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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Meet Carlos "Charming" Salazar

SAN DIEGO -- Carlos "Charming" Salazar is new to San Diego's LGBT community but has brought with him a wealth of leadership experiences that can only be of benefit to the organizations he has joined.

At 25 years old, he is the CEO of Forward Thinking, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young adults. He is driven - volunteering his time for numerous boards, organizations and groups - and continues to do things to better himself and the communities around him.

Salazar lives by the well-known motto, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," and works to do so every single day.

From Concord, Calif., Salazar moved to San Diego in April 2012, and looks forward to many more great experiences in this community which he says he already loves.

He certainly is charming, always ready with a kind word and big smile, hence the nickname "Charming."

Learn more about Salazar below:

What organization(s) do you volunteer for, and why?

I am currently the CEO and founder of Forward Thinking and Outloud Leadership Magazine. Both organizations are dedicated to the betterment of young adults to reach their aspirations. In association with San Diego Pride, we are now able to offer training on the first Saturday of every month at the San Diego Pride office. We cover various topics that students face in transition from high school to college and so on and assist them with the hurdles that often present themselves. We believe that knowledge is power; we work diligently to equip them with the tools they need to succeed. The program is free and available to students ages 16-25.

To learn more about the organization visit our website HERE.

After years of watching from the sidelines I decided to join San Diego Pride and help further their commitment to help the community and sponsor one of the most integral events in San Diego for the LGBTQ community. I am currently a Board Candidate, which means I have the opportunity to shadow and learn from the current officers, voice my opinion on current issues facing the organization and prepare to take on new responsibilities in March, if selected to be a voting member of the board). This has been an eye opening experience to learn from outstanding leaders in the community and gain awareness of LGBTQ issues of the day and what San Diego Pride is doing to address them.

Healthcare has always had a special place in my heart. My family suffers from several chronic diseases that in turn inspired me to get involved in healthcare at a very young age. In high school I joined Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), which is an amazing program that focuses on student development and providing tools for students to equip them to be healthcare professionals. After moving up the ranks in leadership in the organization and ending my time with them as their National Vice President I realized how much I loved being involved and helping others in the industry. After moving to San Diego, I decided to join Sharp Memorial Hospital by volunteering in their Volunteer Services office as a special projects coordinator is to assist with volunteer orientation by leading leadership activities and assessing the candidate’s skills. I also hold interviews with potential candidates and select the top candidates. It’s a wonderful way to ensure that patients are being cared for by people who really want to be there and genuinely care.

What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?

My favorite quote and life motto is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I am an avid believer that if we all did our part and help one another, free of judgment and bias, we would all live a much happier life. I volunteer because it makes me happy to help others and for that selfish gratification to see them smile.

Do you volunteer because of your work, or not? And what do you do for a career?

No, as a consultant I am simply paid to do my job but I have been lucky to have had employers that are very supportive of my volunteer efforts and grant me time off.

What is something that many people do not know about you?

Well, I have two little dogs, Ares and Cooper. They are both Cheweenies and are hyper but incredibly affectionate. I love them dearly but they are definitely a handful.

I love to sing and recently joined the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Guiltless plug: Tickets are on sale for our upcoming Elton John Tribute performance - "Rocket Man" - which happens to be taking place on my birthday weekend, April 13-14.

I am training to join the United States Air Force as an officer so I find myself training ... a lot. A fun fact about me is I have lost over 200 pounds in the last year and am going strong.

I am also working on my PhD in Organizational Leadership and Development, so down time is nonexistent.

What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?

I haven’t been here long enough to see something that stands out that absolutely needs to be changed, but what I would love to see more is some new faces in the volunteer offices of the organizations I help. We all have talents, so share them and help make a difference!

What do you like most about the local LGBT community?

Growing up in a suburban community has made me appreciate that small town vibe, I feel that everyone know everyone and I love that. People have a genuine appreciation and admiration for its community leaders and support one another.

What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life other than volunteering?

As dry as it may sound to a lot of people, I am a huge proponent of leadership development. I am a new member to The Center’s Young Professionals Council and hope to learn and share knowledge with their leaders.

I am a also leadership fellow for the Southern California Leadership Network out of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and we focus on various topics and issues affecting LA and surrounding counties.

Diversity awareness and development is also something I take very seriously. I am on the Board of Directors of the Whittier College's Alianza De Los Amigos where I serve as the Mentorship chair. In this organization, we focus on cultural awareness in the community and work closely with the College to promote diversity and equality.

Volunteering has helped me make several new friends and I am thankful for each and every one. The people in my life have enriched my life and I hope I have done the same for them.

If you could host a dinner party and invite three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

I think that if I’m meant to meet them I will one day so I would use this opportunity to connect with people I love, but just in case Oprah, Obama and Hillary read this, you guys are on my “must meet” checklist. I would invite three of my closest friends who live in faraway cities. It has been years since we have all been together and truly the memories made with them are invaluable.

If you or someone you know should be profiled on SDGLN, contact Ben Cartwright at ben@sdgln.com.