By Yuriria Morales, Executive Director, Global Ties ABQ and Committee Member, Global Ties Network Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group
Our strength as an organization and Network lies in the diverse experiences, knowledge, and background each person brings with them. I came to this country 15 years ago to complete my master’s degree at the University of New Mexico. I had the full intent of returning to Mexico after, but I was presented with many different opportunities that led to me making Albuquerque, NM my home, including the opportunity to lead Global Ties ABQ as Executive Director. Opportunity is a favorable condition or situation. How do we create an organization centered around opportunity? The answer must include diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because an organization based on opportunity is structured to include a plurality, not centered on just a select few.
At Global Ties ABQ, we believe that diversity strengthens our ability in connecting our communities to the wider, global community. Albuquerque is a phenomenally diverse community and we at Global Ties ABQ will always be a proud representative of it. Our city and state are made up of a 48% Hispanic population and a 12% Native American population, making us one of the only minority-majority states in the United States. Within the organization, the Global Ties ABQ team represents multiple nationalities, and collectively speaks more than ten languages. Our staff, board members, interns, members, partners, sponsors, and volunteers provide a kaleidoscope of diverse identities and backgrounds to enhance and uplift the potential of our organization. We add to our organization by engaging youth and university students through internships, some paid through fundraising initiatives led by our members and some through volunteering. We make space for all of these voices at our meetings and include them in our networking events to expand their presence, and ours, within our community. Each of these opportunities drives our work to build global skills, networks, and engagement between U.S. and international counterparts.
The International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) is, in itself, an incredible example of DEI and diplomacy. With thousands of people visiting year-after-year, IVLP becomes our community’s connection to the world. The exchange is also an opportunity for our organization and community to engage with so many people of such diverse backgrounds, which makes it even more crucial to include everyone within the community. Whether the visits are held in person or virtually, Global Ties ABQ utilizes IVLP to bring the world to Albuquerque. These visits become instrumental in the success of both communities. A great example here is IVLP alumna Anouk Vos, a Dutch cybersecurity specialist who visited Albuquerque in 2017. Two years later, thanks to a community connection made during her visit, Anouk launched “Cyberheroes,” an in-depth ethical hacking course that brought U.S. students to the Netherlands. Ten students from Albuquerque and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico were able to travel with others from our community to The Hague to learn about cybersecurity best practices, furthering both communities’ global experiences. Opportunities like this not only help local emerging leaders increase their knowledge and skills, but continue to grow the IVLP impact.
We want to continue to create an organization centered on opportunity. There is no end in this quest, which means we must continually educate ourselves, listen to the people within our organization and communities, and continually be open to change where it can help us progress. Being conscious in looking for ways our organizations can be inclusive of people from different backgrounds, races, colors, religions, genders, gender identity and expressions, nationalities, disabilities, and ages is critical to achieve successful and honest exchange. DEI is at the forefront of the opportunity we want to create, and enables even more successes and opportunities to come to fruition.