Luchadora Profile: Norma Dominguez Inspiring Chicano & Latino Youth to Attend and Thrive in College and Beyond

Norma Dominguez was a rising senior at Banning High School in Wilmington when she was selected to participate in a week-long leadership conference in Sacramento for Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project (CLYLP).

“It was the first time that I met a number of Latino professionals — doctors, lawyers, educators. This excited me. Not only were the people who volunteered for the event impressive, but I was also inspired by the speakers who gave us a few hours of their day to talk about Chicano history, career opportunities, and requirements for college. By the end of that week, I felt so strong culturally and proud,” Norma said.

After graduating from Banning High School, Norma applied to colleges on the East Coast and was accepted to Brown University in Rhode Island, where she studied international relations and Latin American studies.

In speaking of her experience as a student with CLYLP and how it inspired her studies at Brown, Norma said, “This gave me a backbone when I went to college back east. I had always known that Mexico had been part of the US, but I didn’t know a lot about Chicano history. My parents came to this country in the ‘70s as young immigrants, so Chicano history wasn’t shared in my home. I left that program with more knowledge of this history, appreciation, and gratitude for the young Chicanos and Chicanas who opened doors for me. I knew that I wanted to give back as I advanced in my education and career.”

While at Brown, Norma was an intern for Congressman Xavier Becerra through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute internship program. And when she graduated and moved back to Los Angeles, Norma ended up working for Congressman Becerra for two years before starting graduate school.

During the time that Norma spent working for Rep. Becerra, she became a facilitator (one of the adult volunteers) for CLYLP and learned how the non-profit, non-partisan organization functioned to create meaningful activities for youth. She was exposed to the intricacies of organizing activities for the young people without a paid staff from fundraising to scheduling speakers and handling other logistics.

Norma returned to the East Coast to earn a master of public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. After completing graduate school, Norma returned to Los Angeles and started working in finance first at Citibank and now at Wells Fargo. Her professional expertise is in affordable housing lending and investment.

Being involved with CLYLP bridged the work that Norma does in affordable housing and community development. She sees education as being the key to opening opportunities for our youth, and her work in affordable housing compliments that passion. For people to thrive and to be able to take advantage of educational opportunities, they need safe, affordable housing.

To this day, CLYLP is an all-volunteer organization. Norma joined the board of the organization in 2008-2009 and still serves on the board as its immediate past president. During the time that she has served on the organization’s board, she helped create a strategic plan and has been helped expand the program. Norma likes to think that her time spent as board president helped professionalize the volunteer experience and set the organization on a path for sustainability. There are over 350 volunteers involved with CLYLP, and students across the state participate in four high school leadership programs.

In addition to serving on the Board of the CLYLP, Norma serves on the board of A Community of Friends, a non-profit affordable housing developer whose mission is to end homelessness through the provision of quality, permanent supportive housing for people with mental illness.

For her work in inspiring young Chicanos and Latinos to attend college and develop their leadership skills, we honor Norma as a luchadora.

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