City Launches Bilingual Community Connector Program for Increased Language Access and Equity
Enoch Melgarejo and Holly Chen have joined the Department of Civil Rights as Bilingual Community Connectors in the City of Madison’s new Community Connector Program, one of the few government programs of this kind in the country.
“We want all residents and visitors to be able to access the many services and programs the City has to offer,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway. “We also want feedback from our entire community about City services, and their needs. The Bilingual Community Connector Program extends and improves upon our work to provide language access and to practice authentic and equitable community engagement.”
Holly and Enoch will work primarily with members of the community who face language barriers accessing City services. Community Connectors will elevate underrepresented voices, use culturally relevant and affirming communication practices, and build trust between community members and City government. The majority of interpretation and translation services for all languages will continue to be provided through contracted service providers.
After English, the three largest language communities in Madison are Spanish, Hmong, and Chinese. “We heard from community members about the need to create a transformative rather than a transactional approach to Language Access,” said Kristy Kumar, Department of Civil Rights, Equity and Social Justice Division Manager. “This model encourages Connectors to build relationships with community members who have faced barriers to language access and ask what they need and how they need support, rather than rely on mechanisms that have not been working.”
Enoch, the Bilingual Spanish Community Connector and Holly, the Bilingual Chinese Community Connector, will be joined by a Hmong Connector position currently in the recruitment process.
Holly was born in China and moved to Madison with her family when she was eight. She holds a B.A. from UW-Whitewater. She joined the department of Civil Rights in early March 2020 and was responsible for the majority of the Chinese translations for the City of Madison. Holly finds it very fulfilling to help those with language barriers to communicate clearly. She is excited to pivot into the Bilingual Community Connector role, and to be able to continue to serve her communities. In her spare time, she is usually running around town playing Ultimate Frisbee, searching for the next best foodie spot, or vegging around the house with her dog.
Enoch is a native of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico and a graduate of Universidad Veracruzana. He is a passionate advocate for adult basic education and has developed expertise in working with diverse and underrepresented adult learners in various academic settings. He explores Mexican culture, art, and gastronomy with his fiancée at Pueblitos Mágicos in Mexico. He is also a film lover, a chess player, and a foodie who loves pets.
As a City, we know we need to improve our relationships with the many people from diverse backgrounds who come to Madison by choice or circumstance. They contribute to the richness and vibrancy of our community and we are committed to ensuring their voices and lived experiences are heard and valued. We are thrilled to provide an improved pathway for language access and inclusion so that this place may feel like home.
- Kristy Kumary, (608) 266-4910, email@example.com
- Norman Davis, (608) 266-4910, firstname.lastname@example.org