at all levels of government.
  • Recruit & Support progressive Latino candidates in elections and as officeholders.
  • Register Latino voters.
  • Educate Latino voters on issues, candidates, elected officials.
  • Mobilize Latino communities during elections and about Legislative activities.
  • Bridge the networks of Progessive groups and Latino interests to be better united in direct action which benefits all communities.
These are Issues we all care about -- Issues you do not have to be Hispanic to care about!

These are Issues we all care about -- Issues you do not have to be Hispanic to care about!

We would love to have your help. Please join our email list, then forward this email to your friends, family and neighbors in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Laredo, El Paso, Abilene and everywhere around the state. The only litmus test to join this group is a desire to help empower the Latino/Hispanic community. We need your help in this crucial effort to take our country back.

LFT is a grassroots organization -- and we are all the grassroots! are you a bilingual blogger? enthusiastic web gal? block-walker? Join us!

We would love to have your help. Pass this Site along.

LFT Executive Committee
Crystal, Kevin, Lila, Mario, Michael, Sabas

or for general questions, comments, ideas:

Please send physical mail to:
Latinos for Texas PAC
P.O. Box 41346
Austin, TX 78704

(Please use your email address if you want a reply)
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