October 17th, 2013
Catherine M. Pino & Ingrid Duran
Ingrid: I grew up in the Chicano movement in East L.A. in the 60s with parents who were Chicano Activists. My passion for civil rights was sparked by the age of 5 attending farmworker rallies with Latino icons like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Giving back and never forgetting where I come from has been permanently ingrained in my DNA.
Catherine: I grew up in a working class conservative Catholic family in New Mexico, raised by a single mom who instilled the importance of hard work and giving back. My philanthropic history began at a very young age whether giving to the poor through the Catholic Church or numerous volunteer efforts in my community. In fact, my mom always said that my full time job should be saving the world!
Ingrid: Our journey together began in 2004. That year, Catherine asked me to come on a journey with her to change the world. We left the organizations we were working for in philanthropy and the nonprofit world to start our own venture - a boutique lobbying and public affairs company, D&P Creative Strategies - consulting with a social conscience.
Catherine: We had no money, no contracts and no staff. People thought we were crazy! On top of that, we decided to be out in every aspect of our world including our business. When we told people, many were skeptical. Everyone thought we would never make it and that corporations wouldn't want to work with us. Well, we decided that if they don't want to do business with us because we are gay, then we certainly don't want to do business with them!
Ingrid: We decided our business would be a conduit to give back to the two communities we care about most and to build a bridge between them. Catherine and I both had a history of individual as well as organized philanthropy and volunteerism so when we created our company, D&P Creative Strategies; we knew that our goal would be to direct millions of dollars to both the Latino and LGBT communities. Our philanthropy extends far beyond our business. Together we've served on multiple Latino and LGBT boards. In keeping with our theme of giving back, we decided that volunteerism should have a prominent place in our world.
Catherine: Our personal giving also includes political giving. In 2008 when Hillary Clinton dropped out of the presidential race, we harnessed our energy and the energy of thousands of Latinas who got involved politically for the first time ever to mobilize in support of Latina candidates. We created the first ever-national Political Action Committee called PODER PAC. All the Latina members of Congress serve as Honorary Chairs along with several Latina celebrities. We launched at the Democratic Convention in Denver with 500 Latinas. The PAC supports Latinas who are running for office and directs resources to help them become viable candidates in pursuit of elected office. We also donate thousands of dollars every year to members of Congress, elected officials and others running for public office. Our giving in this area has evolved over the years. We would typically give because it was important to our business and our clients, but now we've added another level of scrutiny to our giving and that is the all-important question, "Do you support LGBT Equality and specifically our right to marry?”
Ingrid: Another area that we were really interested to get involved in was media. We knew instinctively that through media, we could impact social change in a much broader way. Our first foray into film was through our dear friend Eva Longoria. She called us and said, “ Hey, I'm an Executive Producer on this film about the plight of migrant farmworker children and I want you to help me raise money. “ Of course we said yes and also told her that we wanted to do a political strategy around the film. That was our first official film credit as Associate Producers.
In 2010, after “The Black List” (an HBO documentary series featuring videos, photos and interviews of prominent African American leaders and icons) aired, we joined with another friend to connect with the producers and propose “The Latino List” to them. We saw this as an opportunity to change hearts, minds and the dominant discourse about the Latino community in America. This was especially important since SB 1070 (Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act) had just been introduced in Arizona and the vitriol in the media about the Latino community was horrendous. We aired two volumes of the Latino List on HBO in 2010, 2011 and again in 2013, “The OUT List”. Through this work and in the telling of our own story, it was also an opportunity to view the LGBT community in a different light.
Catherine: So you see, our work is centered on bringing the Latino and LGBT communities together. In 2011, Freedom to Marry approached us with a study that was funded by the Arcus and Gill Foundations to flip the stereotypes of Latinos and their attitudes toward the LGBT community on their head. In the past, there was a lot of speculation by and whispering within the LGBT community that Prop 8 banning same sex marriage in California was defeated because of the Latino community. We knew that wasn't necessarily true. Resources hadn't been invested in this community and relationships hadn't been built so when things “went south,” it was easy to place blame. Freedom to Marry felt the same way we did and they were willing to put their own resources on the table to start a conversation.
Ingrid: We co-created the Familia es Familia campaign with Freedom to Marry and partnered with over a dozen National Latino organizations to implement it. Working through trusted entities, we achieved greater impact than if we had done it as an LGBT effort. This was a “first of its kind” public education campaign focused on starting a conversation with the Latino community about LGBT issues. Working in four key areas: family unity; anti-bullying; discrimination; and marriage, the campaign has been wildly successful with over 20 partner organizations and a few media partners. Since the launch, three of our partner organizations have passed board resolutions in support of marriage equality and several others have requested materials, workshops or trainings.
Catherine: Our philanthropy isn't the traditional check writing vis-a-vis an endowment or a trust. Ours comes in many forms, through our work, our personal giving and our board service. Our goal is to build relationships in these two communities so that together we can conquer the hatred and bigotry that have been our shared experiences. We know that when we have non-traditional allies like Janet Murguia, the President of the National Council of La Raza, speaking at the Supreme Court Rally in support of Marriage Equality or Rea Cary, the President of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force speaking out on the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, we are stronger. We know that together we can win these battles.
This story was originally featured at OutGiving 2013.