Born and raised abroad, Natalia spent most of her time living in Mexico and Guatemala before moving to Indianapolis, Indiana in 2011. Community engagement and economic development have been a large part of Natalia’s life and she continues to advocate for marginalized communities in any way possible. Currently, Natalia is an Assistant Program Officer for Economic Mobility at the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) Indianapolis. In her role, she is focused on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, connecting residents to talent development programs, creating more access for the Latinx community, and providing technical assistance to neighborhoods/partners doing economic development work.
Natalia earned her Bachelor’s from Thomas Edison State University, focusing on Liberal Studies, and then completed a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University (concentration in Economic Development). In her community work, Natalia has volunteered with the Indiana Latino Expo (event coordination), AXIS Program (mentor), Partner in Housing (Young Professionals Board Member), and Indiana Latino Institute (mentor).
The 1828 Leadership Project, presented by Citizens Energy Group, is a civic leadership tract for Indy’s young leaders with the goal of fostering intentional relationships with a cross sector of Indianapolis’ thought leaders and decision makers. Natalia is a part of 1828’s Class X– learn more about her below!
How do you spend your days? For example, you can tell us about your career, side hustle or exercise routine whatever you want to share here we’re ready to listen.
I love getting to try new restaurants! Especially the ones that are hidden gems in our city. I’m also passionate about supporting small minority-owned businesses in our city. There aren’t many organizations/places where these types of businesses can be promoted and featured. Recently, my brother and I started an Instagram to promote Latinx businesses and their services in our city. I also enjoy painting (mostly acrylic) landscapes and things that remind me of where I grew up (Mexico). Traveling is also something I love doing any chance I can….whether locally or abroad I try to travel as much as possible.
Are you from Indy? If not, where do you call your hometown?
Moved from Monterrey, Mexico. I was briefly in Chicago before (around 9 months or so). I moved here because my brother was here and I wanted to study for my undergraduate degree.
Where in Indianapolis did you grow up?
I lived in the Far East for the first five years, then Meridian Kessler for two years and recently moved to Mapleton-Fall Creek.
You’re off the clock, there are no expectations. What are you doing?
Finding a good book to read, something new to cook, playing with my dogs or spending time with my family.
When thinking about the future of Indianapolis, what are you most looking forward to in the next 5 years and why?
The reason I stayed in Indianapolis was that there was so much growth and potential. As a young professional, this is a great city to be. I’m excited to see the city continue to grow and improve in creating opportunities for all its residents regardless of their background. There’s a lot of work to do regarding racial equity, but I think we have a good start.
Are there any local causes that you support? What are they and how might others learn more or get involved?
I have enjoyed getting to support the Indiana Latino Expo and La Plaza…both incredible organizations that are serving the Latinx population with services and resources.
Do you have a favorite local place in town (restaurant, bar, park, etc.) that you love going to? Where is it and why should other people try it out?
It is very difficult to say! One of my favorites that I frequent is Taqueria Puebla that has the best tacos/most authentic tacos. 3-in-1 is a great Salvadorian restaurant that has delicious food. Finally, I think The Missing Brick has the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Indianapolis is a sprawling county, what’s your favorite part about our city?
It is difficult to say! Each place has its unique flavor and context. I would say one of my favorites is my neighborhood Mapleton-Fall Creek or International Marketplace area. Both have so much to offer!
If you were a superhero what would be your special trait? Why?
Probably speed….I like getting things done!
You’re hosting your own music festival with three artists – Who’s performing?
Marcela Gandara, Maluma, and Ariana Grande or Drake
If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
El Alfarero – My faith is central to my life. This song is a prayer to God for His leading and recognition of His grace through all circumstances. It brings comfort and peace to me!
Mornings or evenings? And why?
Mornings —I love starting off the day well. Brunch is also my favorite meal.
How do you define success?
Depends, but I would say I consider success when there’s collaboration, efficiency, and positive outcomes.
What would you name the autobiography of your life? Feel free to give us the context here.
The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know about Community/Economic Development. (I stole part of this from The Memo book which I really enjoyed! It’s tough working in a field where there are little to no women who look like you, yet the need for representation is even greater).