Leadership Fellows Spotlight: Jorge De Santiago

For Jorge De Santiago – originally from Guadalajara, Mexico – Leadership Fellows Boulder County, a joint leadership development program of the Community Foundation and the Boulder Chamber, provided ample opportunity to network across sectors. 

“What I really value about the program is the way it connects you to other leaders in other areas,” says Jorge, Executive Director of El Centro AMISTAD – a grantee of Community Foundation Boulder County – and an alumni of the leadership program. “In my role with AMISTAD, it’s important to understand and connect with the community more broadly … not only within the nonprofit sector, but also the business and government communities, and others. 
“Through Leadership Fellows, I became aware who we might collaborate with to strengthen and better support the AMISTAD community.” Specifically, AMISTAD aims to create opportunities and programs that promote education, health, and quality of life for Latinos in Boulder County.
“For example, I see our organization expanding its reach to work more closely with our local tech community,” continues Jorge, referencing both his connections at Google Boulder through Leadership Fellows, and AMISTAD’s winning the 2017 Pledge 1% Colorado Nonprofit Pitch Contest. “As an organization and as individuals, it’s been so interesting to get to know the startup community, and to gain an understanding of members of our community who have different, but equally important visions for our community … and how we can work together, and complement each other’s efforts.
“In the great conversations and discussion during the months of the leadership program, I learned about everything Google is doing to support schools and various community initiative. I was able to see beyond Google as a corporation to what they’re giving back to our community in classrooms throughout Boulder Valley.
“That’s where Leadership Fellows and Pledge 1% Colorado really opened our eyes, and opened a lot of doors for us.”
Jorge has worked on policy changes that benefit Latino immigrants at local, state, and national levels, and currently serves as a board member of Boulder County Public Health. Indeed, graduates of the program commit to taking on local leadership roles within six months of completing the program (e.g., joining a nonprofit or government board or commission, working on a candidate or initiative campaign, leading a neighborhood or school association, or running for office).
“Leadership Fellows is a great program for individuals who are looking to expand their leadership skills and their networks,” adds Jorge. “Professionally speaking, the program is especially valuable for younger generations – the future leaders of our community. Leadership Fellows provides so much opportunity to learn from others within a very supportive network. 
“In the same way, I think of myself as a mentor helping to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.”
Approximately 35 participants are selected for the 11-month Leadership Fellows program every year. Monthly curriculum topics include, among others, Boulder County economics, Local Government 101, inclusive leadership, planning and development, critical human needs, health, education, the arts and culture, and selling your vision – as well as roundtable discussions on a range of timely issues.