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Blog: The CHCI Experience

Share the excitement and personal growth of the 2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellows, who will be blogging monthly about their Washington, D.C. experience. Follow the blog to get the latest updates on what it's like working on Capitol Hill, living in Washington, D.C., networking with Latino leaders, and more.

Check out the blogs.

CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellow Blog Series: Israel Nery

Eduardo Gonzalez
December 3, 2014

2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Fellows

Israel Nery, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Law Graduate Fellow

Season’s greetings! It’s been over three months since I began the CHCI Law Graduate Fellowship, and it has been a phenomenal experience so far. From working with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), to CHCI’s Friday programming, this fellowship has provided me with a platform to grow my professional and leadership skills exponentially.

During my time at MALDEF, I’ve had the privilege of working primarily on their employment policy docket. One of the ongoing issues we are currently trying to tackle is the Latina/o underrepresentation in the federal work force. It is my responsibility to analyze current hiring policies and procure documents needed to make recommendations to alleviate this ongoing issue. I am also in the process of drafting a commentary on Executive Order (EO) 13665, a proposed rule that would prohibit federal contractors from maintaining pay secrecy policies. I have had the opportunity to serve as MALDEF’s representative on the Employment Task Force, which is under the umbrella of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. I am very thankful and privileged to be working with such an amazing organization that does so much to improve the lives for the Latina/o community.    

CHCI’s weekly programming has also been very exciting. At the beginning of November, we had the honor of sitting with Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools. The main topic of conversation with Mr. Casserly was the President’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. It was a very fruitful conversation, as we were able to discuss how this program was going to tackle the issue of improving education and economic prospects for young minority males.  This past week we also had the opportunity to partake in the first of four workshops geared towards making us prepared to serve on Non-Profit Boards. The event was held at the American University Washington College of Law. This first workshop laid the foundation needed to educate us about the legal intricacies of Non-Profits, along with modern day challenges they are facing. We all are looking forward to what the next three workshops have to offer!

CHCI has also provided us with other great opportunities. We recently attended Rep. Ed Pastor’s retirement reception. My cohort and I were in awe of the fact that we were surrounded by many renowned leaders from Congress. I should also note that the 37th Annual CHCI Awards Gala back in the beginning of October was amazing. Up to that point, I had never had the opportunity to be present in person to watch the President of the United States speak live. President Obama made remarks at the Gala, and I was just star-struck. These are just a couple of the many events that CHCI has been able to make us a part of, and for that we are thankful, it has enriched our experience here in Washington D.C.

Thanks for taking time to read about my experience in our nation’s capital. I look forward to keeping y’all updated in regards to my progress, and my next placement come January. Until then, happy holidays!

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CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellow Blog Series: Araceli Gutiérrez

Eduardo Gonzalez
October 28, 2014

2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Fellows

Araceli Gutiérrez, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

Hello everyone! It has been a little over two months now since I began working as a CHCI Graduate Health Fellow and what a great learning experience so far. I’d like to share some of the interesting things I’ve been working on in the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, as well as a few highlights from our CHCI programming sessions.

As a CHCI Health Fellow, it’s been a pleasure learning about the Congresswoman’s district and getting to know all of the welcoming and knowledgeable staff members in her office. Over the past two months, I’ve worked closely with the Congresswoman’s Health Policy Advisor, Debbie Jessup, who has been a great mentor and a valuable wealth of knowledge and experience. I have enjoyed learning from and working with her on health-related issues and topics.

While Congress was in session, I’ve had the opportunity to perform background research, analyze and follow a variety of bills presented to the floor as well as watch votes. I have attended Whip meetings and have made vote recommendations that are aligned with the Congresswoman’s values and ideologies. I’ve also had the opportunity to serve as a representative of the office at various briefings and meetings. I’ve been able to work with staff in other Congressional offices to promote, circulate, and garner support on some of the Congresswoman’s health-related letters and bills. Currently, I am working on drafting remarks for the Congresswoman for an upcoming speaking engagement on health disparities, an issue I am very passionate about.

One of the biggest highlights of my fellowship experience to date occurred during the CHCI Public Policy Conference, where I had the pleasure of introducing Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. As Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health Task Force this year, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard took the lead in presenting the Tri-Caucus strategy to address health disparities. As the Co-Chair of the CHCI Health Summit titled “Advancing Health Equity in Latino Communities,” the Congresswoman highlighted her Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), HR 5294 as well as the efforts of other agencies and industry leaders, addressing and reducing health disparities. To this end, I am currently working with Tri-Caucus members and the Latina Center for Reproductive Rights to coordinate an upcoming briefing, lobby day, and reception on the HEAA bill in mid-November. I am looking forward to it! 

In addition to my work on the Hill, I’ve also attended CHCI's weekly programming sessions, which have exposed me to some of the most influential and interesting leaders and organizations in Washington, D.C. Our discussions with Chris Lu, deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor and Mark Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center, were especially memorable and insightful. Deputy Secretary Lu, was very candid in sharing his experience and career trajectory, from a former classmate of President Obama at Harvard Law School to his current position at the Department of Labor. Dr. Lopez provided a fascinating glimpse of the Hispanic millennial population, their values and political ideologies, and also presented the Pew Hispanic Center’s findings at the CHCI Public Policy conference.

In addition to working with and learning from the other CHCI Graduate and Public Policy Fellows, I have also had more opportunities to meet and work with some of the CHCI Fall Interns. They are an energetic and impressive group of Latino leaders that will be returning back to school this month. I look forward to hearing about the great things they accomplish in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read what I have been up to in Washington, D.C. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my placement—preparing for congressional hearings and learning more about the congressional reauthorization and appropriations process. Until next time!

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CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellow Blog Series: Grant Barbosa

Eduardo Gonzalez
October 10, 2014

2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Fellows

Grant Barbosa, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

Hello again! I’m excited to be blogging month. While we’re only maybe a month and a half into the fellowship (side note: wow!), I’ve had the opportunity to do a great deal of substantive work and learn a significant amount through my work at the American Public Health Association (APHA) as well as CHCI’s Friday programming. 

At APHA, I have worked on a great deal of issue areas and topics in a variety of settings. I’m currently in the process of drafting guides for APHA’s membership in order for them to better understand the acceptable bounds of personal advocacy as well as how to reach out to a congressional staffer. I also had the chance to utilize my legal background and review amicus briefs that the APHA’s outside counsel was working on as well as briefs that organizations had asked the APHA to join. I imagine one of the organizations was a bit surprised when we forwarded a slew of substantive edits, but a few were actually incorporated into the brief that was filed with the Supreme Court! I also wrote the state level and international policy briefs in the monthly legislative updates that APHA sends to its members.

I’ve served as APHA’s representative in a variety of settings. I’ve met with administration officials from agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget. I’ve observed meetings for the advisory board of the National Institutes for Health’s National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities, which advises the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an academic advisory committee that supports the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA in developing nutrition policy for the dietary guidelines for Americans. On Capitol Hill, I’ve been to briefings on opioid abuse as well as crime prevention and youth development. Finally, I’ve participated in strategy meetings for coalitions of public health focused nonprofits, which will serve as an interesting counterpoint to my experiences on the Hill this spring.

In addition to the work that I am doing for APHA, I’ve also attended CHCI's weekly programming. The greatest experiences in programming have been our meetings with people in a variety of positions in government and nonprofit organizations. The meetings with Mildred Otero, the education counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Maria Teresa Kumar, the CEO and president of Voto Latino, were especially impactful. Mildred was very frank in discussing her experiences on and off Capitol Hill, offering us a great deal of advice and insight. With Maria, we discussed major policy issues, such as increasing Latino voter turnout. These interactions with people who previously were in similar positions as the current fellows (either in fellowships or recently out of graduate programs) show what type of trajectory that we may be going on, but also allowed us to engage in the types of discussions reminiscent of those that took place in the salons of the French Enlightenment. Sorry for being aggressively nerdy with that last line, but if you have made it this far, thanks for reading.

Until next time!

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CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellows Arrive in Washington, D.C.

Eduardo Gonzalez
September 4, 2014

2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Fellows

Grant Barbosa, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

Greetings and salutations everyone! I'm Grant Barbosa, one of the CHCI PepsiCo Health Graduate Fellows. I hail from the great state of Illinois and have just graduated from law school. In law school, I worked extensively on policy relating to public health, health care, and food access.  My placement for the first half of the CHCI Fellowship is with the American Public Health Association.

Orientation week was a blast! We had the opportunity to meet with several people with amazing experiences in a variety of government positions, including Maria Meier and Alejandra Castillo. Additionally, we received significant guidance on what to expect during our time in D.C. as well as support from previous fellows on what the experience provided them. Orientation also included an experiential component, featuring a high ropes training course that Araceli, another PepsiCo Health Graduate fellow, and I partnered to conquer.

I look forward to sharing updates throughout the year, but, more importantly, to use this opportunity to help influence health policy for the better! Ciao!

Araceli Gutierrez, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

As a CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow, I am excited to have arrived in Washington, D.C. Having recently graduated with my masters of science from the Harvard School of Public Health, I am certain this fellowship will provide me with the opportunity to develop my leadership and advocacy skills in generating innovative approaches to improve the level of access, quality of health care and social policies impacting Latino communities. I look forward to beginning my congressional office placement in the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard.

During the first week of CHCI orientation, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful group of accomplished, committed and inspiring CHCI staff, alumni, and fellows. I look forward to working with and learning from them during the course of the fellowship and beyond!

Israel Nery, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Law Graduate Fellow

My name is Israel Nery. It's a great honor to have been selected as the CHC-PepsiCo Law Graduate Fellow. I just recently graduated from the University of Illinois with my juris doctor. For the first half of my fellowship I will be placed with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.

We just concluded orientation week, and it's been a transformative experience so far. Being introduced to Latino leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sector has been an eye opening experience and testament of the improvement of Latino representation in these sectors. In essence, it has made me realize that I also can eventually earn one of these coveted positions with hard work. Getting acquainted with my cohort of fellows has also been amazing. Every fellow has done something amazing in their respective hometown, and being surrounded with great minds, and passionate people will only help cultivate the purpose that has driven me to pursue this fellowship and work in D.C. 

I'm excited with the challenges that will be presented during my fellowship. I know that in the future, I will look back to this fellowship, and credit it with propelling me to great success. 

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