National Latino Peace Officers Association's Rosie De Alvarez wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

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Rosie De Alvarez

Special agent, special agent, state of California, CDCR-Office of Internal Affairs

Vice president, Northern California region, National Latino Peace Officers Association

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

Tell us your story and that of your organization: My family is originally from Michoacán, Mexico. My grandfather migrated to the United States as a Bracero in the early ’40s, and the rest of the family followed shortly after. My parents, like many farmworkers, are the backbone of the wine industry and have contributed to the financial success of the Napa Valley. Like many Latinos, they graciously cultivated the crops and the land that attract thousands of tourists to this coveted agricultural sector.

At a young age, I became aware of the physical hardships that my parents endured as farmworkers as they subjected their bodies to extreme weather conditions for limited wages. I also had an opportunity to witness their resilience and strength, as they fiercely boycotted affluent wineries for regulatory reforms, alongside Cesar Chavez with the United Farm Workers movement.

The exposure to grassroots organizing at such a young age played a pivotal role in my career choice. The exposure also influenced and encouraged me to advocate for the disenfranchised and marginalized communities, and inspired my passion for social justice.

I discovered my professional passion in the law enforcement field approximately 20 years ago. Since then, I have been fortunate to work for administrators that have encouraged relational policing, supported the research of disparities in the criminal justice system, and encouraged me to be a catalyst for change.

My commitment to reducing racial and gender disparities led me to become involved with the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPOA). The NLPOA began in the early ’70s with an objective to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the criminal justice system, provide professional development of its members, and reduce juvenile delinquency. The association executes these objectives by engaging the Latino communities in programs for vulnerable youth, awarding scholarships, and mentoring the underserved and unrepresented population.

In 2016, I founded the Marin County Chapter of NLPOA, and in 2018, I was elected as the NLPOA Vice President of the Northern California region. As an executive board member and VP, I am responsible for providing oversight, guidance, and advisory to approximately seven Bay Area NLPOA nonprofit chapters including, Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and Sacramento. I have focused my efforts on the development of a strategic plan to achieve racial equity and advancement opportunities for my members, as well as the implementation of strategies to strengthen community relationships.

The NLPOA continuously inspires the need for a humanist approach in law enforcement, and our members include some of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate commanders, officers, and civilians. The association has grown to become one of the largest Latino law enforcement associations in the United States. The NLPOA has chapters in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, and 21 chapters in California.

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

This year has brought many blessings, including a new addition to our family. We are very excited and very much in love.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

I am most proud of the recognition that I have received from the community. In 2017, I was awarded the Spirit of Marin Award by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin County; the award is presented to leading citizens for outstanding achievements that exemplify a professional and civic commitment that significantly benefits the community. I added this honor to my other accomplishments, which include, Marin County Employee of the Year, and Outstanding Business Diversity Award of 2016.

Rosie De Alvarez

Special agent, special agent, state of California, CDCR-Office of Internal Affairs

Vice president, Northern California region, National Latino Peace Officers Association

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

I am also very proud of achieving my educational goals while working fulltime as a peace officer. I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in criminal justice from the University of Idaho, A Master’s of Science in counseling psychology with a concentration in marriage and family therapy from Dominican University of California, and I am currently obtaining a doctorate of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D).

What is your biggest challenge today?

I would say, maintaining a proper work-life balance.

Words that best describe you: Pro-active, resilient, dynamic, and direct.

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

My biggest obstacles have been meeting the rigorous requirements of a law enforcement career while also carrying out my domestic responsibilities. I overcame this obstacle by disregarding societal expectations that promoted the notion that I could not be successful at both.

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

Law enforcement is very complicated and intricate. I anticipate significant changes in the organizational cultures of law enforcement as the media continues to expose the deviancy of systemic racism. I believe the next five years will require officers to have a better understanding of civil rights issues, therefore, requiring them to be more culturally sensitive. Moreover, agencies will be required to adopt new levels of transparency that historically were non-existent.

I also believe the added scrutiny will inadvertently reveal the multifaceted dynamics of policing. Hopefully it will encourage administrators to implement procedural policies that address the importance of emotional wellbeing for responders who are subjected to vicarious and secondary trauma.

Who was your most important mentor?

I have been lucky to learn from strong women like Cecilia Zamora, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Marin, and trailblazers like Jose Varela, public defender of Marin County. I also credit my growth to colleagues and supervisors both with Marin County and with the State of California.

Tell us about your community involvement: As a law enforcement professional, I serve the community as a special agent for the state of California. Throughout my law enforcement career, I have immersed myself in some of law enforcement's most challenging assignments, including undercover narcotics, sex crimes, and human trafficking. I also serve as a Task Force Officer for the Federal Bureau of Investigations Child Exploitation and Abductions Unit.

Besides my involvement with the National Latino Peace Officers Association, I also assist the marginalized monolingual community of Solano County: where I provide free clinical counseling at a mental health clinic. As a clinician-associate, I facilitate support groups for monolingual women, and survivors of human trafficking, and provide psychotherapy services to clients diagnosed with multiple psychiatric disorders, with limited resources.

Additionally, I serve as an executive board member for Redemption House, an organization with an objective to bring advocacy services to victims and survivors of human trafficking in Sonoma County. I am also the former chair of the Marin County Organization of Latino Employees (MCOLE).

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Act with humility, always work outside your comfort zone, keep going porque la lucha sigue!

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Sheryl Sandberg. I admire her dedication and advocacy for gender equality.

Current reading: “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?”

Most want to meet: Michelle Obama.

Stress relievers: Journaling, meditation, and psychotherapy.

Favorite hobbies: Camping and family time.

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

I am humbled and honored to be chosen among so many great leaders and agents of change,

Muchísimas gracias.

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