2013 Central Region
Youth Development Director
YWCA Syracuse & Onondaga County
I'm the youngest of three, with two older sisters. My parents never made it past high school and moved to Central New York in the 90's to ensure we all received a great education and lived in a safe neighborhood. Between both of my parents, they held 5 jobs...my father had a day job and a night job and my mother had a day job and alternated between two night jobs. Their hard work ethic is why I am committed to the work I do today. I never knew doctors, lawyers, or any professionals of Latino origin growing up.
As my personal mission, I founded Outliers C & SO (Creating & Seizing Opportunities) to be an organization that opens doorways for high school dropouts in order to reintegrate them into academia and secure pathways to a successful and prosperous life. I co-founded the BoFA Gallery (Breath of Fresh Air) which is the city's first and only solely teen art gallery. I co-founded the Latino Professional Network of Syracuse (LPNS) so that we could a.) identify ALL local Latino professionals and b.) connect them with Latinos in the community to provide support and resources so we can support our people on both ends of the social class spectrum for the upward mobility of all Latinos in, and around, the Syracuse area.
What is your Latin American/Hispanic Heritage?
I'm Puerto Rican.
How do you see yourself helping shape and define the future of Latinos in NYS?
I see myself as the voice, the advocate, and front-line soldier for the young Latinos who can't see a path to success, who can't see a future for themselves, and who don't believe in themselves. I'm proof that anything is possible and I'm here to not only demystify the process for young people to do and be anything they want but to also provide them with the resources, connections, and tools they'll need to be successful. I'm not A support system...I'm THE support system. As I tell all the young people I work with...they have the best resource to make something out of themselves...ME. I've been where they are...learned from my successes and mistakes and their journey will be easier than if they just dove in with no heads up.
What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
I'm most proud of seeing my wife battle her way through medical school. I've accomplished a lot in my short life but nothing makes me more prouder than seeing my wife become the first doctor in her family. I picked up my whole life in NYC and all the community work I was doing to come here and make her dream come true. Being her support system, watching her struggle as the only Latina in her medical school class, and be just a year away from being Dr. Palermo...nothing makes me prouder.
What is your favorite quote?
If what you do doesn't make a difference, what difference does it make what you do?