Over the years I have written different bios in order to fit different professional needs. Many times I would forget to include certain parts of who I have been, or sometimes some elements of my past just didn’t fit, so they wouldn’t make it into the bio needed at the moment. Since this is my blog, I am intentionally not leaving out anything, not even the smallest part of my life. So many different experiences have shaped who I am becoming, that I want to make sure anyone who reads this blog understands that I call upon all of my different lives in this world to come to the reflections and observations I make in this blog.
I have a professional profile on LinkedIn that I would rather no rewrite, so for more details about my work experiences, please go to my LinkedIn profile page. But if you’d rather not because you have some sort of “thing” against LinkedIn, you can view my curriculum vitae here.
As I begin this blog I am entering my fourth professional field in less than 20 years. Chronologically, a summary of my life experiences goes something like this: born in the Dominican Republic; immigrated to the United States as a child with my family in the late 1970’s; lost my father (who was stabbed to death) in the mid 1980’s; joined the U.S. Navy Reserves after graduating from West Jefferson High School in 1987; pursued and quit a bachelor of science degree in marketing at the University of New Orleans while working full time in refineries and retail stores in the late 1980’s; was activated and sent as a hospital corpsman with the Marines to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for Desert Shield and Desert Storm; worked as an EKG tech and then as an emergency room tech while entering and never finishing Delgado Community College’s nursing school in the early 1990’s; quit everything to pursue my dream of becoming a writer and finally completed a bachelor of arts in Loyola University New Orleans’ writing program in 1996, while working as a hospital nurse station, a registration clerk, other jobs, and becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States; began my graduate school creative writing pursuit in the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop in 1999 (the year my son, Mateo, was born) and finished in 2003; by happenstance I entered my first professional career track as a grant writer for Dillard University in 2000, working for various groups as a grant writer and fundraiser, expanding my responsibilities, such as serving as a unit director in advancement for Loyola University in 2004, and then as development director for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra three days after Katrina hit; co-founded and served as founding executive director for Puentes New Orleans in 2007 (the same year I self-published a collection of short stories titled, Passing Unseen: Stories from New Domangue), during which time I learned community development, organizing, and advocacy, as well as developed a professional team and designed programs aimed at integrating Latinos successfully into the New Orleans area; in 2011 I left Puentes to serve with Mayor Mitch Landrieu, heading up a new office (called the Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office), where I wrote participation policies and instituted engagement processes and programs; finally, in 2013 I left city hall for academia, where I began my PhD pursuit within the City, Culture, and Community program at Tulane University. As of now, I am still in the CCC program, working on my dissertation.
I hope you have picked up from all these experiences that I like to think, create, and do. I’m not interested in sitting around and daydreaming only (though I enjoy doing that). I’m not interested in doing for doing’s sake without deep reflection about why I’m doing something, or why it’s being done. Finally, I can’t enjoy any aspect of my life if I’m not creating. I used to believe that I was meant for fictional creative work and my talents should be developed there. I have since come to understand that I am just as satisfied creating non-fictional intellectual material as well as programs that help people grow, both as thinkers and as doers, particularly with regards to building a more tolerant, inclusive, and civically active community.
Intellectually my interests are focused on civic work, political participation, social movements, racialization practices, democracy, governance, public participation, civic engagement, collective action, racial relations, and public life. Creatively, I am interested in human stories that highlight the challenges of being human, the struggle to love, and the struggle to feel love.