Cynthia Figueroa is celebrating one year as President and CEO of JEVS Human Services (JEVS). She recently talked with us about the importance of women in leadership and her first year at JEVS.
Q: It’s Women’s History Month. What role models do you have that inspired you along your journey?
A: My personal role models who crafted who I am and my commitment to social justice are my mom and sisters. My mom made tremendous sacrifices so that we could have a better life and she always pushed for more. My professional role models who helped me grow into my opportunities are Alba Martinez, who has been a mentor to me, and Carol Tracy who I worked with and saw as myself many decades ahead. Madeleine Albright the first Secretary of State, and the former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet are also professional role models.
Q: Why is it important for women of color to be in leadership positions?
A: First, it is so critical that you see yourself in the opportunity. Other women need to see that it is not crazy to be in these positions. In addition, it is important to be at the table because if not, then that voice is not represented. You may bring a perspective that otherwise might not be considered.
Q: If you could describe your first year with JEVS in three words, what would they be?
A: Excitement, commitment, and passion.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment in your first year at JEVS?
A: I’m proud of the early days of really listening to staff and stakeholders and hearing about their vision to help create a vision for the organization. Everything I’ve done has reflected what I’ve seen and what staff were feeling and thinking. We have a new, diverse, and dynamic team and I am most proud of that.
Q: What is the biggest goal you have for JEVS?
A: To put it simply, my goal is growth and expansion and enhancing our visibility.
Q: What advice do you have for young women with aspirations of becoming an impactful and dynamic leader?
A: It is important to understand what it means to be impactful but also remain impactful. Align yourself with solid role models, you must put in the work, and ask for feedback and be open to receive it.