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Nonpartisan group teaches 'new Americans' how to be public leaders

"Ready to Lead" training focuses on people with immigrant backgrounds.

DENVER — Just because everyone in the room is relatively new to this country doesn't mean they can't learn to be involved in politics, according to Chris Garcia.

"I am both native to Colorado, but also an immigrant," Garcia said. "I thought this would be a really good opportunity to learn about what it means to run for office.

He is a student in a training program called "Ready to Lead" put on by a nonpartisan group called New American Leaders. The seminar is designed to help first-or-second-generation Americans understand how politics and campaigns work.

"The most beautiful part of New American Leaders is that it's nonpartisan. Anyone can come and receive this training," said trainer Julie Gonzales. "Offering candidates of color, offering immigrant candidates an opportunity to learn how to take the first steps towards running for public office. - it's incredibly important."

Garcia said he is surprised at how much he didn't know.

"I didn't know much about what it means to run a campaign," Garcia said. "I didn't know what are the things you have to be wary about. What are the things you have to learn more about?"

Before Gonzales was a trainer, she was a student in this training in 2013 sitting and learning like Garcia.

"I never thought that I would ever run for public office. New American Leaders really started to give me the tools and helped me to demystify the process," Gonzales said.

Now, she's an elected state Senator for Denver.

"Too often people who are directly impacted by policy are not at the table when those policies are being crafted," Gonzales said.

This training attempts to get more people like Garcia a seat at that table to pursue that American dream.

"Know who you are and take that forward into the future," Garcia said.

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