Latinos and Philanthropy

HOPE is proud to introduce a short series on Latinos and Philanthropy authored by three HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI) leaders. We hope that through this series you learn more about the role you can play in philanthropy , define what philanthropy means to you and that it motivates you to take action in regards to your own philanthropic giving.

Meet the Bloggers:

Patricia Sinay, HLI 2015, a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant, instructor of public services, and member of the Encinitas Union School Board.  Her purpose is to connect the passion of individuals and organizations to action that results in better communities

Michelle Jaramillo, HLI 2014, is the Community Impact Director for The San Diego Foundation. Michelle develops and manages strategies that advance WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live, Learn). Through collaboration with nonprofits, community stakeholders, government, business, philanthropy, and academia, she helps drive systemic change to address the needs of the region. Previously, as Communications Director of the San Diego Housing Federation, Michelle supported a coalition of leaders and organizations, working to ensure all San Diegans have access to a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. Prior, she served as Director of Communications and Programs for the U.S. – Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership. Michelle was a co-founder and chair of the San Diego Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and a co-founder and current chair of the Latina Giving Circle of San Diego. Connect with Michelle @MJaramilloSD. Connect with Latina Giving Circle @LatinaGiving

Rosie Arroyo, HLI 2007, is a program officer for the California Community Foundation where she manages programs, initiatives and outreach for the Civic Engagement and Public Policy department. She currently sits on the Board of Director for Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE).

The HOPE Leadership Institute (HLI), one of HOPE’s flagship programs, trains Latinas to advocate on behalf of their community. The HLI remains the first and only program in California designed to give Latinas the skills they need to tackle the health, education, and economic challenges facing their communities.

Check back soon for more on Latinos and Philanthropy, and make sure you’re following HOPE on Twitter and Facebook to be notified when the latest blog post is published!

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An Unexpected Journey: Non-Profit Leader to Latina Business Owner

By Patricia Castorena, Principal at The Law Offices of Patricia D. Castorena

I had the pleasure of meeting with a young Latina who was recently admitted to law school, who asked me why I decided to open my own law office. As I reflected on this life changing decision, I realized that there is no simple answer.

Your own personal journey and experiences shape your life decisions. If you sit back and reflect, the right path to embark on will come to you.

Have you ever been asked (or have asked) how you knew the man you married was the one? Most people say, “I  just knew.” I opened my own law office because I just knew. It was the right time in my life. All of my relevant life experiences aligned at the right moment in time.

My decision to open my own law practice stemmed from my lifelong passion to serve the immigrant community. My parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1970s and became Legal Permanent Residents through the 1986 Amnesty Program.

I remember playing in the courtyard at the Center for Employment Training (CET) in San Jose while my parents attended the 40 hour civics education course to obtain their residency, never knowing that I would one day return to CET as the Legal Services Manager for the Immigration and Citizenship Program.

Throughout my education and work history, I gravitated towards the non-profit, legal services sector. Serving the immigrant population brought me great joy and fulfillment. I never once questioned that this was my vocation. However, aside from an excerpt I wrote in college, I never dreamed or imagined that I would one day open my own law firm.

Once at CET in my full-time attorney position, I witnessed a great need for Spanish-speaking, Latina immigration attorneys in solo practice. Many low-income individuals needed specialized assistance for complicated immigration matters that we were unable to handle due to issues of capacity and experience.

Through this realization, I pondered what it would mean for me to leave my dream job and open my own practice. However, I was daunted by a myriad of concerns. How will I get clients? Will I be able to pay my expenses? And I also came to a different and difficult realization that my dream job came with a different reality: lower pay, longer hours, and a challenging work/life balance. Through it all, my commitment to providing immigration legal services to the most vulnerable in our community remained steadfast.

pdc logo 2_Page_2Then one day, I just knew. The day after Valentine’s Day in 2012, I gave my one month resignation and officially launched my law practice on April 1, 2012. Three years later, it is a decision I have never regretted. In that moment in time, I pushed forward and never doubted that I would succeed in fulfilling my vocation: to help the immigrant community.

Every day that enter my law office, I am humbled that I get to do my life’s work, that I meet amazing individuals that have persevered in a foreign country, and that against all odds remain optimistic about their future and their children’s future. My clients gave me hope and resilience that one day we will live in a country that truly respects the rights of immigrants to live with legal status and without fear of deportation.

I am also fortunate to work alongside highly intelligent and articulate legal assistants and college interns that also seek to better the lives of our immigrant community. I hope in turn they lead our country to a better future for our immigrants.

It is a great privilege to provide my clients with knowledge of their legal rights and to provide legal services to assist them in gaining legal status in the United States. I feel an immense joy knowing that I am able to provide them with an understanding of the immigration process. As a Latina small business owner, I get to work on my own terms and serve my community. There is no better sense of fulfillment than knowing your experiences led you to this moment.

About the Author:

Patty CastorenaPatricia D. Castorena, HLI 2011, is the principal at The Law Office of Patricia D. Castorena which serves and educates the immigrant community through premier legal representation. Ms. Castorena’s law office specializes in family-based immigration matters, consular processing, adjustment of status, hardship waivers, naturalization, DACA, U Visas, removal defense, criminal and traffic defense, and record clearances.

From a Dream to a thriving Latina business in the Nation’s Capitol

By Ingrid Duran & Catherine Pino, CEO & Founders of D&P Creative Strategies, LLC (D&P)

D&P is 100% minority and women-owned business certified as a WMBE, WBE, WOSB and an LGBTBE*. Collectively, we represent more than 40 years of experience in our core service areas of strategic philanthropy, public affairs, government relations, issue advocacy, political communications and community outreach. Our clients include both Fortune 100 and small corporations, nonprofit organizations, and trade associations. We pride ourselves in offering innovative solutions that help our clients meet their business and legislative objectives.

In 2004, we made a decision that changed our lives: to live, love and work together. We both left our awesome jobs in philanthropy (Catherine was Deputy Director or Urban School Reform at the Carnegie Corporation) and in the non-profit sector (Ingrid was the President and CEO of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute) because we wanted to impact social change and get involved politically—and we certainly couldn’t achieve that from the positions we held at the time.

We launched our business with a vision for creating change and building a bridge between the two communities we care about: Latino and LGBT.

D&P didn’t have a traditional written business plan with the five and ten-year goals or the necessary access to capital, for that matter. But what we did have was passion, a vision, and a dream to make it happen.  We started in one room of our small townhouse with a computer and a laptop. We created our collateral (logo, letterhead, business cards, website) and we let our networks know we were leaving our positions and starting our own business.

Many people thought we were crazy to launch a business without a “business plan,” contracts, or capital.  But that did not scare us—we knew if it didn’t work out, we could always go back into the traditional workforce. We knew that if we didn’t at least try, we would always wonder “what if.”

When we started our business, we did so with the intention of being our authentic selves, and that meant working as out Lesbians. Some questioned our decision to be out in our business and said it would hinder our ability to secure business.  However, we were determined to prove them wrong and set an example for others.

Our first contracts came through our vast networks that included people who knew our expertise, were familiar with our ability to deliver, and who believed in us. Once the first contracts came through, others followed, and we found our niche working with multi-cultural communities in government relations and public affairs

We are a unique government relations firm: not only do we lobby on Capitol Hill but we also create targeted and strategic partnerships for our clients. Eleven years later, we are still the only Latina-owned government relations firm in Washington, DC.

We work with our clients on a variety of issues. Some of them include: telecommunications, technology and innovation, patent reform, cyber security, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), energy, workforce development, Latino college completion, entrepreneurship, health and wellness, Latino LGBT issues, and U.S.-Spain bilateral relations.

Having our own firm has enabled us to get involved in other causes and initiatives, like starting a political action committee (PAC) for Latina candidates and creating two media production companies.

Because we know the best way to affect social change is through media and positive story-telling, we decided on creating two production companies. We have produced three films for HBO: Latino List One & Two and the Out List, and one film for PBS: the Boomer List. Our first foray into film was as Associate Producers on an award-winning documentary about the exploitation of migration farmworker children called The Harvest/La Cosecha. Our dear friend, Eva Longoria, was an Executive Producer of the project and asked us to help her raise funds and develop a political strategy for the film.

Our business has grown from a team of two to a team of five full-time employees.  We created a D&P Fellowship program and work with the Washington Center on their Mexico 100 Program, which provides internships to young students from Mexico. We’ve been able to give young people an opportunity to learn about our business and work with Congress and Corporate America. Our tag line is Consulting with a Social Conscience and we strongly believe in the notion that when you succeed its your duty to give back and empower the community.  We look forward to continued success, growth and, as always, giving back to our communities.

About the Authors:

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Ingrid M. Duran and Catherine M. Pino are Co-Founders & Principals of D&P Creative Strategies, a company that founded in 2004 to increase the role of corporate, legislative and philanthropic efforts in addressing the concerns of Latinos, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) communities. You can read more about Ingrid and Catherine here.