Angie Sanchez of Sonoma's La Luz Center wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

Angie Sanchez

Community engagement programs manager

La Luz Center Company

17560 Greger St., Sonoma 95476


Residence: Sonoma Valley

Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Angie Sanchez of La Luz Center was born and raised in Sonoma Valley as the oldest of seven children and proud daughter of Mexican immigrants.

Tell us your story and that of your organization: Coming from a very low-income family, I was exposed at a young age what it was to seek services, resources as well as give back to the community that gave to us.

Little did I know that the organization that gave so much to my family and where I spent most of my youth volunteering would become more then a job but my second home.

I just began my 10th year of employment with La Luz Center, which is a community resource center whose mission is to strengthen community through family services, economic advancement and community engagement.

I am currently managing the community engagement program which is thus far my favorite role I have had in the organization.

In this role I am working on building, enriching and engaging Sonoma Valley residents by ensuring the Latino Community has a place and a voice.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

To date I would say the work alongside my sister Sandy who also works for La Luz Center during and after the October 2017 Wildfires.

During the immediate Relief Phase we were able provide 300 warm meals a day for two weeks, distribute donations of food, clothing, breathing masks and personal items. The Recovery Phase was to help those families impacted by the fire with financial assistance to help pay for rent, bills, groceries etc.

A total of $1.2 million was disbursed that assisted 913 individuals and reached 3,306 families.

We are now working on the third phase Resiliency, helping our families overcome the trauma through mental health services and empowering them to build lasting power by being civically engaged.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

On a personal level I would say raising my daughter Natalia at a young age. Natalia is now a teenager and I am proud of the smart, charismatic young woman she is becoming.

As a parent it was important for me to instill a sense of kindness and generosity, so seeing her volunteer and understand the importance of giving back to the community makes me very happy.

Professionally receiving this recognition and award was a big but good surprise. I also am honored to have been asked to be a speaker on a panel called To Resist You Must Exist. Vote Your Values at the LTX Fest in SF around the civic engagement efforts I am leading.

What is your biggest challenge today?

I have too many ideas and not enough time. I also need to learn to say no more often and slow down as I am always on the go. More self-care is definitely needed.

Words that best describe you: Creative, Resilient, Outgoing, Resourceful, Adventurous, Generous, Caregiver

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

As a young Latina a challenge I've faced and sometimes still struggle with is “imposter syndrome.” That is where people attribute their success to luck, rather than hard work. I've been guilty of undervaluing or doubting myself and my talents in the past. I am now in a place where if I start feeling that way I remind myself about my accomplishments, don't listen to naysayers or compare myself to others.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

Currently my goal is to transform La Luz's hall, Booker Hall, into a full-fledged arts and cultural center.

Co-currently on a personal endeavor I am working alongside my coworker Amanda Hernandez taking our passion for community, culture and event planning to create a network of Latinas, called Chingonistas Rising that we will be launching in October. Follow us on social media @ChingonistasRising.

Who was your most important mentor?

Jenny Chamberlain, who is the past president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Sonoma County and currently the District Director for (Sonoma County) Supervisor James Gore.

Jenny's encouragement led me to joining the Hispanic Chamber as a board member and the Gala Scholarship committee. Her greatest advice to me has been not to be afraid to speak up as a young Latina, to not fear sharing my ideas or suggestions especially when in a room full of males who tend to hold the floor.

Tell us about your community involvement: Currently, I am working on building a foundation to amplify and deepen the voice of Latinos through civic engagement. I am spearheading a campaign called Sonoma Cuenta/Sonoma Counts to ensure that all of Sonoma Valley is informed about the importance of the 2020 Census and gets counted by completing the survey when it becomes available next year.

I am particularly excited about this because I was able to secure funding from the Latino Community Foundation to work with the Design Action Collective out of Oakland to create a game called Censoteria which is based off the popular Mexican game Loteria. This game was designed as a creative initiative to teach about the upcoming 2020 Census in an educational and fun way. This game will be distributed to other Latino led organizations so they can host pop up events in their community.

I also am the event organizer for Sonoma's cultural events like Dia de los Muertos, La Posada and Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo which is the biggest Latino cultural event in Sonoma Valley has grown year after year with a record attendance of 7,000 this past May.

The proceeds raised from this event are then awarded to graduating SV High School Seniors who are continuing their education.

In addition I sit on the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Sonoma County which is committed to building bridges by promoting and supporting Sonoma County businesses through education, civic, and economic engagement.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Get involved in your community, find something you are passionate about and embrace failure as everything in life is a learning opportunity.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Masha Chernyak, vice president of programs and policy for the Latino Community Foundation. Masha is a strategic visionary, community organizer, and an experienced advocate for the Latino immigrant community. She has an ability to inspire and uplift in such a unique way which is so contagious to all those around her!

Currently reading: Interesting enough I am currently reading “The Power of Latino Leadership” by Juana Bordas as well as “Self Made” by Nely Galan

Most want to meet: I met Nely Galan briefly at a book signing but I would love to be able to spend a day with her to pick her brain and learn more about how she got to where she is today.

Stress relievers: Hiking, watching movies and dancing

Favorite hobbies: Traveling to new places I feel it's beneficial to me in all aspects of my life socially, intellectually and even emotionally.

Is there something we didn't ask that you would like to add?

I want to thank La Luz Center, its board members and staff for giving me the opportunity to do what I love, letting me run with my ideas and continuing to allow me to grow professionally.

Thank you to Frankie Ortiz for supporting me all these years as I wouldn't have been able to take some of the work, travel or school opportunities without you being there for me and Natalia. Special acknowledgement to Larissa, Melody, Ely, Amanda, Sandra, Chito & Alex for being the most encouraging and amazing group of people I am lucky to call my friends.

Lastly, to my crazy beautiful parents and siblings I love you all and thank you for being my biggest supporters!

Angie Sanchez

Community engagement programs manager

La Luz Center Company

17560 Greger St., Sonoma 95476


Residence: Sonoma Valley

Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

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