MIAMI -

One of the nation's largest and most influential Latino organizations has for the first time tapped a Cuban-American to chair its board.

Miami native and public relations guru Jorge Plasencia will replace a Phoenix attorney as board chair of the National Council of La Raza.

The move signifies, in part, the heavily Mexican-American group's recognition of Florida and its Hispanic communities' key role in national politics, especially in an election year.

NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia on Tuesday called Plasencia a talented entrepreneur and community leader who will help the organization boots its Florida presence and build bridges nationwide. Before opening a communications firm, Placencia was a Univision executive.

The NCLR was born in the Southwest during the 1960s civil rights era to defend the rights of Hispanic Americans.