Friday Fellow of the Month: Neyra Toledo
Thursday, April 5, 2018
“I’m off to change the world”, is a phrase that Neyra used to say to her parents every time she was headed out the door. From a young age, she was conscious of the responsibility and power that each individual contributes to making the world a better place. This conviction has shaped her personal and professional experience and guided her to develop her practice around community development, participatory democracy, citizen empowerment, and collective social change.
Neyra is the Director of the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals, a non-profit organization that has been promoting Education among Hispanic youth in the state of NC since 1999. During her past two and a half years as Director, she has been a part of developing significant partnerships and leveraging resources to continue expanding equitable access to higher education for Latino youth and their families.
She is currently part of the Network Building Team for the Adelante Education Coalition, working to ensure that NC has a high-quality K-12 and post-secondary public education system where students will succeed and excel without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, language, culture, socioeconomic or immigration status.
Neyra, a Puerto Rico native, is extremely proud of her heritage and culture. As a Latina professional that moved to NC in 2015, she strongly believes in the Hispanic community’s ability to lead change as a driving force of US economy and democracy, and is committed to work on strengthening networks that invest in increasing Latino-led leadership pipelines and build capacity for civic engagement.
Neyra attended the University of Puerto Rico, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Biology and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Social Community Psychology from the same university. Always the hard working student, she was involved in her field throughout her academic journey; understanding the value of the collective knowledge of the community and the importance of the inclusion of diverse voices and stakeholders.
She interned with various organizations leading public policy work, such as the PR’s Psychology Association and Amnesty International. While working with the Interamerican Society of Psychology and Transdisciplinary Institute for Social Action Research, she was able to expand her theoretical framework through cultural and academic exchanges with leading theorists in the field of Social and Community Psychology in the Caribbean and South America.
A non-profit professional with over 9 years experience, Neyra has developed a unique approach to her work: DALE! (pronounced Dah-lay in Spanish). DALE is a cultural agreement to action, a statement to move forward, an affirmation of encouragement, and an approach to collaboration! It is also an acronym for the core values and methodologies that guide her consultant practice: Deliberation. Action. Leadership. Empowerment.(1)
In Puerto Rico, she was part of the founding group of a citizen based initiative that strived to change PR’s civic culture to one of an active and engaged citizenship involved in developing collective solutions to public issues. As General Manager and Organizational Development Consultant of the Citizen’s Agenda Foundation (FAC - Fundación Agenda Ciudadana), she holds great honor to have been involved since the beginning of this initiative and through the development, incorporation and institutionalization of what is today one of the principal and most respected non-profit organizations in PR promoting innovative solutions and public policies based on citizen empowerment and participation in a Hispanic context.
As an experienced deliberative dialogue and process facilitator, she specializes in participative and collaborative methodologies that stimulate transformational leadership practices and engaged citizen competencies. Neyra has had the opportunity to receive training in various methodologies and practices from the Kettering Foundation, Sustained Dialogue Institute, and U-Theory.
Through her work with the FAC, she was part of a team that developed the curriculum and implementation of the first ever Citizen Competencies Capacity Building Seminars for National leaders in the island. To date, more than 2,500 leaders have been trained in citizen competencies and participatory democracy.
Neyra worked with the Corporation for the Support of Community Education Programs as a Training Facilitator, Group and Capacity Building Facilitator, as well as being Treasurer in their Board of Directors.
She’s also a founding member on the Board of Directors of Foundation for Social Capital in Puerto Rico, and a liaison for Voices for Early Childhood Movement. Neyra has published articles related to early childhood, alternative education, community and organizational development, participatory democracy and citizen engagement, among others, in academic journals, educational manuals and newspapers. She has presented her research and work at international conferences in Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and Puerto Rico.
As a junior executive consultant and corporate coach, her specialty has been leading and facilitating learning and organizational re-design processes in areas related to strategic planning, team management, leadership, innovation, fundraising, sustainability, social responsibility, and BOD development.
During the past 6 years, she has developed a solid reputation among clients as public relations, social media marketing and corporate positioning specialist for the non-profit and small business sector. In 2017 she was invited as guest speaker in Successful Marketing Strategies: Promote your Business and Yourself, in the 2017 Latina Style Business Series and was featured in Latina Style Magazine as part of the fast-growing community of Latina entrepreneurs in NC.
Neyra’s greatest passion is human connectedness and enjoying life to the fullest. Bringing people together is one of her greatest skills. Understanding that society’s greatest achievements are not possible if we pretend to do them alone, Neyra finds inspiration from the South African philosophy of humanness: Ubuntu! I am because we are.
True to her roots, she has a passion for music, dancing, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. She is a loving wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, and aunt! Her two nieces, Kamila (7) and Katerina (2), are the loves of her life and motivate her to envision and work towards a better future for upcoming generations.
Her appreciation of different cultures and being a world citizen, has led her to travel to many destinations in Europe, South America, US, and the Caribbean. She has two bucket list / can’t miss in this lifetime destinations: Machu Picchu in Cuzco region of Peru, to learn about the Inca civilizations, and Santorini, Greece!
Neyra enjoys reading, writing, dogs, running, and nature. She continuously looks for ways to reduce her carbon footprint and lead a minimalist lifestyle. A member of Unity Church of the Triangle, she strives to build positive spiritual pathways and relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, affiliations, and beliefs.
Neyra lives in Morrisville, NC, moves to the rhythm of the island, and her heart speaks in Spanish.
Seguimos… (Keep moving forward!)
(1)DALE brand is intellectual property of partner Neyra Toledo ©2017 and cannot be copied or used by unauthorized parties or individuals. Do not plagiarize, reproduce or diffuse this brand (or any of its elements) without written permission from Neyra Toledo