Alumnus of the Month
April 2015 Alumnus of the Month
Hometown: Hayward, California
CHCI Program(s)/Year: 2010-2011 Public Policy Fellowship
CHCI Program Placement(s): Office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer/Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Current Position/Organization: Head of Public Policy and Communications, Homejoy. Previously, worked for the Executive Office of the President, OPM and the Senate.
1. Many CHCI alumni and current program participants have battled and continue to battle common challenges as they strive to become Latino leaders in their communities: living and working in low-income communities, some in single-parent households, as recent immigrants, DREAMERS, or first-generation American citizens. What challenges did you have to face to get to where you are today?
The most difficult decision I ever made was to leave home. I was born and raised in Peru and due to our economic situation, I was separated from my parents for a few years when they immigrated to the United States. I was finally reunited with my family when I was 10 years old - deciding to go away to college and later D.C. broke my heart - but an experience like that teaches you to think about those you love before yourself and for me that’s my family and my community.
2. What motivated you to apply to the CHCI program(s), and why do you think they are important for Latino youth?
My personal experience led to my passion in advocating for issues that affect low income, disenfranchised communities. Immigration, education, housing and youth incarceration are issues that were close to my heart so I became an advocate at a very young age. This passion led me to an internship in Washington D.C. where I worked along other CHCI fellows who encouraged me to apply. Immigration and in particular, family separation, is what I cared about the most, so I knew that Washington D.C. was the place to go if I wanted to have high impact at an early stage in my career. I never thought I would be selected, but with the help of my mentors I was offered a spot in the class of 2010. CHCI is “the great equalizer” for Latino Youth in Washington D.C., without the help of CHCI I would have never afforded to start my career in D.C. politics.
3. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
My fellowship in Senator Reid’s office led to a job offer to become the Senate Majority Leaders Press Secretary for Hispanic media at 21 years old. I was asked to go work for President Obama’s reelection campaign where I organized a group of Latino communicators and ran a regional media operation. Following our victory in 2012, I ran Hispanic media for the President Inaugural Committee and later became Press Secretary at the Office of National Drug Control in the Executive Office of the President. I’ve held other communications roles in the Administration such as Deputy Director of Communications at the Office of Personnel Management and helped run the ACA regional media enrollment program at the White House. I recently realized my dream of moving back to California and joined Homejoy - a startup based out of San Francisco- as Head of Public Policy and Communications.
4. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
CHCI provides a valuable network of support. Most importantly, CHCI creates accountability and a sense of shared responsibility for your community and peers. Most importantly, CHCI gives you tools and trainings that were crucial to my transition from community advocate to professional on Capitol Hill.
5. How do you continue to give back to the community?
After being away from home for so long I’m currently focused on giving back to my family and my immediate community in the Bay Area. Recently, I joined the Advisory Board of Inclusv.com as a volunteer. This effort is seeking to encourage young people, especially Latinos, African Americans, APPI, and other underrepresented communities to jump on the 2016 campaign trail.
6. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and what do you still want to achieve?
I recently moved back to California to pursue a career in the tech sector. I’m looking forward to supporting efforts that seek to offer economic mobility and opportunities for entrepreneurship for working families, especially Latinos and immigrants.
7. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
- Go into every opportunity with a full heart, work hard and you will be noticed.
- Be flexible, don’t have any expectations but know what you’re worth.
- Show up to everything but don’t stay too long. Being young, talented and eager in such a high energy city is a huge opportunity, but we need you to go back home and be the change maker that your family and neighbors need you to be.