By Catriona Ting-Morton, Metro
There are countless groups and individuals upholding Philadelphia’s vital Latino and Hispanic communities. Metro Philadelphia’s Latino Power Players list honors some of those change-makers that make this great community what it is – a proud, collaborative hub of businesses, nonprofits, and public officials putting Philadelphia’s Latino communities on the map. From owners of award-winning restaurants, to CEOs of leading organizations, so many incredible people make Philadelphia’s Latino community the remarkable scene that it is.
President and CEO, JEVS Human Services
Cynthia F. Figueroa is the president and CEO of JEVS Human Services. Cynthia is a dynamic leader with 25 years of experience in the government and non-profit human service sectors. She builds high-performing, diverse teams and develops outcome-based programs and services. She’s also a creative problem-solver, a staunch advocate for vulnerable communities, and skilled at leading effective collaborations. Prior to JEVS, Cynthia was City of Philadelphia Deputy Mayor, Office of Children and Families.
What makes the Philadelphia Latino community unique?
The history and diversity of the community. Philadelphia is home to one of the largest concentrations of Puerto Ricans on the mainland. Although NYC and Orlando also have large Latino communities, Philadelphia’s Latino community is majority Puerto Rican, with a growing Mexican, Central, and South American communities. The Latino community has a strong civic and cultural present in this City.
What more do you think could be done to support the Latino community in Philadelphia?
Continued representation in government, the private sector, as well as in Latino owned and operated entities. There are also significant issues impacting geographic sectors of the City that have a large concentration of the Latino community, including the opioid crisis, gun violence, blight, the state of public education, and the conditions of the school buildings. A specific plan that coordinates effort for all communities to be safe and offer quality education is needed.
If you were taking someone on a tour of your neighborhood, what would be your first stop?
A few stops for sure, but in the order of heading north, I would stop at Taller Puertorriqueño and view what is on display in the gallery. I would then pop into Congreso to say “hi” to old friends and then I would head to Tierra Colombian for an incredible meal.
Do you have any local Latino heroes you look up to?
So many: Alba Martinez, Pedro Ramos, Sara Manzano Diaz, the Honorable Teresa Sarmina, Jaqueline Romero and the Reverend Bonnie Carmada.