Congratulations to National PTA Diversity Committee Member Jose Antonio Tijerino on being honored with the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute’s Cesar Chavez Community Service Award! He will be receiving the prestigious award in Chicago on February 21, 2014. We had a chance to ask him about the award, and about his work with PTA.
One Voice: What is your involvement with PTA?
Tijerino: I was on the board with Otha under Jan many years ago and worked on various issues including honoring the children of the Mendez family with the big PTA award for their work in desegregating California schools six years before Brown vs. Board of Education. I left and then Otha asked me to rejoin when he became president last year.
One Voice: Tell us about the award.
Tijerino: I serve the Latino community and the greatest country in the world –America– through innovative programs to inspire, prepare, connect and position youth for leadership and for industries which are priorities for America. I’m in a position of privilege because I serve. To get an award for doing what I love to do for those I’m privileged to serve is overwhelming – especially from Dr. Juan Andrade who is a role model of mine. But I don’t expect awards — it’s what I’m supposed to do.
One Voice: How does it feel to be recognized in this way?
Tijerino: The achievement was reached through the work and support of my staff, my board, my sponsors, my family and community partners which include the PTA. I’m proud of the work we’ve all been able to do together. I’m just the one who is physically going up to receive the award but it’s on the behalf of those I mentioned. I’m blessed to be able to be in a position as the head of my organization and having a national platform to “imagine, create and impact,” as I like to say. Again, receiving an award named after Cesar Chavez and given to me by Dr. Juan Andrade is what makes it even more special. To get a pat on the back from Juan would be rewarding enough but getting an actual award is very humbling.
One Voice: What advice would you give to other PTA members about community service involvement?
Tijerino: Make an impact by filling a gap in your community, school or workforce by listening to the needs of the community, school or workforce. Don’t be redundant and do what’s already been done. Make sure to leverage your expertise, access and passion to make an impact. And be actionable; don’t wait. If you want to make change and motivate others, be ready to do all the work and give all the credit and make someone feel good about their involvement so they are invested. Focus on what you’re trying to change or get done and put everything else aside – it will weigh you down. How much farther and faster would you run without dragging a bag full of resentment, ego, judgments, conflicts and territory? You’d get much farther a lot faster.