His View: Leading with Courage during COVID-19

By Damian Rivera
CEO, Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)

Breath… as you take time to read this message I ask you to first take a deep breath. As you exhale give yourself permission to feel whatever emotion you are feeling today. And when you are done reading, I hope you are feeling inspired to take action toward making an impact.

As the CEO of ALPFA I am always humbled and excited when asked to provide my perspectives about what actions the ALPFAmilia is focused on that will translate to impact for the Latinx community. But today as I write this there are other emotions I am feeling as well. I feel scared, for the family and friends that I have who are in danger as front line workers. I feel sad for the loved ones who have been lost and who are currently in the hospital fighting without family physically with them.

At the same time, I feel PROUD of the Latinx community as we are keeping the country safe and moving. And finally, I feel COURAGEOUS in the face of the bully they call COVID19. Growing up my parents let me know it was ok to be scared or sad but not to let fear control my actions. They told me that you must always stand up to a bully and help those who cannot stand up for themselves. As an ALPFAmilia we are absolutely standing up to the bully called COVID19. It is with that courage that we as an ALPFAmilia have continued to operate as a community to make an impact.

Via townhalls and social media, we quickly mobilized to stay connected with our professional and student members. Through these discussions we identified key areas we could provide help from fundraising for local food pantries to donating PPE equipment. In addition, many of our members need assistance with jobs and internships. As Pew Research has shown 49% of Hispanic households have been impacted financially because of COVID19. One example of how we have helped is with our new program ALPFA Fellows – Operation Helping Hands, a turnkey solution for students to get experience over the summer while earning a scholarship. Another example of filling a need was with the ALPFA Houston Chapter President Catherine Manyoma working with her Board to have an event where the IRS and RSM spoke to members about how to best leverage the CARES act as an individual and as a small business. Given the number of Latinx small businesses, this was a well-needed discussion. A final example is ALPFA Boston President Mario Rivera having the 100+ Networking Night, which included virtual networking allowing members to continue to connect to discuss possible job and business development opportunities.

Finally, we have created ALPFA Live, a TV show which provides a forum by which we are able to share motivating and positive images in the Latinx community that is produced by ISP Studios (a Latina owned production company). If you are inspired to make an impact I hope you consider taking action with us, visit www.alpfa.org to learn how. Fuerte Abrazos!!!