Letter from the President

ASHE celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. It was a lively and friendly celebration, albeit through zoom. In January 2023, we will continue the celebration in person at the ASSA meetings. Can you tell we are Hispanic economists? We like to celebrate! And keep celebrating!

 But this is also a moment to take stock and reflect on ASHE’s journey over the last two decades. I was lucky enough to participate in the founding of ASHE as a young assistant professor. I was not able then to take in entirely what was happening. But over the years, this has become clearer in focus. ASHE is an organization concerned with the under-representation of Hispanics in the economics profession. We know that this under-representation is chronic—which has been documented in previous issues of our publication, the Hispanic Economic Outlook (HEO)—and, by itself, imposes additional barriers to us Hispanic economists. Even more importantly, it also imposes barriers on Hispanics at large through the chronic deficit of consideration to Hispanic issues in all ambits of policy.

Amid this situation, ASHE has been doing its part during the last two decades. I see the current ASHE leadership and members as standing on the shoulders of giants, trailblazers who had the vision and the spirit of service to take ASHE off the ground and make it what it is today. The beginnings of ASHE were not easy. We owe them a great deal of gratitude. Many people come to mind, including Adela de la Torre, Marie Mora, Sue Stockly, Alberto Davila, Joseph Guzman, Mark Lopez, Ron Oaxaca, Francisco Rivera-Batiz, Refugio Rochin, and Charlie Becker. All the past presidents of ASHE (which you can find listed on our webpage, asheweb.org) have also played a key role, including my direct predecessor, Sandra Orozco-Aleman, and Jose Fernandez, who rotates out of the Board of Officers. All those who have served on the different committees of ASHE, and last but not least, all ASHE members who volunteer and participate in our activities.

At the same time that this is an opportunity for celebration and recognition of our young history, it is also a chance to look forward, continue building a solid foundation for the future of ASHE and to dream a vision of what ASHE can become. First, ASHE has grown and has more members, organized activities, and events than ever before (which you can learn about on our website or through our email listserv). However, this process has come with growing pains. The organizational structure of ASHE needs to become more efficient and nimbler, a process towards which the Board has begun to move. One of my priorities is to devise organizational procedures that can help ASHE become even more functional without fundamentally changing its current structure. I see this as an investment in ASHE’s future, allowing us to serve our membership better.

Second, and in tandem with the growth of ASHE, our financial position appears more solid than ever before. This is thanks our increased visibility—which has attracted individual and institutional members—and the entrepreneurship of our past leaders. But there are additional steps that we can take to strengthen the financial position of ASHE. One of these steps is to seek the official IRS denomination for a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. The ability to accept tax-deductible contributions will bolster our finances in the future.

Third, we should dream about what ASHE can be. Today, ASHE offers numerous activities and benefits to our members, including the organization of sessions at the ASSA and regional meetings, mentoring programs, the monthly ASHE research seminar, simulated interviews for job candidates, liaison with the press, facilitator of communications of interest to our members, posting of job ads, etc. We should continue all those activities our members benefit from and begin new ones to satisfy unmet needs. I plan to request your input, elicit needs, and solicit ideas to preserve and enhance the relevance of ASHE to its members.

To close, I want to thank you for your support and involvement in ASHE’s activities. I hope to be able to serve you effectively. I am always open to your comments and suggestions. You can reach me at afloresl@syr.edu.

 Sincerely yours,

Alfonso Flores-Lagunes

[1] Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

[2] Fully vaccinated people as percent of US population. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations_vacc-total-admin-rate-total. Last accessed December 8, 2021.

[3] Parker, Kim, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, and Anna Brown, 2020. About Half of Lower-Income Americans Report Household Job or Wage Loss Due to COVID-19. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC.

[4] Orozco, Marlene, Inara Sunan Tareque, Paul Oyer, and Jerry I. Porras, 2020. The Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 on Latino-Owned Businesses. Research Brief, Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, Stanford, CA.

[5] Jacobson, Mireille, Tom Y. Chang, Manisha Shah, Rajiv Pramanik, and Samir B. Shah, 2021. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in SARS-CoV-2 Testing and COVID-19 Outcomes in a Medicaid Managed Care Cohort. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp. 644-651.

[6] CDC, 2021. Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases, Atlanta, GA. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html.

[7] Reitsma, et al. 2021. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Exposure Risk, Testing, and Cases at the Sub county Level in California. Health Affairs, Vol. 40, No. 6, pp.870-878.

[8] Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, and Luis Noe-Bustamante, 2020. U.S. Latinos among hardest hit by pay cuts, job losses due to coronavirus. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC.

Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, PhD

Syracuse University