Jaime Arredondo

Keynote Speaker

Jaime Arredondo is a proud immigrant from Las Ranas, Michoacán, Mexico, and a former farmworker. Today, he is the Executive Director of the Capaces Leadership Institute and has over 16 years of experience working in the non-profit sector. Some of his favorite roles have included: tour guide, smiles provider, peacemaker, convener, agitator (with a smile), storyteller, wannabe graphic designer, handy person, and community builder. In 2011, Jaime was recognized by Shelterforce, the oldest community, economic development magazine in the nation, and selected as one of six under 36 young leaders in the country.

Jaime loves to give back to Oregon and his communities. He serves on multiple boards including:

  • The Collins Foundation- Trustee
  • Western Oregon University Board of Trustees -Vice-President of Board
  • PCUN- Chairman of the Board
  • Oregon’s Youth Development Council- Council Member
  • Ecotrust- Board Member
  • Centro de Servicios Para Campesinos- Board President
  • Chemeketa Community College Presidents Community Leaders Advisory Committee-Member
  • OCF Latino Partnership Projects Northern Willamette Valley Committee- Member
  • Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network Steering Committee- Member

On his off days, Jaime enjoys running, spending time with family, volunteering, and watching sports. His favorite foods are mole and sandwiches. Jaime has been happily married for 12 years to his beautiful wife and is the proud father of two daughters.

Mayor Chuck Bennett

Welcome Speaker

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett took office on January 4, 2017. He is serving his third term as Mayor after nine years on the City Council, where he was Council President and chair of the Salem Housing Authority.

A passionate community volunteer, Mayor Bennett has served on numerous committees for the past 27 years, including the city Budget Committee, Library Advisory Board, Planning Commission, Cultural and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board, as well as on task forces addressing issues such as revenue, homelessness, traffic congestion, and water quality and quantity. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Career and Technical Education Center for the Salem-Keizer School District. In addition, he has also served on the board of Pentacle Theatre and on the board of the Oregon Council for the Humanities.

Mayor Bennett is a former member of the Oregon House of Representatives. He retired in 2018 as Director of Government Relations for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and editor at the Salem Capital Journal and at newspapers in Stayton and Woodburn.

Mayor Bennett is a graduate of Willamette University, and has lived in Salem for nearly 55 years. He resides in northeast Salem with his wife, Cherie. He has one daughter and two granddaughters, and is a frequent traveler to the United Kingdom.

Melinda Avila


Melinda Avila currently is the Equity Strategy Director for the Early Learning Division, Owner of MÁS Consulting, founder of the one and only Bilingual/Bicultural Mental Health Crisis Team that is currently serving the entire State of Oregon, appointed to the Latino/a/x Advisory Board for the State of Oregon, and is on the Board of Directors for Latino Network.

As a granddaughter of immigrants who eventually became US citizens, Melinda learned perseverance and the necessary life skills to succeed. Her passion for Social Justice led her to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and Master of Social Work from Portland State University.

Melinda has spent the last 30 years dedicating her life to social and systemic change. She has served on several boards and has been an elected official. She has volunteered to lead empowerment groups targeting Latina high school students and professionals; mentored foster children; has helped hundreds of students reach their educational goals; and was also recognized for her accomplishments at Portland State School of Social Work 50th Anniversary.

Rep. Teresa Alonso León


Teresa Alonso Leon was born in Michoacan, Mexico, at the age of four Teresa Alonso León left her hometown of San Jeronimo Purenchecuaro to reside in Woodburn, Oregon, USA. A daughter of migrant farmworkers and an immigrant, Alonso León became a natural leader and strong advocate for her family as they navigated a new chapter in Oregon. In 2016, she made history and became the first Indigenous Latina immigrant to serve as state Representative for Oregon House District 22,which includes the cities of Woodburn, Gervais, Brooks, and NE Salem.
Rep. Alonso León currently serves as Chair of the House Education Committee and is a member of the Healthcare Committee, the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education, and the Joint Committee on Legislative Policy and Research. In addition to working in the State Legislature, Representative Alonso León serves as secretary of the Executive Committee of National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), and a member of the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Gerardo Calderon


Gerardo Calderon is a composer, teaching artisat, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Born in Mexico City. He grew up surrounded by music, dance and culture. Gerardo is the musical director of Grupo Condor and Nuestro Canto, and has pursued his interest in learning about traditional Mexican music, Latin American folk music and Pre-Colombian music. He has performed with folk music ensembles in Mexico, Canada, New England, and the Pacific Northwest, and he has also toured with choir and world music ensembles through out the USA. Gerardo has composed music and designed sound for contemporary Ballet companies, documentaries, short films, commercials, theater companies, and cultural organizations.

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