As Director of Community and Government Affairs, Janet administers UWSN’s Public Policy Committee and is instrumental in convening nonprofit conversations with local leaders and elected officials to strengthen our community. In her role, Janet coordinates UWSN’s advocacy efforts, created the Spanish Language Nonprofit Sector Calls, enhances UWSN’s community relations, and manages community impact programs that help students from diverse backgrounds to succeed, graduate high school and obtain a degree or certification. Learn more about Janet and her passion for helping diverse community members succeed by reading the blog below.
Please share more about what your promotion as United Way’s Director, Community, and Government Affairs means to you and the impact you anticipate having in the community?
I was drawn to government affairs when I realized the power of advocacy and policy in creating long-lasting change. My role as Director of Community & Government Affairs has allowed me to do what I enjoy the most, participating in conversations with community members, partners, and stakeholders to strengthen our community together. Having constructive conversations together is the key to creating long-lasting positive change.
Working at United Way has given me the opportunity to grow and learn from leaders who devote their lives to supporting and lifting our community. One of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my role is to meet and collaborate with partners who create positive change in our community every day. United Way of Southern Nevada has been part of our community for over 60 years, and I am proud to be part of an organization that is a symbol of hope and resiliency in Las Vegas. As a Latina and Mexican immigrant, I am proud to use my voice and all it represents in my role as director at United Way. I am grateful to work for an organization that values diversity and is actively working to guarantee everyone has equitable access to resources.
How have you connected nonprofits that serve the Hispanic community to provide resources to those in need? What are gaps and challenges in providing assistance to the Hispanic community and how has our community overcome those challenges?
The pandemic has highlighted the fact that minorities across our country are disproportionately affected by poverty, lack of access to health services, and essential resources. Due to this disparity, we have seen minorities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In Las Vegas, Latinos account for the largest percentage of COVID-19 cases at over 30% of total positive cases. The gaps in access to health and essential resources for minorities must be addressed. As our leaders mobilize to support everyone in our community, I have been inspired to participate in conversations with leaders who are fighting for equity.
One example of the leadership of the Latino community during these times is the creation of programs to ensure all Nevadans no matter their language, immigration status, and economic background get access to essential resources during the pandemic. During these ongoing conversations with Latino and Spanish speaking leaders in Las Vegas, we all agreed that there was a need for Spanish speaking professionals, providers, trusted voices, and leaders to convene and address the language barrier to information and resources. To address this problem, we convened community leaders to join an all-Spanish language virtual meeting called Junta Comunitaria del Sector Social, during which leaders from various sectors join to share resources.
Please share your moments of inspiration through this COVID-19 pandemic?
When the state of emergency was announced in Nevada, I began answering calls from Spanish speaking community members who were looking for assistance and had been struggling to access information due to the language barrier. One day someone said to me that she must have woken up on the right side of the bed that day because she had been struggling for days to find the help she needed. This was a moment of inspiration for me, but also a moment of reflection in our system. I enjoyed making those connections, however, I could not help but think of all the others who were struggling to find access to resources because they were not proficient in English. This is a barrier that we must overcome, and I am inspired by the many community leaders from various sectors who have stepped up to address this and many other barriers to access. I have seen our community come together in a time of need and crisis and I know that we will come out of this stronger.