Lydia Lachino-Ramirez, People Operations Supervisor at Tofurky, is a recent graduate of the Latino Leadership Institute’s Ignite program. By investing in Latino leaders like Lydia, we witness the powerful and far-reaching impact they can have on their communities.
Every year thousands of migrant and seasonal farmers arrive in the Columbia River Gorge, a vital influx that helps sustain the region’s agricultural economy. Like many Latino leaders, Lydia shares her professional expertise with her community, many of whom work in Hood River’s large agricultural workforce.
A resident of a close-knit community in Hood River, Oregon, Lydia has always been a “people person.” Her career in human resources (HR) at Tofurky helped her refine her passion for helping and supporting others during their most vulnerable moments.
What experiences or influences have shaped your leadership? What is your greatest strength as a leader?
All my life I’ve been a people person. My parents and my sisters always joked about how easy it was for me to join a random group and make them all my friends. We would just be cruising around on bikes, walking around, and playing.
When I was seven, my mom went through cancer. My life was really marked like a before and after. I started looking for any possibility to support my family through all of it; I started asking questions and trying to inform myself.
Supporting my family made me realize that I enjoyed helping people out and being able to comfort them.
Those experiences helped shape my greatest strength as a leader: I am able to really listen. In my job and the work I do with my community, I put myself in other people’s shoes and try to leave my own emotions, opinions, and thoughts aside, which helps me in my role as People Operations (HR) Supervisor at Tofurky. As I listen, I try and think about what’s an outcome that is going to work for them and for the situation.
How do you use your knowledge of employee rights to support your community in Hood River, Oregon?
In Hood River, there’s a lot of agriculture. And within agriculture, there are a lot of migrants. There are a lot of people who don’t have any formal education or who don’t know about the laws because they are new to the United States.
When I started doing HR and learning more about the laws and protections, I started thinking back to what I would hear from my parents growing up and what my husband, who is in agriculture, was experiencing. I would hear stories at family barbecues and other family gatherings.
I started noticing things that weren’t correct, information that was misgiven or purposefully withheld from them as agricultural workers and migrants like paychecks that weren’t correct or they weren’t getting sick time.
When you’re with people you trust, you start talking about jobs, you open up about things that aren’t going right with your life. Here I was able to bring in HR experience from my work at Tofurky and my knowledge of Oregon HR laws and say: “No, that’s not right. There are laws that protect you. And these are the agencies that can help you if this is happening.”
Why is being a resource on labor and HR policies important to you?
It’s important to me because I’m first generation. I want to help people like my parents who are in the U.S. for the first time and who don’t have family who are more familiar with the U.S. systems and labor policies.
Where do you want to go next in your professional journey?
Due to family circumstances, I haven’t been able to finish my degree. I really want to go back to school, especially since I know I’m passionate about HR and worker justice in Oregon and other states as well. I also want to participate and engage more with the community by having conversations and sharing the resources that we have in our own community.
How did you find out about Ignite and what did it mean to you?
I learned about Ignite through the VP of my department at Tofurky. I joined as soon as I could and it was life-changing for me. I connected with other Latino leaders who are trying to make a difference through their leadership.
If you have the opportunity to be part of the Latino Leadership Institute’s Ignite program, I would definitely take it. Understanding yourself and your leadership skills will not only help you professionally but personally.
Being in my Ignite cohort really empowered me to claim my voice with confidence and not stay quiet. I have the knowledge. Ignite definitely changed the way I see leadership, especially for myself.
About Lydia Lachino-Ramirez:
Lydia Lachino-Ramirez is a People Operations Supervisor at Tofurky with a speciality in labor and wage laws and protected leaves. She is passionate about aiding and supporting employees and her community. In her free time, Lydia enjoys spending quality family time with her husband and three kids, tending to their small farm, and connecting with new people.
Founded in 1980, Tofurky is the leading independent plant-based protein producer in the nation, making lip-smacking plant-based foods that are kind to people, animals and the environment. As a Certified Benefit Corporation, Tofurky puts purpose before profits and reinvests in a wide variety of environmental initiatives, advocates for animal welfare and invests in its community. For more information, visit www.tofurky.com.