Governor Daniels appoint Advisor of Latino Affairs

Governor Mitch Daniels today announced the creation of the post of Senior Advisor for Latino Affairs in the Office of the Governor. Juana Orellán Watson of Columbus will serve in the position. The announcement came at the Indianapolis launch of the Spanish language version of Rx for Indiana, the successful program that links Hoosiers to companies providing free or significantly reduced-cost prescription drugs.

“Our growing Latino population is already playing an important role in economic development in Indiana,” said Daniels. “Juana is a key appointment for us, and she will be working closely with me and this community.”

Among responsibilities, Watson will provide counsel to the governor on policy issues related to the Hispanic community, work with Latino community resource centers and assist public safety officials with recruitment and community relations.

Watson, who was born in Calnali, Mexico, is the founder of two Hispanic/Latino community centers and a not for profit organization called Badges without Borders. She established “Friends For Calnali” in her hometown and “Su Casa Columbus” in Columbus, where she resides.

The centers are designed to achieve a cultural medium for the Latino community to interact with the current residents. Badges without Borders program helps educate local policeman and firefighters in the Latino culture and its language.

“Latinos are becoming a large group in this state,” said Watson. “They are involved in every way of life from professionals to those who work in agriculture and construction. I think it is important that we work together to bring awareness to not only the people of Indiana, but to the Latinos about the better opportunities and education available.”

Watson has served on the board of directors of the Hispanic Education Center in Indianapolis where she designed a mentoring program for Latino students. Recently, Watson met Mexican President Vicente Fox to discuss immigration issues and was elected by the Mexican leaders to be an advisor for the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and one of 100 advisors for President Fox of Mexico. She also was selected to represent the Mexican immigrants of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

She received her undergraduate degree in hospitality and tourism management from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and is now working on a masters degree in Latin American and Caribbean studies from Indiana University.