Cheryl L. Noralez was born in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District in Belize, Central America. She was raised with her grandmother in the Garifuna village of Sienne Bight and at the early age of four, she migrated to Los Angeles, California with her parents. She is married to Rony Figueroa and has two children Jaleesa and Isani. She is currently pursuing her education in cultural anthropology at California State University, Long Beach. She works fulltime as a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner.
Cheryl considers herself a proud Garifuna American who prides herself as an activist and promoter of the Garifuna culture. She conceived the idea of Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United when she realized that there was a need in the community to re-acculturate and preserve the Garifuna culture for future generations here in America. Cheryl’s dream has always been to open a Garifuna Cultural and Learning Center in Los Angeles, California. She believes that once Garinagu have their own Cultural Center, more can be done towards preserving the traditional Garifuna, beliefs, values and heritage.
As president and founder of Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc., she has had the opportunity to showcase her rich culture through its Annual Garifuna Community Forum held in different colleges and universities around Los Angeles, California and The Bronx and Brooklyn, New York: LA Southwest College, Medgar Evers College, Cal State University, Los Angeles and Cal State University Northridge.
Under her leadership, GAHFU, Inc. has been able to establish The Garifuna Language & Culture Academy which has been operating since 2005, first at Maabatuwa Cultural Center and now at The Blazer Learning Center in Los Angeles. GAHFU has also participated in the Annual Central American Parade organized by COFECA for five consecutive years showcasing the culture, music and pride of being Garifuna. In 2010, Cheryl spearheaded the Garifuna American Heritage Awards to honor the influential leaders in the community . GAHFU, Inc. takes pride in promoting Garifuna musicians and singers from the diaspora by showcasing the these talented individuals and groups including: Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective, El Ballet Nacional Folklorico Garifuna de Honduras, Hechun Garinagu, just to mention a few.
Cheryl L. Noralez has received numerous awards from The Central American Studies Program at Cal State University Northridge, The Belize Consulate General of Los Angeles, The St. Vincent & The Grenadines Consulate General of Los Angeles, Honduras Consulate General of Los Angeles, The California and the New York State Assembly.