UpSkill America — an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program — and the Latinos and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, with support from Google.org, launched the Digital Skills and the Latino Workforce research project to better understand the challenges and opportunities that Latino workers and Latino business owners face to succeed in the digital economy. This webinar looks at promising approaches to digital upskilling of Latino workers, students, and households implemented by organizations around the country.
This event includes opening remarks from Domenika Lynch (The Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program), Haley Glover (UpSkill America at the Aspen Institute), and Hector Mujica (Google.org), followed by a panel discussion with Karina Ayala-Bermejo (Instituto del Progreso Latino), James Barry (32BJ Training Fund), Pam Saez (Austin Community College), Linda Smarzik (Austin Community College District), Victoria Prince (The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program), and Diego Deleersnyder (The Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program). We conclude by taking questions from the audience.
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Tweet Video: “Pathways to #DigitalSkills Development for #Latino Workers” by @AspenLatinos and @upskillamerica. Featuring @DomenikaLynch, @HaleyGlover17, @hdmujica, and guests from @Instituto1977, @32BJTraining, and @accdistrict: as.pn/pathways https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJM78FUvmAA
Tweet Let’s talk about #digitalskills for #Latino workers. Hear @DomenikaLynch, @HaleyGlover17, @hdmujica, @Instituto1977, @lindasmarzik, @accdistrict, @DiegoDeleers, and others speak at this @AspenLatinos + @upskillamerica event: as.pn/pathways
Tweet Latino workers are crucial for advancing the #digitaltransformation taking place in our economy. Watch this @AspenLatinos + @upskillamerica event, and learn from leaders who are centering their needs into #digitalskills programs: as.pn/pathways
Domenika Lynch is the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program (AILAS), with the mission of empowering Latino communities and promoting long-term economic growth and resiliency. All of AILAS programming is rooted in the goal of increasing recognition that the nation’s success depends on Latinos’ inclusion at all levels of society.
Over the course of two decades in leadership roles, Lynch has overseen strategic planning, policy advocacy, and public affairs campaigns for nonprofits and corporations, increasing donor and stakeholder support and raising millions of dollars for organizational endowments.
From July 2016 to May 2019, Lynch served as president and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the preeminent Latino leadership institute founded by Hispanic members of Congress in Washington, DC. Building on CHCI’s 40-year legacy, she led an organizational and financial turn-around to ensure that CHCI will remain a premier national convener for thought leadership.
She previously spent more than a decade as executive director of the Latino Alumni Association (LAA) at the University of Southern California. During her tenure, LAA doubled its membership and tripled its endowment. Her professional breadth extends into the corporate sector, with previous leadership positions at Bank of America and Univision.
Lynch currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Congressional Management Foundation and serves on Bank of America’s National Community Advisory Council which advises the bank on community development, environmental and consumer policy issues. She also serves on the Council on Underserved Communities (CUC) which provides the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with input, advice and recommendations on strategies to help strengthen competitiveness and sustainability for small businesses in underserved communities.
A graduate of the USC Price School of Public Policy, Lynch holds a master’s degree from the USC Rossier School of Education.
Prior to joining the Institute in July 2022, Glover was a senior program manager at Amazon, where she led college programming for associates on Amazon’s Career Choice team, supporting associates to earn a college degree.
Before January 2022, Glover served as Lumina Foundation’s strategy director for state action and equity. In that role, she led Lumina’s efforts to mobilize states to support student success and reduce racial disparities in credential attainment.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, English, and American history from Franklin College in Indiana. She earned a master’s in liberal arts from St. John’s College Graduate Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a master’s in public administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Hector Mujica leads economic opportunity efforts at Google.org—Google’s philanthropy—across the Americas. Within his role, he looks after a $100M+ grantmaking portfolio that supports interventions which aim to provide pathways to digital economy jobs for individuals with multiple barriers to employment. Hector also serves on Google’s Latino Leadership Council, where he helps to steward Google’s social impact ventures with the Latino community.
Hector has spent the last decade advancing social justice through philanthropy and public policy. Prior to Google, Hector’s experience ranged from investment banking at Oppenheimer & Co, constituent casework at the Office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and diplomatic relations at the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Tokyo.
Hector holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Florida International University, a Professional Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a Master of Public Affairs from the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. Outside of work, Hector co-chairs the Latino Digital Success Task Force at the Aspen Institute, and he serves on the board of directors of Hispanics in Philanthropy, the Hispanic Federation, and several advisory boards, including WorkingNation and Inicio Ventures. Hector currently resides in South Florida.
President & CEO, Instituto del Progreso Latino @Instituto1977
Karina Ayala-Bermejo has nearly 30 years of combined professional experience in multiple areas of leadership, nonprofit management, human resources, and law. She began her career as a hearing officer for the Chicago Board of Education, becoming an assistant general counsel for the Board of Education, and advanced to the highest HR executive position for the City of Chicago, where she worked for three years. Karina spent seven years as the director of community services for the Chicago Bar Association, where she encouraged attorneys to take on pro bono work and collaborated with the bar and various divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County on initiatives to improve the justice system.
Karina has served as general counsel and executive vice president of Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in Illinois. As general counsel, she was responsible for all legal matters for MFS. She also served as the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of MFS and previously served as vice president of human resources for MFS. She is also a former president of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois.
Karina is the current president and CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino. Instituto has evolved into a leading community-based educational organization, providing high-quality innovative programs in workforce development; adult and secondary education; English as a Second Language; immigration and citizenship preparation; and legal aid. Instituto also encompasses two charter high schools: Instituto Justice Leadership Academy and Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy. Under Karina’s leadership, the Instituto College of Nursing was launched and recently graduated its first two cohorts of nurses. Karina holds the Instituto mission close to her heart. As an immigrant who has struggled at every level, she is honored to be the mirror and the voice of an institution that helps other immigrants and their families reach their fullest potential. Instituto leads with education because education is power.
Karina is chair of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations New Americans Advisory Council. In 2021, Karina advocated for immigrant communities by standing up for the welcoming city ordinance amendments, hosting naturalization workshops, welcoming Afghan refugees, organizing vaccine outreach, and facilitating distributions of food and personal protective equipment.
Under Karina’s leadership, Instituto immediately pivoted at the onset of the pandemic to address food insecurity by partnering with The Greater Chicago Food Depository and was recognized as a Pandemic Hero. With the help of our partners and volunteers, they continue to hold monthly food distributions and to date have fed 12,901 households and 51,076 individuals. Instituto also distributed 300,000 KN95 masks to over 89 community organizations in partnership with the Illinois Partners for Human Services and distributed over 15,000 masks during monthly food distributions.
Instituto in partnership with Illinois Unidos have been instrumental in vaccination efforts to Latinx communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Instituto held one of the city’s most successful vaccination efforts targeted at teens with over 600 vaccinations. They have also helped vaccinate 1,200 individuals and provided crucial vaccine outreach to just under 10,000 individuals.
Instituto helped address housing insecurity by directing $566,000 of rental assistance into the Latinx immigrant community. Because Karina believes strongly that every child should open a gift on Christmas, Instituto distributed over 2,000 toys during the pandemic for the holiday. She brings a touch of love and passion to all she does.
Senior Manager of Program Development, 32BJ Training Fund @32BJTraining
James Barry is the senior manager of program development at the Local 32BJ Training Fund. He leads the curriculum and professional development teams that design course materials for over 250 industry and academic courses.
The Fund is a joint labor/management partnership between the Local 32BJ Service Employees International Union, which represents 175,000 building service workers, and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents commercial and residential building employers. The Fund operates over 40 locations in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington DC, and trains over 10,000 students every year.
James joined the Fund in 2003 and has since worked to secure funding through federal, state, and foundation sources for English as second language, security, disaster preparedness, and infectious diseases courses for building workers. He also founded the Fund’s green building programming, which prepares thousands of members for LEED, Building Performance Institute, GPRO, and other certifications and accreditations.
Prior to joining the Fund, James worked for over 10 years in adult education and workforce training organizations, assisting people from low-income and priority populations to re-enter the workforce.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University, along with building sustainability and efficiency certifications, and has presented at national conferences sponsored by American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Cornell University Global Labor Institute, BlueGreen Alliance, and others.
A. Pamela Saez
Director, Student Impact & Outcomes, Austin Community College @accdistrict
Ann Pamela Saez is the director of student impact and outcomes (SI&O) at Austin Community College (ACC). With a passion for driving career development practices that scale equitable outcomes for those facing disproportionate barriers, she leads SI&O in bolstering populations needing social and economic mobility. Prioritizing efficacy research to determine gaps, trends, and high-impact interventions, Pamela helped to develop ACC’s college-wide digital fluency initiative now underway. Before her work with SI&O, Pamela was the director of ACC’s Digital Skills for Today’s Jobs and ACC’s Back to Work 50+ program. Pamela provides ongoing support as an Austin lead for the non-governmental organization SMVA. She has been an international grant lead and fundraiser, as well as an educator for the Hariharananda Balashram Orphanage School in Odisha, India. Currently, Pamela is writing a young adult adventure novel incorporating Vedic science and the teachings of Sanatana Dharma.
Linda Smarzik, dean of digital fluency and innovation at Austin Community College, is standing up a new division that promotes equitable academic and career outcomes by providing microcredentials in digital and professional workforce competencies required by the 21st-century workplace. Previously, Linda held the role of dean of computer science and information technology, leading initiatives such as the Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Development, Women in IT, and the Texas is IT apprenticeship program. Currently, Linda is leading the development of a second Bachelor of Applied Science in Cybersecurity that will launch in fall 2023. Prior to joining ACC, Linda was vice president/creative director for a local advertising and marketing firm. Linda is the author of “The Mind of Thuse,” summarizing her years of teaching and research in cognitive neuroscience when applied to the process of creativity.
Research Associate, Economic Opportunities Program @AspenJobQuality
Victoria Prince is a research associate for the Economic Opportunities Program’s Workforce Strategies Initiative. Victoria is interested in public impact research related to increasing economic stability and mobility, particularly among youth and disadvantaged communities. In addition to work on education policy and charter school networks, her prior research experience includes studying how employee benefits, occupational licensing requirements, caregiving responsibilities, and community college programs may impact economic stability and mobility. After attaining a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Duke University in 2018, she taught eighth grade for two years as a Teach for America corps member. Victoria enjoys dancing, binge-watching anime, thrift shopping, and learning about new cultures through food and travel.
Diego Deleersnyder is the Associate Director for Policy & Research at the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program. He leads the Latino Digital Inclusion Initiative, which aims at identifying, developing and uplifting promising ecosystem approaches that better prepare Latinos to compete in a 21st century digital economy.
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Diego brings 9 years of experience in local capacity building, economic development, and urban management projects in the public and not-for-profit sectors in Latin America, Europe, and the USA. He worked at CIPPEC, one of Latin America’s leading think tanks, where he was responsible for the design and implementation of research and technical assistance projects at the local level throughout the region in topics such as the gig economy, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and the coordination of metropolitan policies. He also worked as a program manager in the Argentine federal government, where he led a team aiming at building local governments’ capacities for economic development. As part of this role, he created the National Network of Productive Municipalities, a collaborative platform that included over 400 local governments.
In London, Diego worked as a researcher in international development at the UK Parliament, where he also administered the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mexico. Before joining the Aspen Institute, he worked as a graduate consultant for the Community Development Unit of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, co-leading a team that developed an impact measurement framework to evaluate the racial equity implications of projects and partnerships between community development organizations and capital providers.
Diego holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University – SIPA, a MSc in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics (UK), and a MSc in Urban Economics from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Argentina). He received a B.A. in Political Science from Universidad de Buenos Aires.
In his free time, Diego enjoys cooking, reading, hiking, and traveling. He speaks Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.