Betsaida Alcantara-CHCI Alumnus December 2011
Hometown: Dominican Republic and New York State
Current Job: Press Secretary for the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.
CHCI Program: 2006-07 Public Policy Fellow
CHCI Program Placements: The Office of Sen. Charles Schumer (NY) & The Office of Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ)
What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
I have been fortunate to have worked for two U.S. senators, the 2008 Obama for America campaign, and currently as a presidential appointee in the administration. In each of these roles I have worked in communications, developing strategies to engage and inform the public on legislation, regulatory actions or a position on critical policy issues. I am currently the Press Secretary for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and spokesperson for the chief of the Agency, Lisa P. Jackson. The EPA's mission is to protect our air, land and water from toxic pollution in the places where we live, work and play. I’ve learned a great deal about how important it is to move our country to a clean energy future and I’ve also learned that Latinos are disproportionately impacted by pollution in our communities. It’s important for us to be more engaged in these issues because Latinos have a lot at stake. For example, Puerto Ricans have the highest rates of asthma in the country and a majority of Latinos live in areas of the country with poor air quality. Our community also has a lot to gain from being part of the discussion around jobs of the future, in clean technology, wind and solar manufacturing and development.
What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
CHCI is an organization that creates opportunities. The fellows are chosen because of the leadership skills we bring to the table, but what we gain from the program is an ability to exercise that leadership at the national level and take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to us, which otherwise may not have been available. Because of CHCI's alumni network, I have been able to open doors that otherwise may have stayed shut.
How have you stayed engaged in community service?
I’m always excited when I get to volunteer to read CHCI fellowship or internship applications. There are so many talented young people out there who apply to CHCI programs and I’m inspired when I read through the applications. I’ve reviewed applications almost every year since I finished the program and I encourage the alumni community to get involved in this and other ways. I’ve also stayed connected to the public service and advocacy organizations that I was involved in prior to coming to Washington, D.C. and joining the CHCI family.
What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
We have one of the best networks in the country. Let’s keep talking to each other and helping each other out. I always welcome the chance to help CHCI participants reach out to me, because I know how valuable the advice of CHCI alums was for my professional growth.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
I would like to expand on my public sector work experience and work in the private sector at some point in my career. I want to continue to use all the opportunities I’ve been given to serve a public good. I can’t predict in what capacity that will be, but I hope it is a job in which I feel challenged and that allows me to work with people who inspire me.
Past Alumni of the Month
Alejandra Castillo - April 2013 Alumnus of the Month
Yara Lorenzo - March 2013 Alumnus of the Month
Antonio E. Sandoval & Milagros “Mimi” Aledo-Sandoval - Alumni Couple of the Month
Abel Herrero - January 2013
Jessie Mosqueda - December 2012
Kenia Seoane Lopez - CHCI Alumnus November 2012
Hon. Liza Rodriguez - 2012 Distinguished Alumnus & October 2012 Alumnus
Melissa Chabran - CHCI Alumnus June 2012
Jessie Ulibarri - CHCI Alumnus May 2012
Congressional Staff-CHCI Alumni April 2012
Anthony Alcoser-CHCI Alumnus March 2012
Diana Mendoza-CHCI Alumnus February 2012
Betsaida Alcantara-CHCI Alumnus December 2011
Orson Aguilar - CHCI 2011 Distinguished Alumnus & September 2011 Alumnus
Cynthia T. Cruz-CHCI Alumnus August 2011
Miguel Lopez - CHCI Alumnus July 2011
Alejandro Becerra - CHCI Alumnus June 2011
Staff Members for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy - CHCI Alumnus May 2011
Happy 30th Anniversary CHCI Fellowship Program!
Raul Magdaleno - CHCI Alumnus March 2011
Carlos Elizondo -- CHCI Alumnus December 2010
Ana M. Polanco -- CHCI Alumnus April 2010
Sami Hamed -- CHCI Alumnus March 2010
Couple Edition -- CHCI Alumnus February 2010
CHCI Alumni Association Chapters' Special Edition - October 2009
Edith Rocío Robles -- CHCI Alumnus August 2009
Silvia Inéz Salazar--CHCI Alumnus July 2009
Francisco J. Uribe CHCI Alumnus June 2009
Heidy Servin-Baez CHCI Alumnus April 2009
March 2009: White House Edition
William (Bill) Arce CHCI Alumnus February 2009
Stephanie Valencia CHCI Alumnus January 2009
Miguel Ayala CHCI Alumnus December 2008
Eric Rodriguez-CHCI Alumnus November 2008
Sonia Ramirez CHCI Alumnus October 2008
Mildred Otero CHCI Alumnus September 2008
Juan Ciscomani CHCI Alumus August 2008
Leo Prieto CHCI Alumnus July 2008
Octavio Saenz CHCI Alumnus June 2008