IGNITE is pleased to introduce our newest San Diego Fellow, Faith Garcia! We spoke with Faith to discuss her goals for the Fellowship, her leadership experience, and how she flexes her political power.
IGNITE: Welcome, Faith! We're so happy to have you empowering the young women of San Diego. Would you please share a little more about why you wanted to become an IGNITE Fellow?
FG: I became an IGNITE Fellow because I want to create change in my community. I currently live in the southeast San Diego area, which is a predominantly Black and Brown neighborhood. With my leadership experience and with the help of IGNITE, I hope that I can generate a movement in my neighborhood to uplift Black and Brown women to run for office and get civically involved within our community.
IGNITE: Civic involvement is key to increasing representation in politics. Why do you believe that young people should get politically/civically engaged?
FG: Civic engagement is essential to a democratic society because the involvement of multiple identities, classes, and experiences creates a more just and equitable society. I deeply value advocacy, civic engagement, equity, and the importance of all people's voices, in the push for people's rights. As a first-generation Latina, Indigenous, Queer, Woman, who was raised being impacted by intersectional systems and institutions, I have always pushed for these topics.
IGNITE: Thank you for sharing! Can you talk a little bit about how you've flexed your political power in the past?
FG: My work toward civic engagement, inclusive excellence, diversity, equity, and social justice started within my first semester at California State University-San Marcos. As an intern in Lobby Corps, I gained the executive position of Director of Legislative Affairs. I had the opportunity to attend multiple California State Student Association (CSSA) plenaries and got awarded Lobbyist of the Year through this position. I then ran for the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences Representative for CSUSM's Associated Student Incorporated and won. I also got the opportunity to write two resolutions to create policy change with another representative.
IGNITE: How will you mobilize and empower your community to get involved politically/civically?
FG: By holding space for my community to let their voices be heard, I believe they will want to mobilize for change and want to see what else IGNITE has to offer in terms of resources and opportunities. I want to create space for my community to understand that they have the political agency to advocate for themselves through leveled engagement actions, from open discussion, social media, and talking to loved ones to directly addressing our city council. Engagement is about empowering community members to work towards progressive change in the careers, knowledge, passions, and pathways they know the best.
I truly believe what my community needs are resources and representatives that care about our wellbeing. Having more homeless shelters, mental health counselors, access to health care and menstrual products would truly create a difference in my community.
IGNITE: Fellows across the country demonstrate leadership in their community as they encourage young women to own their power. How do you define leadership? What values are most important to you as a leader?
FG: The values most essential to my role as a leader are trust, accountability, and community. These values are important to my individual and community practice because I believe in creating trust between communities in order for there to be trust in a shared commitment to progress. Furthermore, I believe in community as the first step to all interactions. I believe in leading in issues that directly affect my community and stepping back to listen to leaders from communities that have more knowledge on their needs and roadblocks.
IGNITE: At IGNITE, we're trying to broaden the definition of what it means to be a political leader. It's so much more than just being an elected leader. Political leaders can also be community organizers, policymakers, and campaign staffers. What leadership role do you identify with, and how do you want that to play out in your political career?
FG: The leadership role that I identify with would be a community organizer! I always thought that I wanted to be an elected official, then I was introduced to organizing and the power of community. Now that I have graduated from college, I am organizing my community and that starts with IGNITE! There is so much that goes behind the scenes of politics. I believe that a huge part of that is organizing. I hope to continue being involved within my community no matter where life takes me.
IGNITE: Faith, any closing comments to add?
FG: I am excited to start organizing with IGNITE and my community. Let's get more young women into spaces they belong! Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions on how to get involved or anything else. Thank you.
More about Faith
Faith Garcia is IGNITE's San Diego Fellow. She recently graduated from California State University San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Political science and a double minor in Women's Studies and Sociology. Faith centered on civic engagement, inclusive excellence, diversity, equity, social justice, survivors, and immigration throughout her academic career. She was also committed to efforts to defund and abolish the University Police Department across the CSU system. She believes in the power of community and is excited to help create an empowering space for young women to discover their voice and place in areas they aspire to be, including in elected office and leading movements. Faith is a first-generation graduate Latina, Indigenous, Queer, Woman who is system impacted. For San Diego inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.