You can't be what you can't see | OP-ED
Growing up, I didn't see many role models or leaders who looked like me and quite frankly, not much has changed.
Mainstream media, television, books, movies — you name it, continue to predominantly portray Latinos through stereotypical roles.
Today, I have the opportunity to help change the narrative by providing a platform for people who typically don't have one. It is fascinating to uncover stories and bring them out of the shadows to where they belong, the forefront.
This week, we begin showcasing the "Archetypes." These are Latino leaders who have climbed the ranks of their professions. Their stories will be told and they will be recognized for their contributions to their industry and to our nation.
Our desire is to celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, but year round and to inspire younger generations, especially kids. We want them to know that it is possible to lead an organization with 90,000 members, in 45 cities and 160 universities across the nation. That's the case of Damian Rivera, Chief Executive Officer, at Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA).
Or how about inspiring Latinos and other people of color to run for office? Nathalie Rayes at the Latino Victory Project is doing just that. Under her leadership, this non-profit organization is dedicated to building political power in the Latino community so the voices and values of Latinos are reflected at every level of government and in the policies that drive our country forward.
If entrepreneurship runs in your family, like it does in many Latino households, perhaps learning about a fearless leader like Nina Vaca may awake your interest in starting your own business. Nina is the Chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Group, Inc. Her business became one of the fastest growing businesses owned by a woman with a gross revenue of around $1 billion in the 2010s.
But maybe your passion is in sports or the performing arts. Angel Corella is regarded as one of the finest dancers of his generation. He serves as the Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Ballet. American professional soccer player, Ale Bedoya, who not only leads the Philadelphia Union as their captain, but also uses his platform to speak on issues that affect all of us.
For her tenure and impressive resume both in corporate and non-profit sectors, we will also be telling the story of Yvette Peña, Vice President of Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AARP. She serves as the national voice for AARP’s engagement with Latino communities through partnerships with multicultural organizations with the purpose of driving AARP’s social impact. Additionally, Yvette is the Board Vice Chair of the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino.
Representation in news media is extremely important. Not only do we need more journalists of color, but we need the leadership of news organizations to reflect the very people they serve. For the first time in its nearly 200-year history, there's a Latino editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Gabriel Escobar. Let's inspire others to follow Gabriel's path.
Philanthropy can influence change and provide relief to those who need it most, but our community lacks representation in this field. Luckily, we have a few change makers like Pedro Ramos. Mr. Ramos is the President & CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, one of the first community foundations in the nation. Under his leadership, he has raised over $300 million, grown its assets by more than 55% and launched a number of large-scale initiatives.
For the first time ever in our country's history, we have a Latino leading the U.S Department of Education, Secretary Miguel Cardona, confirmed under the Biden-Harris administration. In Pennsylvania, the story repeats with Secretary Noe Ortega, who was recently appointed as secretary in June 2021.
Considering the pandemic and the role medical professionals played in keeping us safe. We can't possibly ignore the importance of promoting the need for more Health professionals within the Hispanic community, but we are falling behind. We are honored to showcase the amazing accomplishments and contributions of Dr. Ana Diez Roux to the health industry. Dr. Diez Roux is the dean of the Dornsife School of Public Health and Distinguished University Professor of epidemiology at Drexel University, whose research focuses on the social determinants of health and the impact of neighborhoods on health.
Our work may not solve the Latino deficiencies in positions of leadership, but what I am confident in is that we have 10 inspiring stories to share and if one person gets inspired and decides to follow their steps, it's good enough for me.