Expanded Chandler Contigo to begin this week - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Expanded Chandler Contigo to begin this week

September 13th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Expanded Chandler Contigo to begin this week

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Chandler’s inaugural Contigo celebration earned a national recognition last year. Now, the city has to try and top that.

The National League of Cities gave the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) office one of four Cultural Diversity Awards last spring for its first Chandler Contigo [Translation: Chandler with You] event held at Galveston Elementary School.

More than 1,200 people attended and witnessed representatives from 18 different Latin American cultures. Chandler was selected best of the cities with a population between 200,000 and a half million.

So how do you improve on the event in your second year?

“Love the award winning, because this year Council doubled our budget for Contigo, and that’s why things like this Willis program are able to happen,” said Niki Tapia, the program manager for the city’s DEI office.

The number of events has more than doubled for a month-long celebration that kicks off Sept. 15. One of the new events is Latino Leaders Week, which will take place at Willis Junior High School starting Sept. 19.

Latin business executives and other professionals will visit with a select group of Willis students to try and inspire them to pursue careers in their field.

During the course of a week about 50 students will hear leaders from Intel, health care, the Phoenix Suns front office, the trades, military and public safety.

“Intel has our 2030 Goals,” said Jennifer Sanchez, a community affairs manager for the tech giant. “Part of those are inclusive: Doubling the number of women in tech roles by 40%; employees who self identify with a disability up 5%; … increasing people of color in leadership roles.”

Sanchez said for a young girl or person of color to be part of the pipeline that can eventually lead to them being a leader at Intel, they need to be involved in STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Math) education by the fourth grade.

Willis has one of the highest Latino populations within the Chandler Unified School District.

One of the speakers scheduled is Karla Bracamonte, who was born in Mexico. She and her boyfriend moved to Arizona when she was in college. She was pregnant, and couldn’t speak English. She got a work permit and worked at Arizona State University as a custodian. Two years later, she was attending engineering classes while raising her family.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and has been working for Intel for 16 years.

“Her daughter just graduated from a medical school,” Sanchez said. “And she’s doing her residency here in Phoenix. So they just have such a great story.”

The Leaders program is just one of the new events being added to Chandler Contigo this year, which is held to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I think our goal is not only to celebrate the Latino community, but also the diversity within the Latino community,” Tapia said. “Because, yes, we’re very close to Mexico and have a large Mexican population here. But there’s also different countries, there’s Puerto Ricans, there’s Cubans, there’s Colombians. So, it’s celebrating all Latinos.”

This year Chandler libraries are hosting 50 events alone. Each of the four branches will have at least one signature event, and then a number of smaller ones, such as book readings.

Chandler Contigo will officially kick off at 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Chandler Community Center with live performances, food trucks, face paintings and more.

The celebration at Galveston, which is the event that won the national award last year, is scheduled for 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30.

There will be music, food, piñatas and Luchadores wrestling events throughout the month. There are also a few movies celebrating Latino culture, including “Coco” and “Encanto.”

How do you try and improve on a national award-winning event? Chandler is going bigger this year.

“The event was so fun, and with that we didn’t skimp on entertainment,” Tapia said. “Everybody cannot wait to be involved this year, and we’re gonna try and make it better than ever.”