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City of Madison launches Bilingual Community Connector Program for Increased Language Access and Equity


Enoch Melgarejo and Holly Chen have joined the Department of Civil Rights as Bilingual Community Connectors in the City of Madison’s new Community Connector Program, one of the few government programs of this kind in the country, the City of Madison announced in a press release. Melgarejo and Chen will work primarily with members of the community who face language barriers accessing City services.

“We want all residents and visitors to be able to access the many services and programs the City has to offer,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway in a statement. “We also want feedback from our entire community about City services, and their needs. The Bilingual Community Connector Program extends and improves upon our work to provide language access and to practice authentic and equitable community engagement.”

With Spanish, Hmong, and Chinese being the most spoken languages in Madison behind English, these languages were the focus for this first venture towards addressing barriers of language between community and city government. Chen, a UW-Whitewater graduate who joined the Department of Civil Rights in 2020, will be the Chinese Community Connector. Melgarejo, a graduate of Universidad Veracruzana and advocate for adult basic education, will be the Spanish Community Connector. They will be joined by a Hmong Community Connector, and that position is currently in the recruitment process.

Their bios, from the City of Madison, are as follows:

• Holly Chen was born in China and moved to Madison with her family when she was eight. She holds a B.A. from UW-Whitewater. She joined the department of Civil Rights in early March 2020 and was responsible for the majority of the Chinese translations for the City of Madison. Holly finds it very fulfilling to help those with language barriers to communicate clearly. She is excited to pivot into the Bilingual Community Connector role, and to be able to continue to serve her communities. In her spare time, she is usually running around town playing Ultimate Frisbee, searching for the next best foodie spot, or vegging around the house with her dog.

• Enoch Melgarejo is a native of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico and a graduate of Universidad Veracruzana. He is a passionate advocate for adult basic education and has developed expertise in working with diverse and underrepresented adult learners in various academic settings. He explores Mexican culture, art, and gastronomy with his fiancée at Pueblitos Mágicos in Mexico. He is also a film lover, a chess player, and a foodie who loves pets.