Rhode Island’s Emerging Leaders — Joshua Giraldo
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
United Way of Rhode Island and GoLocalProv have teamed up in identifying some of the emerging leaders in Rhode Island and asking them questions about leadership and the pathway to a better future in Rhode Island.
Meet Joshua Giraldo
Title/Employer: Chief of Staff, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa
1. Who has been your most important mentor and why? (Or, who has had the biggest influence on your career?)
As corny as it may sound, I’d have to say that the most important mentors and biggest influencers on my career has been the small group of friends with who I started my political journey with. This group includes, but is not limited to, former Councilwoman Stephanie Gonzalez, Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa, Attorney Lisette Gomes, and Councilwoman Sandra Cano. Although it was close to a decade ago, it feels like was just yesterday that we were in our early 20s, fresh out of college and sitting in the bare living room of my home, thinking about ways to improve our community—no titles, political ambitions, no backgrounds in government or political connections to leverage, just pure passion to make things better. Although our work started with small park clean-ups and conversations about volunteer-led initiatives, it soon morphed into a commitment to transform the way we, and our community, thought about government. Rather quickly we found opportunities that could plant the seeds of monumental change in government (there are several avenues that are available, if you really look for it). With the guidance of some slightly older supporters (you know who you are), we started capitalizing and turning these wishes into realities, helping each other every step of the way. The camaraderie, dedication and passion displayed by a team of kids that looked the political establishment in the face and said “You have failed at representing us and our community. Move aside, we got this!” was powerful, exhilarating and daunting. Now, each of us has found our own calling and we often still reach out to each other for advice and guidance. But through those formative years, my friends were my biggest influences—they were also my mentors.
2. What inspires you in your day-to-day work?
I am constantly inspired by the all-out commitment to the vision shared by our team in Central Falls. The beauty of having a team, diverse in race, age and mindsets all working towards transforming the image of the city and putting in the countless hours needed to create change, is inspiring. Many of the additions to our staff are current or former Central Falls residents who have a keen awareness of the issues our city faces and the obstacles we’ve long endured, and are yearning to be a part of the city’s comeback. It’s inspiring to walk into City Hall ready to put in a 12-hour shift, going to a community event on a Saturday, or coming in during a snowstorm knowing that everyone, including the mayor, will be there with me.
3. How are you helping to make Rhode Island better?
I think myself, and many of us in Central Falls, are trying to lead by example. Although certainly not my primary motive, I’d like to think that that the work I do inspires others, especially those currently under-represented in the political realm, to get involved in their community. I want people to say “Wow, look at what they are doing in Central Falls, let’s make that happen here.” It’s particularly encouraging to see the several young political leaders that have emerged from Central Falls in the recent years. For instance, since Mayor Diossa’s election in 2012, our small city has elected 5 Council members under the age of 30 and our state representative was elected at 27-years-old, all of under-represented segments of government. I’d like to think I played a small role in that.
4. As an emerging leader, what have you learned from success and failure?
What I’ve learned from success is that, it is, and should be temporary. There is always something that is waiting to be improved—a new initiative to spearhead, or a wrong to be righted. Celebrate your accomplishments, analyze what led you to your success, and get back to work.
When discussing failure, I think it is essential to identify the difference between a “failure” and an “unsuccessful” attempt. I’ll admit, I’ve been a part of numerous unsuccessful campaigns, unsuccessful initiatives and unsuccessful programs, but very few of them have been failures. I look at it this way, when an effort does not go in my favor, do I accept defeat with my head hung low with distain and disgust for the process that led me there? If so, then yes, I’ve failed. Or, do I use it as an opportunity to reassess my convictions, thoughts and ideas so that I may make better choices in the future? If so, I have not failed. I think this is a mindset that many millennials share and is what helps motivate many of us to keep pushing for the ideas and ideals even when faced with “unsuccessful” attempts.
5. Favorite place in Rhode Island: Central Falls, RI (Jenks Park, the Blackstone River, Dexter Street, all of it)
Favorite hobby: Soccer
Most recent book read: Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, by Bernie Sanders
Favorite restaurant: Taqueria Lupita in Central Falls
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