Finding Common Ground
By Latoya Holman
Like many people, I have bouts of loss, anger, fear, shame, pride and even triumph when I think of 2020. As I dare to have a vision and dreams for Nevadans and for our country in 2021, I am filled with energy, focus, and hope. My vision for all of us? To embrace respect, learn with openness, focus on common ground, have empathy for others, and collaborate like our future depends on it.
To many, these words may feel idealistic and utopian, but to me, my priorities and my expectations of those around me couldn’t be clearer. Ensuring that my values are aligned with those with whom I surround myself in work and in my personal life is key to my vision for our community.
I am the child of two humble Black leaders. My mother and father taught me at a young age that in the end, it’s service to others that matters. My goal for 2021 is to continue my work with various organizations, encouraging them to lean into what they have in common and to identify as many collaborative efforts as possible in an effort to strengthen their independent missions and increase the impact in our community exponentially.
Hillary Clinton speaks with Latoya Holman and other women.
Latoya Holman with her Line Sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
I have the honor of serving many organizations that play a critical role in the betterment of lives in Nevada to include; 2020 Jameson Fellowship, Impact NV Blue Ribbon Panel Steering Committee on Social and Racial Equity, Nevada School of the Arts, Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada, Social CirKISH, Chairwoman of the Discovery Children’s Museum DEI Advisory Council, MaxStar Urban Arts Foundation, NAACP Las Vegas, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
As the Director of Community Outreach for the LVMPD Foundation, I also take my role in ensuring that our LVMPD officers have what they need to strengthen relationships with those that they serve seriously. Building bridges between communities of color, in particular the Black community, is vital to this work. In the spirit of learning with openness, I managed the LVMPD Foundation’s Unite for Heroism Gala, which brought together three powerful Black female leaders of Las Vegas to celebrate the heroism of LVMPD officers while also focusing on the importance of improving relations with law enforcement and the Black community.
As a member of the Executive Committee of the National Board of Governors for HRC (the largest LGBT civil rights organization in the country), fighting for equality means we can’t afford to let anyone fall through the cracks. Working with diverse organizations like the NAACP Las Vegas reminds me of the struggles on the shoulders of our youth regardless of their color, background, orientation, or identity.
Our youth are in crisis. I’m working hard to do more for them and do better by them. In the spirit of collaboration, I coordinated the partnership with HRC and the NAACP Las Vegas for the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 18, 2021, which impacted over 3,000 children in Las Vegas and brought together ten different organizations in honor of Dr. King.
“our power is in the intersections of our missions”
Latoya Holman with the late Congressman John Lewis
Sean VanGorder and Latoya Holman
Thinking back on how this all started, I’m reminded of a dinner with friends. The dinner was in honor of an incredible woman named Judy. It was my first time meeting her. It was clear to me that my friends had deep reverence for her. After dinner, Judy told me about her son Matthew.
Her son Matthew Shepard was abducted, tortured and left for dead tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. Matthew died in a hospital shortly after being found. After telling me about her beautiful son, Judy encouraged me to make a commitment to my work with the Human Rights Campaign and to speak for her son, who could no longer speak for himself.
As I reflect on meeting Judy Shepard, now a personal hero of mine, I’m humbled by the lesson that she taught me without even knowing it. I learned that our power is in the intersections of our missions. At the time, she represented the Matthew Shepard Foundation but was advocating for the Human Rights Campaign. The power in that moment was in our common ground.
Although my community work is broad, I see a clear connection between all of the organizations that I serve. I believe in our future female leaders (Girl Scouts of Southern NV), in providing development opportunities for at-risk youth (Social CirKISH), in recognizing the gift of diversity (Discovery Children’s Museum), in celebrating the uniqueness and brilliance of art (Nevada School of the Arts), in fighting for equality for all (HRC), and as a Black woman, I believe in knowing where you came from to know where you are going (NAACP Las Vegas).
I honor Judy Shepard and many other leaders and personal mentors for providing a path for me to obtain that vision and clarity.
Chasten Buttigieg, Latoya Holman, Mayor Pete Buttigeg, President Biden’s Transportation Secretary Nominee
Latoya Holman and various members of the Divine Nine (black sororities and fraternities)
Latoya Holman with Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States of America
This article was originally published in the Womxn’s Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.