Ivette Pineda, the Executive Director of North Valley Caring Services in North Hills California, is an example of the best that our immigrant community has to offer. Coming here from her native El Salvador, at the age of 2-1/2 years she grew up in the Hollywood area. After attending Bravo Medical Magnet high school she enrolled at Cal State Northridge where she obtained both a BA in Sociology and an MA in Public Administration.
Before coming to NVCS, Ivette worked for the nonprofit organization Lutheran Social Services. In the 6-1/2 years that she has been with NVCS she has gone from starting as the Outreach Coordinator to becoming the Executive Director.Ivette’s responsibilities include direct fund development to support and enhance existing and new programs. In conjunction with the Board, she establishes current and long-range goals, strategies and policies. Ivette is active in representing the organization to the community and to policymakers. And in addition to managing and directing agency staff, she develops implements and monitors the annual operating budget.
When Ivette first came to the U.S. from El Salvador she and her family lived with relatives; two families with a total of nine lived a small 2-bedroom apartment. When her family was finally able to move into their own apartment, they didn’t live in the nicest areas and often dealt with noise, gangs, roaches, among other things.
Additionally, Ivette faced many other struggles, but like most immigrants, the lack of English was a major one. When she began Kindergarten she didn’t speak any English so she felt very lost. She remembers being placed in a small beginner’s reading group and longing to be with the rest of the class. Ivette was not able to understand what her teachers were saying. Unfortunately, some of them became frustrated with her and she recalls many times when they would yell at her because she couldn’t follow directions.
Despite feelings of intimidation, Ivette overcame her early struggles. She really liked learning so that helped to motivate herself to do well in school. She also saw the struggles that her parents experienced, especially her mother who came from a broken home. Her parents always motivated her to study hard so that, when she grew up, she could be whatever she wanted. Their hope was always that she would have a better life than they did. It became very important to Ivette to make her parents proud and not add to their hardships by misbehaving or doing poorly in school.
Having struggled, worked very hard, and transformed herself into an educated, successful leader, Ivette is a true Mariposa Latina and her passion, to help people that are less fortunate or disadvantaged, is what drives her every day. “My desire is to offer individuals and parents the tools they need to better their lives and the lives of their children. Also, that children of immigrant parents, living in broken homes or in poverty, or both, have an opportunity for a better future just as I did. “
A woman of deep faith and conviction, Ivette’s goals are to continue to reach out to people in need and to impact more lives. From her experiences the greatest need that the Latino community has is education and training i.e. English, GED, computer, vocational classes. To meet this need she tells us, “I hope to expand the services that NVCS provides. Personally, I believe faith is important and it has played a key role in getting me to where I am now. I plan to become a licensed minister and serve others by helping people grow in their faith.”
Her personal successes are many, but she considers the greatest to be obtaining my Master’s degree and secondly, occupying the current position that she has and managing an organization that makes an impact in the community and impacts the lives of others.
When asked what advice she has for other Latinas, Ivette quickly and passionately says, “Focus on going to college/university and choosing a profession that you are passionate about. Don’t lose sight of preparing yourselves for a better future and in turn, providing for your family and children an opportunity to succeed.” Indeed advice that she herself has followed.
Ivette Pineda is a true Mariposa Latina – building a better life and community!