This week we spoke with Elliot Rivera, Executive Director of Youth in Action (YIA) in Rhode Island.
This is a non-profit that focuses on developing young leaders to advocate for change on important issues that impact their communities.
The pandemic caused previous issues such as poverty, accessibility to resources, lack of self-care, domestic violence, and youth homelessness to be amplified. Running this organization is highly influenced by the young generation. â€œLetâ€™s let the young people decide. They know whatâ€™s going to work best for them,â€� explained Rivera.Â
YIA challenges the status quo by providing education about important controversial topics. It is understanding how these issues are connected to one another that is the key to bringing leaders to their full potential. â€œIf we really want the current generation and the next generation to be the best that they can be, we have to start letting those opportunities for leadership and practice happen now,â€� explained Rivera. Their mission is more than the work itself as it is about the camaraderie they have for each other and the greater community.
The tools used to build leaders in YIA are the development of public speaking, conflict resolution, owning your story, teamwork, self-care, and advocacy work. The importance of self-care and caring for the community while learning the skills to accomplish their goals is what makes YIA unique.
The fight for antiracism and cultural humility is what YIA advocates for in the education system. Ethnic studies have been lacking as marginalized groups are being misrepresented in the education system. Mental health, counseling, self-care, and community care need to be focused to better reflect all cultures and the concerns of parents and families. Every group faces very similar issues meaning it is important to educate those who are not part of the minority to understand their issues and support them. When one group is struggling it will affect everyone.Â
We are pushed to believe that we are alone, but YIA is working to change that narrative. We are all in this together as we all have a role to play.
This week we invited Cindy Coughlin, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor at Catholic Charities New Hampshire.
Coughlin works with Spanish and English-speaking populations of all ages in the areas of mental health.Â
The impact of the pandemic caused people to be disconnected from socialization opportunities. â€œThere was an increase in depression and anxiety amongst teenagers and young adults,â€� explained Coughlin. The immigrant community faced severe mental health issues as they faced the uncertainty of attending work and attracting unwanted illnesses to their families as well as being unable to visit extended family in their home countries. The undocumented community continues to be fearful of reaching out to services.
A significant issue that communities of color face are having access to medical professionals who can speak the same language as they do. A lack of cultural sensitivity among professionals when serving marginalized groups causes them to steer away from these resources. Inspiring more ethnic minority students to pursue medical professional roles will contribute to alleviating negative stigmas around these resources.
As we are exiting the pandemic we have yet to see the full impact on mental health. â€œYounger generations, as they get older will see effects of this period of lockdown and loss of routine over time,â€� explained Coughlin. People are reaching out for help more frequently and are taking strides for growth with the lessons learned from the pandemic.Â
Catholic Charities strives to make affordable and accessible resources available to meet the needs of all families. The organization also makes an effort to make all voices heard. Therapy is for all people and not just for those with severe illnesses. It is the responsibility of all people to be understanding of all stories and seek the resources they need to succeed.Â
This week, CTLN Opinion+ had the opportunity to speak with Marilyn Alverio, the founder & CEO of Latinas and Power Corporation and the producer of the Latinas & Power Symposium annual event.
We had an informative discussion about Alverio’s motivation for creating Latinas and Power Corporation, the research report findings on Latinas’ barriers in today’s workforce, and her ultimate goal for connecting with women to become leaders.Â Â
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Latinas and Power Corporation team released results from their report “The Latina Pathway to Excellence in a Post-Pandemic World,” showing women’s challenges in the workplace.
Looking to support, motivate and inspire women and amplify Latinas’ voices in Connecticut and beyond, Alverio uses her report findings to create a leadership Institute that would enable Latinas to succeed as leaders and advocates.
“One of the inequities that we found is that Latinas often start off on a not leveled playing field, and so we are still dealing with challenges as it relates to cultural expectations,” said Alverio referring to the messages still heard in the communities that women should not exceed men in a corporate environment.
Marilyn Alverio is a nationally recognized expert and speaker in multicultural marketing. She is known for her work as the former National Director of Ethnic Marketing for a Fortune 100 company. As an entrepreneur, she led Ethnic Marketing Solutions for nine years, an agency that focused on strategic marketing for companies interested in learning about and tapping into multicultural markets.
She brings invaluable insights into the corporate arena and has laid the groundwork to increase and retain business in ethnic markets for numerous companies around the country. She has held multiple management positions within the airlines, pharmaceutical, education, financial, and health insurance industries for more than twenty years, applying her vast knowledge in strategic marketing and branding strategies.
Alverio has been active in Connecticut communities for more than 30 years. She has served on or is serving as an advisory committee for the Connecticut Health Foundation, World Affairs Council, Spanish American Merchants Association Marketing team, Urban League of Greater Hartford, and United Way of Greater Hartford marketing committee.
Latinas & Power is a non-profit organization that continues to grow at the local, national, and global levels with in-person and new virtual platforms throughout the world and a mission to develop influential leaders and community advocates.
Latinas & Power Symposium 2022 event is taking place on June 22nd in Hartford, Connecticut.
Key points of discussion:
About Latina and Power Non-profit Organization
Discussion of “Latinas Pathway to excellence in a post Pandemic world” report
Process of report findings
Latinas Leadership Institute for 2023
The continued support for women in a corporate environment
Where to find the report
Here is the link to register through eventbrite. https://latinasandpower2022.eventbrite.com
The report can be downloaded on our website as well: https://latinasandpower.com
The organization is in the early bird stage so be sure to take advantage of the $50.00 off during this period.
On this weekâ€™s episode of Illinois Latino News Opinion+, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, president and founder of DRR Advisors, joined us for a discussion about businesses measuring inclusivity and accepting accountability for the lack of Latinos in leadership roles. He also stressed the power in Latinidad and identity.
DRR Advisors is a firm that consults businesses in building various inclusion initiatives and Latino talent management programs. He has worked with many companies in industries spanning from banking to transportation and while their business ventures range, many of them operate with similar outlooks toward their Latino staff. He says that one of the common factors in the past has been a lack of accountability on the companyâ€™s end and the mindset that their Latino employees have not reached leadership roles due to their own issues that need to be â€œfixed.â€�
â€œâ€˜Cause weâ€™re not broke, Iâ€™m not fixing anybody but the companies that get it are the ones that say, Robert, help us. Help us as an organization that will create the conditions that nurture their success. Help us improve the systems that we have in place regarding identifying top talent, help us make sure that Latinos arenâ€™t over mentored and under sponsored,â€� he said.
He says that now many more companies are taking accountability for the systems that have traditionally prevented Latinos from progressing.
Dr. Rodriguez also spoke about his personal struggle in forming his sense of identity as a Mexican-American growing up in the Midwest, and how entering corporate America complicated it further.
â€œI didnâ€™t embrace my Hispanic heritage. I was never ashamed of it, I just didnâ€™t see it as something that served me well,â€� he said.
Dr. Rodriguez says that he grew out of this mindset and realized the strength of his bicultural perspective that came from his Hispanic background. He says that he now encourages young Latinos to approach identity and ethnicity on their own terms.
â€œBut what I tell folks is whatever your sense of identity is, you own it, you determine it. Donâ€™t let somebody else determine it for you and as I talk to many young Hispanics, thatâ€™s what theyâ€™re finding,â€� he said.
As a writer, Dr. Rodriguez has converted these lessons heâ€™s learned through personal experience and research into the written word, making the information he sought during the early stages of his career readily available for Latinos looking for guidance, something he says he did not have.
â€œAnd the reason I wrote it is â€˜cause I think there was a story that needed to be told that we are a powerful community, that we contribute a lot to this society and that we are a callus for economic growth. Now that Iâ€™ve written three books, Iâ€™m super excited now to see more and more Latinos writing books and getting published because our stories need to be told and Iâ€™m glad that thereâ€™s an audience for those books,” he said.
â€œPractices of the old are not going to attract the talent of the new,â€� said Nina Pande, executive director of Skills for Rhode Islandâ€™s Future (SkillsRI). â€œDiversity, equity, and inclusion is a pronounced voice.â€�
Pande shared insights about how SkillsRI helps employers in reimagining recruiting for diverse candidates by questioning current practices and holding them (employers) accountable.
She was one of the special guests on the Lighting The Spark – Community Leaders & Changemakers panel hosted by the Verizon State Government Affairs team; moderated by Adriana Dawson, Community Engagement Director at Verizon.
The program was held last month as part of International Women’s Day (March 8), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Pande and other guests are trailblazing women across the country driving change in their communities. From ending hunger to creating new educational and career opportunities to opening doors for small business owners, these women are helping their communities thrive.
A Target 12 analysis of labor statistics from 2018-2020 found that almost an equal number of men and women were employed in Rhode Island when the first COVID-19 infection was identified, reported WPRI.
By April 2020, amid sweeping shutdowns, employment plummeted 25 percent for women, while declining only 8 percent for men. Since then, male employment has largely recovered, while the number of women employed in Rhode Island remained 11 percent below pre-pandemic levels.
Since the COVID-19 began, Latinas have not only experienced disproportionately high unemployment rates, but they also are dropping out of the workforce at higher rates than any other demographic group.
Latinas are disproportionately responsible for family care obligations versus Latino men, and they are more likely to stay at home than U.S. mothers of other racial backgrounds. That burden was exacerbated during the pandemic because of the closure of schools and day care centers.
A lack of access to education and training opportunities for higher wage opportunities disincentivizes Latinasâ€™ participation in the labor force overall.
Latinas are disproportionately employed in leisure, hospitality and related low-wage industries that were particularly vulnerable to pandemic-related closures.
Dawson also hostsÂ US Tech Future, a Verizon-led community-focused initiative working to engage the local community in a discussion about technology and how it can improve the lives of local residents for their benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole.
Adriana Dawson (she, her, hers, ella) is a nationally recognized leader with over 20 years of demonstrated impact at the intersection of community and business development.
Adriana leads the Verizon Foundation and social impact programming efforts in her markets. In this role she leads and expands Verizonâ€™s partnership network, strategic investments, and collaborates up and across the business introducing new market opportunities. She is also the Partnerships and Volunteer Global Committee Lead for SOMOS, an enterprise-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) giving voice to Verizonâ€™s 4K+ Hispanic/Latinx employees.
Ms. Dawson, a first generation Colombian American, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Northeastern University and holds a Master of Arts in Management Communication from Emerson College.
Publisher’s Note:According to a 2015 report from Stateline and NCSL, the average age for a New Hampshire State legislator was 66â€”the highest in the countryâ€”while the average age in the state was 48. Data from the report also reveals that although millennials made up approximately 26% of New Hampshireâ€™s 2015 population, they comprised only 1% of the state legislature.Â
I had the opportunity to witness a State House Session last Thursday in Concord. Not going to lie, it is a pretty interesting event. I proceeded to find a seat in the Visitor’s Gallery. You get a powerful panoramic view of the Speaker pulpit and the members of the leadership for both parties.
Suddenly, I decided to look down and a wave of white hair from older State Representatives hit me, it was noticeable. I tried to find young Representatives, that look like me! By young I mean less than 35 years old. I counted 4 and to be honest they might be older than that. Then I thought why are college students or younger than 35 years old Granite staters not running for office? The answer is clear.
The system is not designed for young people to run for office. $200 a term? Who is paying for my rent? My gas? College expenses? It is hard.
Young Granite Staters need representation urgently. We have retirees walking all over our education. We have seniors, most likely not having more children passing legislation telling young women what to do with an unborn child.
Those halls are full of titles but empty of purpose. If you are young, ignore my feelings and run for office. It will be a sacrifice, believe me, but worth your efforts. We need urgent representation, otherwise, nothing will be left to fight for.
Cover Photo: The Chamber of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Publisher’s Note: Fuentes’ letter to the editor was first published by the Union Leader.
Hispanics-Latinos are the largest minority population in New Hampshire with 59,500 residents or 4.3 percent of the population, according to the University of NH.
Do you have something to say? Weâ€™re interested. Submit ideas for Opinion-Editorial essays and/or finished work to Info@LatinoNewsNetwork.com
Sebastian Fuentes is vice-chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Latino Caucus. Fuentes is an advocate for immigrant rights in the State of New Hampshire. He has spoken at multiple rallies, conferences, and panel discussions in order to raise awareness about the struggle of the Hispanic-Latino community in New Hampshire.
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With the Hispanic-Latino population in the United States rising, there is a growing concern that systemic barriers prevent the community from engaging in active democratic participation.
Some thought leaders believe that better representation of political candidates who are from the marginalized group will inspire Hispanics-Latinos to vote.
“It is not about having English and Spanish on platforms and (in) content. You got to think about the culture”, said Maritza Bond, health director for the City of New Haven, seeking the office of Connecticut Secretary of the State in the upcoming November election.
“I want this exploratory committee to be an inspiration for all young girls, all Latinos and Latinas, and all young people across the state to never hold back from your dreams and aspirations,” she said.
Bond, who has Puerto Rican roots, believes it is critical for representatives in government to reflect the diverse Hispanic-Latino communities in Connecticut.
A lack of rapport with politicians is an issue abetting the notable lower voter turnout of Hispanics-Latinos, according to liberal activists.
Whether or not Hispanic-Latino voters are motivated to vote based on candidates’ race and ethnicity (racial voting) is an idea that has merit and is being tested.
CTLatinoNews.com (CTLN) s participating in Advancing Democracy: Connecticut SolutionsJournalism Initiative as part of eight reporting projects in 10 newsrooms across the United States. The six-month program is sponsored by the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN); its mission is to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting on responses to social problems.
CTLN is exploring solutions to why Hispanics-Latinos don’t vote by engaging with thought leaders in Connecticut and drawing from the best practices and lessons learned in communities across the country.
Historically, the Hispanic-Latino voter turnout has been relatively low. The group reached a milestone in the 2020 presidential election with a record 32 million eligible voters, the largest minority voting group, and the country’s second-largest voter bloc by ethnicity.
While Hispanic-Latino voters going to the polls grew to 54 percent nationally compared to 48 percent in 2016, the number fell short of its potential.
Hispanics-Latinos make up nearly 20 percent of the country’s population. Still, about 67-hundred elected officials are Hispanic-Latino, according to a 2018 analysis by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, NALEO. That amounts to a political representation rate of just over 1-percent in local, state, and federal elected offices.
No Hispanic-Latino has ever held one of Connecticut’s six constitutional statewide offices. The same goes for the five Congressional seats. And except for 2001 to 2015 in Hartford, Hispanics-Latinos have not been visible in mayor’s offices.
Approximately 48 percent of Hispanics-Latinos nationwide consider themselves Democrats, according to the pollster, Integrated Communications and Research (ICR). Still, party leaders fear support may be waning as Republicans double down on gains following the 2020 election.
“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,” said former democratic Connecticut legislator Chris Soto. “Until our federal and state delegations reflect our communities, we can always do better.”
Soto and fellow liberals support mentoring programs like “Representation Matters: Are You Ready to Run for State Office?” co-hosted by The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM). The nonpartisan organization of municipal leaders representing towns and cities aims to help people from diverse groups break into politics.
Political analyst Eli Valentin used an analysis like Barreto’s to investigate Hispanic-Latino voting patterns in New York and found that the electorate’s voting participation increased when a viable Hispanic-Latino had been at the top of the ballot.
When observing Fernando Ferrer’s candidacy for mayor of New York City in 2001, Valentin noted an increase in voter participation within the New York precincts with the highest Hispanic-Latino populations compared to other mayoral primaries when a viable Hispanic-Latino was not on the ballot. For example, voter participation in heavily Latino precincts increased 30-40 percent in 2005, when Ferrer became the first Hispanic-Latino to win a Democratic mayoral primary, compared to years with no Hispanic-Latino candidate at the top of the ballot.
“I am a Latina. I am a woman,â€� State Rep. Hilda E. Santiago, D-Meriden, said. â€‹â€œIâ€™ve been fighting in the trenches. I have the experience.â€�
In 2005, Santiago became the first Puerto Rican woman to win an open seat on Meridenâ€™s City Council, she said highlighting her ethnicity. â€œI am proud to say that I am the first Latina to be named Assistant Deputy Speaker Pro-Tempore â€” a high-ranking leadership post in the House of Representatives.â€�
Vowing to fight for voting rights and help her party attract the stateâ€™s growing Hispanic-Latino population, Santiago officially announced her candidacy for secretary of the state in December.
Whether featuring a candidate’s common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background is enough to inspire Hispanics-Latinos to vote this year is uncertain.
What is certain is that Democrats and Republicans cannot afford the growing electorate to sit this one out. Unfortunately, that’s not an easy task, as midterm elections typically result in lower turnout rates across all voting groups.
City officials made the right decision by denying General Ironâ€™s permit, but something is clearly wrong when it takes four excruciating years â€“ for everyone involved â€“ to settle a permit dispute. The fight was so intense that it even led to an intervention from federal agencies. Ultimately, it demonstrated the glaring flaws and systemic racism embedded in the permitting process for industry and the urgent need to reform zoning and land-use laws in Chicago.
From the first day that we heard about the proposed move of General Iron from Lincoln Park to our neighborhood, Southeast Siders didnâ€™t want a facility with a history of fires, explosions, and all the other problems that made residents of Lincoln Park call for it to be shut down for years. We knew that if this facility received a permit, it would be shredding entire cars down the street from George Washington High School for years to come.
As a lifelong Southeast Sider, Iâ€™ve lost count of the toxic industries that are allowed to open up shop near me. Every time a new one piles into the neighborhood, there is little transparency, community participation or accountability in the process.
It seems that we are a sacrifice zone to polluters and that the cityâ€™s zoning laws are designed to keep us buried in industry. To Southeast Siders, these laws are not all that different from the redlining that cut deep race divisions between Chicagoâ€™s neighborhoods that maintained inequities for communities of color.
The cityâ€™s history of segregation and racism has forced communities of color to suffer a lesser quality of life than wealthy white residents for decades.
According to the CDPHâ€™s Health Impact Assessment of RMG-General Iron, life expectancy for Southeast Side neighborhoods is two to nearly seven years shorter than in Lincoln Park. All three Southeast Side community areas rank in the bottom half of all Chicagoâ€™s community areas for life expectancy, cardiac and respiratory disease, and self-rated health, among other metrics. The CDPH has also identified these areas as having among the lowest child opportunities in the city, based on educational, health and environmental, and social and economic data.
You can still see those divisions in the way that the city allows polluters to accumulate in communities of color while pouring resources into Whiter more affluent areas for different types of development. Similar clashes over industry amassing in communities of color are playing out in La Villita, Pilsen and McKinley Park.
The solution is to make clear guidelines to the permitting process that are equitable, transparent, and leave plenty of room for genuine community participation. The health of residents should be the deciding factor, and the city must prevent industry from amassing in communities of color.
No community should have to worry about breathing neurotoxins or being covered in dust saturated with heavy metals like lead and arsenic from the industries that brush up against houses and parks. The first line of defense for our health should be in the permitting process for new industries.
If we had an equitable permitting process, the General Iron decision would not have taken as long as it did. The city could have taken into consideration the almost 250 industrial facilities that line the South Branch of the Chicago River and the existing monitors that register some of the highest levels of toxic metals like lead in the entire state. The city would have listened to the neighbors and heard our long list of concerns which would have led to the inevitable denial of this permit.
Mayor Lightfoot promised to introduce an ordinance that would address cumulative impacts and make the permitting process more equitable. Environmental justice communities will hold the mayor to her promise for a long-overdue legislative fix to a system that isnâ€™t working for anyone.
The Southeast Side was essential in making Chicago and the region what it is today, and itâ€™s still an essential part of the city where the people who live here can decide what our community should look like. We can be an important part of planning and building a healthier Southeast Side whose prosperity will open up new possibilities for our city.
Gina Ramirez works to further sustainable land use and zoning rules that can provide crucial protections to areas of Chicago, like the Southeast Side, that are burdened with cumulative industrial pollution. Ramirez is an active member of the Coalition to Ban Petcoke and the Southeast Environmental Taskforce. She has a MA focused in sociology from Roosevelt University and BA in communications from DePaul University.
Publisherâ€™s Note: Do you have something to say? Weâ€™re interested. Submit ideas for Opinion-Editorial essays and/or finished work to Info@LatinoNewsNetwork.com
Iâ€™m a first-generation Mexican American Chicana, a mom, a wife, and I love hiking.
I graduated from San Diego City College with an Associate in Sciene (AS) in Radio and completed two certificates, one in News Production and the other in Performance.
I had a dream about working in radio, and that dream came true. I worked for iHeart radio as a board operator for about two years and loved every minute of it. My confidence grew, and I learned A LOT about myself during this discovery process.
The picture above was taken right before I went live for the first time on my college radio show. I was shaky and nervous and had so much support! I loved that the Meet the Artist podcast connected artists with other people through conversation with the audience.
In my spare time, I book, host, produce, interview, edit, and post my own podcast called MC3_SD. I interview San Diego locals- artists, and creatives and search out community stories that make San Diego the eclectic city it is! There are MANY stories to tell, so much love to shine on people by giving them an opportunity to open up and flourish.
I recently was hired at Fox 5 San Diego as a Studio Technician, and this Fall, I will study at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) under the Media Communications-Production program.
My hope in my new role at Fox is to bring diversity, demonstrate Latino/a strength (perseverance), knowledge, and culture. I want to bring ideas that will hopefully change othersâ€™ perspectives. I want to showcase what it is to be a hard worker with integrity, experience, and a smile.
School wasnâ€™t an essential part of growing up when I was young. I mean, if I got â€œCâ€™sâ€� and passed, my mother wasnâ€™t too worried about the state of my educated health. Before I knew it, here it was senior year. When I passed Creative Writing with my first A, I genuinely started to cry. Channeling my creative side became my strong suit.
When entering City College, I met many mentors who helped me tremendously, above and beyond. One of those essential people who guided me was Laura Castaneda.
Laura encouraged me to seek out scholarships that would help me financially on my path to completing schooling. To that end, she introduced me to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). The organization is a strong platform for networking with many professionals who are willing to answer the questions of aspiring journalists coming into the field. It felt like home to me.
Through the NAHJ San Diego/Tijuana professional chapter, I became aware of the Hortencia Zavala Foundation scholarship. And thanks to the award I received in 2018, I was able to purchase a laptop and complete online schooling. Winning the HZF scholarship gave me a boost to keep going! Even to the point of being accepted to my dream University. Scholarships like HZF provide young people like me, with the start we need to succeed.
I know thereâ€™s much more to learn, and I am humbled by the opportunities already given to me. I encourage others to invest in young journalists like myself by supporting organizations like HZF.
The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF), established in 2016, is in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother. A non-profit organization, HZF has collaborated with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) in awarding scholarships to 10 students.
The nonprofit organizations will work to provide Hispanic-Latinos and other under-represented groups with the training and support needed to start, grow and sustain their businesses.
According to the Small Business Association, over half of the Ocean State’s private workforce is employed by small businesses, 10.5 percent of those are owned by Hispanics-Latinos. With a 40 percent increase in the Hispanic-Latino population in Rhode Island over the past decade, many of them Spanish language dominant, EforAll programming will also be available in Spanish through its EparaTodos offering.
EforAll and its Spanish language program, EparaTodos, are one-year programs, which use a unique combination of practical business training, dedicated mentorship from local business and community leaders, and access to a large professional network. They will be available twice a year.
Since January 2020, 38.1 percent of the stateâ€™s small businesses have closed. EforAll and eforever say they hope to help Rhode Islandâ€™s entrepreneurs in recovering from the impact of the pandemic, and getting small business owners back on their feet.
Founded in 2010, EforAll has dozens of accelerator programs across the country including Massachusetts.