ATLANTA—Genesis Castro (M.P.A. ‘20) was recently named one of Georgia’s 50 Most Influential Latinos by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Awardees are recognized as innovators, leaders and for “leaving a footprint behind.”
“It feels good to be recognized for my hard work managing the membership program and responding to the pandemic,” said Castro, who until recently was on staff at the Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia).
Castro’s passion to serve Latinos flourished during her time at LCF Georgia, a nonprofit supporting this community with civic participation, grants and capacity building. She watched the organization grow as she transitioned into multiple roles, starting as network and program coordinator. “People have different needs, and we have to be intentional in telling people what resources are available to them.”
In her first role, Castro connected Latinos with nonprofits by hosting workshops for nonprofit professionals to help alleviate pandemic pressures in the Latino community. Workshops included “Nonprofit Planning and COVID-19” and “Positioning Your Organization for Funding Beyond COVID-19.” Her team hosted Spanish Facebook live sessions with some topics including information about the COVID-19 vaccine, pandemic EBT resources and housing rights.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, Castro became LCF Georgia’s health and wellbeing manager, initiating a public health campaign to increase vaccination rates among Latinos in Georgia. LCF Georgia improved their access to the COVID-19 vaccine and hosted the first Latino-centered vaccine site in Georgia. Building trust among the Latino community and community partners, the organization expanded to host more sites. According to Castro, her team hosted hundreds of vaccine sites with community partners, resulting in 13,500 vaccines in arms since February 2021.
Castro, a Miami native, moved to Georgia as a young child. “Growing up, I thought everyone was Hispanic,” she said. “Moving to the state was a culture shock.” The move created a disconnect she conquered as she involved herself in Latino-serving organizations, in high school as a Leadership Sin Limites mentee. “It was the first time I was around other Hispanic students who felt motivated and empowered to volunteer and be leaders in our community.”
After chartering a Hispanic Organization Promoting Organization (HoPe) chapter in high school, she served as a volunteer during her undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia and eventually became HoPe’s director of education.
Castro’s efforts to serve Latinos continued through her time at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. She chose to pursue an M.P.A. at Georgia State University because she believed in the importance of making a difference in Atlanta and around people who are involved in the policy processes rooted in the community.
Her award now in hand, Castro said she plans to take her skills to a philanthropic organization or a company practicing corporate social responsibility, and she will continue to be an advocate for the Latino community.
- By Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate