2020 has been a year of challenges and loss, but also of new beginnings, innovation, and great hope. UNITE-LA embarked on this journey by turning a page: we became an independent organization, formally ending our affiliation with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Soon after, the world would be in the grips of a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and a racial reckoning. The pandemic's health and financial effects would hit poor and underserved communities particularly hard and exacerbate existing inequities. The murder of George Floyd brought into the spotlight the harsh and continuing injustices of systemic racism, and at the same time energized the Black Lives Matter Movement and a widespread reckoning around systemic racism. This tragedy was perhaps emblematic of 2020: out of great loss and recognition of deep injustices and inequities came renewed commitments to improve our world.
UNITE-LA joins in these commitments and recognizes that our work is now more necessary than ever. We are intentional about deepening our work around anti-racism and race equity, as well as reimagining our cradle-to-career social equity work—all in completely uncharted waters.
Our team—with so many of you as partners, colleagues and friends—responded in ways in which we have much to be proud. From working to ensure students can realize their college dreams, to providing virtual work readiness trainings, to hosting a webinar for candidates running in pivotal races, to developing research in support of early care providers, K-12 teachers, immigrant workers, and working families, to advancing policies and practices that mitigate inequities for front-line and low-paid workers, to collaborating with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Superintendent Debra Duardo in reenergizing the L.A. Compact for the health and success of all our young people, it was a very busy, virtual year! 2020 certainly inspired us to push ourselves – to innovate and to do more because it is clear our community needs more.
In the midst of this work, UNITE-LA suffered an incredible loss. In October, we would lose our beloved colleague and leader, Dr. Alma Salazar, to breast cancer. And while Alma served as UNITE-LA’s executive vice president, the team would tell you she served as our best friend, our north star, and our voice of reason. Our sadness today is still incredibly profound, but all of us have found that the best way to honor Alma is to work harder. Because that is what she did every day.
2020 also brought perspective. At UNITE-LA, we are so fortunate for your support. We are well aware our accomplishments are a shared result of your work, your patience and your creativity with us. This year, we asked a lot from so many of you, and you answered our call with good faith and trust in our new efforts and innovations. We are all still in unchartered waters, and the future is uncertain, but together, I am confident we will continue to face it and shape it with commitment and creativity so that the youth of L.A. have every opportunity to succeed and thrive.
I hope you and your families have a happy, safe and healthy holiday. And here’s to 2021 and all of the changes we hope to make in our world!
President & CEO