These lessons also shaped the work I’ve done as a speaker, writer, and administrator. In my public writing I’ve tried to tell stories about communities building a new society with the hope of making plain the systems of power that surround us. I have also tried to bring these stories into public speaking, workshops, and classrooms to ask how we are shaped by history, and what that means as we try to make meaning in our present context. As I’ve consulted with several institutions of higher education, I’ve tried to help people analyze the systems of their own organizations, assess issues of ethics and sustainability, and walk with them to build something new that can better serve people.
The lessons that guide my public facing and consulting work also inform my full time job as Associate Director for Strategic Programming at the Hispanic Summer Program where I create learning spaces for Latinx graduate students and faculty. In all I do I try to invite people to critically assess the histories that shape them, the communities that ground them, the challenges of our current systems and the possibilities of dreaming new systems into existence.
My parents migrated from Puerto Rico a year before I was born and, after a few months with family, moved into an affordable housing co-op in a town just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. Within three years they were joined at “la cooperativa” by my grandma and uncle. It was there, with our fifteen other neighbors, that I learned so many lessons that I’ve carried with me throughout the years: the importance of family, the power of collective action and shared resources, the reality that we are all affected by systems (policies, laws, beliefs, ideologies), the ways our conditions of possibility are shaped by and in history. These lessons carried me through college where I earned degrees in biblical studies and social theory, then a masters in liberation theologies, and eventually a Ph.D. in history where I specialized in the intersections of religion, social movements, race, and economics in the United States and the Caribbean.