It has been said that every election is determined by the people who show up. This has never been truer than this past July during a spirited UCLA Latino Alumni Association (ULAA) board election. While most alumni network board positions are filled by appointment or unopposed candidacies, this election drew unprecedented numbers: more than 20 nominations, a dozen candidates running for six positions and a whopping 1,200 ballots cast by alumni.
Why the sudden rise in election engagement? Interest ramped up when the candidates campaigned via their social media channels and direct outreach to voters. Their campaigns bore some resemblances to government races, from acquiring endorsements, to questions over voter eligibility, to distributing marketing collateral ranging from posters to baked goods. Even their supporters added to the intrigue by stumping for their candidate via social media posts. Senior director of UCLA Alumni Diversity Programs Patricia Nguyen says, “This election is nothing like we’ve ever seen before. Sometimes, it can be tough to find willing volunteers to fill a board, but this year, alumni really went after it.”
And Latino alumni responded. The result was an engaged electorate with energy and aspirations for the new board to take ULAA to the next level. Because so many capable leaders were identified in the election process, active measures were taken to keep many of the non-elected candidates involved as committee members and event volunteers.
Soleil Delgadillo, ULAA’s newly elected president has served as the Association’s scholarship chair for the past five years. “I am enthusiastic to now step forward and lead this organization alongside a talented and diverse board. I know that each of my fellow Board members brings a unique perspective and skill set and I look forward to what we will accomplish together for alumni and ULAA’s future.”
Collectively, the board members have more than 50 years of volunteer experience and represent a wide array of professional careers, including HR recruiting, nonprofit development, law and education.
Despite some added stress surrounding this experience, Nguyen is excited for ULAA’s future. “If it means alumni are passionate enough to lead, and a large swath of the electorate cares enough to vote, then I wish all alumni network board elections could be like this.”
President - Soleil Delgadillo ’09
Vice President - Janette Alvarez ’98, M.A. ’01
Treasurer - Brandon Rivera ’16
Secretary - Karla Lopez Aguiniga ’11
Community Relations Chair - Erika Aspericueta ’05
University Relations Chair - Sergio Valenzuela ’13
Finance Chair - Luisa Garcia ’10
Scholarship Chair - Maritza Cha ’05, M.Ed. ’07
Membership Chair - Laura Barerro ’14
If you live in the Los Angeles area, come to a Meet-and-Greet with the new board on Thursday, Sept. 27 in Boomtown Brewery located in the Downtown Arts District.
There are more than 41,000 alumni that identify as Latin@/x at UCLA, and one diversity network that aims to bring them together. Founded in 1989, the UCLA Latino Alumni Association (ULAA) is a support group that engages Latin@/x alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of UCLA to advance the Latin@/x community on campus. As outlined in the December 1988 issue of La Gente de Atlan, a student news magazine on campus, “a Latino/a alumni association can have a significant impact on University policy decisions, given the changing demographics in the state, and the inadequate community relationship and cultural diversity at UCLA.”
Fast forward to today, ULAA has been revamping and evolving as an organization with aggressive efforts starting in 2014 alongside the founding of Diversity Programs in Alumni Affairs. “Reset” efforts included open interest meetings across Los Angeles, re-engaging former leaders and founders, recruiting young alumni, and organizational restructuring that incorporated culturally-informed leadership. These steady efforts in the past few years have led to a momentous milestone this past month: the competitive and lively open election of a new board. It’s perfect timing as we enter Hispanic Heritage Month and ULAA celebrates its 30th birthday next year alongside the UCLA Centennial.
To learn more about the UCLA Latino Alumni Association, visit their website.