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Meet the Nominees: Chattanooga's Choice

Get to know our amazing individuals and organizations as we get ready to celebrate them at our 2023 Latino Leadership Awards on September 21st!

Throughout the next couple of weeks, we'll be sharing some info on the folks and agencies our city nominated to be recognized for their contributions and positive impact, promoting Latino progress across sectors in the Scenic City!

Chattanooga's Choice: 2023 Nominees

Viridiana Marin

East TN Community Organizer

Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition


Chattanooga Community Fridge

Viridiana Marin, also known as Viri, is a dedicated community organizer born in Chiautla, Puebla, Mexico. Raised in Houston, TX, her and her parent’s experiences and struggles as immigrants in the United States ignited a deep passion for the immigrant & refugee advocacy she does today. With over 8 years of active engagement in this important work, Viri is deeply committed to the liberation and well-being of latinx and immigrant communities.

In 2018, Viri made Chattanooga her home and immediately fell in love with the city and its

people. When she arrived she began working as an outreach advocate for a domestic violence shelter. She later volunteered with Migrants of Tennessee United, dedicating her work to civic engagement and community outreach. Viri's contributions also go beyond advocacy. In 2020 she established the Chattanooga Community Fridge, whose mission is to build stronger communities by reducing food insecurity and waste by promoting access to fresh produce through the installation of public refrigerators in neighborhoods. Additionally, as a community activator with the Trust for Public Land, Viri incorporated community voices into programming and events within outdoor spaces fostering a sense of belonging for overlooked communities in Chattanooga.

Branching out to organizing at the state level, Viri is now the newest addition to the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) as their East Tennessee Community Organizer. Viri is actively working toward fostering a more welcoming and united city by drawing from her own immigrant journey and the aspirations, dreams, and challenges of those seeking to call Tennessee home.

“To me, this recognition represents the collective efforts of individuals committed to empowering the Latino community and bridging cultural divides. I am beyond honored to be recognized for this nomination among such incredible Latino community leaders.”

Dylan Rivera

Director of Policy Planning and Implementation

City of Chattanooga

Dylan Rivera currently serves as the City of Chattanooga’s Director of Policy Planning

and Implementation in Mayor Tim Kelly’s administration, marking the first-ever Latino appointed to a Mayor’s Office position in the City of Chattanooga’s history. His work directly impacts closing generational health, safety, and prosperity gaps in Chattanooga’s minority communities.

A first-generation graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he studied public policy with a minor in criminal justice. Dylan’s previous roles include Director of Innovation Special Projects for the City of Chattanooga, Assistant Political Director for

the Tim Kelly for Mayor Campaign, and Project Manager for the Southeast Tennessee

Development District.

Dylan Rivera is also the first-ever Latino brother in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Psi

Lambda chapter since its founding on May 15, 1926. Additionally, he volunteers as a

board member for YCAP, an intervention program focusing on at-risk youth, serves as a

member of Rotaract through the Chattanooga Rotary, and is the Southeast Tennessee

representative for Fuerza, a political action committee working to advance Latino

representation in political positions throughout the state.

Arnold Ruelas

Social Media Consultant

Arnold Alexis, LLC

Arnold Ruelas is an openly gay, first generation Mexican-American born in California and made his way to the east coast when he was three years old. He moved to Chattanooga in 2015 and quickly realized this was the place he could be himself and be praised for it. Arnold currently owns a social media consulting business and works as a content creator/influencer in the industry. Over the course of the last decade or so, Arnold has noticed the lack of Latin content creators being highlighted in the industry and that is what pushed him to start his career in social media in the first place. He wants to show other latin content creators that we have a place and a voice in the world.

Arnold has participated in Dare to Dance benefitting the Kidney Foundation in both 2018 and

2022 as a contestant and raised a total of $52,000. Along with participating in Dare to Dance, he has also hosted and curated Dare to Drag which is a local drag show raising money for the

Kidney Foundation as well. Over the last 5 years that event alone has raised about $40,000. He currently serves as the only latino on the Chattanooga Pride Board and is working towards

uniting the latin and other communities together to celebrate Pride. He hopes to continue to

encourage young latin teens to go for whatever dream they have, nothing is out of reach!

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