May 4, 2020
Can we ensure that the Decennial Census, our most inclusive civic enterprise, will not become a casualty of the COVID19 pandemic? The answer is unfolding in real time. Nonprofits have spent years mounting campaigns to combat an historical undercount in communities of color, of children, immigrants and LGBTQ people. Fortunately, some people and organizations, thrive in challenging times and that is definitely the case with Lizette Escobedo, who directs the Census 2020 campaign for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). Lizette leads operations in 6 states where Latinx communities stand ready to be counted, despite the president’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census. Lizette is motivated by a desire to see her community counted so that more federal resources are deployed as needed and district lines are drawn equitably. And she sees opportunity in the chaos: a longer timeline, tech companies stepping up to create hot spots and a deepened staff capacity to operate digitally. NALEO is balancing the devastating impact of COVID19 on their staff and community with their drive to produce a representative count. There is so much in this conversation to inform and inspire.