When Cristina Garcia began her career as an environmental engineer, she saw few other Latinos or people of color in the industry.

“I saw there was a real lack of diversity,” she says. “All of my colleagues, everyone that I saw on meetings, were white. And we’re in New York City. I felt that there should be representation that looks like New York City.”

So four years ago, Garcia founded Latinos in Sustainability – a group within the New York City chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. It provides a space for people starting careers in sustainability to network and learn about important topics in the field.

She says that her group has held about 15 events.

“And every time there has been a huge confirmation that this group was needed, and that students and young professionals are really hungry to understand kind of how they get their foot in the door,” she says. “Because sustainability for so long has been, and continues to be, kind of this closed-circle network that unless you know someone, it’s really hard to get your foot in the door.”

She says that too often, jobs go to people who have the financial means to intern for free or attend expensive schools. So she wants to make sure that information and new opportunities reach people outside that circle.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media and Molly Matthews Multedo