In 2020, Rodolfo Saldarriaga-Huallpa embarked on an exciting journey with the Mel King Institute, taking on the role of an RLA Program Support Consultant. Since then, he has been instrumental in managing the logistics of training programs, working closely with other MKI staff members. From the start, Rodolfo proved to be adept at identifying Community Development Corporations (CDCs) in need of additional support, mainly when it comes to outreach and engagement activities. Throughout his work at MKI, Rodolfo has gone above and beyond to ensure participants fully understand the scope of their work and have a clear picture of what they can gain from their experience.
Rodolfo, armed with a bachelor's degree in Social and Community Psychology, shared insights on how his academic background has significantly contributed to enhancing his outreach and engagement efforts for various participants. He emphasizes the importance of grasping the intricacies of group interactions, external motivational factors, and community dynamics. Reflecting on his college education, Rodolfo explained, "Each CDC is a community of its own. Each building is a community of its own. Managing these relationships is something I learned early on during my time in school." This understanding has certainly empowered him to make a more deep impact in his work.
Eleven years ago, Rodolfo embarked on his journey in the nonprofit back in Peru. Upon arriving in the United States, he volunteered at a nonprofit organization called Massachusetts Jobs with Justice for six months. There, his primary responsibility was to assist in organizing events and providing general support. Following this experience, he secured his first full-time position in the US as a Housing Case Manager. In this role, he helped individuals living in public and affordable housing by advocating for their rights when facing property owners and managers. As a homelessness prevention advocate, Rodolfo was assigned cases involving families and individuals on the brink of eviction. He accompanied them to court hearings and negotiated resolutions with property management to help clients maintain their homes. "I worked there for three years and during that time, I witnessed numerous individuals who were completely unrepresented or lacked any form of support. As a result, they ended up signing extremely disadvantageous agreements in the hopes of alleviating their current crisis or resolving their situation," said Rodolfo.
Returning to his roots was always a strong desire for him, specifically in the field of community engagement on a larger scale. As he aimed to expand his career, he took an opportunity to work in the community engagement sector once again. Through this role, he found it immensely fulfilling to assist communities in developing both power and force, allowing them to effectively organize themselves.
When asked about how his background prepared him for the role he has today, he spoke about how growing up in Peru, and he recalled witnessing numerous families struggling with the lack of affordable housing, which often led to them moving multiple times throughout the year. This experience resonated deeply, inspiring his desire to assist low-income families. Upon arriving in the United States, he emphasized the deep impact of working directly with under-resourced communities, stating, "When you come to the United States, and you have the opportunity to work directly with under-resourced communities, that shock, that impact, that completely shakes of the idea you have about life in the US." This insight gave him a bigger and unwavering commitment to addressing housing and community challenges and improving the lives of those who need it.