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April 1, 2024

Jacquelyn Santiago Nazario, 2024 Women in Business Honoree

For 27 years, Jacquelyn Santiago Nazario has been an advocate for underserved youth in her community.

In 2019, upon becoming CEO, she led COMPASS through a theory of change that focused the agency’s mission on interrupting violence in Hartford by building transformative relationships with youth living in the center of the violence.

Santiago Nazario has built a high-performance team to meet the needs of Hartford’s highest-risk youth. She supports the team by ensuring they have the resources they need to deliver impactful programming, and secured over $12 million in new funding for COMPASS in her five years as CEO.

What have been your biggest professional accomplishments?

I was invited to the White House to discuss my work at COMPASS Youth Collaborative.

Becoming CEO at COMPASS is the highest honor because I am able to use my lived experience to create opportunities for the most vulnerable populations. I believe that every young person is worthy of opportunity.

What’s the next big goal you want to accomplish professionally?

My biggest professional goal is to grow COMPASS to an agency budget of at least $10 million. This increased capacity can help COMPASS serve more youth impacted by violence in the city of Hartford and the surrounding areas.

What’s one of the biggest professional challenges you’ve overcome?

I am a new and young Latina CEO of color who navigated fiscal challenges followed by the COVID crisis. Within two years, I repaired funding relationships, focused the agency mission, redesigned programs and created sustainability.

The agency is financially secure and increased its budget by $1.5 million a year.

How are you involved in the community?

I am the vice chair of the Equity and Opportunity Commission for the city of Hartford. I am also the vice chair of the Latino Endowment Fund. I am honored to volunteer to create opportunities for vulnerable populations who are often left out of the decision-making process.

What are your keys to maintaining business success?

Maintain good relationships: While every agency has outcomes and financial goals, we can’t forget the people who make these goals possible.

Take calculated risks: When lives are at stake, sometimes you have to be bolder.

Check out the rest of the 2024 Women in Business Honorees

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