Toni M. Smith-Rosario
Senior Assistant State's Attorney
Office of Chief State's Attorney
The founding members of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association (CHBA) came together in 1993 from different backgrounds, but with common goals: to enhance the visibility of Hispanic lawyers throughout the state; to facilitate communication and sharing of information and resources among our members; to serve as mentors to new lawyers and law students; and to assist the public and private sectors in achieving diversity in their law firms and legal departments.
Instrumental in the formation of the organization, Toni M. Smith-Rosario, Justino Rosado, and David N. Feliú, from Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport, respectively, were the triumvirate of attorneys who initially led the CHBA. The initial Board of Directors included the aforementioned attorneys and Rafael A. Santiago, David Medina, Antonio C. Robaina, Sabino Rodríguez III, Grace A. Cavero, José L. DelCastillo, Sheila M. Prats, Ronald A. González, and Luis Cruz. In 1994, the CHBA elected a twelve member board of directors, which was expanded to sixteen members in 1996 and includes positions for a law student and a legal assistant representative.
Throughout its history, the CHBA has been active in community service. It offers a mentoring program to Hispanic law, college, and high school students, and a scholarship program for law students. In addition, its members are actively involved in numerous local and statewide boards. In the past, CHBA attorneys have examined the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities by the court system and have advocated for the provision of interpreter services in Connecticut.
Our membership and past honorees include over one hundred members, among them recent appointments to the Connecticut state judiciary, the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, the first Hispanics to serve as judges on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the first Hispanic state commissioner, and the first Hispanic to run for Attorney General.