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A New Level of Reach: Letter from the President & CEO

Friends and neighbors, 

For over 12 years, the Latino Policy Forum has proudly been a small shop with big ambitions. Advocating for Latinos throughout the state of Illinois is forever at the heart of our mission, but over the years, we have had occasional opportunities to influence public policy on a federal level. We certainly never pass them up when they come.

The Biden administration is the third presidential administration to hold office since the Forum’s beginning, and of all three, I have never felt so invited to sit at the national table, so welcome to share what we are seeing in our communities here in Illinois. The Forum has never had as much federal-level access as it does today. I am proud to say that we are currently making inroads at the White House like never before.

Since the new administration assumed office in January, we’ve been invited to briefings on Latino-facing topics that occur every other week, thanks to Ernesto Apreza of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Latino Engagement. Mr. Apreza has proactively sought the Forum’s input on all our focus areas, whether through formal invitations or direct solicitation. As Politico noted, this is a rare, special, and momentous kind of relationship that we are building. 

Of course, we have more to share. Our immigration team, for example, recently completed a series of five reports for our beloved local Spanish-language newspaper, La Raza, based on several community discussions that they held with local Latino and immigrant community members. “Respuestas 2021” shared real testimonies, findings, and resources surrounding the most urgent community needs arising from the impact of COVID-19. Our affiliates at UnidosUS picked up our reporting for their own blog. All this in addition to our staff’s regular blogs on urgent, emerging topics ranging from the consequences of eviction moratoriums ending to the barriers to federal relief for undocumented individuals.

But that’s not the only table at the White House to which we’ve been recently invited. I was recently also privileged to be one of eight Latino leaders invited to a meeting to discuss issues in the community and the Build Back Better agenda with Emmy Ruiz, Director of Political Strategy and Outreach. You can find a readout of this meeting here. And, as part of our advocacy surrounding the groundbreaking new research on English Learner students from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, we are honored to be presenting findings and policy recommendations to both officials at the Department of Education and at the White House. You can view our briefing on these findings on our YouTube page.

We’re as hopeful as ever for how our work can translate to a national level, influence policy, and promote equity for Latinos. While I still feel heaviness every day from the toll that COVID is taking on our community, I’m also feeling very hopeful for our elevated profile and the relationships that it brings, both federally and locally. Just to name a couple, we’re thrilled about the recent appointments of Pedro Martinez to CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Alejandra Ibañez to Executive Director of a coalition that we’ve helped to incubate, Illinois Unidos, whom we’ll be honoring at our Latinos on the Move policy luncheon on November 5th with our Champion of Change Award. Please also see our recent Census webinar, which again points to the continued growth of the Latino community in the state and nation, as well as the recent membership meeting of the newly relaunched Illinois Latino Agenda 2.0, which is a beautiful manifestation of our shared leadership. Please consider joining the ILA 2.0, open to individual members.

We are on the cusp of something new and big, and I am feeling personally inspired. We could not do it without your continued support, and I wish you peace and wellness on our shared path towards a more just and equitable state and nation.