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Maria Arriaga is the new executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Latino-Americans. Photo credit: Nebraska Commission on Latino-Americans.
Maria Arriaga is the new executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Latino-Americans. Photo credit: Nebraska Commission on Latino-America

Nebraska Commission on Latino-Americans names new executive director

Maria Arriaga has been named to the role after an almost year-long search.

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Last month, the Nebraska Commission on Latino-Americans announced that it has named Maria Arriaga as its new executive director. This comes after a ten-month-long search, and in the agency’s 50th year of operation. 

She succeeds Lazaro Arturo Spindola, who retired in 2021 after 11 years at the helm.

The commission said in a statement, “[Arriaga’s] commitment to the Latino/Hispanic community in Nebraska and her leadership skills make her an exceptional individual for the role of Executive Director. The Nebraska Commission on Latino Americans is confident that under Maria Arriaga’s leadership, the organization’s success and impact in achieving its mission and vision will continue to flourish.”

Arriaga is originally from Michoacán, Mexico, and holds a philosophy degree from Universidad Michoacán de San Nicolas de Hidalgo (UMSNH). She began her career in Mexico as a radio announcer before coming to the United States for better professional opportunities. Since arriving, she has worked at Radio Lobo, Telemundo, and the I Heart Radio station ‘El Patron.’ Arriaga has also worked in nonprofits and as a public servant for the Iowa State Government.

She now joins the Nebraska Commission on Latino-Americans.

“I’m very proud to be part of this great organization and looking forward to continuing to build on this incredible legacy which has already contributed to our Latino community in the state,” Arriaga said of becoming the executive director. 

The commission was established during a legislative session in 1972. It was called the Mexican American Commission until 2010, when the name was changed to reflect the growing number of Nebraska Latinos who were from other countries. 

The commission is made up of 10 commissioners from across the state that are picked by the Governor. The commission works with organizations to identify and resolve issues that impact the Latino community, support events put on by these organizations, and testify about bills that would affect the community. 

New board members were also announced in addition to Arriaga’s appointment as executive director. Jaime Suarez is the new secretary; Cristina Castro-Matukewicz is the new vice chair; and Maria Whitmore is the new chair of the board.

“These individuals bring a wealth of experience in their field and will be tremendous assets to our organization as we further our mission which is to serve as a link between the Nebraska State Government and the Hispanic/Latino Community, and empower them through a proactive approach to issues that affect their access to education, social-political, and economic opportunities in Nebraska,” the commission said in the same statement.  

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