Leticia Peguero, Andrus Family Fund Executive Director
Leticia Peguero, Executive Director of the Andrus Family Fund and the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program, doesn’t mince words when it comes to understanding philanthropy as a lifestyle and making it a priority to give back to the community. “My give is to remind those sitting around the philanthropic table that social justice is not just what we put in our missions, but how we live our lives,” Peguero, wrote in answer to a HIPGivers question. This philosophy has been Peguero’s touchstone in more than 20 years of working in social justice programming and philanthropy. In discussing ways to give back, she stressed the importance of also considering “how we give of our time and how we challenge the dynamics of power and inequality in the U.S. and in our countries of origin.”
Peguero has a bachelor of arts degree from Fordham University, and a master’s in public administration from the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, both in New York City. She also successfully completed a National Urban Fellows Master in Public Administration Fellowship, a renowned leadership development program in New York City. She has worked as the Regional Vice President at the Posse Foundation, and as Deputy Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships. In addition to her current work with Andrus, Peguero helps run Areytos Performance Works, a dance theatre and performance art company. Living in New York’s South Bronx is a choice Peguero values. “I live in the South Bronx and grew up in a community in Brooklyn where lots of Puerto Ricans lived,” she said. “I choose to live in the South Bronx because I love it… The community of young people, the artists, the older women taking care of their grandchildren… The new immigrants wondering how and when we will pass immigration reform.” Peguero said her neighborhood inspires her to practice giving and compassion in the same ways that she advocates for them. She attributes this outlook to her, “grandmother’s struggle working in factories with little knowledge of the language or culture.” “Like many of us, I come from a community that has non-traditional notions of what it means to give,” she said. “Philanthropy in many of our communities means the sharing of who you are,” she added. “Giving is about connection.” For Peguero it’s organic, a way of viewing the world.
“I think if we recognize that philanthropy is alive and well in our communities,” she said, “we can help define it from our own community grown perspectives.” And those grassroots perspectives, Peguero added, inform her leadership of the Andrus Family Fund, which seeks on a national scale to impact the lives of many who are 16 to 24 years old and are stuck in the cyclical confines of the foster care and juvenile justice systems. “Give because we are all interconnected…” she said. “Your success is tied up in mine.”