Eric Jimenez, a supervisor at Cocoon House, is an Emerging Leader finalist. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Eric Jimenez, a supervisor at Cocoon House, is an Emerging Leader finalist. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Eric Jimenez: Team player and advocate for youth

As an advocate for the Latino community, sharing and preserving its traditions is central to Jimenez’ identity.

This is one of 12 finalists for The Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders awards for 2024. The winner will be named at an event on April 17.

Eric Jimenez, 28

Navigation Coordinator, Cocoon House

When Eric Jimenez was promoted to a supervisory position at Cocoon House, he was told he would no longer work with clients.

Jimenez pushed back; telling his boss that he wanted to maintain small caseload.

“I want to know what’s going on; what’s happening in the streets with the youth,” he said. “I want to be there in the ring with my staff.”

Cocoon House, a local nonprofit, provides shelter and services for homeless youth.

Being an advocate for the Latino community is a “significant part of my identity,” Jimenez said. His support includes mentoring at-risk youth and raising awareness about mental health and substance abuse.

“I believe in meeting the youth wherever they’re at, if that’s under a bridge, out on the street and providing the mobile case management I provide my clients,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez encourages people to be transparent and authentic.

“There might be somebody out in the community or a youth that’s going to be able to connect with you you,” he said. “As part of the LGBTQ+ community, plus being someone who is Latino and somebody who’s ‘been there, I’ve gone through a few things similar to what our clients are going through.”

At Cocoon House, he’s a staunch supporter of inclusivity. To ensure equal access to information and services, he championed the translation of paperwork into Spanish and other languages, he said.

“I’m blessed that I’m bilingual,” Jimenez said. “But I’m aware there’s other people in the community that don’t have those resources.”

A nominator wrote: “Eric demonstrates a passion for people and service in Snohomish County and will do whatever it takes to improve the lives of the people he works with!”

Jimenez is also the owner of Reyes Events, specializing in Quinceanera choreography. The cultural celebration marks a young woman’s transition into adulthood at the age of 15, he said.

“The celebration of cultural traditions remains integral to my vision, as I believe in preserving and sharing the richness of my heritage,” he said.

As a dance instructor, Jimenez organizes free Latino Dance classes for local youth, promoting cultural engagement and physical activity, he said.

Reyes Events’ YouTube, Instagram and TikTok accounts — whose focus is on upbeat people and events — have thousands of followers, he said.

Through dance, Jimenez said he’s made a significant impact on at risk youth, offering them “a more positive and constructive path,” he said.

He is also part of the the city of Everett’s drug crisis task force, formed last year to address the effects of fentanyl and methamphetamine on crime, quality of life and housing.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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