Ernesto Loperena, Advocate for Latino Children and Families, Retires
When Ernesto Loperena, Executive Director of the New York Council for Adoptable Children, retired at the end of February, a legendary career came to an end. For more than thirty years, Ernesto had been one of New York City’s most respected and valued leaders on adoption of Latino children. He grew COAC from a small agency with five staff and a budget of under $500,000 to a multi-million dollar organization with a professional staff of 25. Over the years, COAC has served more than 9,000 hard-to-place foster children and those affected by HIV/AIDS, finding and strengthening permanent families for them.
Over the course of his career, Ernesto has been active in the local, national and international child welfare and adoption arenas. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Latino Commission on AIDS, Citizens’ Committee for Children, Leake and Watts Services and the Adoption Exchange Association. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Center for the Elimination of Violence in the Family, the first battered women's shelter in New York City. He was also a member of the Advisory Council of the All Children - All Families initiative of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization.
Beyond New York, Ernesto was a widely respected expert—nationally and internationally—on child welfare. He chaired the National Latino Child Welfare Advocacy Group funded by the Kellogg Foundation in 1995-96, and was a White House-appointed U.S. Delegate to The Hague Conference on International Adoption.
Yet for all of the local, national and international recognition that he earned in his field, we at Hispanic Federation are proud that he was one of our earliest supporters and that COAC was one of Hispanic Federation’s first member agencies. “Ernesto was one of the pioneers of Hispanic Federation and during our history we have always been able to count on him for wise and practical counsel,” said Hispanic Federation President José Calderón. “I will miss him but I'm just so grateful for this opportunity to celebrate the incredible legacy of support Ernesto leaves for our children and families.”