A plethora of Latin leaders and professionals gathered in the beautiful hill country of San Antonio, Thursday, September 21st for the third annual Latino Leadership Conference hosted by the Council for Latino Workplace Equity. The umbrella topic for the day was “Latinos in the US: Retos y Liderazgo” (challenges in leadership), attendees had a full day with an agenda that included multiple concurrent session covering Latinos in the workplace, a luncheon keynote given by Colorado Speaker of the House, Crisanta Duran and an awards ceremony that honored 14 top Latinos in leadership.
The conference rooms were buzzing with professionals as they poured in for registration at 8:30 am while grabbing complimentary breakfast bites and hot coffee. There was no time wasted as the first concurrent sessions kicked off at 9 am sharp. Attendees could choose between a discussion about Latinas in politics and diversity and change for Latino(a)s in the United States. Other sessions throughout the day included; LGBT Latinos: Impact, Acceptance and Progress, Latino Diversity in the Executive Board and C- Suite and The Importance and Value of Hispanic/Latino ERG’S in The Workplace.
As people moved from session to session, there was plenty of conversations from the panel speakers revisiting the topics even outside of the session. “It was really interesting speaking in the LGBT panel discussion because although I’ve been apart of this community for as long as I can remember, it never played a role in my professional life. And a lot of time I try to do my job and be me without bringing in the fact that I’m a woman, I’m Latina and I’m gay. I just wanted to be the best at what I do,” said Dr. Rachel Yvonne Cruz, of the International Academy of Music and the Arts. “But I realize now through conferences like these that certain issues need to be addressed for specific communities,” Cruz continued.
Networking chatter filled the air as everyone got ready to head to the ballroom for the awards and keynote luncheon. It was a packed house with an array of emotions from laughter to tears. National Diversity Council CEO, Angeles Valenciano, gave a heartwarming, tear jerking speech about her friend and Legacy Award Winner, the late Jaime P. Martinez, Founder and Chairman of the Board Cesar E. Chavez Legacy & Educational Foundation. His family accepted the award on his behalf.
The 14 Top Latinos In Leadership all came up to receive their award while the attendees got to know a little more about them. Among the people recognized was Houston Police Chief, Art Acevedo; US Congressman, Joaquin Castro; Director of Counsel at Target, Mara Garcia Kaplan;Texas Supreme Court Justice, Eva Guzman and Executive Director, Global Corporate Payments at American Express, Carlos Tapia.
As everyone settled down we also heard from a DREAMER, Ximena Mondragon, a political science student at St. Mary’s University. She took on the role of introducing the keynote, Crisanta Duran, and as she stated, “one of her biggest role models, and someone she hopes to be like someday,” and help set an inspirational tone. A message about encouraging people to use their full potential from Ms. Duran was one of the highlights of the conference to some of the attendees. “This is my first year attending the conference and I really enjoyed all the tips that were given during the keynote about what to do to make more of an impact on our Latin community,” said attendee, Caroline Tucker.
After filling up on good cuisine and noteworthy words, attendees headed back to the conference rooms to continue with the concurrent sessions and wrap up the day. Guests, speakers and awardees enjoyed a full day of fellowship, learning and celebrating the Latino community.