Latinos will play key role in R.I. economic growth
GUIDING LIGHT: Anna Cano Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, cites her father – who she says was the first Colombian to come to Central Falls – as her earliest role model.
Anna Cano Morales is working to elevate the profile of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and help manage a growing Latino population, particularly in Rhode Island’s urban areas.
With more than 20 years’ experience working for nonprofits, including work at The Rhode Island Foundation, where she led an initiative for Hispanics in Philanthropy, she says she’s well-prepared for her new role.
The institute recently released a study calling for action to counter a crisis in education of Latinos.
PBN: One of your earliest jobs was as a volunteer outreach director for Project Bridges for Pawtucket’s Hispanic Evangelical Church. How did that experience help shape your interest in and aptitude for working on educational issues?
CANO MORALES: It gave me the ability to broker philanthropy with community needs. I actually secured the grant that allowed that program to open, so my involvement was really on an administrative level, but I was able to really see the investment that those funds had in the community through supporting the children in their education. … I consider myself a social broker. I’m able to bring together different communities, different interests, in order to tackle community challenges head on.
PBN: Your education focused on family studies and social work. How do understanding and working on interpersonal dynamics contribute to your leadership style?
CANO MORALES: It contributes greatly because it allows me to listen and really hear what people are going through, some of the barriers to success and challenges they face. It allows me to be emotionally intelligent in very difficult situations. Diplomacy is a great thing, being able to not rush to judgment but do my homework and make sure best practices are always elevated to the top.