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Chicago, IL-Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, was joined by Chicago Alderman Danny Solis (25th ward) at a press conference today to announce the agenda and speaker list for the 2009 NCLR Annual Conference on July 25-28 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, Illinois. These four powerful days, themed "A New Era of Responsibility: Community, Unity, Purpose," will feature special advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Bank of America President and CEO Ken Lewis, and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda Gates, among the nation's foremost business and community leaders and government officials.

"We are very excited to be back in Chicago and welcome Valerie Jarrett, members of President Obama's cabinet, and philanthropist Melinda Gates to the NCLR Annual Conference," Murguía saida, also noting that the last time the Conference was held in Chicago was 1997. "We expect attendance to be terrific. Our focus is on issues that are on top of everyone's minds right now-the economy, homeownership, and health care-and we are offering families the chance to take part in our Home Rescue Fair and health screenings and enjoy the children's events, music, and dance acts that are free and open to the public."

Murguía announced that key topics to be featured in town halls and other activities at the Conference include the impact of the economic crisis on Latinos and the lack of health insurance among Latino working families. For the first time ever, NCLR will offer a Latinos and Philanthropy Track to help attendees develop an understanding of how Latinos can access the world of philanthropy as funders and fundraisers. More information about speakers and activities at the 2009 NCLR Annual Conference can be found at Press can register to attend at no cost

The NCLR Annual Conference is the largest national gathering of its kind in the Latino community, serving as the meeting ground for community leaders, activists, elected and appointed officials; members of the corporate, philanthropic, and academic communities; and youth. Last year's Conference in San Diego contributed millions of dollars to the city's economy and attracted nearly 25,000 participants.

Below are some highlights of the 2009 NCLR Annual Conference.

Saturday, July 25

  • A naturalization session, sponsored by ConAgra Foods, will provide information on the citizenship application process and step-by-step guidance on how to complete the required forms to become a U.S. citizen.
  • A town hall titled "A New Era of Philanthropy: A Look at the Current Economic Climate and Its Impact on Latino Organizations" will bring together some of the nation's most respected Latino philanthropists to examine the current economic climate. Melinda Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be the featured speaker.
  • A Career Fair will allow job seekers to connect with Chicago-area employers and listen to human resources professionals give advice on how to make the most of the fair.

Sunday, July 26

  • A Home Rescue Fair will combine pro bono legal advice, housing counseling, and loan negotiation services to assist families struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments identify resources and solutions.
  • Sunday's speakers include Valerie Jarrett, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Jackie Guerra, and Leslie Sanchez.
  • A Health Town Hall will bring together a panel of experts to discuss the current health care reform proposal, its impact on the community, and innovative proposals and strategies that expand coverage while focusing on prevention and diminishing health disparities. The featured speaker will be Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

Monday, July 27

  • Monday's speakers include Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Presidential Professor of Arizona State University and President Emeritus of NCLR Raul Yzaguirre, and Soledad O'Brien.
  • The economic crisis will be the focus of Monday's town hall and panelists will explore how major policy solutions from the Obama administration affect Black and Latino families and their prospects for a full economic recovery. Panelists will include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and Henry Cisneros.

Tuesday, July 28

  • The final day of Conference will feature a variety of national speakers including Bank of America President and CEO Ken Lewis, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Governor Tim Kaine, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It will also feature Don Thompson, President of McDonald's USA, the Title Sponsor of the 2009 NCLR Annual Conference.

Other workshops and activities will examine issues such as education, workforce development, immigration, community and family wealth-building, health, and nonprofit management.

A major feature of Conference, Latino Expo USA, presented by UPS, will feature a health fair that offers comprehensive eye exams (including glaucoma screenings) provided by Johnson & Johnson and free dental screenings provided by Clear Channel. This year will also feature a career fair, presented by Kraft Foods, which will bring together more than 20 companies and offer a résumé writing skills session, a job seeker training and support area, a computer lab with workstations, and a private interview/discussion area. The Expo is free, family-friendly fun that is open to all.

Every year, NCLR concludes its Conference by honoring individuals and organizations for their contributions to and work on behalf of the Latino community at its Awards Gala. Some of this year's honorees include Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Actress Rosie Perez, John Quiñones of ABC News Primetime, and Anthony Muñoz of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Affiliate of the Year Award will go to Instituto del Progreso Latino, based in Chicago.

The workshops, town halls, and Latino Expo USA are free and open to the public. To obtain media credentials for the 2009 NCLR Annual Conference, press may register at contact Sherria Cotton for more information at or (202) 785-1670.

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