CHAPTER 3

Personalismo: The Character of the Leader

I WAS A YOUNG LEADER working as the executive director of Mi Casa Women’s Center when my mentor Bernie Valdez showed me, through his example and extraordinary life, how personalismo was a powerful determinant in leading people. Like many early Latino leaders, Bernie didn’t read leadership books. He earned respect because of the kind of person he was and by the way he valued and validated everyone.

The first time I picked up Bernie for our monthly lunch, I expected his home to mirror his stature in the community. Much later, Bernie would have the Colorado Hispanic Heritage Center and a public library named after him. Yet he lived in a little house behind the stadium where the Broncos played ...

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