Our Public Allies: Learning, Growing, and Fighting for the Future

In Blog by Pilar

Meet Ismael Hernandez and Jaime Tovar

With a mission to create a just and equitable society and diverse leadership to sustain it, Public Allies is an organization that matches students with nonprofit organizations all over the country. Students are immersed in the work of a nonprofit, serving and learning from their communities, while receiving a stipend and an educational award after their employment.

Kiran Katira, Program Operations Director at UNM Community Engagement Center says, “Public Allies change the world through professional development, anti-racist practices, and mentorship from community leaders during the 10 months that students are placed with nonprofits.”

Currently, Partnership for Community Action (PCA) hosts two public allies. Since October 2023, Ismael Hernandez and Jaime Tovar have dedicated themselves to building skills as community leaders, while contributing to our mission to dismantle systems of inequity by investing in people and families to build power. Their work has contributed to community wins — and built skills they will carry forward as active organizers and members of our community.

Ismael Hernandez, born and raised in Albuquerque, is a first generation graduate from University of New Mexico. His commitment to serving his community came from his own lived experience with the benefits of having a strong community and cultural values. Joining Public Allies in partnership with PCA, Ismael has helped facilitate support for home-based child care providers in New Mexico.

Jaime Tovar, a first generation American who was also born and raised in Albuquerque, has a strong drive for helping his community, knowing that small opportunities can make all the difference. Jaime’s upbringing taught him the meaning of community and how important it is to protect and uplift it. From vaccine clinics, to young parent cohort meetings, Jaime is a changemaker who is particularly interested in community events.

Ismael Hernandez – A Champion of Change

Ismael recently graduated with a Bachelors in Marketing Management with a minor in Communications from UNM. With an acute understanding of the people he serves, Ismael has become a powerful advocate for home-based child care providers in New mexico.

Ismael loves being involved in the new training program that PCA launched for the Educadores para los Niños del Futuro. The home-based child care provider network is a community of support for local child caretakers, complete with continuing education, and access to resources. Ismael has facilitated programming with the group and says, “being a part of this great program, which brings valuable information to the participants, has been excellent.”

As a leader and advocate of positive change, Ismael is committed to work that uplifts the voices of his community.

“I really work hard in bringing the voice of others to the spotlight,” Ismael says. “When I went to Santa Fe for the legislative session this year, I was able to see the power that many could do when it comes to speaking out and your voice to be heard.”

At the most recent legislative session in Santa Fe, Ismael was invited to the house of representatives as a guest of the speaker. The experience expanded his understanding of the legislative process.

“I was able to experience the way that bills were talked about and not just that, but the process of what happens,” says Ismael.

During the session he saw firsthand how community changemakers maximize impact in their communities by sharing powerful stories of lived experiences. For Ismael, one of the highlights of the legislative session came from a home-based child care provider who shared her unique perspective.

 “One of the providers spoke about her experience, and it was rewarding to see that courage and strength,” Ismael remembers fondly. 

Ismael believes that these caregivers are essential to the growth and development of healthy children, who in turn will help grow healthy communities all across New Mexico. While some bills in support of home-based child care providers passed, Ismael says there is still more to be done.

Ismael believes in working with people individually, and prioritizes understanding on a personal level, which leads to powerful outcomes for positive changes in New Mexico. He continues to focus on improving access to quality education, health care, and economic opportunities. 

“Working at PCA has really been an excellent experience because of the impact that our tools will create when provided to the community,” says Ismael.

Jaime Tovar – Supporting Community Wellbeing 

As a teenager, Jaime started with PCA at the community level. He had done previous workshops and internships where he experienced PCA’s work first-hand and is passionate about community events. 

“Being able to do work for a nonprofit that I’d seen have a positive impact in communities was the easiest decision to make,” says Jaime. 

Through his involvement with Public Allies and PCA, Jaime organized three vaccine clinics for the months of December, January, and February. These successful events removed barriers for community members that may be underinsured or without insurance, by improving access to important, vital healthcare such as vaccines.

Jaime has also worked with a cohort of young parents, aiding them with resources, workshops, and info sessions. Working with young parents has helped Jaime feel more connected to the community and deepened his understanding of parenthood. He saw firsthand that “being a parent isn’t easy,” and learned about the importance of community building and making investments in young families.  

Since Jaime comes from the community that PCA serves, he has a deep appreciation for the way PCA operates. Jaime believes that with the power of knowledge and by instilling confidence in the community people will be better equipped to advocate for themselves. From vaccine clinics to workshops with young parents, together with PCA, Jaime has helped send vital messaging to community members that their health and wellbeing is important.

“I do all this with a hope that community members rise to become strong leaders and advocate for themselves and their community,” says Jaime.

We’re so proud of how much Jaime and Ismael have grown and contributed at PCA. We’re thankful for the Public Allies program and for their role in supporting the community and our mission. Public Allies builds strong leaders, like Jaime and Ismael, who believe in and fight for brighter futures. When you empower people to use their strength, communities are unstoppable. 

To learn more about Public Allies visit: https://publicallies.org/.