We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Maldonado and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nancy, what are you inspired by?
At Chicano Federation, we partner with thousands of families each year who come from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Yet despite their many differences, they all have one thing in common – their desire to build a better life for themselves and the people they love. For 51 years, Chicano Federation has served our San Diego community and we have had the honor and privilege of working alongside individuals and families who exemplify perseverance and determination. Their resilience, their love for their family, and their hope for a brighter future is something to be admired. One particular group of people with whom I have the honor to work with and who inspires me profoundly, is our immigrant community. There is no better example of strength, sacrifice and an unbridled spirit than immigrants. Each of their stories is unique and moving. Often, they are stories of hardship and challenges, yet remarkably, they are always coupled with hope and gratitude. The work that I do at Chicano Federation offers me the opportunity to reflect on my own story. As the proud daughter of immigrant parents, I am inspired by the struggles my own parents endured and the sacrifices they made to ensure that I would have the opportunities that they never had. I think about how it must have felt to leave their home, their friends and their family, and a country they knew and loved in hopes of fulfilling the dreams they had for their future family. Coupled with the uncertainty of the life ahead and the arrival to a country that largely rejected them and viewed them as outsiders, my parent’s commitment to my future was an act of love and selflessness that I am amazed at and grateful for each day. I also think about my mother’s journey. As a mother myself, I know just how challenging and lonely the early days of motherhood can be. When I imagine being a mother without the support system of friends and community, I am overwhelmed with emotion at what my mother must have endured as a young, new mother in a foreign country navigating the many complexities of motherhood. It is my parents’ hard work and determination that motivates and inspires me to do the work that I do. They inspire me to use my role as a community leader to provide a platform for the voices of our community and the importance of equity for all, advocating for policies that directly benefit families of color throughout San Diego. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At a very early age, I became interested in health and fitness. At the age of fifteen, I was already teaching aerobics, working with the school athletic trainer and participating in sports. Throughout high school, I volunteered at my local hospital and spent time walking with older residents at a retirement home. As I got older, my passion for health and fitness grew in scope – shifting from individuals to larger groups and diverse communities. My interests expanded to a concern for community well-being and a desire to implement larger scale interventions. As my Master’s thesis research, I designed and implemented a physical education curriculum at a residential high school for recovering substance abusing adolescents. This experience helped me discover my passion for helping others, and I have been on that path ever since. Prior to coming to Chicano Federation, I was working at a nonprofit that addressed only the physical aspects of health and I quickly realized that when working with under-resourced communities, it is imperative to meet people where they are and use a holistic approach. I’ve come to understand that wellness is all encompassing and I cannot begin to affect change in the realm of health without addressing people’s most critical and urgent needs first. While my education and professional background is in health and wellness, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election propelled me to make a career shift. I was inspired to join Chicano Federation because of the organization’s strong roots in advocacy and civil rights. My goal at Chicano Federation is to complement the powerful work that has been done over the years, and stay true to our core values as we grow, stretch and learn with the times. Ultimately, I want to transition Chicano Federation from a program-focused organization to one that harnesses the strength of its advocacy roots to become the leading organization mobilizing the Latino community in San Diego.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It would include enjoying all the outdoor spaces and parks that San Diego has to offer, including Mission Trails which is such an under-appreciated gem in San Diego. 

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to recognize and appreciate nonprofits across the nation, especially the one I have the privilege to guide, Chicano Federation of San Diego County. Organizations like Chicano Federation have stepped up when government institutions and officials remained at a standstill, providing much-needed resources, information, and assistance to communities most affected by the Coronavirus. I would like to express my gratitude to our Chicano Federation team who has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to advocate for our community, and ensure that our community is safe and cared for during and beyond the virus.

Website: www.chicanofederation.org
Instagram: @chicanofederation
Linkedin: Chicano Federation of San Diego County
Twitter: @chicanofed
Facebook: Chicano Federation of San Diego County

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