Help us launch leadership journeys
Those of us who have become active in advocating for our community can point back to the key moments that launched us on our leadership journeys.
For six local Latina and Latino leaders, one such moment will come later this month when they travel to the nation’s capital for Voces Unidas' first-ever Latino Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Events like these are the entry points to doing our civic duty in advocating for policies, getting a sense of ownership in the process, and understanding the role we all play. But it only happens if we can create these opportunities.
My first experience advocating on Capitol Hill was in 2005, thanks to the National Council of La Raza, a national Latino-led advocacy organization based in D.C. That is when I learned about the concept of “Latino Advocacy Day” programs. I was working for corporate America at the time, so it was common for many large companies to sponsor many events and organizations like NCLR. In turn, employees of those companies had access to many of these opportunities. So when I learned about the opportunity to join forces with other Latinos in D.C., I embarked on my own advocacy journey.
As a young advocate in NCLR’s Latino Advocacy Day, I was fortunate to meet many amazing leaders from around the country and from Colorado, like Dusti Gurule — now the Executive Director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and COLOR Action Fun (as well as a Voces Unidas board member).
Because of our experiences in D.C., Dusti and I came back to Colorado and organized our first Latino Advocacy Day (LAD) to mobilize Latinos and educate lawmakers at the Colorado state capitol. Fifteen years later, more than 1,500 people have participated in the annual LAD events in Denver and many have continued their advocacy journeys in their own communities in the form of professional organizing and, in some cases, running for and being elected to political office at the local and state levels.
The goal of LAD is to create opportunities for Latinas and Latinos to help influence policies that impact their lives and their communities. Our first-ever Colorado Latino Policy Agenda helped to guide and identify the policies that we advocated for during the 2022 legislative session. Our leaders and the report also identified federal policies, so it only makes sense that we take our advocacy to Colorado’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.
These leadership journeys are critical to the present and future of our work. You can help us build on them by making a financial contribution to our work.
I know from my own experiences that it’s the type of investment that pays huge dividends for our organizing efforts — and our community.
Alex Sánchez is the President and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund.
2006: Alex Sánchez with Congresswoman Napolitano and activist Jaime Martinez in D.C.