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Name: Eric Rodriguez

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Deputy Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR

Internship 1992: Office of Senator Edward Kennedy

Fellowship 1993-1994: 1st Placement: Office of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez 2nd Placement: National Council of La Raza

1. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?

Following the Fellowship, NCLR hired me as a Research Assistant in its Latino Poverty Project. I have been with NCLR ever since, and currently help to oversee the institution’s public policy department.

2. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?

CHCI provided an opportunity and ability for me to work in Congress and with a leading national Hispanic-serving organization; exposure and experience that I needed to better understand the type of contribution to public service I wanted to make. The program opened doorways that were previously unknown to me. What’s more, CHCI brought together young, smart, and inspired individuals from across the country that had different life experiences and ideas from me. I learned much that year just from my interactions with the Fellows, all of whom I respect and many who remain my friends today.

3. How have you stayed engaged in community service?

NCLR is an institution that allows you to be an advocate for the Latino community every day and in so many different ways. Making a contribution to the development of the Hispanic community is made easy when you can do the type of work you love doing while working along side committed and talented individuals who share your mission.

4. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?

Over the last fourteen years, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise and work with CHCI Fellows as well as with many other young Latino professionals that were new to Washington. What I’ve learned is that the Fellowship can be an opportunity to discover what you’re good at and enjoy doing, within the realm of public service. Fellows would do well to focus their time and energy in finding placements that fit their skills and interests rather than ones that are simply high profile and provide a lot of outward recognition or shallow prestige. The latter tend to be experiences that promise more than they can deliver and often lead to disappointment as well as frustration.

Fellows should also try to focus on the mission of their work, whatever that may be, and seek to do good work regardless of the assignment. Individuals that are self-serving, self-promoting, overly ambitious, and vapid are often very easy to distinguish from those that are mission driven, take responsibility for their decisions, and focused on doing good work. Fellows can choose how they ascend professionally and will be recognized for their style and approach.

5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

Hopefully keeping a lower profile than this piece allows me, while continuing to do meaningful work.