Justice for Roofers

Advocate Pushes For Better Life For Latinos
by Jacqueline Shoyeb
The Arizona Republic

The forces behind Carlos Duarte Herrera's motivation may resemble an internal version of Newton's law of motion.

It's a push-and-pull effect that drives the young Mexican national to advocate for immigrant and worker rights, think of ways to improve the Mexican economy and help troubled Phoenix neighborhoods find resources.

"The anger and the pain push me, and the hope that things can be better is the one that pulls me," the 32-year old said.

Now after only eight years in the United States, Duarte's motivation and work has helped him earn the Latino Advocacy Champion Award, one of 10 awards given to Arizona Latinos for leadership and community involvement by Valle del Sol.

The former Mexico City resident received the award at the 14th annual Profiles of Success Hispanic Leadership Awards Celebration which was held at the Phoenix Civic Plaza.

It's an award that Duarte shied away from at first, believing he was not experienced or accomplished enough to deserve it.

"I am very ambitious because I want to produce good results," he said. "I felt that I needed to do more to justify the award."

But Duarte's past seems like enough justification.

The beginning of his community involvement began I the Wilson neighborhood, just east of downtown, in 1998. It started as semester-long research project at Arizona State University to help redevelop the area, which was once plagued with problems such as prostitution and drug dealing.

That semester project turned into years of service with that neighborhood and the Sky Harbor Neighborhood Association and produced deep ties with grass roots leaders like Hilaria Lopez. Lopez is president of Sky Harbor and was inspired and encouraged by Duarte after facing challenges in cleaning up the neighborhood.

She said she was amazed at his ability to solve problems, earn the trust of residents and see the issues the people faced.

"I'm proud of him because he stayed, and he saw the necessity," she said. "I wish him the best, and I know he's going to do well because he's already doing it. We need Latino leaders like him. We need leaders that do something."

Duarte attended neighborhood meetings and school gatherings and served as a mediator when local leaders were in a feud. He was putting in 60 hours per week at one point.

His time with the neighborhood also helped him realize the struggle of undocumented immigrants, which pushed him to create Group Chihuahua-Arizona, an organization to improve the sales of Mexican products in the United States in exchange for higher wages or benefits for Mexican workers. The idea is to create a better Mexican economy so Mexican citizens wouldn't need to illegally migrate here.

"When solutions are really found after (lots of) turmoil with (in) our countries, it's the Carloses of the world who are still talking to both sides," said Scott Jacobson, director of Valley Leadership.

Jacobson's admirations of Duarte's leadership and visions drove him to nominate Duarte for the award.

"I have just been fascinated and quietly excited by him because this is a guy who's going to champion people," Jacobson said.

But the humble Duarte sees himself first as a philosopher and perpetual learner who gets the most satisfaction from his family and leaders he mentors.

If along the way he helps create a few changes, he'll be thankful for the opportunity. Still pushing and forcing motion.

"It goes back to the gratefulness that I feel," he said. "It's a need to respond to reality. It's like if reality was shouting at me to do something, to respond to it."

Carlos Duarte Herrera, Latino Advocacy Champion Award Winner

  • Born: Mexico City.
  • Age: 32
  • Marital Status: Married with three children.
  • Education: bachelor's in philosophy, Master's in social and organizational Psychology Ph.D. candidate in social and Cultural anthropology at Arizona State University.
  • Organizations Associated With: United Union of Roofers, Group Chihuahua-Arizona, Justice for Long Term Immigrants, Building Great Communities and Valley Interfaith Project.
  • Goals: Establish Group Chihuahua-Arizona, finish dissertation, mentor rising leaders and complete Valley Leadership training.


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