Candidates for DPNM State Officer & Standing Committee Member

Sylvia Ontaneda-Bernales

Sylvia Ontaneda-Bernales

What makes you an ideal candidate for this position? 

I am a Latina immigrant who became an American citizen in 1975 for two main reasons: 1) to advance democratic principles and values by exercising the franchise, something I was not allowed to do by the military dictatorship in Peru, my country of origin; 2) to ensure that the right to vote — the foundation for all other rights, privileges, and obligations — is duly protected for every eligible person, no matter who they are. 

In the early 2000s my applied-skills in Affirmative Action principles were enhanced at the federal EEOC in D.C. In the mid-1990s, I founded a non-profit in Nevada – Common Ground: Toward An Enlightened World Community – whose sought-after programs were “Multi-racial, Multi-ethnic Dialogues” and ‘Cross-Cultural Round Table.” Before and after becoming an immigration attorney, I have been actively involved in organizations working on LGBTQ+ issues, Latinx concerns, general and mental health needs, disability accommodation, and women’s rights. Currently, I am active in Albuquerque with NMILC, Agora Crisis Center, DPBC; and, in Reno with Trans in Northern Nevada and Northern Nevada LGBTQ Leadership Alliance. 

In the past, I have been a member of entities like the Governor’s Commission on the Study of the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland, United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland, Maryland Health Care Commission, Planned Parenthood of Northern Nevada, Washoe County Health Systems, CASA de Maryland, Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition, Nevada Coalition for Legal Immigration, Democratic Party of Washoe County, Democracy for Maryland, Democracy for Baltimore, American Civil Liberties Union, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Nevada Women’s History Project, Nevada Women’s Lobby, University of Nevada Women Studies Department, Washoe K-16 Council, LGBT Bar Association of Maryland, and Gay Law Association of Washington, D.C. 

As a broadcast journalist/documentarist, I directed the PBS documentaries “Making A Difference: A Celebration of Women in Politics,” “Immigration: A Nevada Point of View” and “Pathways: Disability, Technology and Culture,” (co-directed with UNR Professor Kris Towers).

What is the number one goal you would like to achieve for the Democratic Party of New Mexico in this position?

Expand diversity for participation and potential candidate material among South & Central Americans, Latinx from the Caribbean Islands, persons of Asian descent, as well as trans and gender-non-conforming individuals.

How do you envision yourself working to achieve this goal?

Identify organizations and/or community leaders representing these constituencies to explore and apply outreach means.


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