The group’s mission is to integrate the Hispanic/Latino community by uniting, supporting, and strengthening alliance members in Greater Cleveland and Northern Ohio; and to further the social, educational, and economic development of the Hispanic/Latino community through advocacy, leadership development and the formation of strategic partnerships.
However, 45 days into her tenure at the alliance, NCLR contacted her about the regional director job, a position for which she had applied and interviewed 18 months prior to that. Ms. Troche had just moved back to Cleveland with two of her three teenage daughters. Her oldest, 17-year old Kazandra, had stayed behind in the Dallas area to finish her senior year of high school.
“There was a delay in the decision-making process, so I had assumed someone else had taken the position,” said Ms. Troche.
She has spent a lot of time on the road in the past week-and-a-half. Ms. Troche spent a week in Washington, D.C. at NCLR’s national headquarters, then drove back to Cleveland to pick up her daughters. The three then drove to Dallas over the weekend, where her daughters will re-enroll in their old high school and finish the academic year. Ms. Troche then went on to San Antonio, where she started her new job at NCLR on Monday.
For Ms. Troche, the competing jobs presented a personal and professional dilemma. In the end, she stated she did what was best for her family.
“Being from Cleveland, I was very well-received by the leadership and the community itself,” she said. “I just want folks to know it wasn’t something that happened intentionally. I had all the intentions of staying in Cleveland. I had relocated my family and had just really started the job, hitting the ground running.”
Ms. Troche was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Cleveland area. The oldest of five siblings, she moved to Texas in recent years to start a financial services company with her sister. Most of her family had relocated there in the past decade or so.
In 2004, Ms. Troche was named executive director of Adelante, Inc., a Latino resource center, based in Toledo, a post she held until 2010. While there, she was selected to serve as the Ohio female delegate to the NCLR board of directors. She was also named a 2008 Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan by the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA).
Leaving the Hispanic Alliance was difficult
“The alliance [Hispanic Alliance] and what it represents, really needs to be supportive of each other, everyone on board if it’s going to advance,” she said. “The concept is a wonderful one, but if you don’t have everyone on the same page, when you don’t necessarily feel the support of all of its leadership, that makes it really difficult.”
Ms. Troche stated some of the alliance member organizations were hanging on to an old paradigm that wasn’t working. For a coalition to work, she stated some of the individual groups may have to merge, do business a different way, or sacrifice their efforts in favor of a coalition. Many of the groups, she said, were struggling financially in a poor economy and were unlikely to survive on their own. Ms. Troche explained some were reluctant “to change in a way that was going to make the alliance effective.”
“When this new job came around, I really struggled with it,” she recalled. “I really felt the alliance, it can do so much for our community, not only in Cleveland, but can be a model that can be replicated throughout the state and really help us fight some of the Latino issues that are going on. But I also felt I was starting to hit a brick wall with some of the change that needed to happen. In my final two days there, it became apparent the best decision was to move on.”
Ms. Troche spoke of “trust issues” between some of the leaders of the organizations involved. There was not the “information-sharing” that needed to happen in order to “move forward” and address greater problems within the Latino community. She stated some groups were trying to preserve the individual missions of their organizations at the expense of the collaborative efforts of the coalition—which she stated are necessary for fund-raising and effective programming.
“Everyone needs to understand that for the betterment of the community, the people in our community itself, there will be some entities, as we know them, that may have to suffer,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean organizations have to close or have forced mergers, but we really need to open our minds as to what are the opportunities as a collaborative group, as a strategic organization, and as a community to really improve the services to our community. We need to start doing things differently, because the reality is times have changed and the economy, especially in our own community, isn’t getting any better as they say it is at the national level.”
While sounding that warning to the Cleveland-area Latino community, Ms. Troche stated leaving that effort became a personal dilemma when the NCLR job became available. She said her daughters had become acclimated with the help of their father and grandparents—and she was about to convince them to move back again. Daughters Lili [Lyzandra], 16 and a junior, and Julie [Julivandra], 15, a freshmen, backed their mom because it meant being back with their oldest sister.
“I hope it’s the right decision, not only from a professional level, but which allows me to be closer to all my girls at the same time,” she said, citing her family support system in Texas.
Ms. Troche will coordinate NCLR’s advocacy and policy work in education, workforce development, healthcare, and immigration across the state of Texas with its affiliate organizations. She also will be responsible for relationship and capacity-building on the local, state, and even national level. Part of her new duties also will include recruiting new members and strengthening existing groups.
2012 will be a crucial year for NCLR on the national political stage, with the presidential and congressional elections. Many political observers believe Latino voters will be a powerful bloc, especially with immigration as a hot-button issue.
Ms. Troche made it clear, however, she intends to stay connected with the Toledo and Cleveland regions, and will “reach back and help” whenever possible.
“I want to be able to give back—by passing on information and resources,” she said. “I want to still be able to do that, so it feels like I’m still connected to home.”
On the Internet: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2011/112511/sonia.htm