What are your role and primary responsibilities at the Academy?
I am a Senior Research Associate and currently serve on three projects for the Academy. My primary responsibilities vary according to the needs of the Study Team. For some studies, I act more administratively by scheduling interviews, leading weekly client touch base meetings, and supporting other Study Team members on their work streams. While for other studies, I've had the opportunity to facilitate listening sessions, create and administer agency-wide surveys, lead project work streams, and write and edit report chapters. In addition to my responsibilities as a Senior Research Associate, I am a member of the Intern Programming Team and IMPACT Team, two initiatives focusing on creating Academy-specific programming for employees and interns.
What do you like best about working at the Academy?
The people and learning opportunities. I have always made it a goal never to stop learning, and I can confidently say that there hasn't been a single day since I joined the Academy that I haven't learned something. Ranging from how to lead meetings, synthesize information, administer surveys, and write engaging chapters. Learning from and alongside encouraging coworkers, interns, Fellows, and clients has been remarkable, especially early in my career. To learn not only by receiving guidance but also by seeing examples is an immense opportunity I have here at the Academy. Fun fact–I always have two note pages at my desk, one that focuses more administratively on action items and another on examples of outstanding leadership, communication, and meeting facilitation that I aim to emulate in my professional career.
Which of the 12 Grand Challenges in Public Administration resonates the most with you?
The Grand Challenge that most resonates with my personal and professional journey thus far would be Foster Social Equity. As an undergrad at the University of Maryland, I researched media's role in the perception of social welfare programs utilization, wrote op-eds for the NAACP, and was elected Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Public Policy Student Government Association. I am now a School of Public Policy Alumni Board member and serve as Secretary and Co-Chair of the DEIAB Committee. At the Academy, I've had the opportunity to be on the Study Teams conducting a cultural competence assessment on the Coast Guard Academy and an equity assessment on the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service. In my personal life, I have encountered the harm of inaccessible policies firsthand; and I have made it a goal to create multimedia and multilingual resources that promote policy comprehension and political and media literacy, especially within first-generation non-English speaking communities. While I frequently overthink the balance between discussion and practice regarding creating solutions for DEIAB challenges, I encourage all to be aware of their agency and wield influence with caution to hold historically inequitable institutions accountable.
Why is public service important to you?
"Cada cabeza es un mundo," my mom often said to me growing up. A figure of speech, which in English translates to "each head is a world." Although I do not know who coined the phrase, I doubt that the author ever anticipated it to be (mis?)interpreted by a 6-year-old who spent his Sunday mornings, alongside his mom, helping victims of domestic violence throughout their initial recovery by providing meals, clothing, and diapers. The quote, for me, ties directly to public service and its importance, as it encourages people to respect, value, and empathize with experiences that may vary from one's own. I find great importance in volunteering translation services and teaching technological literacy in Spanish-speaking communities. I recognize that, to an extent, public service is a privilege, as some may not have the resources, time, or ability to actively serve their communities when their sole focus is individual survival. While recognizing the privilege and power I hold with my experiences and identities, I cherish the opportunity to be able to pay it forward and help others.
What is your favorite hobby or interest outside of the office?
I enjoy improv comedy, writing, and dancing. Sparked by the tragedy of the Covid-19 Pandemic, I now write essays on social identity and document my family's stories from their time in Honduras. Stemming from my dream to become a talk show host and my love for theater, I learn improv techniques and various dance styles in my free time.
What is your favorite travel destination, either past or future?
In the future, I would love to go to my parent's home county of Honduras, more specifically, Roatán. My parents grew up in the mountains of Honduras and frequently mentioned their interest in visiting the beautiful beaches of Roatán. They were limited in exploring Honduras before coming to the United States, so I hope to visit Roatán one day with my parents.