PCC / News / January 6, 2014

PCC’s Rodriguez selected for Latino leadership program

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Sometimes it takes a yoga mat to make a point.

As part of his first workshop with the Latino Network’s 2013-14 Unidos for Oregon Leadership Program, Jaime Rodriguez and 23 other Latino professionals brought their mats into a conference room following lunch at the University of Oregon in late October. They had a 20-minute snooze in between the morning and afternoon sessions, the latter of which wouldn’t end until 7 p.m. The nap, or better known as a siesta, was the perfect device to help Rodriguez and his cohorts re-connect to their Latino heritages and even work more efficiently.

Last October, the Unidos leadership cohort participated in a story-sharing workshop at the University of Oregon. The attendees will participate in leadership activities throughout the academic year.

Last October, the Unidos leadership cohort participated in a story-sharing workshop at the University of Oregon. The attendees will participate in leadership activities throughout the academic year.

“It took me 30 seconds and I was out,” said the Hillsboro resident. “But some people couldn’t do it. The dominant culture as they call it doesn’t allow us to take a nap. I said, ‘Hey guys, but it’s our culture. You go to Mexico, Spain or Latin America, we take siestas. It’s in your blood, man, reach deep.’ Me and a few others didn’t have a problem doing that. We felt refreshed afterward.

“But those that did not take that 20-minute nap and couldn’t bear to be away from their electronic devices, they had trouble come 4 p.m., yawning and wanting coffee,” he added, chuckling.

Unidos helps Latino leaders thrive

This winter, Rodriguez and the other two dozen professionals from around the state are taking part in workshops that build leadership skills that address “the gap in Latino leadership cohesion, collaboration, trust-building and strategic coordination.” The cohort meets once a month at locations around Oregon throughout the academic year, culminating with a graduation in May. The program develops leadership skills in politics, intercultural and intergenerational communication, understanding oppression, conflict resolution, collaboration and negotiation, community building, and more. Rodriguez said the skills are needed for any Latino, who strives to serve in leadership capacities to help them bridge understanding between cultures.

“Many of us, unfortunately, are the only Latinos in the room whether it’s at a school board meeting or some organization of leadership,” Rodriguez said. “There always seems like there is just one Latino in the group and people assume we have all the answers. You may be of Mexican or Cuban descent, but they expect you to know Argentinean or Brazilian cultures. That’s just not how it goes.”

The participants come from a wide range of career backgrounds such as education, finance, health care, housing, legal and law enforcement. Rodriguez serves part-time as a veterans resource coordinator at the Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road) and career specialist in the workforce development department at Willow Creek Center (241 SW Edgeway Drive). His focus during his rise through PCC and other leadership roles has been on championing equal rights.

'Many of us, unfortunately, are the only Latinos in the room whether it’s at a school board meeting or some organization of leadership,' Rodriguez said. A common theme at Unidos is discussing reasons why Latinos are under-represented in community leadership settings.

‘Many of us, unfortunately, are the only Latinos in the room whether it’s at a school board meeting or some organization of leadership,’ Rodriguez said. A common theme at Unidos is discussing reasons why Latinos are under-represented in community leadership settings.

“Jaime as a leader in the community is in constant leadership development,” said Narce Rodriguez (no relation), dean of student development at the Rock Creek Campus. “He would not consider himself a leader if he did not ask the hardcore question about equality.”

Attendees work to battle under-representation

A common theme in workshops is discussing reasons why Latinos are under-represented in community leadership settings, or expressing shared experiences such as being passed over for promotions due to a lack of understanding of their cultures. Rodriguez said the first session in October centered on relationship building and personal story sharing. He said through this sharing at Unidos he discovered members of the group had several things in common.

“Most of the leaders that were there have a farm worker history in them whether it was their immediate parents or grandparents,” said Rodriguez, who came from a farm worker family that emphasized education. “All of us have college degrees and I’d say the vast majority of us were the first members of our family to graduate from college. The Latino Network did a good job of getting people together who had a common goal or ancestry where they were all trying to do better than what their parents did (in education).”

Rodriguez no stranger to leadership

Even before Unidos, Rodriguez was carving his own leadership path. In 2012, Rodriguez represented District 1 as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Earlier that year, he assisted Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s campaign by working as a communications liaison to Latino voters in Washington County. Last May, he was one of three candidates that ran for a seat on the Hillsboro School Board (he finished in a close second). Since becoming a union member in 2002, Rodriguez has worked his way up to leadership within the PCC Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals, serving on two bargaining teams and as Vice President of Political Action, advocating on important issues and for local candidates. As a result, he won PCC’s 2013 Cesar Chavez Distinguished Service and AFT-Oregon’s John Connor Memorial Civic Participation awards.

“Jaime has long been a strong advocate for civil rights,” said Michael Morrow, former president of the PCC Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals. “Jaime’s roles with PCCFFAP have always made use of his commitment to involve others.”

Rodriguez, the youngest of four boys, has a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Fresno State University and is a former community college student. Rodriguez, who served in the U.S. Army, started at PCC more than 14 years ago. He came up to Oregon from California to attend law school at Willamette University as he said, “I fell in love with what Oregon had to offer.” Today, through this leadership effort, Rodriguez wants to engage the younger generation into the similar discussions about cultures and integration.

“I’m a first-generation Mexican American and have lived here most of my life,” he said. “I’m American more than anything else and I’m still learning about my Mexican culture and its traditions. So how do we keep our own values that we learned growing up and integrate them into the dominant culture and pass that on to our children? As we are developing our own careers as leaders, how do we also incorporate the younger generation to becoming leaders? Whatever career or expertise you may be in, we are always engaging and incorporating the other cultures.”

About The Author: James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

Comments

There are 15 responses to "PCC’s Rodriguez selected for Latino leadership program" . If you see a comment that doesn't belong please click the "x" and report it.

x by Steven Gordon 11 months ago

Way to go, Jaime! Congratulations!

x by DeLinda Martin-Huggins 11 months ago

Jamie – you are an empathetic leader who shows all of us at PCC how to lead through your example. What a great role model for our students!

x by Narce Rodriguez 10 months ago

Gracias por representarnos y viva la causa.

x by Sylvia Gray 10 months ago

Jaime – I admire your personal path and growth and your leadership. Thanks for all you do! Sylvia

x by Les Williams 10 months ago

Congratulations Jaime! I’m honored to work with such a great role model!!

x by Isaac Sanabria 10 months ago

Congrat’s Jaime way to go man!

x by Teresa Salinas 10 months ago

Jaime, Congratulations! Thanks for ALL YOU DO!

x by Goutam Saha 10 months ago

Jaime dos great help for minority students. He is a great man and has a great personality. I had a chance to get his service. Giving him leadership is an appropriate respect for him and his great work. Wish him all the best.

x by ivan hernandez 10 months ago

I’d like to be more involved in activities around school here at PCC rock creek. I’m sure that you’re the person to guide me.

x by Linda Browning 10 months ago

Nice work, Jaime! We are all proud of you and the gifts you bring to PCC.

x by Kathy Krug 10 months ago

Fabulous write up! We have all been witness to your leadership skills throughout the PCC campuses.
Congratulations Jaime!!!

x by Bridget Ireland 10 months ago

I know that you had special qualities.

x by Jorge Torales 10 months ago

Jaime,

Hubieras de venir a enseñarnos aqui en Cascade. Esto estaria buenisimo para la conferencia de MEChA.

JT

x by Derek Rodrigues 10 months ago

Jaime,
You continue to inspire me!

x by Rachel Rosas Resendiz 7 months ago

Keep doing what you are doing Jaime, great job being a positive influence and leader for our next generation of Latinos. I would love to help and get more involved!!

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