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LULAC

LULAC Women’s Conference proves Latinas are “America’s CEOs” 

Women leaders of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are holding a milestone two-day national gathering of Latinas from across the United States and Puerto Rico, November 12-13 in New York City. This is LULAC’s first major in-person event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 marking the longest period in modern times for the country’s chief Latino advocacy organization without a national assembly.

“The journey to this point has been long and difficult given the uncertainty of our times, but we are ready and committed to making this a tremendous success,” says Elsie Valdes-Ramos, LULAC National Board Officer and Vice-President for Women. “This event matters because it is about the empowerment through the action of hundreds of women leaders who are coming together and tens of thousands more linked through social media. These are the women we want and need, to support each other, learn from one another, and make us even stronger in unity,” adds Valdes-Ramos.

Sindy Benavides, LULAC National CEO

The two-day LULAC Women’s Conference program includes plenary sessions, specialized panels, and interactive workshops that cover a wide range of timely topics including technology, mental health, general health equity, inclusion and diversity, federal careers, and women’s empowerment and leadership. Attendees confirmed included elected and appointed officials, community leaders, LULAC Women’s Commission members, and guests

“As we look ahead, the growth of the Latino community will double in just three decades. Latinas are at the heart of that growth and transformation,” says Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer. “The purpose of the LULAC Women’s Conference is to empower women by exchanging experiences so that we identify the most critical challenges we are all confronting daily, and the actions we need to take to overcome them.”

See conference catalog: Diverse Women in Action 

Latinas are “America’s CEOs” 

Two of the event’s principal organizers are Ralina Cardona, LULAC National Board Officer, and Sylvia Mata, LULAC Women’s Commissioner for the Northeast. Both are veteran social justice advocates in their communities who have served in elected and appointed positions. Also, they are staunch champions for Latinas, whom they call America’s CEOs, a fact borne out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were the hardest region early on, and the unknown of what was in the air, New York emerged almost like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes,” says Cardona. “We are looking forward to the women just sharing their best practices. We all know that Latina women already know how we are. I think now the world and country have seen how we are; multi-generational families, and CEOs of our households, and just taking care of everyone,” she adds.

Cardona says the pandemic taught America a new phrase, essential workers. The country quickly saw how important people of color were in our vital industries and roles, especially women. Every day, Latinas ventured to their jobs in hotels to transportation and health care. They never quit or gave up.

Sylvia Mata, LULAC National Women’s Commissioner

Mata says the focus now is on women’s empowerment and the significant impact on their families and communities. “I am very proud to be a part of LULAC because of its power for good and how respected the name is in many areas. This event will give us a greater presence here because I know of many successful professionals like attorneys who are now judges, and they tell me their first scholarship came from LULAC. This is the impact we are making,” adds Mata.

Mata has worked on educational programs related to health, immigration, finances, art, and small business. She co-produced an art, science, and technology (STEM) program for grades 10-12. Her goal was to reduce the school dropout rate in Queens, New York. Also, she owns and leads her small business. Today, she focuses on education from the perspective of inter-American business relations with a specialized focus on art and art investments.

You might be interested: The glass ceiling: Career development inequality for women of color

Mata sees a growing power for Latinas in America. “Women represent a significant part of the population, and we are moving the economy through our small businesses. We are advancing in federal jobs and leading important community groups, so, significantly, we are celebrating the LULAC National Women’s Conference here. I invite all Latinas who can join LULAC or collaborate with us. We are hopeful for the future.”

About LULAC

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most prominent issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/.

Yvette Bodden

Become an Awakened-Woman and your Best-Self with author Yvette Bodden

Yvette Bodden is the Founder and Author of Awakened-Woman, a digital platform designed to inspire and invigorate women. She is also the author of A Journey to Becoming the Best-Self. Her writing seeks to empower and encourage women searching for personal definitions of success to build strong communities through vulnerable and powerful storytelling. 

best self, awakened woman

From Yvette Boden’s website https://awakened-woman.com/2021/07/15/a-summer-reading-list-to-inspire-self-exploration/

Since its launch, Awakened Woman has amassed tens of thousands of followers, with a plethora of articles centered around celebrity profiles, relationships, love, abuse, motherhood, and Latino culture, infused with Yvette’s signature blend of pragmatism and compassion. 

Yvette symbolizes the strength of an empowered Latina woman and her passion for empowering others is endless. As a single mother based in New York City—a metropolis she credits for her open mind—, Yvette regularly channels her own growth experiences. She has contributed to outlets like SmartCoparent and DivorceHub.com that focus on personal crises.

Yvette is also a motivational speaker, channeling her own growth experiences to empower others. In 2021, she was named one of the “Bella Bosses We Admire” by Bella Magazine. 

Healing and becoming your best self post-divorce 

A Journey to Becoming the Best Self, divorce, marriage, post-divorce, Yvette Bodden

A Journey to Becoming the Best-Self by Yvette Bodden.

Yvette made her debut as an author in 2019 with her first book, A Journey to Becoming the Best-Self, published by Black Rose Writing. The book is described as “part memoir and part prescriptive fiction,” and was inspired by Yvette’s own post-divorce path from devastation to joy and received high praise from The U.S. Review of Books. 

“This is a book not just for women faced with divorce, but for anyone searching for meaning in their lives.” –Sublime Book Review

In A Journey to Becoming the Best-Self, Yvette weaves together her own personal narrative with practical advice to show other women how it is possible to find acceptance and joy after losing a marriage. 

“The word ‘divorce’ itself has a negative connotation, and rightly so. It can be one of the most painful life-changing events in anyone’s life. An emotionally crippling event for many women, initially it was nothing less than devastating for me. However, it has been the most significant growth experience in my life,” Yvette wrote. 

A Journey to Becoming the Best-Self is the story of how a woman comes out on the other side of pain much stronger and more beautiful.

You might be interested: What you should be reading and watching this Hispanic Heritage Month 

Her desire to share her own story and experiences in both her book and online platform is to show other women that they are not alone. 

“I did not set out to be an author. The intention for writing this book and creating the AW platform has been to help women feel less alone, and hopeless while empowered to go after the life envisioned. I believe sharing our stories creates connection, helps heal and learn the lessons,” shared Yvette in an Instagram post. 

Yvette Bodden, Awakened Woman

womanawakened: #tbt #ᴛʙᴛ #giselleextravaganza 2019 Book Launch Party was incredibly special. (via Instagram) 

“Awakened-Woman.com is a community built to inspire, empower and encourage you to live your best life. Hopefully, it will plant a seed in others to find their greatness, too.” 

Yvette Bodden’s debut novel A Journey to Becoming the Best Self is available for purchase on Amazon

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.”  

You might be interested: A National Conversation with Latina Leaders to address Latina Small Business recovery in Post-Covid19 economic crisis

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.