In the early years of the foundation, Hispanic Access used to have a helpline for new immigrants to call and ask about resources available to them. If they had any questions about a particular subject, Neuenschwander was responsible for finding those resources and connecting the community with them. This initiative helped Hispanic Access collect information about community needs and create programs to equip community members and provide them with the resources they need.
“During that period, we were getting a lot of tax questions,” said Neuenschwander. “We had a partnership with H&R Block and through the networks that Maite has with pastors and community leaders, we were able to organize tax education workshops to happen at churches in Spanish.”
Since then, Neuenschwander has transitioned into many roles, including her most recent one as the MANO Project Director. As Hispanic Access began to grow, Neuenschwander would manage various programs including a college access program and a cancer education program.
“Now, I’ve been managing the MANO Project for about 5-6 years, a program where we partner with different organizations, or federal agencies to connect Latino students and any person of color with internship or fellowship opportunities,” said Neuenschwander. “The goal is for these interns or fellows to be in leadership positions.”
As the liaison between Hispanic Access and partner organizations, Neuenschwander has seen the positive changes that professionals experience during or after their MANO internship or fellowship, as they grow into their leadership roles.
“We all have some type of imposter syndrome, but then you realize you are capable, and I’ve noticed the confidence boost,” said Neuenschwander. “We’re starting to see these interns get hired by these agencies, and now our alumni are mentoring the next intern coming in and it creates a cycle.”
Neuenschwander looks at Hispanic Access Foundation’s growth from a bird’s-eye view. Her years of experience and dedication have been essential to the development of the organization. Throughout the years, Hispanic Access has become a part of not only her life, but her family’s. At some point, her sister used to work for the organization, and her mother and uncle once traveled to North Carolina to pick up a donation of $20,000 books in a U-Haul. Being part of Hispanic Access when it was just starting and growing along with it, is a unique part of Neuenschwander’s career.
Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Michelle Neuenschwander, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation