Where were you born and raised?
I was born at the Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas where my father was stationed. I was raised primarily in Kansas and Missouri; my father lived in Northeast Kansas City, Missouri and my mother lived in Wyandotte County Kansas City, Kansas.
What is your family heritage?
Both of my parents are of Mexican heritage. My mother's family come from the Tarascan Indian tribe in the mountains of Michoacan; Tarascan Indians are the only tribe to win battles against the Aztec Indians. My grandfather spoke Tarascan fluently. My father's family comes from Durango.
What is your occupation?
I am the Executive Director of the LULAC National Educational Service Centers, Inc. - Kansas City (LNESC KC); I have served in this position for 14 years. LNESC KC is an educational non-profit which serves low income at-risk urban core youth and their families. I also served 21 years in the U.S. Navy/Naval Reserve.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Hispanic/Latinx community?
I have volunteered with many local organizations to help the community: Rose Brooks, YMCA, CASA of Jackson County, and Greater Kansas City Hispanic Heritage Committee (GKCHHC) prior to assuming the responsibility of Executive Director of LNESC KC. My non-profit's mission is to create lifelong learners and leaders within the Hispanic community by providing the highest quality educational opportunities possible. We seek to develop America’s future leaders and workforce by effectively preparing young people for the jobs of the new economy. Me, my staff, and volunteers have served thousands of families through a variety of programs such as mentoring, tutoring, leadership development, coding and computer programming, in addition to college access and readiness workshops. Many of the youth and families that I have served have completed advanced college degrees.
How do you connect with your Hispanic/Latinx culture?
I am an active member of a few Hispanic/LatinX organizations such as GKCHHC, LatinX Education Collaborative, and Midwest Chicana Podcast.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Attending the annual fiesta at Guadalupe Center on the Westside of Kansas City, Missouri is one of my favorite memories. The dancers, the food, seeing family and people who loved celebrating the cultural event are some of my fondest memories.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It is a month to celebrate the successes and contributions of hispanic people in our country and community. Additionally, it is the opportunity to share our rich culture and traditions with others. The annual Fiesta Hispana at Barney Allis Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri every September is a FREE event which welcomes approximately 60,000 people from all walks of life to experience our music, dances and food. Unfortunately, the areas oldest and largest fiesta has been cancelled this year.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the Hispanic/Latinx community?
I am biased based upon my line of work with the LatinX community; hence, I believe educational equity is the most important issue our community is facing. I have witnessed personally, that educational achievements increase professional opportunities.