Immigrants Lead Boston
Eighteen passionate immigrant leaders make up the first group for Immigrants Lead Boston. They represent nine Boston neighborhoods and range in age from 20 to 60 years old. They come from 17 different countries and speak 20 different languages.
More than 110 people applied to be part of the pilot, a 12-week program from October 2020 to February 2021. One of the selected participants said about the program's impact:
“I want to continue to be an ambassador for this program. I feel empowered by my own story and the power of where I come from. For some time I let that voice shut down; I had been in an environment where I had a lot of doubts about myself, and through this program, I have found my voice again. I want to share my story with others and to continue in this work with the government as a spokesperson.” — Katherine Méndez
In addition to sharing what they learned with their communities, the 18 participants got connected to government officials and became more civically engaged. At least one person joined a board, and two people developed an interest in someday running for City Council.
Meet the participantsMeet the participants
"In the most essential areas of our life, city government has many of the essential answers."
"I want to continue current system-level efforts to include the most vulnerable in society. This cliché is true: A society is only as strong as its weakest link."
Dovi was a storyteller for "Suitcase Stories: Boston Immigrants Unpack 2020." Learn more about his story.
"I joined Immigrants Lead Boston so I could become a better leader and advocate for my community. I wanted to learn more about city government and the different resources the City has to offer so I could empower others. Also, I looked forward to meeting and learning from fellow immigrants from across the City!"
"I would love to see changes made to improve housing/homeownership opportunities for low-income families, people of color, and young people in Boston."
"Boston is my new home now and I am participating in this year's Immigrants Lead Boston to know more about the City and its governance and the resources available to residents. Ultimately, I hope to learn more about the City and my community in order to share the valuable information I am getting with others in my network and community at large. I also see it as an opportunity to meet more residents in Boston."
"I am looking at Boston in the next few years with more empowered immigrants — immigrants who are fully aware of all the resources the City has put in place for their benefit."
"I came to Immigrants Lead Boston to be trained and transformed into a better leader, connector, and protector of my community, other communities, and of the City of Boston as a whole. Along the way, I want to establish meaningful relationships with City of Boston employees and fellow classmates."
"I want Boston to become the thoughts-and-actions leader in training and promoting democracy for its goodness and mitigating its limitation, to harmonize the old and new so that we continue to par up with the world’s technology, education, environment, and economy while reserving nostalgic traditions. I want my community to heal, lead, and thrive through compassion, intelligence, and unity."
"I am participating in Immigrants Lead Boston because I want to access resources and opportunities from the City that I can use to improve myself and my community. As a resident and an immigrant, I want to see my community thrive because I see that young people of color and immigrants are being left behind as the City grows."
"A change I will like to see happen in Boston and for my community is that there will be more educational and career opportunities."
"I decided to become an engaged community member by participating in Immigrants Lead Boston because I experienced many barriers while trying to access resources and services around the City of Boston when I immigrated the U.S. eight years ago. With my lived experiences and wise perspectives, I serve as conduit in helping make Boston a more welcoming and inclusive city for other immigrants and disadvantaged groups like me."
"I would like for the leaders of the City of Boston to be more intentional in practices of real estate development and understand how they displace communities, forcing long hours of commute and therefore perpetuating poor quality of life and special determinants of health. The changes that I want to see happen are investments in education, STEM programs, college completion, and housing security."
"I participated to better understand the City and the available resources in the City so I can better support my community in utilizing the opportunities that are out there. Additionally, the program will also better support me in getting connected with other organizations and individuals that are doing similar works of supporting the immigrant community."
"Over the last four years, I've seen Boston change a lot in terms of how the City talks about immigrants and the kinds of supports that are available. However, given the need and the capacity of the City, I believe equity needs to be at the center of the work so that underserved and underrepresented communities can better be supported and their voices and perspectives elevated."
"I am participating in Immigrants Lead Boston because I want to have access to hear about important information from the City of Boston. I want to learn more and listen and share experiences with others leaders. I also want to get knowledge and skills from each session to serve as a better leader in my community."
"I would like to see the City of Boston government pay attention to our concerns to the issues still happening in our community, especially for racism-discrimination, rent control, education, etc."
"I want to increase my self-awareness and develop my skills in cultural competence, leadership and communication. I want to learn and educate myself about the City and also use the knowledge and connection I gain to educate, inspire, motivate, support and advocate for my fellow immigrants."
"I want to see immigrant people be more involved in projects, events, or other similar activities in order to create different opportunities to get them engaged in the community."
"I would love to be a part of the solution of helping more immigrants live better lives."
"Immigrant, refugee and other vulnerable communities could be better engaged with the City so as to gain more opportunities and support for their members."
"I’m participating in Immigrants Lead Boston because I want to amplify the voices of my community and learn how to interact with city government in meaningful ways."
"I want to see Boston become a more affordable place for communities of color."
"I wanted to learn more about the organizations in City Hall, how they work and what they offer to our community."
"I want to see more opportunities for immigrants, such as vocational education, health care, job training, scholarships, fair housing, and driver's licenses for all."
"I consider myself privileged. As such, I have a responsibility to give a voice to people of color, immigrants, and to the Latinx who are all tremendous contributors to the economy of this country and yet, whose voices are often silenced by systemic racism and white supremacy!"
"In Boston, I would like to see more BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] immigrant representation at roundtables and in government offices as well as policy changes around CORI [Criminal Offender Record Information], rent control, EA [emergency assistance] shelter, and reform in policing as there is little accountability for police wrongdoings. In my community, I would like to engage my immigrant BIPOC so that they'd have more opportunities such as access to affordable housing."
"Immigrants Lead Boston is offering the opportunity for individuals to voice their concerns for past, present, and future issues around the whole City. I want to be part of the solution, being that I am a immigrant that keeps fighting for myself and others for greater opportunities of their desire. I want to lead and show others the way to anything they are searching for. If I do not have the answer, ILB [Immigrants Lead Boston] has connected me to wonderful people with the same passion as me therefore anything can be achieved."
"Changes I want to see in Boston and any community I enter is more unity, neighbors that can count on each other regardless of race, language, immigrant or citizen."
"I want to help bring information to my community."
"I want to see recovery actions due to COVID-19."