Introducing Celina Miranda
HSTF’s Board of Directors is very pleased to announce that Celina Miranda has been named Executive Director of Hyde Square Task Force effective August 22, 2016. Celina has spent her career engaged in work that enables underserved communities to access the resources and opportunities they need for a better future. With more than a decade of experience in philanthropy, she has helped numerous Boston nonprofits secure funding in the service of their mission. She was a member of HSTF’s Board of Directors from 2009 through 2014, and she knows and shares our mission and values. Celina’s professional and educational background, along with her passion for youth, social justice, and education makes her uniquely suited to lead HSTF.
Celina joins HSTF from her position as Senior Program Officer at the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, where she managed grants in education and economic mobility since 2012. Prior to this, she was the Vice President and Charitable Giving Manager for BNY Mellon Public Affairs, where she helped develop an initiative focused on youth aging out of foster care. As a Program Associate at the Hyams Foundation, she managed youth development grants and initiatives.
Celina teaches at Boston University School of Social Work, and is a trustee of the Rutland Corner Foundation, which supports girl-serving programs throughout Greater Boston. She was named a “Boston Latino on the Move” by the Boston Business Journal.
Celina recently received her Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology from Boston University. Her dissertation research examined the integration of a positive youth development framework in community-based youth organizations. She earned an MSW and Ed.M. from Boston University, and a BA from Smith College in Latin American Literature and Latin American Studies.
Kim Comart, whose leadership and commitment to our mission has been critical to our ongoing success since last September, will continue to serve as as Interim Executive Director until Celina begins on August 22nd.
We asked Celina a few questions to introduce her to the HSTF community.
Can you tell us about your background?
I was born in El Salvador. I moved to California when I was 10 to join my parents who had emigrated to the U.S. years earlier. I am first in my family to complete college. I attended Smith College and have been in Massachusetts since. My first job out of college was at a girls’ program in Dorchester called Girls on the Move working with Latina and African American girls. My background has informed everything I do and has helped me to create a professional path. I see a strong intersection where education and social work meet, and I’ve dedicated my career to that work.
Why do you believe that the arts engage youth and help them to transform themselves, others, and the community?
The arts are one of the most powerful tools for youth development. It’s a wonderful way of not only getting young people engaged, but it allows them to connect to their culture in a different way. A focus on Afro-Latino arts fills a void left by mainstream education. Latino youth don’t get enough opportunities to see themselves reflected in the classroom. The arts are also fun. It keeps young people coming back for more.
What excites you most about the future of HSTF?
I am excited about leading such a dynamic organization. Over the past 25 years, HSTF has done an exceptional job at creating a community youth development model that places young people at the center. I am excited to begin strategic conversations with youth, the board, community and key stakeholders to further define among many things HSTF’s role in the newly named Latin Quarter.
What is the most important issue facing youth today?
There are several issues, but top among them I would say is the opportunity gap that has widened as the concentration of poverty has worsened. There’s a wide gap between those in poverty and those who have wealth. Young people who do manage to get into and through college end up graduating with high levels of debt, and jobs aren’t always waiting for them. I think organizations like HSTF are making strides with these struggles.
You know JP well. What’s your favorite thing about the Latin Quarter?
Jamaica Plain is where I first lived when I moved to Boston. I always felt at home here. There is a wonderful “Latino-ness” feel here. I can see it in shops, the language spoken on the street, and the music. I think the Latin Quarter offers strong opportunities for cultural bridging.
You share a last name with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Broadway sensation and creator of Hamilton. Any relation?
Your husband, Kevan, is a LICSW and focuses on clinical work with youth. You’re a whole helping family!
Yes! I’ve spent the better of ten years working in philanthropy, and he’s always been involved in the direct work. That’s informed me. We both look to frame young people in a positive way, regardless of the decisions they might make in any given moment. Youth-work challenges and triumphs are a regular topic of conversation at our dinner table.
You’ve been giving away money for long time now, but now you’ll be in position of asking for it. How does that feel?
Yes, that’s true! It’s more usual for folks to move from nonprofit leadership into the philanthropy side of things. I’ve learned what the other side is thinking and looking for—and I think that’s an advantage. I have been walking in the shoes of the funder for a while now, so I understand what it takes to get a “yes.” I’m hoping that serves me, and HSTF, well.
You’ve served on a lot of boards over time, right?
Yes. I am currently a trustee of the Rutland Corner Foundation. And before I had my daughter, Maya, I served as trustee of the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation. I also sat on the boards of the Chelsea Collaborative, Bessie Tartt Wilson Children’s Initiative, the Latino After School Initiative and Associated Grant Makers, the Work Force Investment Act (WIA) Youth Council in Boston, the Boston Capacity Tank Oversight Committee and the Greater Boston Funders for Women and Girls Steering Committee. I found that after Maya was born, I had to give up a lot of this work. Those choices are always hard, but they’re necessary.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about what you bring to HSTF?
I bring my personal story, which is that of an immigrant, low-income kid and first generation college student. All of this has informed my commitment to youth, the Latino community and social justice. My mom worked as a housekeeper for many years. My dad was self-employed, but that took a long time to get to. My parents’ experiences have informed my decisions along the way. I can understand today’s immigrant or first-generation American youth in a special way. I’ve been there.