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Ana Valdez delivered the keynote speech at the 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit event. Photo credit: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News
Ana Valdez delivered the keynote speech at the 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit event. Photo credit: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News

Latinas are an engine, but still lack a seat at the table, says Ana Valdez

Ana Valdez, CEO of the Latino Donor Collaborative, delivered the keynote speech at AL DÍA's 2023 Women of Merit. In her speech she spoke about Latina's impact.

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On May 19, Ana Valdez, the President & CEO of the Latino Donor Collaborative and the co-founder and President of Valdez Productions Inc., delivered the keynote speech at the 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit Forum & Reception. 

The Latino Donor Collaborative is an organization that is "dedicated to reshaping the perception of Latinos as a part of the American social mainstream." 

She began her keynote speech by talking about the importance of honoring Latinas for their accomplishments.

“Latinas, specifically, are becoming an engine. And we are engines, but at the same time we don’t have yet our seat [at] the table,” said Valez. 

She stated that a way to fill the gap between the work that they do and their lack of roles in places like the media and board room, is to change the narrative. 

She then spoke about her inclusion in a book called Extraordinary Latinas: Breaking the Narrative & Redefining Our Power. 

It was a bit of a challenge for her to do since she was very busy at the time, but she thought, “you know, if one Latina gets inspired by this book, it’s enough.”

Valdez added that Latinas need to see people who look like them who have gone through similar hardships, on similar trajectories who still end up where they want to be. 

“It is our time and it is our opportunity to change the beliefs from our past. Calladitas te miras mas bonitas [you look prettier when you’re quiet]. Calladitas [quiet] no more,” she said to applause.  

Valdez touched on many pieces of data that her organization collects about the economic story of the Latino community in the United States and the role of Latinas in it.

According to their data, 62% of new homes are being bought by and 53% of new businesses are being started by Latinos. 

"We're 19% of the population. We're over-indexing and our growth of graduating kids is the fastest of all the other communities," said Valdez. 

She also shared that Latinos only make up 11% of engineers, but 22% of current engineering students.

Latinos account for 1 out of every 5 people in the United States, with the fastest growing population. This is due to how young the group is on average. The average age of Latinos is 18 years old, while the average age of a non-Latino/Hispanic white person is 62 years old.

A report by the Latino Donor Collaborative found that in 2022, Latinos produced $2.8 trillion of the U.S.’s GDP. Their report also found that if U.S. Latinos were their own economy, they would be the fifth largest in the world, ahead of countries like France, Russia, and Canada. 

They would also be the third-fastest growing economy.  

Latinas make 75% of the purchasing decisions in a household, meaning they have a large impact on the consumer market. 

Despite this, Corporate America only invests 13% of its marketing budget on all communities of color because of the false perception that most people in the U.S. aren’t people of color. The actual percent of consumption made by people of color is 45%. 

She stated that since Latinas are making the decisions about the consumption for a lot of the country, they need to use their voices so that brands actually represent them. One such way would be including them in advertising.

Latinos don’t fare much better in representation in the media. Despite recent shows headed by Latinos doing extremely well — like Wednesday and the Last of Us — they make up less than 3% of leads in media. 

Valdez again empathized the need to change the narrative and to not stay quiet.

“We need to raise our voice. We need to stand out. We need to speak up. We need to speak up for our kids, for our daughters, for our sons, for our future,” she said.

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