Staff Spotlight: Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Vice President

We’re back with the next installment of our staff spotlight series! The next interview is with Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Vice President based in Chicago, Illinois. 

Christian Hendricks: What social causes do you care about deeply?

Ambar Mentor-Truppa: I am a champion for racial, economic, and gender justice. As the daughter of Dominican immigrants from poverty and working-class roots, I’ve seen how systemic inequities have created barriers to achieving the “American Dream.” I believe that no matter your race, gender, or income, you deserve to and should be able to reach your highest potential in this country. Our systems need to work for everyone.

For more than 15 years, I have been involved with Women Employed, an organization dedicated to equity for working women. I am an advocate for policies that support families ranging from paid sick time to raising the minimum wage to better access to community college. I have personally seen how these types of changes can radically and positively change a family’s trajectory!

CH: What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on at Fenton?

AMT: As one of the leaders within our racial justice practice, I work with organizations pushing for criminal legal reform and community-driven solutions to safety and justice. This includes helping to lead our work with Color Of Change; this year we’ve been working on a campaign to change the narrative on public safety and have placed really powerful pieces in Essence and The Crime Report, elevating the message that Black people know what true safety looks like in their communities — and it’s not more police or surveillance.

I’ve also spent the past year working with the Drug Policy Alliance on efforts to end the racist war on drugs, particularly on halting the criminalization of fentanyl-related substances and pushing for more funding for harm reduction services. The overdose crisis is one of the most pressing issues in our country right now, and is especially harmful to communities of color.

CH: Tell us about the landscape in Chicago when it comes to progressive and racial justice issues.

AMT: Chicago has such a rich history in the civil rights movement, from being the birthplace of Emmett Till to serving as the political home to President Obama. Thousands of immigrants live here and contribute to the beautiful fabric of the city.

At the same time, the city is also heavily segregated and continues to struggle with decades of disinvestment on the South and West Sides of the city. Gun violence has plagued communities while access to quality education and housing has not been equitable.

But community organizing is alive and thriving – labor unions, grassroots organizations, and parents are all vocal and powerful activists for needed change and resources in their neighborhoods. Journalism also remains a valued institution. From the venerable Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Public Radio to ethnic and community news outlets, local journalism remains an important tool for advancing justice by sharing critical information and agenda setting around important issues.

There is so much to fight for and so many opportunities to create positive change for the city. I am eager for Fenton to work with more Chicago-based organizations in 2023!

CH: Can you share with us a particularly meaningful moment with a client?

AMT: Forward Justice is an emerging organization in North Carolina leading the fight for a more just, equitable, and free South. They recently won a major legal victory restoring voting rights to nearly 60,000 North Carolinians impacted by the criminal justice system. Our team had the honor of interviewing local organizers and helping them tell their stories to local and national media. Listening to their stories of struggling to access the polls over the years and now working on the frontlines to protect and encourage everyone to exercise their vote was deeply inspiring and moving. Election Day is only weeks away — it’s important that everyone, particularly those who live in places with deep legacies of voter suppression, has the ability to cast their ballot and make their voices heard.

CH: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

AMT: I am in a season of pursuing personal joy, enjoying simple pleasures, and creating lasting memories. I love traveling to new and favorite cities across the country and globe. I love going to restaurants and enjoying Chicago’s Riverwalk and cool neighborhoods. I love spending time with my family and friends just laughing, dancing, or playing games. I love shopping and putting together a special outfit. I enjoy movement and fitness — pilates is so restorative.

CH: What’s something your clients don’t know about you?

AMT: I love cooking! Creating warm and comforting meals for my husband and family is really special. I like to create a full experience from cocktails and appetizers to multiple entrees, and a (simple) dessert – and a meal time music playlist. Some of my speciality dishes include goat-cheese stuffed dates, focaccia bread, caponata, Mediterranean orzo salad, and Dominican picadillo and locrio. I live in the kitchen during the holiday season.

CH: What’s your proudest achievement?

AMT: Before Fenton, I was the first-ever communications leader at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, a legal advocacy organization. I led the organization through a rebrand effort and built a communications infrastructure from the ground up. It was important to me to help co-create a lasting legacy for this work. I recently went to the organization’s annual gala and from the speeches to a fundraising video, I could see the branding and message staying true to its intent and it brought tears to my eyes! Communications is so powerful and enduring.

CH: Fenton’s retreat, Fenton Forward, is happening in New Orleans next month. What are you most excited about?

AMT: I am most excited to meet all of my amazing colleagues in person! As the only Fentonista in Chicago, I do miss those casual in-person connections in the office; this is going to be a wonderful experience getting to know each other in new ways and creating collective energy. And one can hope for some warm weather too!

Thank you, Ambar!