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Gov. Mike Leavitt has announced the appointment of Josie Valdez, Jorge Mena and Rosario Alfonzo Smith to his Hispanic Advisory Council, which acts as a link between the Hispanic community and state government.

The director of the Governor's Office of Hispanic Affairs said the new appointments are extremely diverse and will add new voices to the council."I'm really happy with the appointments," said Lorena Riffo. "They will bring new energy to the council's work and are all very qualified, dedicated individuals."

Valdez is the assistant district director for Minority Enterprise Development of the U.S. Small Business Administration. She's recently worked with the council to help Hispanics take advantage of the resources available through the SBA.

Valdez is also the president of El Club de Mujeres Latinas (Latin Women's Club), an organization that provides many services to the community, including gift baskets at Christmas.

Mena owns his own business, a public relations and marketing firm, J. Mena and Associates. He is considered an expert in Cuban and Haitian affairs, as well as general Latin American affairs.

He is a former officer with the U.S. Information Agency, and among his accomplishments in journalism and public diplomacy are his roles in launching Radio Marti and Television Marti for the Voice of America's Office of Cuban Broadcasting.

He also covered Latin America and the Caribbean for the Voice of America.

Alfonzo Smith is another business woman; she owns Alfonzo Clothiers. She is president of La Alianza Latina para el Progreso, an umbrella organization for groups representing 14 Latin American countries in Utah.

Her group provides both English and citizenship classes for first-generation immigrants who are struggling with language barriers and want to become bonafide Americans.