October: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Congratulations to the ABNY Young Professionals October Spotlights of the Month – Karina Jimenez, Principal – Capalino and Lourdes Vazquez, Attorney – NYC Housing Preservation and Development. They both contribute to the economic mobility of Hispanic/Latino New Yorkers!
I got to where I am today, through a strong work ethic, guidance from mentors and support from my various communities. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I experienced and navigated a lot of firsts. While in graduate school, I met a local councilperson, who would later become a NYS State Senator, working on food deserts and the impact within the community of color. From there, the rest is history. I had to opportunity to go down the more traditional urban planning route, but opted for government affairs, feeling I can have a more direct impact within my communities. I have not looked back since.
Proudest of the effect and influence my work has on the quality of life of New Yorkers. Whether it be helping a client secure crucial funding or impacting city, state and federal legislation that will help New Yorkers in need. Overhearing someone conversing and mentioning the free legal support or having a tenant support specialist knock on their door to ask them about their issues…that is the work that matters and leaves an imprint. Hearing communities across New York benefit from the resources available, that is important.
The most important piece of advice is to not be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone. Go meet the stakeholders, both local and beyond. Ask the questions, get involved, find the issues you are passionate about. Remember whenever an obstacle arises, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I was born and raised in New York, spending time outside of NYS for campaigns. The moment I realized how quintessential NY I am, was campaigning down south, canvassing neighborhoods. While engaging a voter, it was mentioned I sounded straight from New York City due to my accent and demeanor. I had never realized until I left New York!
I love learning! That led me to pursue a lot of formal education opportunities and work opportunities.
I am most proud of instances where I built community. As the Director of External Affairs for LALSA, I collaborated with our law school’s other affinity groups, APALSA (Asian Pacific American Law Student Association) and BLSA (Black Law Student Association) to host a panel of alum to discuss law school, bar prep, and employment after law school. In my role as Director of External Affairs, I formed relationships with LALSA chapters at law schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. I was also a Student Affairs Committee representative between the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C. and American University Washington College of Law’s LALSA.
The advice I would give someone who wants to work in my field, which happens to be the legal field, is to ask questions, and that it’s okay to not know the answer to something. You’d be surprised how often clarifying questions have brought to light that attorneys thought they were on the same page, but actually weren’t!
I realized that I am a New Yorker when I began repping the following: 1) NYC tap water, 2) NYC dollar slice, and 3) not needing to learn how to drive.