At the Evans School, we educate leaders who meet societal challenges with compassion, vision, humility, and authenticity. Eric Holzapfel (MPA ’17) embodies these traits in his work as the Immigration Manager of Entre Hermanos, a Latino LGBTQ nonprofit in Seattle. Read about what has sustained Eric throughout his career as a public servant, and hear his perspective on the necessity of integrating your own life experiences into the work we do for others.
Eric Holzapfel, MPA ‘17
Tell me a little about yourself, and the work you do at Entre Hermanos.
I am a graduate of the MPA program at the Evans School, and I have a Bachelor's in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Kentucky. I am a native of Ecuador, and I have more than a decade of experience working with Latino and minority communities in criminal justice reform, immigration, youth mentorship, medical access, language rights, civic engagement, and wage theft in the United States and Ecuador.
I have worked as a legislative aid in the Ecuadorean Congress, a medical interpreter-patient advocate, policy writer for a Congressional campaign, and now serve as the Immigration Manager of Entre Hermanos, a Latino LGBTQ nonprofit in Seattle.
In the past year, I've led a series of state campaigns including: opposition to “public charge” changes in immigration law, immigration detention/bond reform, and Census funding for community-based outreach. I also oversee the expansion of our immigration representation of LGBTQ Latinos, particularly among asylum seekers from Central America.
What motivates you to do your work each day?
As a child my parents instilled in me an appreciation for life and the privileges I've had. I grew up in Ecuador at a time when child labor, especially on the streets, was common. This reality inspired me to dedicate my life to public service. I get up every morning excited to serve Entre Hermanos' clients and the immigrant and refugee community of King County.
What's a piece of advice you'd pass on to someone interested in pursuing a career in public service?
The first piece of advice I'd give is, “Check your ego at the door.” Confidence is important in any career, but I've learned that egos (especially in public service) only get in the way.
Second: your life experiences matter. Getting an MPA is a big accomplishment and it certainly provides you with a great skills to enter public service but your life experiences-both personal and professional- are what drive you and give you purpose in your work.
What's a valuable lesson that you've learned from your time in the public service?
I think having a steady-hand is critical to public service. Working in advocacy and in the nonprofit world, you will have so many highs and lows from legislative, funding, and policy victories and losses. It's important to keep a positive outlook and keep grinding.
Your efforts don't always bear fruit right away, but when they do it's so rewarding.
What’s something you’ll always remember about your time at the Evans School?
I'll always remember my peers at Evans, especially the cohort that formed the Evans People of Color (E-POC) student organization. Our shared experiences in grad school and seeing the work that we’re all doing now is inspiring.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I'm currently helping my organization through a leadership transition and a time of immense growth. I want to continue working to expand legal and holistic services for the Latino LGBTQ community of Washington State. I am so thankful to my co-workers at Entre Hermanos for their endless dedication to promoting the health and well-being of the Latino LGBTQ community who are with me in that effort.