23 to watch in 2023: Herman G. Hernandez, executive director of Los Cien Sonoma County

Herman G. Hernandez, who took over the organization his father helped found, plans to grow Los Cien’s operations and strengthen relationships with other marginalized communities.|

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

Name: Herman G. Hernandez

Title or position: Los Cien Sonoma County executive director; Sonoma County Board of Education vice president and Area 5 trustee

On the job since: June 1 at Los Cien; first elected to Board of Education in 2014, current term expires in 2024

Age: 36

Hometown: Grew up in Guerneville, now lives in Santa Rosa

Why Hernandez is someone to watch:

Los Cien was launched in 2009 by nine members — including Herman J. Hernandez, a Guerneville real estate agent and Herman G.’s father — who met in a backroom of a Mary’s Pizza Shack. It now counts more than 1,500 members and is one of the county’s most prominent leadership networking organizations.

Its mission has broadened over time, but its core focus continues to be civic engagement, education and building bridges between the growing Latino community and others in Sonoma County.

Herman G. Hernandez is just the second full-time executive director to run the group, which until 2018 had been run by volunteer board members.

Hernandez hopes to expand the nonprofit’s board and those who attend their events to include more members of other marginalized communities. The new year also will see Los Cien’s operations grow.

It will add an event coordinator to help plan the group’s monthly luncheons and signature events next year. The group also plans to establish two new programs to help build a pipeline of leaders who can serve on nonprofit boards, city boards and commissions, school board and city council.

One of those programs calls for workshops on the ins and outs of what it takes to serve in public office -- from running a campaign, building a volunteer network and raising money, to the responsibilities of the job. As part of that, the group hopes to create a network of mentors to provide support to people once they’re elected.

What others are saying about Hernandez:

“With Herman G stepping into the role of executive director we have the opportunity as an organization to build on the foundation that all of the volunteers and our first executive director, Magali Telles, has laid.

“We’re excited that we’re able to step into this space and provide something new for the community. Our whole community is well-served by bringing all these new bright lights in local leadership to the work that needs to be done to create a community that is truly resilient and provides all of us with the resources that we need to thrive. Herman brought a passion specifically for doing this into the organization from the time he was interviewing for the position.” — Lisa Carreño, CEO of United Way of the Wine Country and Los Cien board member

What Hernandez says about 2023:

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequities in economic stability, access to health care and education attainment among minority groups in Sonoma County and nationally. At a forum earlier this year held by Los Cien, speakers said as the community comes out of the health crisis, it should do more than just work toward recovery, it must build resilience.

Two ways to do that are to strengthen relationships between Asian, Black, Indigenous and Latino communities to address shared needs and diversify appointed and elected boards so those communities have a seat at the decision-making table.

“The bottom line is if we’re supporting our most marginalized communities, we’re all going to benefit from that,” Hernandez said. “We have a big vision, and it’s more like a three-to-five year project we’re trying to build but we’re excited for 2023.”

You can reach Staff Writer Paulina Pineda at 707-521-5268 or paulina.pineda@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @paulinapineda22.

Paulina Pineda

Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park city reporter

Decisions made by local elected officials have some of the biggest day-to-day impacts on residents, from funding investments in roads and water infrastructure to setting policies to address housing needs and homelessness. As a city reporter, I want to track those decisions and how they affect the community while also highlighting areas that are being neglected or can be improved.

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

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