Victor Capellan: Making a Difference in Central Falls and Beyond

I had been hearing Victor Capellan’s name since I first started paying attention to politics almost 30 years ago! His is one of those names that is always associated with “good,” and always associated with “making a difference.“

His leadership skills were apparent as far back as his college days at the University of Rhode Island where, as a young, Latino full of hopes and dreams, he planted the seeds for increased Latino involvement in student government. Those government seeds continued to grow as he ventured out into the world.

Victor Capellan was product of the “TD” program which stands for Talent Development. So I always knew he had the guts and the skills to be successful at college and beyond. Inspired by great educators like Dr. Jorge Alvarez, a well-known math & science teacher at Roger Williams Middle School and Mr. Leo Dimaio, The Director of the Talent Development Program

Victor took his passions to the streets of Providence. He decided to enter the political arena, running for State Senate. The first time he came up short by 13 votes. The second time he was short by 20. At that point he decided to switch up his strategy and served instead as campaign manager for Juan Pichardo. Together the two friends launched Pichardo’s first bid for the Rhode Island Senate back in 2002 and were triumphant.

Victor is a handsome Dominican with that “je ne sais quoi!” He has done so many interesting things, and I was so impressed when renegade Central Falls school superintendent, Fran Gallo, tapped Victor to be her Assistant Superintendent. Since the days when Victor’s life was indelibly inspired by teachers and professors, I think he was destined to inspire young students; he’s always been one to “give back.“

Victor has been part of the Central Falls resurgence. When Fran Gallo stepped down as Superintendent, the Central Falls School Committee was smart to tap Capellan as the Superintendent to follow Dr. Gallo and continue her innovative work on behalf of Central Falls students.

I love Central Falls, and I will always have a unique and fundamental tie to Rhode Island’s smallest city. I “cut my working teeth” and my “Spanish-speaking teeth” on the streets of Central Falls. My first job out of college was as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Back in 1984, the organization was much smaller than it is now, and we were housed within the YWCA on Broad Street in Central Falls. So I would walk the streets of that great city, carrying my message of domestic violence prevention, drumming up support for my organization among local businesses and trying out my high school Spanish! After all, I did win the Spanish prize my senior year of high school.

Those streets rendered me completely fluent in Spanish and left a forever sweet spot in my heart for the city of Central Falls. So all these years, I have watched the Central Falls Renaissance, spurred along by great humans and great leaders such as James Diossa, Anna Cano-Morales, Angelo Garcia and none other than our guest, Victor Capellan.

Victor took over as the Superintendent of Central Falls schools, and he did so with passion and a sincere desire to support students and teachers, to join hands with the teachers’ union in support of better student achievement and to put all the love in his heart behind his mission to educate students, touch lives and build a better community and a better future. Victor truly is a “statesperson!” He’s truly a “statesman,” except I always try to use gender neutral language! I admit that “statesperson” still sounds funky.

Really, as you’ll see from the interview, it is Victor’s “je ne sais quoi,“ inspired and fueled by love that brought him to the love of his life, the beautiful and talented Diana Diaz!

My relationship to Diana is just so Rhode Island, in that we all know each other or know of each other. They say there are 6° of separation in the world, well in Rhode Island there’s barely two! Diana Diaz is the baby sister of Isabel Diaz who was my legal assistant for many years early on in my career as a lawyer. I love Isabel and her great family, including all four of the beautiful young Diaz women.

As a Social Security disability attorney, I would run into Diana when she was doing mental health work at The Providence Center. I would always ask her how she and the family were doing. And at some point, much to my surprise and delight, I heard that she was dating Victor Capellan. I loved Diana sort of like a distant aunt, rooting for her from afar, hoping for her success, and I knew she had landed a winner when I heard the news of their engagement!! They are now a bit of a Latino power couple, with Diana’s philanthropic work with Latino Dollars for Scholars and Victor’s legendary passion for public education and student achievement.

And what comes from a power couple…? A power baby destined for greatness. On August 17th, 2018, after previously agreeing to become foster parents, they welcomed into the world their illustrious biological son, Luis Francisco Capellan! Congratulations and many blessings to all. Remember, the blessings already are; our job to see them everywhere in life!

“¿Que Onda? con Donna” can be seen on YurView – Cox Channels 4 and 1004 – Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 8:30pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8pm.

The author, Donna M. Nesselbush, is a founding partner at Marasco & Nesselbush Law, a Rhode Island State Senator and Municipal Court Judge for the City of Pawtucket. She hosts a Spanish language Saturday morning radio show on Latina 100.3fm and now hosts the all new “¿Que Onda? con Donna” TV show.