This year for Hispanic Heritage Month, the Browns are proud to honor Alexandra Montaz-Martinez for her outstanding work encouraging the LatinoX community to get out and vote.
Alex graduated Summa Cum Laude from Youngstown State University in May 2019 where she studied Political Science, Africana Studies and Non-Profit Leadership. There, she served as president of YSU's LatinX and Hispanic Student Organization and was awarded the university's 2019 Women Leadership Award.
Alex currently works as the Community Outreach and Development Assistant at the nonprofit organization HOLA Ohio, where she focuses on voter registration and engagement in Latino and African American Communities. When she began her job back in June 2019, she was tasked with working with ICE Detention Center detainees to help them find lawyers and provide them with financial resources.
In January 2020, her role shifted, and she started working on the voter registration side of the organization, participating in trainings and recruiting volunteers. After COVID-19 hit, their attempts to get people registered to vote included attending pre-planned events, such as pop-up markets, food giveaways and emergency drives. HOLA has also partnered with the local university to get college students registered to vote and continues to go door to door in housing complexes. "When we register voters, we always wear masks, gloves, frequently sanitize and social distance. Our volunteers are provided with PPE and we choose our locations in spaces that have a high Latino population," Alex explained.
One of the rewarding parts of the job for Alex is helping people who distrust the voting process understand exactly what it is, and getting them registered to vote for the first time. A lot of these people have also asked HOLA Ohio to help find resources that can help them be informed voters, Alex explained. From May through today, HOLA Ohio has registered 427 voters, a majority of which are Latino, and they will continue to register voters right up until October 5.
"I didn't expect to enjoy the voter registration part as much, I was very nervous, I thought it was way too much for me, but I really like it," Alex explained. "It's very one-on-one. I get to speak to a lot of people in the community; get to hear their stories about why they're intimidated to vote, and through a 10-15-minute conversation see their mind shift," she said. Although it can be difficult, she says that the reward to see people register to vote is worth it.
On top of her full-time role with HOLA, Alex also serves on the MYCAP Board of Directors and is a co-host on Talk Talk Tuesday. In all she does, her goal is to empower her family, communities of color, and fight for racial justice and racial reconciliation.
Alex left us with these words: "It's important for Latinos to vote this year, we have become the second largest voting population, and if we all came together and actually voted we could make a difference."