It started with Sunday brunches at Suja’s house. We looked forward to her French toast and Moroccan lamb merguez ragout...mmm, a favorite! Food is magical. It's universal. It brings people together no matter where you're from, what language you speak, or what religion you practice. You know what else does too? A passion to make a difference.

We were leaders and advocates from the Asian and Latino communities here in the Commonwealth, yet we continued to face common challenges, such as the lack of equitable representation and access to resources. By working together, we believed we could be stronger so several of us formed the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance (ALSA). Our mission is to advance the common objectives impacting the Asian and Latino communities in Central Virginia; one of which is to empower and advocate for current and future leaders.

Modeled after a Nashville program, inspired by Leadership Metro Richmond’s (LMR) Quest program, and spearheaded by Eric Lin (LMR ‘06), we launched our My Academy Programs last month. These orientation programs, the first of their kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia, were developed in partnership with Henrico and Chesterfield counties to help new Virginians,
particularly those from multicultural immigrant communities, understand how to navigate their local government resources.

Over 40 participants from over a dozen different racial and ethnic backgrounds make up the inaugural classes of My Henrico Academy (MHA) and My Chesterfield Academy (MCA). Over the course of the 7-month programs, our goal is for participants to learn about the resources and contacts available to them and take this knowledge back to their families and
communities. Thus, giving immigrant communities every opportunity to be self-reliant, knowledgeable, and actively engaged.

To that end, we want Academy graduates to engage and give back...be stronger community leaders and advocates to not only enhance their own well-being but that of their communities. We will unite both classes after graduation to create a network with which graduates can look to each other for help and opportunities, cultivate relationships, and identify and address common concerns. We can be stronger together!

That's the recipe. That's the story...the impact of LMR inspires servant leadership and encourage collaboration to better our communities.

ALSA Board of Directors

  • Suja Amir (LMR '20), Secretary, MHA Participant
  • Gustavo Angeles, Director
  • Angela Chiang (LMR '10), Treasurer, MHA and MCA Participant
  • Eric Lin (LMR '06), Community Engagement Director, MHA and MCA Participant
  • Vicki Mirandah (LMR '13), Director and MHA Participant
  • May Nivar (LMR '17), Chair and MCA Participant
  • Aida Pacheco, Community Engagement Director
  • Carmen B. Williams, Director

LMR Graduates Supporting MCA

  • Joe Casey (LMR '00), County Administrator
  • Chris Winslow (LMR '17), County Board Supervisor (Clover Hill District) and Session 1 Speaker
  • Chinsuk Henshaw (LMR '10), MCA Participant

LMR Graduates Supporting MHA

  • John Vithoulkas (LMR '03), County Manager
  • Paula Reid (LMR '07) County Human Resources

May Nivar
Regulatory Affairs, Altria
Class of 2017

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