Andrea Maldonado, Program Associate, Latino Community Foundation
Interviewed by Masha V. Chernyak, Vice President of Programs
What’s your favorite thing about your childhood?
I love that my parents were always interested in trying new things. They wanted to experience life and for us to enjoy it. For example, they had never been camping before. Especially not in the States. I don’t know where they got the idea, but my parents bought a huge tent, packed a bunch of food, invited the rest of the familia, and drove three hours to Lake San Antonio. We slept in tents under the stars, cooked carne asada, and sat by the fire sharing stories of Mexico.
On the first trip, my parents only brought thin blankets. We were so cold, and the rocks dug into our backs. Over the years we got much better at it. We had nicer sleeping bags, carried bug spray, and one year there was even a boat. I only hope to be as adventurous as them.
What attracted you to the Latino Community Foundation?
I went to UC Berkeley with Amber Gonzales-Vargas, who has been at LCF for a few years. Seeing Amber’s social media feed, I saw that she was surrounded by joyful, powerful people doing amazing things. I said to myself, “I want to work at a place like that. A place with energy!”
Now that I’m here, I see the behind-the-camera culture. It’s not just for the photos, everyone here embodies joy, passion and a sense of community.
As LCF’s newest team member, I’m looking forward to really unleashing my power, coming into my own leadership, and thriving in this role. I have some idea of what my talents are, now it’s time to use them.
So what are those talents?
I love pottery making. I’d like to say that I’m a decent dancer and a great listener. I love hearing people’s stories. I always want to know where they’ve been, where they came from, what inspires them—all of it! It’s why I’m interested in qualitative data, getting to know the stories of the people who we touch and making sense of the impact.
What change do you hope to see in the Latino community?
Freedom is the first word that comes to mind– the freedom to do what each person truly wants. Freedom from our own barriers, from unnecessary cultural expectations, from the political rhetoric, and from our own self-doubt. Once we truly own our power and purpose, our society will thrive.
When we step into that confidence, we will get a seat at the table and we will lead with our values. This will impact our families and many generations to come. We will be healthier, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We will have less fear and more joy. We already have so much, I can’t imagine the amount of joy, power and talent we will unleash.
What advice do you have for our young people? What have you learned in your journey?
Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you want. Be patient with yourself. We are taught to learn and to accomplish so quickly, to adapt, to grow. But things take time and they take practice. Listen to yourself, take your time, and don’t let your doubts stand in your way. I know this is easier said than done. I’m still battling with my own fears, but I’m getting past them one day at a time.
What is your purpose in life and how does LCF help you get closer to it?
I’m a spiritual person. I reflect every evening on my actions and ways to become a better person. My purpose is to become closer to God. For me that means peace, genuine love and care for our strangers and neighbors. I want to move humanity towards unity, for us to see one another as family. I want to emanate joy and love. Being part of LCF brings me closer to my purpose. Because at LCF, that’s exactly what we’re fighting for.