Our History 

The Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania (HBAPA) is a prime example of America’s “melting pot” of cultures and people. With members of diverse cultures and backgrounds, the HBAPA’s history, while relatively short, has been lively and unique.


Latino lawyers came to Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley area to attend law school and to practice law well before the creation of the HBAPA. One of the first Latinos admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar was Juan Silva, who was admitted in 1965. He, along with Silvio Sanabria admitted in 1969, served as mentors to rising Latino lawyers who, at that time, had no outlet for voicing concerns of the Hispanic community in Pennsylvania. Notably, before coming to Pennsylvania, Silvio Sanabria served as president of the Cuban Bar Association.

The HBAPA originated in the mid-1970s when the Philadelphia Bar Association recognized the growth of the Spanish-speaking community, and its need for quality legal services. The Honorable Nelson A. Diaz, the first Puerto Rican admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, former Philadelphia City Solicitor, former judge and partner at Dilworth Paxson LLP, was appointed by the Philadelphia Bar Association to chair this committee. Through this committee, Judge Diaz promoted Hispanic civil rights issues such as ensuring the availability of translators in the Pennsylvania courts. Judge Diaz also recruited former classmates and friends, including Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte, who was the first Puerto Rican woman admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, and who currently serves as the US Ambassador to El Salvador. Judge Diaz then looked to others such as Jose Lopez, now serving in the Veteran’s Administration in Washington, D.C., Rudy Arzon, Nazario Jimenez, and Miguel Leon and others outside the Delaware Valley to join him on this initial committee.

The original membership totaled no more than 15, and held its meetings in a room at the law firm of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP, the then firm of Gilbert Casellas, the first Latino chairman of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association. In 1983, this group decided to formalize the organization. The committee members drafted and passed the first by-laws that same year, establishing the HBA of Pennsylvania. 

HBAPA Membership Through the Years

The greatest challenge the HBAPA faced was recruiting and increasing membership. With the mission of promoting the administration of justice and the social, economic, professional and educational advancement of Hispanics, the HBAPA began to address these goals and recruit membership. Professor Rafael Porrata-Doria, currently a professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law, served as the first president of the HBAPA. Membership remained low in the early 1980s as there were few Latino lawyers in Pennsylvania. Legend has it that the members waded through legal directories to identify and contact Hispanic attorneys in their recruitment efforts. Eventually, their efforts paid off and soon the HBAPA earned a seat on the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention. 

The HBAPA takes pride in its many notable members including, but not limited to: 

  • Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Pedro A. Cortes;
  • former Philadelphia City Councilman Angel L. Ortiz
  • US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judges Eduardo C. RobreñoJuan R. SánchezNitza I. Quinones Alejandro, and L. Felipe Restrepo (recently nominated for the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)
  • Common Pleas Court Judges M. Teresa Sarmina, Nina Wright Padilla, Giovanni Campbell, and Angeles Roca;
  • Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Nazario Jimenez;
  • former Philadelphia City Solicitors: Nelson Diaz, Romulo Diaz and Kenneth I. Trujillo;
  • former Philadelphia City Solicitor and Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia Pedro A. Ramos
  • Deputy Mayor for Administration & Coordination and Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia Richard Negrin;
  • Philadelphia Department of Human Services Commissioner Alba Martinez; and 
  • former Department Director of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor and current Regional Administrator for the US General Services Administration's Mid-Atlantic Region, Sara Manzano-Diaz

Many of these distinguished members are the first Hispanics to hold their respective positions. 

HBAPA Now and the Future

The HBAPA works hard to meet the goals set forth by its founding members and to expand on their legacy. Today, the HBAPA sponsors and hosts mentorship receptions with area law students and community leaders. It also hosts continuing legal education courses, panel discussions with state and federal judges, and more. With these programs and events, the HBAPA not only addresses the Hispanic community’s concerns and needs, but also joins forces with other minority and affinity bars to ensure their mission of education and promotion of justice is attained throughout all communities. 

The HBAPA has participated in the International Human Rights Committee, and the Minorities in the Profession Committee, as well as the Governor’s Judicial Reform Commission. The organization also hosted the Hispanic National Bar Association’s 26th Annual Convention in October of 2001. While the HBAPA has had a dynamic history, the future will provide more exciting and innovative ways for it to continue promoting its goals. The HBAPA looks forward to continuing to expand on its history and its impact on the legal community.


If you wish to contact any of our officers or board members, please email us at pahbanews@gmail.com.



Juan M. Baez
AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania | 1211 Chestnut Street | Suite 600 | Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 587-9377


Jacqueline Romero
United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania | 615 Chestnut Street | Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 861-8200

Vice President

Elizabeth M. Oquendo
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University | 3500 North Broad Street | MERB #1111 | Philadelphia, PA 19140
Phone: (215) 707-1986

Vice President of Communications

Laura G. Readinger
Morris James LLP | 500 Delaware Avenue | Suite 1500 | Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: (302) 888-6872


Brenda L. Marrero
Community Legal Services, Inc. | 1424 Chestnut Street | Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 981-3740


James P. Faunes
Feldman Shepherd | 1845 Walnut Street - 21st Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 567-8300

Board of Directors

Priscilla Jimenez (Ex Officio)
Kline & Specter | 1525 Locust Street | Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 772-0425

Elisa C. Advani
Martin Law LLC | 1818 Market Street | 35th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 587-8400

Wendy Choi
Ballard Spahr LLP | 999 Peachtree Street, Suite 1000 | Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 420-9314

Michelle Christian
118 North State Street | Newtown, PA 18940
(215) 968-2020

Diana Cortes
Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin | 2000 Market Street, Suite 2300 | Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 575-2721

Caroline Cruz
City of Philadelphia Law Department | 1515 Arch Street | Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 686-5846

Tiffany Feria
Duane Morris LLP | 30 South 17th Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 979-7395

Renee Garcia
PNC Bank | 1600 Market Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 585-8597

Jennifer Gomez Hardy
Messa & Associates | 123 South 22nd Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 568-3500

Alex Gonzalez
New Jersey Resources | 1415 Wyckoff Road | Wall Township, NJ 07727
Phone: (732) 938-1174

Will Gonzalez
Ceiba, Inc. | 149 West Susquehanna Avenue | Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 634-7245

Kelly Kuschel
Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius  | 1701 Market Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 963-5655

Daniel La Luz
Comcast Cable | One Comcast Center | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 286.7947

Henri Marcial
1515 Market Street | Suite 1200 | Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 680-8956

Melissa Martinez
Saul Ewing LLP | 1500 Market Street, 38th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 972-8572

Melissa Fundora Murphy
Blank Rome LLP | One Logan Square | 130 North 18th Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103-6998
Phone: (215) 569-5334

Beth Morales Singh
The Vanguard Group Inc. | Legal Department M35, P.O. Box 2600 | Valley Forge, PA 19482-2600
Phone: (215) 864-8521

Suzanne A. Prybella
PNC Bank | 1600 Market Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 864-7188

Fernando Rivera
Console Mattiacci Law, LLC | 1525 Locust Street | 9th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 545-7676

Pedro de la Torre
The Chemours Company | 1007 Market Street | Wilmington, DE 19899
Phone: (302) 773-1318


Lorena E. Ahumada
Kleinbard LLC | 1650 Market Street, 46th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 496-7227

Diana Baquero
Office of Attorney General doe the District of Columbia
Phone: (215) 981-3865

Maria Bermudez
Government Attorney Advisor
Phone: 215-485-7764

Theresa L. Concepcion
Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP | 780 Third Avenue | 4th Floor | New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 471-6207

Daniel M. Cotilla
U.S. Legal Support | 1818 Market Street | Suite 240 | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (267) 535-2610

Romulo L. Diaz, Jr.
PECO Energy Company | 2301 Market Street | No. S21-1 | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 841-6857

Rachel Gallegos
Steve Harvey Law LLC| 1880 John F. Kennedy Boulevard | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 392-6841

Robert Nix
Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman | Two Penn Center Plaza | 1500 John F. Kennedy Boulevard #1410 | Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 789-9346

The Honorable Nitza Ileana Quinones Alejandro
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania | 601 Market Street | Suite 501 | Philadelphia, PA 19106

Teresa M. Rodriguez
PA Human Relations Commission | 110 North 8th Street | Suite 501 | Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 965-7744

The Honorable Teresa Sarmina
Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division - Criminal  | City Hall | Room 258 | Philadelphia, PA 19107

Thomas A. Warnock
DuPont Company | Chestnut Run Plaza 721/2122 | 974 Centre Road | Wilmington, DE 19805-1269
Phone: (302) 999-6886

Rafael X. Zahralddin-Aravena
Elliott Greenleaf | 1105 North Market Street | Suite 1700 | Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: (302) 384-9400