Seattle Foundation Blog

Increasing Latinx Leadership in Philanthropy

Seattle Foundation’s Madeliene Hernandez and Seattle International Foundation’s Perla Vázquez join 2019 cohort for the Hispanics in Philanthropy Líderes Fellowship


August 22, 2019

Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) leads a transnational network of foundations, donors and nonprofits in strengthening Latinx leadership and influence across the United States and Latin America. Through its grantmaking, HIP invests in Latinx communities and directs resources that address the most urgent needs and issues affecting those communities today.

To achieve social and economic justice, Latinxs must have a voice in shaping the policies, services and funding priorities that affect Latinx communities. But institutional and systemic inequities too often prevent them from being heard. HIP’s Líderes Fellowship empowers mid-career Latinos working in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors and prepares them to move into positions of power where they can make meaningful change. 

This summer HIP announced a diverse group of 30 new fellows for 2019, including Seattle Foundation’s Madeliene Hernandez and Seattle International Foundation’s Perla Vázquez. From August 2019 through February 2020, the fellows will gather in person and online for a series of retreats, virtual learning opportunities and coaching sessions designed to share knowledge and build relationships. The first of two major convenings took place Aug. 13–16 in Albuquerque, N.M., during which the fellows from across the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico connected in person and considered what it means for Latinx leaders to thrive in the social impact sector. HIP’s CEO, Ana Marie Argilagos, also shared her own story as a Latina leader in the field. 

“I was blown away by the warmth and connection of the cohort!” says Seattle-based fellow Madeliene, who is operations manager for Seattle Foundation’s community programs. “As a bi-racial Latina, I often don’t feel a sense of belonging when I’m in Latinx spaces so it was a transformative experience to be around people who embraced who I am. My new colleagues are some of the most welcoming, innovative and creative people I have met.”

Perla is a Mexico City-based fellow and program director with Seattle International Foundation whose work focuses on regional strategies that promote human rights for youth. “I learned a lot about the implications—in everyday life, in the bodies, in our spirit—of white supremacy as a cultural and structural practice,” she says of last week’s retreat. “I also shared about the implications of U.S. international philanthropy on the development and resistance of communities in Latin America, especially in Central America and Mexico.”

Going forward, small groups of fellows from each region will each define and execute their own projects. Madeliene says the West Coast group is focusing on creating spaces of belonging for current and future Latinx leaders.

HIP began in 1983 as a network of Latinx professionals working in philanthropy who wanted to support one another, encourage more Latinos to join the field, and increase philanthropic funding of Latinx communities. Now a membership organization that brings together a powerful network of grantmakers across the Americas, HIP sponsors various regional, national and international conferences and briefings, conducts research and produces publications, offers professional development programs like the Líderes Fellowship, and provides referrals to foundations seeking Latinx staff and trustees. 

Seattle Foundation supports leadership development opportunities for people of color through grantmaking programs such as the Engagement Pipeline in our Vibrant Democracy Initiative, which invests in individual leadership development in combination with broader organizing strategies in order to strengthen the voice of communities through their leaders.

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