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Our Mission

The mission of the Latin American Association (LAA) is to empower Latinos to adapt, integrate and thrive. Our vision is ‘Opportunity for All.’

Founded in 1972, the LAA has grown over the past four decades to become the region’s leading agency representing Georgia’s Latino issues. The LAA offers a targeted menu of direct services that helps Latino individuals assimilate and become contributing members of Georgia’s community.

The LAA achieves its mission through five (5) focus areas: Civic Engagement & Advocacy, Economic Empowerment, Youth Services, Family Stabilization & Well-Being, and Immigration Services. Each focus area includes a targeted menu of direct services, large-scale events and advocacy to realize significant community impact and affect systems level change.

Strategic plan FY2020-FY2021




Opportunity for all


Empower Latinos to
adapt, integrate
and thrive


Provide direct services and advocate for systems-level change


Immigration services

English services and other economic empowerment programs

Family stabilization and well being

Convene, advocate and engage

Youth services


Be and be known as an effective, data-driven provider of services to the Latino community


Use data to set goals, track progress and make decisions

Deliver consistent, satisfying client service and stakeholder experiences

Effectively communicate how we deliver impact to our community


Enable a responsive, financially sustainable organization to deliver our mission


Develop a full portfolio of services in Dalton & Lawrenceville

Recruit, develop and retain competent, engaged employees

Complete a data-informed scope of services review by 6/30/21

Build financial sustainability


Our history is intertwined with the rise of the Latino population in the metro Atlanta region.

The LAA was founded in 1972 by sheriff deputy Angel Ortiz and Stratton Frank, a Miami native who moved to Atlanta in 1971. Ortiz and Frank founded a small organization to serve Atlanta’s then-emerging Latino population by helping immigrants find jobs and affordable housing. Ortiz and Frank wanted to help immigrants from Latin America settle into their new home country. Ortiz initially worked from the trunk of his car, interpreting for families and providing resources to help them adapt to their new community.

In its early years, the LAA provided services at a number of locations that included an apartment complex on Buford Highway, a former doctor’s office in Chamblee, and an office space below Kmart in Broadview Plaza (now Lindbergh Plaza). The first office of the LAA was located behind the old Kmart in Lindbergh Plaza, next to the police station, a perfect location for the many families and elderly living in apartments on Morosgo and Lindbergh drives. In 1979, Lino Dominguez purchased the LAA’s newsletter, Gazeta Latina, for $10 and turned it into MundoHispánico, now the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Georgia.

In the early 1990s, the LAA moved into its first home on Buford Highway and expanded its presence to Gwinnett County and later, Cobb County. During this time, the LAA hired its first immigration attorney. The LAA’s first outreach center, in Lawrenceville, opened its doors in 1990.

In 1993, the LAA moved to a new facility on Buford Highway. In 2001, it moved across the street to its current 45,000-square-foot facility after completing a $10.5 million capital campaign funded by generous community support. In its current location, the LAA building stands literally and metaphorically as the gateway to Buford Highway, the nexus of Atlanta’s immigrant communities.

In 2018, with the generous support of partners including Mohawk Industries, the LAA opened its third service center, in Dalton, Georgia. With this physical presence in Northwest Georgia, the LAA is now able to serve Latino communities in greater Dalton with a variety of empowering services.

Over the years, the LAA building has become a veritable community center, bustling with activity during the day, in the evening and on weekends. In addition to housing the LAA, the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association and the Oficina de Enlace del Gobierno de Guanajuato call the LAA home. Through its programs and targeted menu of direct services offered by its five focus areas, the LAA offers citizenship clinics and classes for eligible green card holders, adult education (English, Spanish, and computer classes), an empowerment program for Latina entrepreneurs, immigration legal services and family well-being services.

Aside from providing a site for community forums on immigration issues, health fairs, citizenship drives, the LAA also hosts Latino support groups for those affected by DACA, lupus and diabetes. Additionally, we offer a Toastmaster’s club, a Spanish literature book club, a seniors’ club, and an onsite coffee hour allowing English and Spanish-speaking individuals to practice their new languages together.

Our Team

Susana Chávez
Parking Company of America

Misty Fernández
Georgia Power Company

Past Chair
Chris Marquardt
Alston & Bird

Vice Chair
Willie Rivero

Barbara Quiroga
Delta Air Lines

Gaston Vaneri
Cox Enterprises 

Karla Arriola
A.R. Heritage Group


Joe Araoz | Bank of America

Gerard Borda | Synovus

Philip Brown | Mohawk

Juan Bueno | The Home Depot

Jim Curry | Consultant

Jason Esteves | Equifax

Stratton Frank | Founder (Retired)

Maria Guzman | Mohawk

Robin Marx | SignatureFD

Juanita Pacheco | Wells Fargo

Jose Paniagua | Inspire Brands

John Pinto | The Coca-Cola Company

David Schaefer | Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Jose Velaz | Deloitte & Touche

Galin Vinasco | State Farm

Mark Williams | McKinsey & Company