A Day in the Life with Jacqueline Garcel, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation

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The Latino Community Foundation (LCF) is on a mission to encourage the power of Latino people in California. As the CEO of LCF, Jacqueline Martinez Garcel has to tap into her own power from the moment her feet hit the ground in the morning.


About Me: I am a native New Yorker. Born in the lively neighborhood of Washington Heights, I take great pride in the richness of my Latina culture and experiences as a first-generation Dominican-American. After finishing my BS at Cornell, I was on my way to medical school before taking quick detour to earn my Master of Public Health at Columbia University. Returning to my native Washington Heights as an adult reminded me of my love for community...my passion to create change and opportunity so other young people might reach their fullest potential. Working at a local, and then national, level with Community Voices, I found my calling: seeking equity and justice for vulnerable populations and securing their seat at the table of influence and power.

In 2015, I took my calling to San Francisco, California where I now lead the only statewide foundation committed to investing in Latino leaders, youth & families.

Latinos make up the largest ethnic group in the state of California — the 5th largest economy in the world. Investing in their leadership, workforce preparedness, and civic engagement will promise a stronger economy and democracy for the state and the nation. This is why I have committed my talent, skills, and passion to advance the mission of this organization. This isn’t just about Latino people. This is about the future of California and our country. As Latinos thrive, so will our democracy and our economy!

Living in the tech hub of the world, San Francisco is also burgeoning with innovation, radical ideas, and opportunities to set new standards. So why not set the highest standard of opportunities for this growing and young population!

As part of its three pillars of work, LCF runs the first and only Latino NonProfit Accelerator. In partnership with Google.org, the Accelerator is a learning lab for community leaders and organizers working to scale their impact, expand their reach, and transform their neighborhoods into places where young people can thrive. In the past three years, LCF has also established the largest network of Latino philanthropists in the country. Uniting people with a sense of urgency for change, the Latino Giving Circle Network has invested close to $1 million in leaders and organizations on the frontlines of social justice. What ties all of this together is the Foundation’s commitment to increase civic engagement by Latino millennials, create opportunities for economic mobility, and create a new narrative of who Latino are in the U.S.


7.00 a.m. The day starts with my husband waking up with hugs and kiss before he takes off, and my favorite Christian song playing in the background. Getting me ready to hit the day running! Before the marathon starts, spending time in prayer, reading scripture, and journaling are an important start to my day.

8.30 a.m. Once that’s been done, I get dressed for my workout, take a Lyft to the West Oakland Bart Station, and make it just in time to the Orange Theory studio at the SF Financial District to kick butt and earn at least 30 Splat Points in the Orange Zone!

10.00 a.m. Pumped from my workout, I am dressed and ready to change the world! My day starts with a meet and greet with the Film Director of Ramon Rising, a documentary of a migrant worker turned pediatrician from the Central Valley. After overcoming the trauma of being abandoned by his parents, a speech impediment, and severe depression, he pursued medicine and returned back to the fields to care for the children of other migrant workers. Together with Jesse Gift (Film Director) and Masha Chernyak (our VP of Programs) we strategize on how we will use the film to inspire other young people to pursue their dreams and education goals, shape a new narrative of Latinos, and spread a message of hope.

11.00 a.m. I jump on a conference call with the program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who is interested in evaluating our Latino Giving Circle Network as a vehicle for increasing civic engagement by young professionals.

11.30 a.m. It’s time to have a quick check in with Amber Gonzales Vargas, the young woman who keeps our wheels turning and our lives in order. As our Operations Manager, Amber is my right hand and keeps me on my toes. Today, we discuss the Board Book package and the agenda for this evening’s meeting. A UC Berkeley grad and daughter of Peruvian parents, Amber is a superstar, and at the right time, potentially the future CEO of the company!

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12.00 p.m. There is not too much time to eat lunch, but there is always time to celebrate birthdays! With a small team of eight people, we always find the moments to celebrate personal milestones and professional victories. Today, we celebrate Samantha Sandoval’s birthday. Another up and coming leader, Samantha manages our grant making for all of our core programs. So far, LCF has awarded nearly $6 million into Latino-led organizations working on creating opportunities for youth and families to thrive and become more civically engaged.

12.30 p.m. I run out the door to make my next meeting on time. Anna Gagliuffi, our talented Associate Designer, equips me with all of our communication collateral that she has designed. All of it reflects our bold mission and clearly presents the impact we have already made on the lives of more than 100,000 Latino youth and families. On the way to my next destination, I reach out to my mom who lives overseas. Hearing her sweet voice on the phone and encouraging words keeps me going forward. She and my dad are the ones who taught me values of justice, equity, and generosity. Paying it forward and lifting others up is at the core of what I learned from a young age. As a professional woman, it remains at the heart of I am. Living more than 3000 miles away from my parents is probably the hardest part of this move to California. This quick call grounds me and brings joy to my heart. Onward to the next destination…

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1.00 p.m. I arrive on the steps of California’s Supreme Court Building to meet with Dr. Alberto Cuellar, the newest member of the Latino Giving Circle Network and the father of Mariano (Tino) Cuéllar. We are on our way to meet with Tino, the first and only Latino Justice of the Supreme Court of California. The conversation with Justice Tino and his dad centers on the importance of opening doors for youth to achieve their goals and own their power as change makers for our country.

3.00 p.m. I join a conference call with Maria Teresa Kumar, founder and CEO of Voto Latino and Christian Arana, our LCF Policy Director. Maria Teresa is on a mission to register one million Latino voters by 2020 with her new campaign, Somos Mas. On this call with reporter David Adams, we discussed the importance of creating a new generation of Latinos investing in political campaigns.

4.00 p.m. Head over to LinkedIn where we will hold our quarterly Board meeting. Tonight we will be discussing our three-year strategic plan, voting on a block of grants, and shaping the course of our work in California. This afternoon, our Board will authorize the staff’s recommendation to invest in 14 organizations working to help immigrant families rebuild from recent wildfires that devastated their communities. This will be our largest docket of grants and it includes over $700,000 in funding for our Just Recovery campaign in the Napa and Sonoma region. In partnership with companies like Naked Wines and Tesla, we have led this campaign to support organizations helping families rebuild their lives and groups working to create a more equitable future for the immigrant families that make-up the backbone of the workforce in the world renowned Wine Country. Its not enough to rebuild the way things were — we are working on more affordable housing, job opportunities with living wages, and on policies that will protect the environment and guard against other disasters caused by climate change.

8.00 p.m. Spend a little moment with Sara Velten, our fabulous VP of Philanthropy and the rest of the LCF A-team to commemorate the meeting’s success! Rising a glass of wine to toast and celebrate the hard work of the team and families that will be impacted by this investment. Our work continues onward…

8.30 p.m. I jump in my Lyft and head across the Bay Bridge. I catch up on emails for 20 minutes and send out some notes of gratitude to everyone who made today possible! I take a moment to enjoy the moonlight shining on the Bay and the beautiful silhouette of the rolling hills of Oakland in the backdrop, so grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization on the cutting edge of setting the pace for progress for Latinos. All happening in the 5th largest economy of the world—California—our time to make sure progress and prosperity is equally enjoyed by all!

9.00 p.m. I arrive home to the warm embrace of a loving, supportive husband who’s been praying for me all day! Dinner is ready and it’s time to relax and enjoy a meal in good company…perhaps the best part of the day. Getting renewed and refreshed to hit repeat again tomorrow!


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