La Esperanza, a cooperative designed to provide aid, education and other services to the Latino community in southern Delaware, recently announced the appointment of new Executive Director Claudia Peña Porretti.
With more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Peña Porretti was the director of development for the People’s Place organization in Milford and was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. Prior to the ACLU, she worked in several director positions and served in various board member roles for a number of nonprofit organizations in Indiana.
Peña Porretti describes finding her place with La Esperanza as the result of divine intervention, explaining that it was only after building her relationship with the United Way and the proposition of an application for a separate director position that this opportunity presented itself. “I believe I was meant to help be the voice of the people,” she said.
Peña Porretti has plans to build the infrastructure of La Esperanza while creating stronger focus on its core programs, described as the acronym FIVE: Family Development, Immigration Services, Victim Services and Education Services, with Economic Services to come. Upcoming projects also include a revised website and newsletter, along with collaborations with other organizations to help bring about awareness.
Peña Porretti holds a JD from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a BS in business administration from Indiana Institute of Technology. She has also attained the designation of Certified Fund Raising Executive and has studied at The Fund Raising School at Indiana University’s The Center on Philanthropy.
“The passion I feel for the Hispanic people is the passion I feel for my family," she said. Peña Porretti has a long history of service to the Latino community, having worked for Hispanic organizations while in Indiana, as well as a personal relationship to various nationalities: her mother was Cuban, her first husband was Puerto Rican, and her mother-in-law is Panamanian. She was also the secretary of the Hispanic Law Society while in law school.
"When I look back," she said, "I feel that this [appointment] is a culmination of sorts. All that work, education, and personal and family histories have led to this position at La Esperanza. It is such a rewarding and fulfilling job. I don’t even call it work.”
Peña Porretti lives in Smyrna with her husband, Mark. They have one son, Pablo Miguel, and four grandchildren.
Founded in 1996 with the goal of providing support to the increasing number of immigrant workers arriving in Sussex County, La Esperanza has evolved into a multiservice support organization dedicated to providing services that assist in the assimilation and advancement of the Latino community. For more information, visit www.laesperanza.org.