Hi everyone my name is Emily Rangel, and I just graduated from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) with a degree in Collaborative Human Health Services. I have also completed over 240 hours at my internship with Nonprofit Connection Santa Cruz County. I was invited to continue my work as a board member with NPC, beginning July 1st. However, in the meantime, I will be volunteering my time to this amazing organization celebrating our Members and the Santa Cruz Community.
In today’s Spotlight, we are highlighting Kassandra (Kassy) Flores of United Way of Santa Cruz County who participated in a 10 Week course “Latino Board Leadership Academy (LBLA),” through the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV). We had a chance to sit down on a Zoom call with Ron Gonzales, the President, and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. He was able to provide background information on how the 10-week course came to be.
Founded in 1989, the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV) brings together thought leaders, corporate supporters and inspiring, on-the-ground advocates dedicated to improving the lives and futures of Latinos in the region. By forging alliances with and among these regional forces, we stand together to make a difference where we live.
Ron Gonzales shared that the opportunity to be President and CEO came to him as he left public life and began his own marketing business. He reveals the idea of a “Latino Board Leadership Academy was already established; however, the original plans called upon HFSV to develop, learn, and teach the 10-week course. Instead, Ron proposed to use existing resources to develop the program; he was able to reach out within the community and gathered resources from organizations that had pre-existing training and lessons. These preexisting lessons were integrated into a 10-week course.
He also shares that the course is evaluated by every graduating class; participants are asked to evaluate individual lessons, the presenters, and finally, the entire course. This provides HFSV with information on where lessons can be improved. Ron is proud to share that participants have never scored lower than 4.7 on a 5-point scale! Highlighting how informational and valuable the 10-week course is for participants; This is something that will also be highlighted in the shared experience Kassy was able to provide.
When Kassandra Flores shared her experience with Latino Board Leadership Academy, she shared all her newly attained knowledge and highlighted her memorable experience. Kassy describes the experience as enriching and engaging. When I spoke with her, she expressed how the 10-week course provided a great amount of information while also being engaging at the same time. I’m sure we have all sat through classes, courses, and training filled with information, and at times, we leave with a fraction of the information we learned.
However, Kassy describes this 10-week course as the opposite of that; she explains how every presenter is passionate about their lessons which is what keeps participants engaged and sparks passion in them. as well. When I asked Kassy if there was anyone subject she would have wanted to spend more time on, she stated that she would add time to every subject since they were all informative and valuable. She mentions, however, that with the time allotted, LBLA made the perfect decisions regarding how time was spent.
Another question I had for Kassy was “what were her key takeaways Her first takeaway, “Not all board members are askers or fundraisers but they can be “advocate raising” and feel as if they need connections in order to fund “Askers”. She shares an “Ambassador” role which includes providing information about the agency and “Advocates” can be those who establish the relationship for the agency.
The second takeaway, as a board member, “It‘s important to not just take the space but to actually use it. Do not be scared to speak up”. By this she means that board members should speak up in their role; Kassy believes that before the program she would have been more nervous to speak out. However, the 10-week course covered how to express your opinion in a professional setting. She shares how the program had a break-out room session throughout the different lessons to discuss the topics and practice applying knowledge learned.
The last take away “A lot of agencies in our community are looking to diversify their boards and create a better environment for their employees and the community that they serve.” Kassandra shares her plans to join a nonprofit board and be an effective board member. When I asked Kassy “what is an effective board member”, she stated “Being an effective board member to me is to help in everything I can and to be able to provide my agency with innovative ideas to keep growing in the workforce. But also to slow down and think about everyone’s self-care and happiness, after all, we are all humans. I feel like all Latinos who are leaders, tend to have more pressure because we want to show the ones coming after us that Si Se Puede! And that Si Se Ponen Las Pilas we all can do what we put our mind to.”
Bringing it all back together LBLA provides training and opportunities for Latinx participants to grow and expand their knowledge. LBLA stresses the importance of education in providing financial independence. Additionally, they recognize the importance of diversity as this program not only adds diversity by supporting the Latinx community but also is meant to educate those in the early parts of their careers, so that they may grow and excel in their careers. Diversity is a common discussion; however, HFSV has taken the discussion a step further in providing a solution to promote and support diversity with their 10-week course.
When Kassandra Flores shares the value of having age diversity in leadership roles, she comments, “Yes, I am a young leader and I am thinking of bringing innovative ideas. I feel that we are moving to a more tech world and social media is getting a lot of attention. Focusing on helping on creating videos, posts, and content for marketing is one of the perspectives I want to bring to a nonprofit board,” highlighting how she could serve as a valuable resource for a nonprofit board. Congratulations Kassandra for completing the 10-week course and taking initiative, and investing in her leadership journey!