The Next Generation of Latinx Leaders at the LATINA Style 50 Conference.
By Carla Zanoni.
Director of Audience Development, TED.
The LATINA Style 50 conference marked a significant change in my professional experience.For most of my life I was told explicitly or implicitly that it was best to assimilate, to make use of my pale skin and light eyes. Is my last name Italian? Yes, yes it is. Nevermind the Lopez and Rodriguez and Bouzas who came before that, and my birth certificate from Buenos Aires. And if someone learned about my Argentinian background? Focus on the European heritage of 87 percent of the population there.
Hearing from trailblazing Latinas about their career paths at the LATINA Style 50 conference in Virginia earlier this year was inspiring and educational, with Latinx leaders discussing how they lead
in their respective organizations and bring along the next generation through formalized mentorship and sponsorship programs.
But the top thrill was looking out at an audience of faces who I knew shared a common life experience to mine: being Hispanic in the U.S. workforce. I felt grateful for the chance to speak to the women and men about The Wall Street Journal’s commitment to diversity and
inclusion. I also took copious notes when others shared their experiences doing the same important work in their corners of the world.
Some of the standout lessons I took away included a reminder from Prudential Financial’s Claudia Vasquez that “it is never too late to become the person you want to be,” and AT&T’s Maria T. Lensing assuring us that “if you want to change the environment you’re in, it has to start with you.” Their words reminded me that if I want to lead then I need to show up in the fullness of who I am each and every day. The conference not only gave me permission, but reminded me of my responsibility to do so.
Each time we share our own experiences, whether one-on-one or on stage to a group of hundreds, we have the opportunity to inspire someone to make a change or take a step forward in their life. It is a privilege and responsibility to share our struggles and successes and build new language, understanding and networks to move us forward toward a common good of uplifting new voices in media and business.
I saw that spark of inspiration and positive change when a young woman approached me after my esteemed panelists and I spoke about being a “change agent.” She told me she was excited to see me on stage – a Latina in a leadership role at her favorite newspaper. She thanked me for “showing up,” because it meant The Wall Street Journal cares about her, too.
My focus at the Journal has always been to expand our reach and engagement to diverse audiences, particularly women and immigrants, who are uniquely positioned to create positive change and momentum in this world.
At the LATINA Style 50 conference, I felt one step closer to achieving that goal, and hopeful the Latinx who come after me will shine at work and in the world, and continue to bring about positive change. Nothing inspires me more than that.
Carla Zanoni is an expert in audience engagement and development, digital strategy and emerging media. At the time of the conference Carla was at the Wall Street Journal, serving as its first global Audience & Analytics Editor.
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