“We are all in this together” was a phrase often heard as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread across the nation, however it has exposed inequities in health, housing, and education that Latinx communities have long faced in the US. Why are Latinos so disproportionately impacted by this crisis? What can we do to address these fundamental problems of human welfare? Join us as UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative Executive Director Sonja Diaz, Latino Community Foundation CEO Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, Voces Unidas Co-Founder Alex Sanchez, and Wilderness Workshop Defiende Nuestra Tierra Director Beatriz Soto talk with incoming Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program Executive Director Domenika Lynch about the state of the Latinx community and who needs to be at the table as recovery efforts ensue. The panel will also discuss recent efforts in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley to activate the Latinx community to become the architects of solutions and drivers of change.
As Founding Director of UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI), Sonja Diaz leads the first multi-issue think tank focused on Latinos in the University of California. Diaz is responsible for overseeing all aspects of LPPI, including strategy, research, partnerships, and leadership development. With a deep background in both policy and advocacy, Diaz co-authors various LPPI reports, such as a report that emphasized the critical role of the new majority in future elections. Prior to LPPI, Diaz served as policy counsel to U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris during her first and second terms as California’s attorney general, managing legal and policy issues of statewide and national importance, including civil rights, consumer protection, criminal justice, immigration, and privacy and technology policy. In 2016, Diaz directed a robust voter protection program to support Democratic candidates in Virginia as part of the Clinton-Kaine presidential campaign’s battleground state apparatus, including a commonwealth-wide election monitoring program for language minorities.Diaz received her J.D. from UC Berkeley’s School of Law, holds a M.P.P. from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a B.A. in politics from UC Santa Cruz. She is a Public Policy & International Affairs fellow, valedictorian of People for the American Way’s Frontline Leaders Academy, and LatCrit’s unanimous student scholar awardee.
Jacqueline Martinez Garcel is the CEO of the Latino Community Foundation (LCF). The mission of LCF is to unleash the power of Latinos in California. Today, LCF leads one of the largest networks of Latino philanthropists in the country and it is the only statewide foundation solely focused on investing in Latino leaders. Previously, Jacqueline served as Vice President of the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). As a founding staff member, she was a key advisor to the President and helped establish the foundation as a resource for policymakers and community leaders across the state. Prior to joining NYSHealth, Jacqueline served as the Executive Director of Community Voices in New York City. During her tenure, she developed, evaluated, and expanded programs to improve the health and quality of care for vulnerable populations. Jacqueline has also served as a NIH fellow for the Merida Department of Public Health in Yucatan, Mexico, a faculty member for the Social Science Department of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and an adjunct professor at the New York University Global Institute of Public Health. Jacqueline has been appointed to several Boards, including the Institute for Civic Leadership, NAMI-NYC Metro, and Grantmakers in Health. She currently serves on the KQED Community Advisory Panel and co-chairs the National Latino Funds Alliance (NLFA). She holds a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.
Alex Sanchez is one of the original founders and now serves as the managing director of Voces Unidas. Alex has extensive experience working on social justice issues and leading advocacy, leadership and civic engagement programs. In Denver, Alex served as Denver director for the national non-profit, Stand for Children, executing city-wide organizing initiatives, electing education champions to the school board and holding policy-makers accountable for better outcomes for children of color. Alex also spent eight years as a senior administrator in large, urban school districts in Colorado, Texas and Florida, engaging communities of color and stakeholders to transform public education. Alex began his professional career with Pfizer, building strategic partnerships for the pharmaceutical-giant and working on issues of access and health disparities. Before joining Voces Unidas, Alex led an early childhood education non-profit in the Roaring Fork Valley. He is a proud son of Mexican immigrants who grew up in El Jebel and attended Basalt schools. Alex is the first in his family to graduate from high school and receive college degrees from both Colorado Mountain College and Colorado State University. Alex is a Trustee of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, appointed by Gov. Polis in 2019 to a four-year term. He also serves on the boards of COLOR (501c3) and COLOR Action Fund (501c4), and on statewide task forces including the Governor’s Health Equity Response Team, the Governor’s New American Office’s Subcommittee on refugees and immigrants and the Center for Health Progress’ Coalition for Immigrant Health.
Beatriz Soto is the director of Defiende Nuestra Tierra. Beatriz joined WW in the summer of 2018 as the Latino outreach coordinator. Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, she grew up in a bicultural setting between Mexico and the United States throughout her life. She graduated from Basalt High School in 1999 and studied architecture in Chihuahua City. Having the opportunity to work in both the US and Mexico, she has tried to engage on very diverse types of architectural + community projects, always with an environmental focus. She is very passionate about sustainable and conscientious design. Regularly being a part of two different worlds, she tries to bring people together and be a liaison for people in any community she’s a part of; from Chihuahua City, to the tiny beach town of San Pancho, to the Roaring Fork Valley. Beatriz has moved in and out of the Valley and has been back since 2013 with her young son. Together they love to travel, snowboard, camp, hike and eat good tacos!
Domenika Lynch is the incoming Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program. Domenika was most recently the President and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Inc. (CHCI), a nonprofit and nonpartisan leadership development institute founded by Hispanic Members of Congress in 1978, to develop the next generation of Latino leaders and to build a diverse and inclusive workforce across industries. At CHCI, Domenika leveraged the organization’s platform through strategic partnerships, unique stakeholder convenings, and critical leadership development. During her leadership, CHCI raised over $20 million and organized the two highest grossing CHCI conferences and galas in the organization’s history. Prior to joining CHCI, Domenika spent more than a decade as the executive director of the Latino Alumni Association (LAA) at the University of Southern California, where the LAA awarded more than $800,000 in scholarships annually. During her tenure, the LAA raised more than $15 million and more than tripled the LAA’s endowment, growing it from $2.3 million to $7.3 million. It also more than doubled its membership through strong alumni programming. Domenika credits her corporate experiences as vice president and market development manager at Bank of America and as an account executive at Univision as essential to her success. She is an active member of the Latino community and currently serves on the Board of Allvanza, CASA 0101 Theater, and Latinos LEAD. Domenika is a graduate of the USC Price School of Public Policy, holds a master’s degree from the USC Rossier School of Education, and is pursuing her Doctorate in Public Policy focused on the future of work. Domenika emigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 1980 with her mother.