Jessica K Asencio

The power of community, the legacy of D&I leader Jessica K. Asencio (RIP)

All loses of loved ones sadden us, making us reflect on how ephemeral life is. However, sometimes we are impacted by the loss of someone special, who went above and beyond to make a difference in this world, and for that, she will always be remembered. I am honored and humbled to be part of this beautiful celebration of Jessica K. Asencio’s life. Susana G Baumann, President and CEO, Latinas in Business Inc.

  What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller

Jessica K Asencio (RIP) (Photo Courtesy of Jessica’s friends)

Today we take a moment to celebrate the life and legacy of Jessica K. Asencio. Born in Ecuador and raised in Brooklyn, NYC, Jessica dedicated her life to supporting Latino-Hispanic causes and uplifting their voices in the workplace. Jessica became a D&I leader, and was recognized as a Diversity Champion at JPMorgan Chase.

She also served on the Global Adelante Board–JPMorgan Chase’s Latino/Hispanic Business Resource Group– and founded the Latino Networks Coalition (LNC), originally inaugurated in 2010 by JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte and Thomson Reuters. The coalition was launched with additional partners including American Express, Bank of America, Citibank, Credit Suisse and The New York Times.

Jessica K Asencio’s leadership

“Jessica Asencio was an incredible diversity and inclusion leader and a leader in Hispanic causes, but most importantly she was an incredible friend,” says Patricia Pacheco de Baez, Bank of America HOLA NY Executive Advisory Board Emeritus Chair.

“She was such an influential leader,” describes fellow colleague and friend, Hedda Bonaparte.

“She was a leader who led by example with optimism, strength, devotion, and focus,” says Alicia Garcia, friend, and Latino Networks Coalition’s Leader.

“You were our very own fearless leader,” says friend and HISPA founder and CEO, Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse.

Across all testimonials from friends and colleagues, this sentiment reoccurs. Jessica was an extraordinary and passionate leader who left a lasting impact on everyone she met.

Latino market growth

Banking on Latinos for Growth – LNC Executive Board members & speakers: (left to right) Patricia Pacheco Baez (Bank of America Director), Roberto Peralta (Societe Generale Head of Institutional Client Relations, Roberto Ruiz (Univision EVP & event sponsor), Jessica Toonkel (Reuters News Correspondent), Alicia Garcia (LNC Executive Board Co-Chair), Christian Narvaez (Societe Generale Vamos Latino Network), Rosa Ramos-Kwok (Bank of America MD), Carlos Hernandez (J.P. Morgan Head of Global Banking & lead host sponsor), Juliana Gomez (Univision Director), Jessica K. Asencio (LNC Board Founder & LNC Univision Program Steering Committee Co-lead), Lili Gil-Valletta (CulturIntel CEO & Co-founder), Henry Agusti (Bank of America Head of Digital Banking), Don Perez (LNC Executive Board Member & Program Leader), Alex Reyes (Citrin Cooperman Partner), Flavio Cosenza (Chase Bank Executive Director of Marketing), Charles Neugebauer (LNC Univision Program Steering Committee Co-lead)

At JPMorgan Chase, Jessica K Asencio served as the Global Markets Corporate & Investment Bank CAO, where she was responsible for overseeing global talent management, training, and leadership development. Prior to this role, she also served as Vice President for Corporate Marketing & Communications. In all her various roles at JPMorgan Chase throughout her career, she was responsible for developing and implementing firm-wide marketing and communications programs designed to support strategic initiative and key areas of focus. And as with all her work, she always approached every project with a vibrant, optimistic energy.

“I have known Jess since December 2001 when I moved to NYC to work on a high priority project, and Jess represented the Communications Team for JPMC Latin America,” says dear friend and JPMC Colleague, Don Perez. “I was profoundly amazed with her energy, positive attitude, desire to make a difference, commitment and honesty, all testaments of her spiritual strength.”

Jessica K Asencio with friends and LNC Board Members Alberto Flores, President at XP Contractors Inc. and Don Perez, former colleague at JPMorgan Chase (Photo courtesy LNC)

At the time, Jessica was already involved with the JPMorgan Chase Women’s Initiative Network but not yet with Adelante. When Don Perez became Chairman of the Hispanic/ Latino employee group a few months later, Jessica was one of the first people he recruited.

“I needed all the elements of her spiritual side and positive influence with other members to include JPMC Executives,” says Don. Jessica’s tremendous energy was so valuable and necessary to all the work she did that everyone who worked with her recognized it instantly.

Jessica K Asencio

Jessica K Asencio, LNC Executive Board Chair and Founder, and Vice President, Corporate & Investment Bank CAO at JPMorgan Chase speaking at “Banking on Latinos for Growth: Breaking the Code” forum. (Photo courtesy LNC)

“She opened her network to me and many others, which I am grateful for,” says Alicia Garcia, Senior Program Manager, Customer Proposition PMO (Trading & Regulation), and Refinitiv Latino Network Global Co-Chair. “The LNC was started by sharing best practices across our Latino BRG/ERGs and bringing us together as a ‘familia’ under one voice. Her legacy will continue as her values are ingrained across our LNC members and partners.”

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“Jessica K Asencio was a caring, sharing, and an inspiring Latina leader who was committed to Hispanic inclusion at JPMorgan Chase. Through her visionary initiative, she brought together Latino employees resource groups from multiple NYC companies when she co-founded the Latino Network Coalition. The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) partnered with Jessica on many occasions, including her annual toy drive charity event during the holiday season. I was proud to call her my friend. She will be very missed. May she rest in the peaceful arms of the Lord,” Cid Wilson, President & CEO, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) also shared.

Jessica and the power of community

Jessica believed in the power of community. We are stronger together than apart. In the world of business, people are often told they must be separate, individual, and independent to stand out and get ahead. Our Western society at large constantly feeds us this idea of the individual, making us believe that to be strong we must not rely on others or seek help. But that was not Jessica’s message. As a diversity and inclusion leader, she lived by the incredible power of communities and the importance of standing together. And her communities became “familia.”

“She always focused on the good in each person and that was her biggest strength. Her patience and admiration for people was unconditional. She always supported all the different groups and Latino/Hispanic associations with her entire heart and insisted for all of us to do the same,” says Patricia Pacheco de Baez, Director in Corporate Investment Bank at Bank of America, and HOLA NY Executive Advisory Board Emeritus Chair. “I recall her calling me over and over again to support many groups because she used to say ‘If we don’t do it, as Latino/Hispanic professionals, then who will?’ Her theory was that each of us have an obligation to stand up for each other and for our organizations.”

LNC Puerto Rico and Mexico Hurricanes’ Fundraiser at Copacabana 2017 (Photo Courtesy LNC)

“Inclusion is what comes up for me,” says Lucy Sorrentini, Founder & CEO of Impactful Consulting. “Although she and I had never met before, it was as if I knew her my whole life. She taught me what it really means to be in a community and how to lead as a servant leader. It was never about her. It was all about the cause.”

When working on the Adelante Board, Hedda says, “Her enthusiasm and commitment to make us the top Networking Group was so invigorating that she took us all on the same journey.”

Her influence was such that she could bring people together like no other. Everywhere she went, she made lifelong connections and helped others do the same.

“I met Jessica at the Women of ALPFA workshop in 2016,” Oneida Nolly Araujo shares. “Since then, I was impacted by her diligent and effective leadership. She always was willing to help anyone with a smile on her face. After the convention, Jessica became my mentor and more than my mentor, my lovely and dear friend for a lifetime.”

“She was a remarkable and gifted connector, introducing people with similar backgrounds, experiences, interests, upbringings. Always thinking of others first,” says Frank D. Sanchez, who met Jessica in 2011 after moving to NYC from Colorado. “Jessica made everyone feel we were part of something bigger than ourselves, even before knowing what we were a part of.”

“Her desire to elevate the power of our community in numbers combined with her ability to create consensus and bring us together as leaders will forever be remembered,” says Lili Gil Valletta, CEO & Co-Founder of CIEN+.

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Jessica’s legacy on building relationships

As a diversity and inclusion leader, Jessica was naturally a connector. She was passionate about connecting people and building relationships, and she made lifelong connections with everyone she met.

Months ago, Jessica asked her friend Ivonne, “What word comes to mind when you think of me?”

Instantly, Ivonne typed: LOVE. Jessica radiated LOVE toward everyone. LOVE filled her work as she put it into every project.

“You were, you are, and you will forever be LOVE to me and to all of those who had the good fortune of meeting you,” Ivonne writes. “Your LOVE is an example to all of us, your LOVE is something I will never forget.” As the founder of HISPA, Ivonne will ensure Jessica’s legacy of LOVE lives on by giving the “Jessica K. Asencio Scholarship” at the next New York City HISPA Youth Conference.

Latino market growth, Jessica K Asencio

(L to R) Maria de los Angeles Corral, Education for Excellence; Alicia Garcia, Reuters; Charles Neugebauer, Univision; Jessica K Asencio, LNC; Susana G Baumann and Tathiana Carrasco, Latinas in Business Inc. (Photo Latinas in Business Inc.)

The communities and relationships Jessica built will not forget her. Her legacy lives on through them. She will be remembered as a courageous and influential diversity and inclusion leader. She will be remembered for her positive energy, her kind soul, her genuine attitude, and her love and commitment toward building communities and uplifting Latino and Hispanic voices.

“She built a legacy on relationships,” says Jonathan Wunderlich, Dream Project Development Director. “I only hope I can follow in her footsteps and continue to listen, to care, and build from there.”

We can see in her testimonials the impact she had on just a few of the many people who were lucky enough to know her. Her relationships have spanned decades, and even with those she only just met, it often felt they had known each other forever.

“Jessica taught us the power of friendship and showed us how to genuinely live life to its fullest,” says Frank D. Sanchez, from Rhode Island College.

Jessica’s glowing personality

Jessica’s warm smile drew everyone in. She was always genuine, enthusiastic, and ready to help others.

“My initial impression [of Jessica] was someone with a huge smile and equally huge heart,” shares Lucy Sorrentini, who met Jessica 4 years ago at a social gathering for members of the LPC (Latina Philanthropy Circle). “She was warm, down to earth, committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, an ambassador for and on behalf of the Latinx community, a kind soul, and an incredibly intelligent woman who was on a mission to create real change. After we met, her first words were ‘I’ve heard so much about you and the LPC, how can I help?”

This is the type of person Jessica was, one who was always willing and ready to lend a helping hand, and to do so with love and dedication. She took people under her wing, like Hedda Bonaparte, who was one of the many lucky individuals who Jessica mentored throughout her many projects.

DREAM Project

Members of the LNC Board including Alicia Garcia (Thomson Reuters), Patricia Pacheco de Baez (Bank of America), Susana G Baumann, (Latinas in Business Inc.), Junot Diaz (2008) Pulitzer Price for Fiction,  and Jessica K Asencio. (Photo courtesy LNC)

“I don’t believe that Jessica ever gave up the chance to help inspire and bring someone along with her,” says Hedda. “She taught me not to be afraid to show my abilities and what I can bring. I will miss Jessica especially for the warm, inviting smile she always shared and the hugs that followed. Her famous goodbye: ‘un fuerte abrazo’ I send to you, my friend.”

Patricia Pacheco de Baez and Jessica K Asencio, LNC Board Members and best friends (Photo Courtesy LNC)

“With her dedication to philanthropy, her vision, kindness, and authentic approach, Jessica was never a ‘let me get back to you’ person,” says Jonathan Wunderlich. “She was a ‘does a coffee at 4:30 PM Friday work?’ type of person. She was a straight-talker, a truth-teller, so when Jess said she would do something, it got done. She taught me to inject love into what we do, to be real, and avoid getting caught up in the casual side of connections in NYC and the world of giving back. She taught me to fight when it was time, but to always draw opposition in love, care, and attention.”ns

“Life is short and our legacy is created while we are living on earth. Hers is one many of us will remember forever,” says Lucy Sorrentini.

“She was my biggest cheerleader,” shares best friend, Patricia. “My confidant and my big sister who believed in me more than I believed in myself at times. She encouraged me to reach out to the stars and to always push to become the best version of myself. She has left such an emptiness, but her teachings and her love toward us will stay forever in our hearts. We will continue pushing forward the agenda of the advancement on the Latino/Hispanic causes and we will continue her hard work and build on her legacy. May you rest in peace, Jessica, and we will always remember you every step of the way.”

Jessica, the testimonials of your friends and colleagues are the mark of a life, while short, very well-lived. Your work and legacy will continue on in the power of the communities you built and the lives you touched.

This article was a collaboration between Victoria Arena, Editor, and Susana G Baumann, Editor-in-Chief, LatinasinBusiness.us

Victoria Arena

About Victoria Arena

Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. In 2017, she received her Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing from Brookdale Community College. Now, she is working toward her Bachelor's in English Literature at Montclair State University. Along with literature, Victoria is interested in Gender and Sexuality Studies, which she is pursuing as a minor, focusing closely on women's issues, gender inequality, and LGBT issues. These studies provide her with a feminist lens, which influences her work from both fiction to academic writings.
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