It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month and the National Urban League is Celebrating!

September 23 2015

Meet Susie Saavedra, Senior Legislative Director of Education and Health Policy, National Urban League Washington Bureau

Susie is the proud daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants.  Born in Queens, New York, she was raised in an Army family, and grew up in ten different states and abroad.  She has called Washington, DC home for the last 15 years.

Learn more about her story and why she as a Latina works for the National Urban League.

1.  As a Latina how do you feel that your policy work for National Urban League affects your community?

I believe the mission of the Urban League movement transcends cultural boundaries. For instance, we know the challenges related to our nation’s economic recovery and job creation are much more severe in both black and Latino communities. Our communities both experience higher unemployment, lower wealth creation and fewer educational opportunities which directly impact our ability to afford basic needs, much less secure upward mobility.

My job at the Washington Bureau is to support the work of our movement by advancing our education and health policy priorities before Congress and the Administration as well as by empowering our local affiliates with the advocacy tools they need to engage with their state and local policymakers on key policy issues. By positioning Urban Leagues across the country as thought leaders and advocates around key issues impacting underserved children and families I’m directly making a difference in my community and improving the lives of all underserved communities. 

2. What does it mean to you as a Latina working for a legacy civil rights organization?

Before I joined the movement, I spent ten years working to advance the social and economic justice policy agenda of four members of Congress.  My role at the Urban League is even more rewarding as it now gives me the opportunity to impact many more people by advancing these policies in communities across the country on a national scale, as opposed to a Congressional District. 

Not a day goes by where I don’t reflect on the incredible opportunity I have to serve as a member of the Urban League Movement and to be a part of this historic legacy civil rights organization.  I also believe to whom much is given a lot is expected.  As the only Latina to ever hold my position I feel a fair share of responsibility to leave a lasting legacy and to represent my community well. 

3. What would you like your community to know about the Urban League that they may not?

As an ambassador of the Urban League, I often find myself educating people I meet, including family and friends, about who we are and the work that we do.

Many people don’t realize that the National Urban League offers local economic empowerment programs and services through our affiliate movement in addition to our research, policy and advocacy work.  They also don’t know that Hispanics are eligible to receive services through our local Urban Leagues. In fact, many Urban Leagues now offer services in both English and Spanish, reflecting the increasing diversity in our urban areas.  Through our affiliate movement, we impact millions of black and Hispanic lives each year, in addition to other underserved communities.

Nearly half (45%) of the nation’s Hispanic population lives in just 10 metropolitan areas all of which have an Urban League presence.  So I always encourage people to reach out to their local Urban League if they (or someone they know) are trying to upgrade their employment skills, prepare their child for college, are getting ready to purchase a home or trying to become a small business owner.