We are excited to feature Wendy Gutiérrez Cheeks for this month’s volunteer spotlight. Wendy serves on the Advisory Council for New American Pathways (New AP) and was previously a board member for six years (2014-2020). She is a Director for Client Experience Management at BlackRock, an investment management firm headquartered in NY, and continues to support the New AP mission through her corporate social responsibility efforts.
As BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people achieve financial well-being, Wendy has infused this purpose into her volunteer work with New AP. She maintains a big passion for leadership service and community involvement. As a member of BlackRock’s Atlanta Leadership Team, she is responsible for the growth and culture of the office and a big part of that is determined by BlackRock’s involvement within the Atlanta community. Specifically, Wendy looks for opportunities to connect grant funding and interested volunteers with the needs of New AP.
What drew Wendy to New AP was the work that is done with refugee clients. Wendy was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at the age of 14 after living in multiple countries in Latin America. Wendy became a US citizen at birth through her father, who had immigrated to the US on his own at 19. She was therefore an English-speaking U.S Citizen when she came to the US but she still found it hard to navigate cultural expectations, and struggled to feel part of “a community.” Despite what Wendy describes as “having all the benefits of the world,” she empathized with the challenges refugees face and could not imagine what their experiences entailed.
The passion of New AP staff and the ability to see how the New AP community lives out their mission through action, resonated with Wendy. This led to her volunteering in various leadership positions and activities within New AP. As part of her time on the Board of Directors, Wendy was the chair of New AP’s fundraising Gala, Red, White, and New for two years, served on the advocacy committee, and was secretary of the executive committee.
Volunteering with New AP gives Wendy satisfaction and a sense of a fulfilment. Thinking to her own familial experience, Wendy says “I feel a sense of appreciation for the sacrifices my parents made and how those sacrifices manifested into what I have been able to accomplish in my own life.” Wendy wants more people, particularly those fleeing challenging situations, violence, or persecution, to have more opportunities, and she seeks to help create those opportunities through her cooperate volunteer efforts. Because New AP promotes a pathway to self-sufficiency, the tie to BlackRock’s purpose is evident.
Wendy wants people to know that, “Refugees represent some of the most driven, resilient and motivated groups of people. They are willing to put forth the effort to be successful and supporting refugees through volunteer activities in a worthy investment.” New American Pathways is grateful for the many hours of service Wendy has given to the organization and we are grateful for this continued partnership with her and BlackRock. Thank you, Wendy, you are awesome!