Profile: Sylvia Puente — Executive Director, Latino Policy Forum

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Sylvia Puente director of the Latino Policy Forum began her journey with the United Farm Workers Union. As a youngster, she took part in protests with her parents and understood the meaning of fair and humane working conditions for the people.

With an economics degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, Puente experienced different positions in her career. While working at the Notre Dame Institute for Latino Studies and the Latino Institute, Puente learned just how using research and data analysis could help the community.

“I realized that it just wasn’t about being on the front lines and picketing, but we needed research, data and information to support the gaps, the inequalities the challenges that exist in the Latino community,” Puente explains.

Being the executive director of the Latino Policy Forum has proven very fruitful for her. One of her proudest achievements during her short time at the forum is instilling mandatory bilingual education in early childhood education classrooms for the state of Illinois.

“Children have to be anchored in their native language in order to learn a second language,” she explains.

Of her knowledge, Puente says that in order to move ahead, Latinos have to do particular things to succeed. Having a strong sense of self, creating your own reality and to using your gifts and passion for what you want to do are among the top pieces of advice Puente can contribute to the next generation of Latinos.

As a Mexican-American born in Chicago and raised in the surrounding suburbs, Puente claims that although she didn’t have role models to look up to she always knew she was going to college to prove herself. Her …

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