Albert Hernandez – Week 6: 30-in-30 Honoree

Albert Hernandez, alum of Leadership L.A. 2011, is the executive director of Family Promise of the Verdugos, one of 201 networks across the country affiliated with Family Promise. Family promise is a national nonprofit committed to helping homeless families with children achieve lasting independence. Albert learned early on in life that he wanted to make meaningful change in communities. Read on to learn more about his story.

I grew up in a single parent household with 11 brothers and sisters in a small section of Los Angeles called Koreatown. It was tough being number 5 of 11 siblings because you sort of get lost in the mix. When attending school I always seemed to have the same teachers my older siblings had which made it difficult to stand out or to be known as anything other than Tiffany’s little brother.

As a teenager our father was no longer in our lives which put a large amount of pressure on our mother. Seeing her struggle and witnessing our lifestyle changed made me find ways to help our situation. I immediately changed schools, going from regular high school to alternative high school, so I could work and generate income for the family. Once employed, I was required to maintain a 3.0 or higher or I would lose my work permit. Fortunately, I maintained that requirement throughout my four years of high school.

That experience shaped my life for the next two decades. It opened my eyes to the type of work I wanted to be involved with. Nonprofits. My work is built around a passion for helping others who are at-risk of joining gangs, abusing drugs, or become homeless.

For nearly 16 years I have climbed my way through the nonprofit sector and learned from plenty of leaders along the way. I was exposed to Leadership L.A. by a friend of mine at Disney, Jamie Keyser, who had done the program the year prior and recommended it. At the time, I was working at a nonprofit and was able to participate in the program through Disney’s generous tuition assistance.

I loved the experience with Leadership L.A. I had grown up in L.A. and yet, I wasn’t familiar with many of the different venues that we were taken to during the program. Through the content and issues awareness I learned, I was able to build strategic partnerships with business owners and other nonprofits to help better communities.

I believe one important skill a true leader must possess is the ability to listen. Listening to stories and ideas from those who have lead before me. Listening to people,  to learn from their experiences — the successes and the failure. I have truly appreciated people’s openness and have learned a great deal from those stories. Because of this, I make certain to give this opportunity to my colleagues each and every day by giving them the opportunity to share. The opportunity to listen is everywhere, even from those who may not have a leadership title.

When I think of leaders, I think of my mother. Bringing up 11 children in Los Angeles as a single parent is not easy. She worked hard and provided for all of her children. The experiences I went through with her and my siblings has helped shape me and I am forever grateful.