Stacie de Armas on breaking stereotypes and advocating for Latinas

Stacie de Armas is the Senior Vice President of Diversity Insights & Initiatives at Nielsen, where she conducts data harvesting, narrative development, and socialization of inclusive insights that cascade across multiple diverse identity groups—storytelling with a purpose. She is passionate about equity and advocacy for Latinos. 

Breaking stereotypes and advocating for equity

Stacie de Armas describes herself as “a Latina, a Cubana, a daughter, granddaughter, a sister, a tia, a mother, a seeker, and a teller of truth, ” and says being a Latinas has been her “superpower” in her work. At Nielsen, her position sits in a unique space that allows her to use Nielsen’s resources to uncover diverse community insights that empower and educate. Growing up, she never imagined she could do this job or have an extensive background as a consumer researcher, behaviorist, and thought leader in diverse communities. 

“I never knew I could be a researcher. Growing up, stereotypes surrounded me on television, if I saw myself at all. And I didn’t realize that I could be more,” says Stacie. “I didn’t see myself on screen, and when I did, I didn’t see a doctor, or a scientist, or a strong woman. I often saw Latinas presented in a light that I didn’t recognize and wasn’t my truth. In my job, I get to change that stereotype for all women.”  

Now, she’s breaking stereotypes for herself and others to show Latinas their power and potential. Looking back on her career, she notes a strong common thread of a passion for equity that has woven through all her experiences. 

“From the outside, my career seems like a series of opportunities that built on previous ones, but upon closer evaluation, you can see early signs of my passion for equity. At the time, however,  I didn’t quite see it like that. I thought all the advances I made were happenstance or serendipitous,” says Stacie. 

In one of her earliest working experiences, Stacie worked as a waitress throughout college. She was one of the few waitresses who spoke Spanish and soon formed fond friendships with the back-of-the-house staff. 

“I felt aligned and had common experiences with our Spanish-speaking team, and I really enjoyed those friendships. They were authentic. I felt like I belonged with them, and we had shared backgrounds,” Stacie says. “I found myself advocating for them in small ways.  As it happened, I saw early on there was inequity in how they were treated, and I found it hard to stand by and watch it unfold.”   

Later in college, Stacie began working at a bank, where she quickly fell into a role where she supported Latino clients. Again, because of her Latina background and ability to speak Spanish, Stacie found herself advocating for them. She transitioned from bank teller to supporting loan signings and new accounts, explaining the various documents that were not in Spanish at the time. Rather than just filling quotas, Stacie worked to help her Latino clients learn the inner workings of the U.S. banking system. 

advocacy for Latinos, breaking stereotypes, Stacie de Armas

On breaking stereotypes: “I never knew I could be a researcher. Growing up, stereotypes surrounded me on television if I saw myself at all. And I didn’t realize that I could be more.” (Photo courtesy Stacie de Armas)

“Naturally, I focused on this client base and found ways to meet their current needs without exorbitant fees. My clients would bring their friends and family, and others to bank with me. It was such an honor at the time, and I felt mutual respect.” 

After college, Stacie moved on from banking to work at an ad agency. Again, a similar situation presented itself. 

“I was an assistant buyer, and we worked primarily in English-speaking markets, but we did handle some Spanish language broadcast and cable network advertising buying for a few clients.  I noticed we didn’t have a good understanding of the offerings, the audience, or the value of the outlets we worked with. Our conversations and negotiations with our English language broadcasters were more detailed. The data was there, but evaluating our Spanish Language networks wasn’t a priority,” Stacie explains. 

So Stacie took the initiative and asked to focus on the Spanish market. She then began meeting with the agency’s Spanish language media companies and advocating for a new strategy that had more equity for Spanish media companies. And from there, she began handling most of the agency’s Spanish language buying and planning. 

“And so the story goes,” she says. “ Everywhere I ever went, as a white presenting Latina, I felt an obligation to stand with, beside, and for my comunidad. And it shone through in my work. My career grew in the space of consumer advocacy, specifically for the Latino consumer.  This passion for equity had presented itself early in my life, and I have carried it with me throughout my career.”  

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Be bold and do not let yourself be ignored

Now, Stacie is committed to breaking down barriers for other Latinas and empowering them to break through stereotypes, as she did, and made their dreams a reality. 

To other aspiring Latina professionals, Stacie says her best advice is to be bold. 

“I think we are often not taught about the value of being bold.  We confuse being bold for being aggressive. Being bold is assertive but not aggressive. It is a learned skill. The advantage of being bold is you don’t have to bring it up again,” she says. “My strengths are my bold but kind approach, empathy, and listening. They have served me throughout my career and allowed me to grow and serve.”  

advocacy for Latinos, breaking stereotypes

“We confuse being bold for being aggressive. Being bold is assertive, but not aggressive. It is a learned skill.” (Photo courtesy Stacie de Armas)

Look beyond your core experience and follow your passion

Another important lesson learned along the way is: Look beyond your core experience for professional involvement and follow your passion.

“When Nielsen acquired Arbitron in 2013, I was given the opportunity to stay on the commercial side of the business or grow my career in an area of community outreach and advocacy,” says Stacie. 

Until then, Stacie had focused mostly on the US Hispanic consumer, working specifically with ad agencies and radio stations to help them craft and shape their narratives to serve the Hispanic communities better. She had no real experience in grassroots community outreach and advocacy though she figured she could pivot her business advocacy skills for consumers into community advocacy. 

“Even though my heart was on the commercial side, I decided to accept the position in the community and consumer outreach group and extend my experiences.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be by far the most significant career-impacting decision that I would ever make,” says Stacie. “I never anticipated how my passion for diversity business issues would flourish or the professional opportunities that I would have as a result.” 

Throughout her career, she has faced some obstacles, one of which was the challenge of imparting her passion for and value of the community to those in decision-making roles. She found that oftentimes her passion was not transferable or understandable. However, data is universal and hard to refute. 

“Supporting your story, advocacy, or plan with data is paramount and makes your point unignorable.” 

So go out there and be bold, assertive, and passionate about your story, project, or mission. Make things happen, and don’t let limiting stereotypes stop you from reaching your highest potential.

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