Change Agents Newsletter: Meet Leslie Hurtado!

February 2, 2023


(Photo by Emma Soto)

Leslie is a proud Communications graduate from Northeastern Illinois University. In 2022, her work was recognized for her reporting with WBEZ's Curious City on Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, which won her a regional Edward Murrow award and made her a finalist for a Peter Lisagor award.
Recently, she finished her reporting fellowship exploring Chicago's guaranteed income pilot programs with City Bureau, a civic journalism lab based in Bronzeville. Hurtado has worked at several newsrooms, including Cicero Independiente,  Borderless Magazine, Telemundo Chicago, WGN-TV, Spanish Public Radio, WBEZ Chicago and WTTW Chicago.

Leslie spoke about what it meant to her to work on their episode:

Why do you want to cover this story for Change Agents?

Working on this story exposed me to inequities in different industries. When I heard the stories of construction workers of color about their experiences tackling discrimination in the workforce, it inspired me to ask more questions about the industry and what they’ve encountered in the workplace. Recently, the city has witnessed racial incidents in construction worksites, prompting organizations like Revolution Workshop to bring attention to the acts. This is a pivotal moment to talk about the future of the workforce as organizations work together to bring solutions. 

 Why did you want to work with Change Agents?

I wanted to work with Change Agents this season because of the work journalists produced last year and the lessons learned while they produced their stories. Another reason why I joined is because of the Change Agent’s consistent effort to truthfully tell sources’ lived experiences and allow community members to serve as a sounding board in how those stories are told. I want to continue collaborating with stakeholders and community organizers to strengthen future stories. 

 What additional skills are you developing/sharpening through Change Agents?

As I say goodbye to my fellow changemakers, I know I will leave with a great amount of skills and knowledge. I learned that quantifying a problem does not equate to a good story. Humanizing those numbers can bring depth to a story and allow people to visualize the issue. I want to do both but focusing more on the individual’s perspective.

 The Change Agents process is about working on stories inside/out and making relationships/connections with the community organizations. How are your efforts part of the Change Agents process?

My efforts to engage with the community and collaborate with community partners have been a part of the storytelling process. I have visited workers at their job sites and even met with experts and community organizers to be a part of the conversation around structural racism in the construction workforce. Without community input, the story lacks nuance. It is important to follow a reporting model that centers people at the forefront of the problem.

I valued the connections I built throughout the program, especially with community partners. I learned so much about the construction industry just through my conversations with them. Working with the community made me feel a sense of joy while I was reporting on difficult topics. 

 What is a fun fact or two about yourself that you do not mind sharing?

I am a HUGE Lady Gaga fan! I also love to sing and act to my favorite vintage music. I used to perform in my earlier years with dad.

 What was a light bulb moment while producing your story for Change Agents?

A light bulb moment that occurred during reporting and production would have to be when I discovered that some companies in the construction sector do not include goals to retain worker of color in work contract agreement – a fact that gave more context to the story.

 Follow Leslie on Twitter @Lesshurtmedia.

(Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Reader)


A Word From The Executive Producers:

The big day is finally here! The culmination of three months of hard work, lots of edits, re-edits and re-edits of re-edits, all come down to this. We have six brand new episodes, here’s the lineup: producer Wendy Wei brings us How to Tackle Antiblackness about Chinatown’s People Matter’s workshops on the issue, Grace Del Vecchio’s Restoring La Maceta covers Centro Sanar's mental health services for families of gun violence victims in Brighton Park (a Spanish Version is also available), Leslie Hurtado’s Building Equality in Construction profiles Revolution Workshop's building trades training & job placement for BIPOC tradespeople, Jocelyn Martinez-Rosales’ episode Justice that Heals looks at BUILD's violence prevention & restorative justice center in Austin and Jeb Backe’s On the Way Home tells the story of Lyte Collective’s support systems for homeless youth in Auburn Gresham.  

Take a listen, and tell your friends to take a listen, and tell your friends to tell their friends, and then tell all of them to follow us on social media!!  The downloads go a long way to ensuring a season four!

- Judith McCray & Maurice Bisaillon

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