Name: Juan C. Otero
Hometown: Bronx, NY
CHCI Program(s): CHCI Fellow
CHCI Program Placement(s): The National League of Cities
Current Position/Organization: Senior Director and Public Policy Counsel, Comcast Corporation
1. What motivated you to apply to the CHCI program(s), and why do you think they are important for Latino youth?
Without a doubt, I was intrigued by the possibility of spending time in Washington, D.C., in an academic setting that would allow me to develop professionally. As a child of working-class parents from the South Bronx, there was not a multitude of subsidized, structured opportunities to experience Washington D.C. CHCI afforded me that opportunity and continues to do so for many Latino youth today.
The program’s policy focus, structure, and flexibility were exceedingly attractive to me as I was trying to figure out my career goals. Ironically, I saw CHCI as a brief stepping stone that would allow me to briefly experience Washington. I had no idea that Washington would become home.
Regarding CHCI’s importance for Latino youth, I am convinced that I would not be in my current role and have had such amazing professional development opportunities but for the CHCI program.
2. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
I have had incredible professional experiences, including working for nonprofits that represent our nation’s cities and Governors. I have also held various positions in the Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Homeland Security. Throughout these experiences, I gravitated toward communications policy and how to best leverage it for cities, states, and public policy goals, such as improving broadband adoption. I currently work for Comcast Corporation’s Federal Government Affairs department.
3. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
CHCI gave me the needed runway in Washington, D.C., to launch my career in a credible, structured manner. As a CHCI Fellow, I worked at the National League of Cities and ultimately went to work there for almost seven years, so my experience clearly had a direct impact. I was able to leverage these experiences while working at the National Governors Association, the Department of Homeland Security, and later, the Comcast Corporation. Ultimately, CHCI taught me about the value of relationships and how to foster my own growth, while being mindful of the growth of others around me.
4. How do you continue to give back to the community?
At this stage in my career, I am so very lucky to work for a corporation that can and does use its considerable Foundation resources to help fund national, state, and local organizations of every type. In my current role, I work closely with the Comcast Foundation to ensure that community needs are met. To do this, I serve on several Boards, such as CHCI, the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, the Hispanic Federation of New York, and quite a few others. The best part of my job is working to ensure we are doing as much as we can to improve the communities we serve.
5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and what do you still want to achieve?
I would like to continue working in the communication industry. I am passionate about its transformative impact on American and global culture. As to what I want to achieve, I will quote Voltaire: “The secret to being boring is to say everything.”
6. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
Find out what you are passionate about it and stick with it no matter what. It can take some time to find that place, but it is so worth it!