Norma Dominguez - July 2013 Alumni of the Month
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Current Job: Vice President and Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo Bank's Community Lending and Investment group
CHCI Program: 1998 Summer Congressional Internship Program
CHCI Program Placement(s): Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA)
1. What motivated you to apply to the CHCI program(s), and why do you think they are important for Latino youth?
I was encouraged to apply to the CHCI Internship program by another CHCI alumna who knew I was interested in public service. I had only finished my first year at Brown University when I headed to Washington, D.C .for the summer program. I was awestruck by the site of our country's capital, by my peers, their impressive collegiate careers and the countless inspiring people we met that summer. I was motivated to forge my own path and to pay the experience and opportunity forward. CHCI programs provide a vision of what a career in public service can look like for students while also providing the resources and networks to make that vision a reality.
2. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
After finishing the CHCI program, I went on to earn a MA in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. My interest in affordable housing, access to capital and wealth creation for underserved communities led me to the private sector where I've spent the last eight years of my career. I'm currently a Vice President and Relationship Manager at Wells Fargo Bank's Community Lending and Investment group.
3. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
I met my first professional mentors while interning at the Office of Congressman Xavier Becerra, and maintained a relationship with the office during my undergraduate studies. Upon graduating from Brown, I returned to Los Angeles and joined the Congressman's district staff as a field deputy. The Congressman entrusted me with a healthy workload and I joined a team of professionals that served as great examples of team work, strong work ethic, integrity, and public service. In so many ways it was the perfect environment for me to start my career and learn what kind of team member and leader I should strive to be.
4. How do you continue to give back to the community?
I remain active in the community by working closely with non-profit organizations. I have been a board member of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project (CLYLP) for six years, serving as president for the last four. CLYLP is an all-volunteer, statewide, non-profit in California with a mission to enhance and further develop the leadership potential of California’s youth as they prepare to become the future leaders of our state and nation. Our primary programs focus on high school students. CLYLP is very similar to CHCI programs. Our students join our family at the high school level.
I believe in the power of mentoring, which is why I also serve on the Leadership Council of the Fulfillment Fund, a Los Angeles based organization dedicated to helping low-income students graduate from high school and attend and graduate from college. I also serve on the board of directors of South Central LAMP, a non-profit dedicated to helping families combat poverty through education and capacity building. Programs include parent education classes, early childhood education programming and family literacy programs.
5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and what do you still want to achieve?
Professionally I look forward to expanding my role and having a greater impact in the field of economic development and investment, specifically through the expansion and preservation of affordable housing options, and wealth creation opportunities for underserved families and communities. I will certainly continue being involved with the community either by serving on Boards and/or Commissions. I have a strong and personal commitment to youth and the issues that most affect them including access to a quality K-12 education and college affordability and graduation rates. I also look forward to continuing to support programs such as CHCI and mentoring young people.
6. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
I would encourage students to remain curious and adventurous as they begin their careers. Many doors will open as a result of your hard work and the networks and friendships you nourish; some of these opportunities may not look like what you planned. Go for it and have fun while doing so. Some of my most cherished memories and accomplishments have come from these unplanned opportunities.