Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico in 1959, the same year my father brought us to Kansas City. We settled in Armourdale and Argentine in Kansas City, Kansas. In 1991, I married Amy Heithoff and we built our first home in Gladstone. We have lived in Parkville since 2003.
What is your family heritage?
My mother, Julia Marin and my abuelos were from Aguascalientes. My father, Andres Dominguez was born in Torrington, Wyoming. His parents were from Jalisco and Aguascalientes. In 2007, I was part of the National Geographic Genome Project and my father’s ancestral DNA was analyzed. I discovered that the Dominguez male ancestry is indigenous. To this day, I have no knowledge where my family name, Dominguez, originated from. I have tracked my last name to the1890’s.
What is your occupation?
Senior Program Officer, Health Forward Foundation where I support health strategies that improve the quality of life for vulnerable communities.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Hispanic/Latinx community?
My father always said he brought the family to the US for a reason. He saw the opportunities that this country presented to him and he wanted his sons to experience the same. In turn, there were expectations to always do well, to ground ourselves and to achieve more. Since I graduated from college, my career has always been focused on people. My work at Dismas House, INROADS, Kauffman Foundation, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and Health Forward Foundation has always been about how can I improve the lives of those in my community. These career opportunities have been blessed and encouraged me to work with the Latino, African-American and the community as a whole. My work journey has allowed me to help create self-sufficiency by promoting quality education, asset building and improving health outcomes. I have enjoyed serving on boards and advisory committees that creates a Latino presence at the table. I am especially proud of serving on the boards of my Alma Maters, the University of St. Mary and Donnelly College. Service and philanthropy is of tremendous value to me. As Latinos, we can challenge ourselves to give to organizations that improve the quality of life.
How do you connect with your Hispanic/Latinx culture?
Once an immigrant, always an immigrant. It is who I am. As a child, my parents made sure we remained connected to family in Mexico. In turn, my wife, Amy and children, Sophia and Cayo and I have enjoyed traveling extensively to visit family, to reconnect and to build relationships that distance cannot separate. In 2015, we celebrated our daughter’s Quinceañera in Cabo San Jose. I have collected an extensive library about the Mayan, Aztec and the ancient peoples of Mexico. My explorations transcends beyond books. Last December, our family journeyed to Mexico City, Villahermosa, Palenque, Campeche, Merida, Izamal, Valladolid and the Eastern coast of Quintana Roo. We climbed the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, Ek’Balam, Uxmal, Edzna and many more. Our travels have taken us to Central and Northern Mexico in search of the real Mexico. My wife, Amy and I have worked together to give our children an authentic Mexican experience. In order to know who we are, we have to look to our past. We have to share our stories, we need to write those myths, share the immigrant experiences and remain connected to who we are.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
On Sunday’s, our parents would drop my brothers and I at the Park Theatre in Argentine. The theatre would show two American films in the afternoon and then in the early evening, we would see a film from Mexico. We would catch the latest James Bond film and then a classic Mexican film with Antonio Aguilar or Maria Felix. Three films for no more than a $1.50. This early experience developed my interest in films.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
The month is a time for ALL to reflect on how a Latino presence has been part of the formation of this great country. Heritage is the essence of who we are, it is reflective in the many contributions that have built the foundation of this country. Our food, music, commitment to family and work ethic are interwoven with American society. What is really significant is that new generations of immigrants keep Latino culture vibrant and dynamic. This adds to the very complex nature of we are as an ethnic group, making it very hard to define.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the Hispanic/Latinx community?
I have often stated that the “most important issues” facing the community are the same issues that every American faces on a daily basis. Access is the theme: education, health, jobs, housing, economics, respect for humanity. We are Americans. Who we can become as a country with mutual respect is unlimited, for the dignity of the human person defines us as a people.