So this year’s theme at the Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) conference in October is “Latinxs as change agents.” LATISM, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the empowerment of the Latino community in the areas of education, health, technology and business through the use of tech innovation and social media. Throughout the years I’ve met many Latinx media folks, bloggers, creatives and entrepreneurs, and am blessed to have forged enduring friendships with people I’ve met at its conferences and Thursday night twitterchats.
This year’s conference theme is a resonant one, perhaps especially so this electoral season when Latinx civic engagement may be a deciding factor in the presidential race, as well as countless congressional races at the state level.
Just about the time I was being notified that I had been selected to attend LATISM’16 as a top influencer, I was also getting a crash course on Latina agents of change at the Latina Leadership Breakfast sponsored by LatinasRepresent (in collaboration with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda) during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
The Latina speakers at the event (Dolores Huerta, Elianne Ramos and Sara Manzano Díaz, among others) spoke principally about the underrepresentation of Latinas in political office, but also, significantly and movingly, about Latina leadership and mentorship. (You’ll see some memorable quotes from event speakers scattered throughout this post.) Audience member after audience member stood up at the end of event to thank the speakers, and to let them know how invigorated and inspired they were by the conversation. Many of them revealed a desire to run for public office, to really and truly effect change ….
How are Latinx agents of change created? Are they individuals born with the personal attributes that make them leaders?
“I’m a chingona, I’m a fighter.”
— Delia García (Kansas House of Representatives, 103rd district)
Are they community influencers?
“Our elected leaders are people just like you and me.”
— Nellie Gorbea, Secretary of State of Rhode Island
Are they people who understand in their bones the commonality in our diversity?
“You have to have consciousness. It’s not about ‘you,’ it’s about ‘us.'”
— Sara Manzano Díaz, Mid-Atlantic Region Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration
Or are they people convinced by role models and mentors (and that still voice within) that they have something to contribute?
“Sometimes you need someone to believe in you before you can believe in yourself.” — Nora E. Vargas, board chair of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality
The answer, of course, is that Latinx agents of change are created in all these ways — and more.
And their influence isn’t simply limited to the sphere of politics and public office. The programming tracks for LATISM 16 recognize that there are many paths to becoming an agent of change for the Latinx community.
Our Civic Engagement panels focus on how technology and social media can create, impact and change individual and collective actions [and are] designed to identify and address issues of public concern in our communities.
In addition to the Civic Engagement track, there are tracks about Business and Tech Entrepreneurship, Diversity and Inclusion, Education, Health and Policy. Read more about the conference here. (If you are interested in attending the conference, use the INFLUENCERS16 as a promotional code to receive a 30 percent discount.)
Meet more Latinx agents of change from various walks of lives in upcoming posts…