Q&A with Enid Rey
Q: What excites you most about this new chapter in your life?
ER: I’m most excited to see the joy in the faces of our young people; that brings me to life. When not only I can see their potential, but when our youth discover it themselves, it is incredibly powerful and inspiring.
Q: What is the most important attribute that you bring to your position as CEO of OPP?
ER: I think the most important personal attribute I bring to CEO of OPP is a deep commitment to the population of the youth and their families that we serve. I have been a leader in the field of working with youth, children, and families in various capacities. I bring to OPP legal expertise, extensive youth development experience, non-profit experience, and especially experience in this community, because I live here.
Q: What drew you to OPP?
ER: OPP has always been an innovator in Hartford and the surrounding regions. OPP has this way of solving seemingly unsolvable problems, finding solutions to obstacles that are creative while also revolutionizing young people’s lives, as well as our greater community. OPP has consistently been generating new opportunities for empowering our young people, and I am excited to be a part of that process.
Q: When you were 14-24 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
ER: I knew when I was 8 years old that I was going to be a lawyer. The challenge was that other people in school and in my community did not see me in that role. And so then at 14, I had the experience of a guidance counselor telling me that I would just be a Puerto Rican girl with 5 different kids from 5 different baby daddies and did not have the “potential” to make it in college. Then when I applied to and was admitted to Mount Holyoke College, he said ‘What’s a girl like you going to do at Mount Holyoke? There are no Puerto Ricans at Mount Holyoke.’ And he was right, there weren’t many of us. Looking back now the challenge for me was that I had a vision for myself that other people did not see, would not support nor ascribe to. People often have a perception of who you are supposed to be and it’s really hard for many of us to untangle that projection from our own visions for ourselves. I believe this happens frequently to our young people. Often, our youth don’t have the people, the financial wherewithal, the safety rails to always support them. And when they fall, they don’t get picked up or supported—they literally fall off a cliff and what is a minor mistake for others becomes a life changing, life altering situation. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can alter your entire life. These are the issues and experiences that really motivate me in this work. That’s why I came to OPP! Because I know how people perceive our youth. Mostly, they see them full of problems—I see them as full of PROMISE. There is a big difference between those two vantage points.
Q: If you had one free hour of the day, how would you use it?
ER: I would spend it with our youth. I think it’s important to ground yourself in why you are doing the work that you are doing. It energizes me when I hear their stories, their challenges. It makes me want to work harder, as if they are my own children.
Q: How do you measure the impact of your work?
ER: I think our work at OPP is measured in two ways, through “customer” satisfaction and community satisfaction. When we boil it down, did our people at OPP treat you well, and did our work at OPP help with the issue you came to us with. In the much broader sense, are we helping the community grow by developing a new generation of upstanding citizens who are well rounded and want to contribute.
Q: Who inspires you?
ER: The youth, both the ones that live in my house and those that I encounter in the community. What inspires me about them is their perseverance, their persistence in the face of some of the challenging road blocks in front of them. Their passion and compassion is inspiring to me. My first day at OPP was so inspiring because I was able to sit in front of a panel of our youth; I got to hear their journey; I was able to learn their stories. I heard what it took to go through those obstacles, and how OPP helped. What a way to launch my tenure here at OPP!