Giovanna Negretti, 37, is the co-founder and executive director of Oiste?, established in 1999 to provide Massachusetts Latinos with the tools and training to enter public service. The organization was founded in response to concern about the underrepresentation of Latinos in public decision making roles. While its original goal was to provide non-partisan campaigning workshops to Latinos who planned to seek public office, Oiste’s mission quickly expanded to include civic education, leadership development and advocacy. Among Negretti’s early achievements was a successful legal challenge to stop the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, whose population is predominantly Latino, from requiring voters to show identification at the polls. Oiste now has six grassroots regional councils across the state, each of which engages in local public issues with an eye toward expanding Latino civic participation. The organization has plans to expand to five states within the next three years.
Under Negretti’s direction, Oiste also serves as the lead manager of an innovative three-year partnership to prepare Boston’s promising young people of color for political leadership. The partnership provides a free 16-week course in politics, public policy and leadership to young men and women from greater Boston in exchange for a promise to run for office or work on a political campaign within the next several years.
Giovanna Negretti was recently selected by Hunt Alternatives Fund for its Prime Movers program, a multi-year fellowship for emerging and established social movement leaders. She holds a B.F.A. from Emerson College, and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School.