Aixa Beauchamp: Strengthening Latino and underserved communities

Hugo Balta

“It’s good news that, for now, New England will maintain its 21 seats in the House of Representatives. But the fact is that without Latinos, that wouldn’t be the case”, Aixa Beauchamp a philanthropy consultant and co-founder of the Latino Equity Fund wrote in a recent letter to the Boston Globe.

Beauchamp made the case of why the Hispanic-Latino population growth in Massachusetts (2010 to 2017, the Latino population of Massachusetts increased by 28 percent) should be credited for not losing any congressional seats.

The letter is just a recent example of how the native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent gives visibility and voice to the Hispanic-Latino and other marginalized communities.

“This moment in time really demands a new breed of foundation and corporate and business leader to stand up and organize for these communities that have been left out of the American dream,” Beauchamp told The Boston Globe.

She is the co-chair of the Latino Equity Fund, focusing on two issues, in particular: health equity and health disparities, and economic prosperity. The fund was launched in 2013 as the Latino Legacy Fund, and renamed in December.

Beauchamp said it’s imperative that the initiative’s work go beyond simply giving money to deserving organizations. Toward that end, members of the fund’s 15 member advisory committee lobbied Governor Charlie Baker’s administration this year to persuade state officials to step up vaccination promotion efforts in the communities hardest hit by COVID-19, and worked with Tufts and Harvard Pilgrim to organize a mobile vaccination van to visit many of those communities.

A transparent community leader, Beauchamp shares life lessons in chipping away at negative narratives against the Hispanic-Latino community.

“I had to make a presentation at a foundation board meeting about a project that was trying to engage young men of color in Brooklyn in workforce training programs” recalling an incident early in her career in an interview with The Boston Globe. “Back then, in the early ’90s, board members were mostly white professionals — lawyers and finance executives. Some board members had made site visits to the community, and one of them referred to the lower-income men of color hanging around the bodegas playing dominoes as a “species.” I felt compelled to challenge that. I stood up and said it would insult the men we are trying to help to be referred to that way.”

Beauchamp shares another incident that happened years later when she and her husband were having dinner with other couples at a country club where they were the only Hispanic-Latino couple.

“One woman owned property in Puerto Rico. She said, “The only thing I don’t like about Puerto Rico is that people don’t speak English.” I said to myself, I can be a hard-ass about this and ram her or being a good Kennedy School grad, I can educate. So I went to the facts. I told her that the official language in Puerto Rico is Spanish, and English is considered a second language. Most people under 40 spoke both languages, and it’s enriching.”

Beauchamp later learned that the woman volunteered as an English-as-a-second-language teacher and wanted to help people learn English so they could get better jobs, become citizens, and help their kids with school. She also learned that the woman and her family spent part of their vacation in Puerto Rico helping preschool kids learn English.

The lesson that Beauchamp shares are that not every situation is the same. As a Hispanic-Latina she has encountered implicit bias, racism, and a lack of cultural awareness. In the end, a better understanding of those nuances as well as her own biases – have helped improve communication.

Beauchamp is a dedicated community leader who has been involved with many nonprofit and community organizations focused on philanthropy and Latino children, youth, and families. She is a founding board member of Milagros Para Ninos at Boston Children’s Hospital Trust and is a member of Latinos for Education and Governor Charlie Baker’s Latino Commission. She previously served on the Boards of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Workforce Development Board, the Base, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and the YMCA of Waltham. 

 In 2018, Boston Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston, and the Women of the Harvard Club Committee honored her with Boston’s Most Influential Woman Award in 2015.

Beauchamp holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

She lives in Newton with her husband with whom she has raised three boys.