Now More than Ever, Our Voices Matter

By Marco A. Davis
President and CEO
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)

The current global pandemic has changed all of our lives irrevocably, in countless ways. We are all attempting to make sense of what the “new normal” will be. At the same time, the number of hands raised, support pledged, and care given has been incredibly inspiring. The number of people, organizations, and leaders who have come up with creative solutions and made extraordinary efforts to help one another has been remarkable. And we have the deepest appreciation for the first responders, medical personnel, and all essential workers including farmworkers, service, delivery, and transportation employees and others on the frontlines for continuing to make the sacrifice for us to have access to even the most basic of needs, care, and supplies.

At CHCI, we are aware of the gravity of our situation and its impact on the most vulnerable communities. There are certain truths about our society that have warranted addressing for quite some time, and this virus has both exacerbated and revealed them starkly.

Currently, not enough is known about the realities of the Latino population in the United States – or at least, what is not nearly acknowledged enough is how significant an impact our community has had on this nation. We are a resilient, committed, and hard-working community that has made historical contributions to society and continues to persevere in times of adversity. Yet, in this time of COVID-19, there is no question that the Latino community has been negatively affected to a greater extent than other populations, in no small part due to deeply historically rooted societal inequalities.

Now more than ever our society needs leaders who understand this truth and our community’s realities, to make informed decisions, identify relevant solutions, and provide relief to a population that has gone above and beyond in improving our country. To further advance CHCI’s more than 40-year mission as a critical vehicle for both leadership development and thoughtful dialogue among key leaders, we have made it a priority to share pertinent information widely.

We created a CHCI Virtual Briefing Series, the first of which was on “COVID-19: Addressing Health Disparities”, on April 28, that successfully convened 1,000 attendees to hear and engage with policy and industry leaders about the impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community and ways in which we can respond to this crisis, move our community forward, and prevent the same kind of devastating impact in the future. This session also generated a critical discussion around the complexities of current policy and addressed the reality that Latinos are among the most likely to be on the frontlines of this crisis. You can watch this segment on our YouTube channel here. We have also created a COVID-19 Resources webpage with information in English and Spanish for those in need.

In addition, to provide actual resources to the most significantly impacted members of our community, on April 30 CHCI launched a COVID-19 Response Fund dedicated to providing economic relief to Latinos experiencing severe financial hardships and who are without sufficient access or means to medical, economic, or job protection. To make a tax-deductible donation to the CHCI COVID-19 Response Fund visit here, or visit the CHCI COVID-19 resources page.

As I mentioned, the current crisis has exposed and further magnified the disparities in our nation. Now more than ever, our voices matter. One of the main reasons our community has been impacted so severely is because too few of us are at the decision-making tables, determining critical actions such as resource allocation. Decisions have been made that do not take our concerns into consideration, and those actions have ongoing and long-term ramifications. CHCI exists to develop, empower, and support new Hispanic leaders in order to reach those decision-making tables and address those errors and oversights. Our purpose in providing the necessary foundation and tools for our nation’s Latino leaders to be equipped and empowered is to enable our community to prevent this from continuing, and ensure we are not disproportionately impacted in the future, and so that our leadership, present and future, reflects our amazing, diverse society.

Marco A. Davis has more than 20 years of experience in leadership development, academic achievement, community advocacy, and civic engagement. Davis comes to his new position after being a partner at New Profit, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy, where he led Capitalizing Diverse Leaders and Organizations – an effort to create a more equitable social sector, and served as organizational lead on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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