Photo: Luis and his wife Erica in front of the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
Throughout his life and work, Luis Gomez (he/him/his) has always seen and made connections between people, places, and sectors. His experience working with young people, educators, and community leaders in different learning and leadership development environments has brought him to Inatai, where Luis serves as Training Manager.
Luis was born in Mexico City and has been calling the Yakima Valley home since he was 6 years old. He’s gotten to know the places and people intimately—both the good, and the bad. There were many nonprofit organizations that provided not only essential services for him and his family, but also a sense of belonging and worthiness in a community that may not always be welcoming to immigrants.
There were many trusted adults that helped him get to where he is now, including several educators who saw his leadership skills early on and pushed him to reach his career goals regardless of his undocumented status. Luis remembers receiving a scholarship for college: “I was super proud of getting a full-ride scholarship. I never imagined myself being able to say to my parents, ‘Don’t worry about paying for my school.’ Being a first-generation college student, it made my family proud.”
There were also, of course, his parents, Ruth and Jose Gomez. “Moving from place to place, the person who grounded me the most was my mom because I know my mom was always going to be there,” says Luis. Both of his parents taught him the importance of hard work and being kind to everyone.
But similar to many who share his story, there was also racism. There were many instances where he and his family felt like every system was playing against him, from housing, education, and legal systems. These experiences planted a seed for Luis. His focal questions became: How can I make sure people that look like me don’t have to have the experience that I’ve had and how can I make sure that these systems and places truly serve communities like mine?
At Inatai, Luis gets to work on these questions every day. He brings his community engagement skills to a team dedicated to supporting a powerful network of leaders across the state. He is looking forward to transforming traditional ways of doing things in philanthropy, and building a sector where young leaders of color are fully supported.
Today, Luis lives with his wife Erica and their dog, Concha, a few blocks from his parents and siblings. He loves being outdoors and exploring campsites across the state where he can take his family and friends to enjoy. “Making Yakima my home through activities and the outdoors is really important to me,” shares Luis.
Luis also comes from a long line of musicians, and loves listening to music in Spanish—from Cumbia to Salsa to Spanish Rock. He and Erica also enjoy getting to know new mom & pop restaurants (especially ones that are dog-friendly).