The President of the Ali Forney Centre answers some of our Rapid Fire Questions

The President of the Ali Forney Centre answers some of our Rapid Fire Questions
  1. What’s the best thing that has happened to you this year?
I met with a Pizza Engineer in planning to launch a pizza parlor run by the young people in our Job Readiness and Education Program.  It has been a long-time dream of mine to launch a business run by our clients.  Also, Pizza Engineer?


  1. What is your favourite city?
New York City and it’s soon to be queer youth operated pizza parlors!


  1. What is one country you have always wanted to visit?

My motherland of Cuba.


  1. Name one thing you have learned the hard way?

Choose your friends wisely. Believe people for who they really are, not who you want them to be. Also, never, ever, ever trust a six year old’s “secret recipe”.


  1. What makes you laugh no matter what?

Toss-up between:

1. My six year old son imitating Kamala Harris “We did it , Joe, we did it”.

2. My husband at Chilos.

3. This is 40 Outtakes.


  1. Best advise you have ever gotten?

If you’re having a difficult time networking, act like you’re interviewing people for a job. Ask them questions until you find something interesting or mutual to actually connect on – but never start off with asking what they do for work.


     7. Most gracious response to rejection/career setback?

When I moved to NYC, I applied for a really big job. It was a defining moment in my career where I was either going to stay in the non-profit world or pursue something else. After several rounds of interviews, the CEO herself, called to tell me that I had a fire in my belly she had never seen but that I was too green for the job. As a result, she created a position for me to support special projects within the department I had applied. I accepted it and over the next five years, I watched countless people fail at the job I knew I would have excelled in. When I finally decided to apply for the job again, a recruiter called me about a job at The Ali Forney Center (AFC).  It was for the very same position I was originally denied at the current agency I was employed. When I was ultimately hired, my new boss told me that I was green, but that I had a fire in my belly that he wanted at AFC. Those same exact words which were seen as a setback five years earlier, had become a stepping stone.


  1. Three qualities that got you where you are today?

Tenacity. Humor. Kindness. And, apparently, greenness and a fire in my belly.


  1. Perks of being part of the Ali Forney Centre?

Knowing that every day, our work saves lives… and potentially pizza testing with a Pizza Engineer.


  1. What about the Ali Forney Centre inspires you most??

The resilience of our clients, the passion of my co-workers, and the care/generosity of our community.


  1. What was your favourite episode?

Episode 1.  I loved watching an old show that I grew up with reboot at a different point in my life.


  1. What the best lesson you learned from the whole Covid-19 pandemic experience?

Knowing that no matter how dark, uncertain and scary things can be, there is always, always, light to be found in the care and love from our community.


  1. How did you get involved in charity work?

I grew up in community based programs, similar to AFC. I know first-hand the impact they have, and in many ways, charity worked saved me from the streets and shaped who I am today. My first job was at 14, working part-time in events and fundraising.  I moved on to programs where I worked in housing for sexually abused children, and then ran a combination of programs for underserved young people.


  1. Other charities you admire?

The Born This Way Foundation which is working to build a kinder and braver world by centering and normalizing teen mental health.   It’s led by two of the most passionate, committed, and kind women I know, Maya Enista Smith and Cynthia Germanotta.


  1. Which of the FAB 5 do you relate most to?

Karamo, hands down. Kind, passionate, activist/advocate. Gay father. From the Caribbean, [Part] Cuban.


Check out the Ali Forney Centre and all the great work they do over here on their site -

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