Yvette Peña, an Afro-Latinx community advocate at AARP
Since joining AARP in 2016, Yvette Pena has been a valuable leader in engaging the Latinx audience nationally, and the face of the organization during the pandemic.
At AARP, enhancing the quality of life for its nearly 38 million members is the social mission.
Yvette Peña is currently the Vice President of Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy at the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AARP.
In her role, she is responsible for leading the strategic development of AARP’s brand campaigns targeting the Latinx community and uses innovation to leverage various platforms to drive the engagement of those aged 50-plus.
Fulfilling that role can be very challenging, to which Pena said one of the keys to doing her job is understanding how the target audience wants to be communicated with and reached.
“We need to meet them where they are,” Peña said in an interview with AL DIA. “We know we have older adults who may have no access to broadband internet. So we have to find ways to connect with them.”
AARP is able to do so through different digital, social and mobile platforms and a lot of research that allows the organization to not only speak to the 50-plus in Latinx community, but their families.
The effort is more impactful with the understanding that the Latinx audience isn’t a monolithic one.
“There are many differences based on their acculturation that impacts language, messaging, the areas of focus that are used to reach them in a culturally relevant manner,” she said.
As an Afro-Latina woman, Peña has faced many of the issues that others in Black and Latinx communities face, such as microaggressions, discrimination and unconscious biases, and that has allowed her to look at the full picture.
“Understanding what I have faced helps me better connect to the Latino community and other different communities that may be in the multicultural segment,” she said.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the disparities that many marginalized communities have long faced in the areas of health, housing and financial stability.
Therefore, Peña works to address these challenges and find positive outcomes.
“I have a voice and people listen, she said. “I think I’m well positioned to make positive change for the Latino community, and our different multicultural communities.”
The ability to use her voice in an effective and powerful way has paid huge dividends for Peña throughout her professional career and at AARP, it’s no different.
At AARP, much of the work is focused on driving awareness in the areas of health, wealth and self. As a social mission organization, that work is aided heavily by the help of volunteers and advocates.
Advocating for multicultural communities and helping address pressing issues, such as the protection of Social Security, passage of the CARES Act, and voter engagement are some of the causes that Peña and AARP are known for to help ignite positive change.
As not only a woman, but a woman of color, Peña has served as a role model for many who also want to bring about change in their communities.
The best pieces of advice she would give to other women of color who may want to engage in similar work is to take their education seriously, never stop learning and to be bold.
“With all the glass ceilings that are being shattered, this is the time for women. Let’s take advantage of it and be those change agents that are needed in the world,” she said.