Ambar Hanson, LatinoLEAD Board Chair and Community Relationship Officer for the Mortenson Family Foundation
Tell us a little bit about yourself? How do you identify as a Latino/a/x and what does that mean to you?
I’m a proud Dominican mujer, mother, hermana, daughter, advocate, luchadora and friend.
I was born in San Leandro, California to an Irish American dad and a Dominican mom. At the age of three, my family moved to the Dominican Republic to be closer to my mother’s family. I grew up in the Dominican Republic and moved to MN when I was 17 years old.
My mom has always been incredibly proud of her roots and culture. She instilled in me a deep sense of pride in Dominican culture. Dominicana hasta la tambora!
As a mixed heritage Latina, I believe it is important to claim all of my identities which include Spanish, African, Taino, Irish, and Portuguese. I am a product of the colonized and the colonizer and have committed myself to doing deep self work in order to reclaim my humanity and work towards building a more just world.
Being whole and doing work that moves all of us towards liberation requires for me to not just be a sum of my parts but to be 100% human. Being human requires for me to acknowledge the privilege and pain of my ancestors. As a Latina, I recognize our histories are complex and these complexities have created an incredibly vibrant, diverse, and beautiful diaspora of people. I’m incredibly proud of who I am and where I come from.
What inspired you to the work that you do?
Over the course of the past 18 years, I worked with strong Latinx leaders in the women’s movement to address domestic violence, with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian families and communities to address the educational opportunity gap, and now I work in philanthropy bridging resources to our communities that help expand opportunities for youth and families.
The through line for all of the work I have done includes my commitment to my community, contributing to building a more just and equitable society, and a belief that change is possible.
There is very little representation of our Latinx community in philanthropy. Our lived realities, voices, perspectives, solutions, and work are harder to see and understand without folks in the field that have proximity to our communities. Working at the Mortenson Family Foundation provides me with the opportunity to be a bridge and connector to so many of our communities that have been historically marginalized. Additionally, it is a space in which I can work with others on the efforts to decolonize wealth and address the many inequities that exist in how money moves from the point of where it is invested to where it is granted.
I am incredibly passionate about changing systems and working from within systems so that resources and opportunity can be more accessible to ALL people.
Why did you want to serve on the board? Why would you encourage others to serve on the board?
LatinoLEAD’s mission, to bring our communities together across all sectors to create innovative strategies to drive and define policies and perceptions that advance Latino collective influence, success and power, resonates for me.
Joining the board of LatinoLEAD has given me an incredible opportunity to learn and connect with incredible Latinx leaders around the state who understand the power of collective impact and are working hard to ensure our children and grandchildren have a strong future as Minnesotanos.
Why do you think the work of LatinoLEAD is important for our community now?
As Lupe Serrano would always say, “with access to resources, tools and information, 99.9% of community members would do what is in the best interest of themselves and their families.”
LatinoLEAD is committed to providing a wealth of resources, tools, and information to ensure we can all do better by our communities. As a connector of our communities supporting to increase Latinx leadership, and a strong coalition of members, LatinoLEAD is working to change systems and disrupt the status quo. We know our communities are brilliant and our communities know what conditions are necessary to ensure our communities thrive.
Si se puede!