By Todd Cohen
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Andrea Bazan-Manson, executive director of Raleigh-based El Pueblo, North Carolina’s leading Latino advocacy group, has been named president of the Triangle Community Foundation in Research Triangle Park.
Bazan-Manson, who was born in Boston and raised in Argentina and New Orleans, will join the $100 million-asset foundation in late September.
She succeeds Shannon St. John, the foundation’s first executive director, who is retiring after 21 years.
“I hope I can do a good job engaging donors, the donors we already have and many more, so we can continue to make our region as good as it is and even better,” says Bazan-Manson.
Peter Meehan, chairman of the foundation’s board, says Bazan-Manson was “by far the strongest candidate” among those identified by Atlanta-based BoardWalk Consulting, which the foundation board hired to conduct a national search.
Building on the foundation’s growth, Meehan says, Bazan-Manson initially will lead an effort at the foundation to “stop and assess where we’ve been, look at operations generally, look at tactics and strategy generally, and then identify the kind of plan that makes sense over the next four to seven years.”
Bazan-Manson says she plan to assess the foundation’s staff and its work in the community, and try to build on its successes.
“The fact that the board chose somebody from the community sends a message that it is very clear that this foundation wants to engage and strengthen its ties with the community,” she says.
And the region faces big challenges, she says.
“From technology to poverty, we have it all in the Triangle,” she says. “I would hope the Triangle Community Foundation would get engaged in some issues our region faces, from transportation to economic opportunities for all people.”
While the region has “some really good assets,” including wealth and “some people willing to give time and ideas,” she says, “we also have some challenges and disparities of how people live.”
She says he aims to cultivate existing donors and “bring in others who perhaps may have thought that’s not a role they could play in their communities.”
Bazan-Manson has been the only executive director for El Pueblo and served as its chief lobbyist, the first Latina lobbyist at the state legislature, where has championed a wide range of measures on behalf of Latinos.
In the current session, for example, she pushed for a bill to allow in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants.
While the bill was defeated, she and other supporters such as former Gov. Jim Hunt have vowed to continue working for its passage.
Founded in 1994, El Pueblo was run by a volunteer board until 1999, when it received a $100,000 grant over two years from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem, funding that enabled the group to hire Bazan-Manson as its first executive director.
A founding board member for the organization, she had been working as a resource associate at the Office of Minority Health in the state Department of Health and Human Services.
With master’s degrees in social work and in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bazan-Manson previously had worked at the university’s School of Public Health as a field training coordinator and Latin American projects coordinator.
She continues to teach at the schools of public health and social work at UNC-CH, although she says her new job likely will force her to cut back on her teaching and her membership on other boards.
Under her tenure, the budget at El Pueblo has grown to $1.5 million from roughly $150,000, and its staff has grown to 23 people.
A former William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations, she serves on the boards of The John Rex Endowment, the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, all in Raleigh; the Center for Community Self-Help in Durham; and the National Council of La Raza in Washington, D.C.
She is married to Jim Manson, a systems engineer at the Clinical Research Institute at Duke University.
The couple live in Durham and have three daughters, ages 8, 5 and 3.