The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.
Today’s Q&A feature is Kimberly Diaz Scott, Legislative Affairs Representative for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. Kimberly began her career working for the Florida House of Representatives assisting constituents with multiple matters from health to immigration. From there, she transitioned to her first exposure of a competitive state senate race managing the field, policy and logistics. With a successful win, Kimberly had the pleasure of serving the Florida Senate as Chief of Staff to the office. She also had the opportunity to work on the 2014 Florida gubernatorial race as the Central Florida Regional Political Director. Outside of the legislative dome, Kimberly is also the Director of the Tallahassee Chapter of New Leaders Council, working to recruit and train young progressive leaders and Florida State University’s Public Administration Graduate Association, working to enhance the program and represent graduate’s experiences. Kimberly holds a B.A. in Communications from Florida Gulf Coast University and is continuing her education as an M.P.A. graduate student at the Florida State University Askew School of Public Administration and Policy. In her spare time, she is honored to serve as a Guardian ad Litem serving the 15th Judicial Circuit. We caught up with Kimberly to find out what leadership means to her and what advice she would give to future leaders.
Why did you choose this career path?
I started my college career thinking I was going to become a Journalist. I spent most of my life knowing that I wanted to share the story of people, to understand, to experience and to provide a platform for those that might not have a voice. In college, I worked for my collegiate newspaper which would cover stories regarding migrant workers in Immokalee, FL. On assignment, it was evident that I didn’t want to just talk to migrant workers but I wanted to help them in any way that I could. It was my first apparent connection to what public service meant and what a career in it could do for the lives of many people. I was completely sold by the idea of being at the front lines of aiding others.
Who inspired you to get involved?
It was the person from the same story of why did I choose this career path. While covering the story of migrant workers in Immokalee, I met a gentleman who was having trouble with getting electricity at his residency and he couldn’t speak english, so he had trouble communicating with the electric company. I met at the church that offered daily lunches for the workers and had the chance to meet his and learn about his two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 9 who were back home in Guatemala. When he told me that he was on day two of not having electricity, I offered to make the call on his behalf. After a 45 minute conversation with the electric company, he finally had electricity at his home. This made me realize that my privilege and my ability simply speak English changed this man’s life from living in squalor to having running air conditioning at his residence. This man gave me courage to get involved and that there is always more that you can do for others.
How do you define a leader?
I define a leader as someone who is willing to take a leap of faith into an undiscovered path, in order to build for others behind you. A leader is nothing, if there is no one to build around you.
What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders ?
Currently, I am the Director of Tallahassee Chapter of New Leaders which is an organization that is trying to build and train young progressive leaders in learning about communication, messaging, social justice, economics of the city and state, in hopes that we create a pipeline of community leaders with a powerful network behind them.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?
Be bold. We need to stop, be modest and begin being honest. This intersects with so many conversations that occurring on a national level whether it is racial justice, #metoo campaigns, and immigration policies. We need to stop caring that others will be angry because we want to build a platform to question issues. I am over folks saying that we are too sensitive and get consumed by the feelings of issues. If we get angry it’s because behind those issues are REAL PEOPLE. People with families, with lives, with social justice issues that plaguing their well-being. We need to make it loud and clear that we have and will unapologetically stand with those in need.