Alex Rodriguez: From Baseball Star to Business Supernova
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MLB player Alex Rodriguez attends the 2017 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on December 4, 2016 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

By Brady Rhoades

Did you know that Hispanics contribute $1 trillion to the economy every year?

Two years into his second career as a business executive and baseball analyst, Alex Rodriguez—always a student, always a numbers cruncher—knows all too well.

And he’s looking ahead.

“I think… we should be having really smart conversations on how to double that number,” he said.

Rodriguez was one of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history, finishing his career with 696 dingers and winning a World Series with the fabled New York Yankees, but this is A-Rod 2.0.

Owner and CEO of A-Rod Corp. Investor. The first Hispanic to swim with the big fish on Shark Tank.

Rodriguez has gone from baseball star to business supernova.

“When people think about my career, they think about the championships, the RBIs, the home runs, but what they don’t realize is that I’m fifth all-time in striking out, so that means I have a PhD in failing,” Rodriguez, 43, said. “But I also have a master’s in getting back up and that’s what America is all about: getting back up, not getting defined by your mistakes. That’s what I try to push and encourage.”

Rodriguez, the father of two daughters, started A-Rod Corp, a private holding company with multiple businesses in the United States and Latin America, when he was 26. His motivation? “Fear.” He’d already seen too many players go broke.

His first investment was in a type of infrastructure he knew all about from his modest childhood: rental properties.

New York Yankees vs New York Mets -
New York Yankees batter Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out at Shea Stadium, Saturday, May 19, 2006, in Flushing, New York. The Yankees lost 7-6. (Photo by Jim Rogash/WireImage)

“We find ’em, we vet ’em, we underwrite ’em, we close ’em, we manage ’em, and then we rehab ’em,” he said. “We buy in secondary markets where job growth is growing. Millennials don’t want to own a house. They want to own an app. The last five or six years have been very healthy in the multifamily apartment sector.”

Today, A-Rod Corp owns or manages about 20,000 properties in 12 states and has branched out to fitness centers and automotive dealerships. The man who made hundreds of millions in his playing days also invests in Google, Amazon, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, among others.

He espoused his investing strategy on his first appearance as a guest judge on Shark Tank.

“I always invest in jockeys, not horses, because business—like sports—is just about people and I always tell people that I want entrepreneurs and partners with a PhD, not from Harvard or Yale, which is nice, too, but I mean poor, hungry and driven. I want entrepreneurs that are scrappy, that are gritty, and that can think outside the box, and that are winning players.”

Rodriguez retired from Major League Baseball after the 2016 season, and after Sports Illustrated named him one of the 30 most influential Hispanics in sports. The shortstop/third baseman won three MVP awards, was named to 14 all-star teams, and knocked out 3,115 hits in a 22-year career.

He was known for putting up staggering numbers; he was also revered as a student of the game.

He had been in business for years while he played for Seattle, Texas, and New York. He even took marketing classes at the University of Miami and value investing at Columbia University.

Now, it was time to do a deep dive into business. Rodriguez did what he’d done in sports: stepped into circles of greatness.

He asked questions. He listened.

His mentors include Lennar CEO Stuart Miller, JPMorgan Asset Management CEO Mary Erdoes, billionaire Warren Buffett, and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who once said Rodriguez’ most impressive quality was “incessant curiosity.”

Rodriguez has never forgotten—and always applied—a simple lesson about business he received from Buffett: Never personally guarantee any debt and never hold too much cash, but rather put your money in great businesses.

Buffett also taught him that you can be a great businessman and a great guy.

“Always be a gentleman,” Buffett told him.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, BARBARA CORCORAN, MARK CUBAN
SHARK TANK -“Episode 901” – Sharks include; Alex Rodriguez, Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban. Photo: ABC/EDDY CHEN

“That was simple, but it was genius,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez first appeared on Shark Tank in 2017 and is returning as a guest judge for its tenth season.

As usual, he looked like a natural, as if he’d been swimming in those waters all his life. Truth be told, his success is a result of hard work and preparation.

He says starring on the show with the likes of Mark Cuban, Daymond John, and Lori Greiner is a thrill.

“Of course, being the first Hispanic on Shark Tank is something to be really proud of,” he said.

In one of his investment victories, Rodriguez teamed up with Cuban to invest $150,000—for a 15 percent stake—in an Ice Shaker business, which sells insulated bottles that are an upscale version of plastic cups used to mix up protein shakes.

Chris Gronkowski—brother of famous New England Patriot Rob—said Ice Shaker sold about $80,000 worth of shakers in the first few months after he, Rob, and his three other brothers appeared on Shark Tank.

Rodriguez has stayed involved in baseball, honing his skills as a broadcaster for FOX before ESPN named him their lead analyst in early 2018. During his playing days, Rodriguez was versatile enough to switch from shortstop to third base when he joined the Yankees. As a broadcaster, he seamlessly goes from color commentator during games to studio analyst.

“It’s an exciting time in baseball and now I get that front row seat to tell that the story,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has proved to be studied, insightful, and articulate in his off-the-field role. Listen to him for ten minutes and you’re bound to learn something about the national pastime. Recently, in a studio appearance on the morning sports show Get Up!, Rodriguez named the five greatest hitters he’d ever seen.

His take went viral. Many agreed. Many disagreed. Nobody questioned his baseball acumen, or his reasoned arguments, however.

For Rodriguez, life is never business as usual. There’s parenting, and there’s giving back to the community.

Rodriguez has spearheaded the Alex Rodriguez All-Stars in Education Scholars, offering hundreds

Alex Rodriguez on the phone doing business
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 11: Baseball player Alex Rodriguez attends the annual Charity Day. (Photo by Mike McGregor/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)

of thousands in scholarship money to those determined to be the first in their families to earn a college degree.

He also premiered a TV show called Back in the Game earlier this year, designed to help athletes who are down on their luck, financially speaking. His co-star? Former NFL great and current TV superstar Michael Strahan.

“Michael and I, something we’re really passionate about is taking athletes who have run into some bad luck … [and] lend a helping hand and hopefully they can get back on their feet,” Rodriguez said. “If you look at the data, they suggest that a lot of our players are going bankrupt way too soon. You make 90 percent of your money between age 20 to 30. Less than 5 percent of our guys in the major leagues have a college degree. What happens from age 30 to 80?”

Alex Rodriguez seems to have packed several lifetimes into his 43 years. And he’s come a long way from his early life as a child of Dominican immigrants who was raised by a single mother and had to move every 18 months “because the landlord would raise the rent.”

He was born in New York City and spent time in the Dominican Republic and Miami, Florida. He has never forgotten his Hispanic roots.

In 2005, amid confusion about his ethnicity, Rodriguez stated: “I want to say it out loud. I am Dominican.”

He has gone the extra mile to help Dominican baseball players thrive in “The Show.”

When Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, he and Jennifer Lopez visited the country and raised more than $30 million to help victims and rebuild infrastructure.

His mission is to improve financial literacy among Hispanics and athletes in general.

What comes next for A-Rod?

If past is prologue, as Shakespeare said, he’ll surprise us with yet more accomplishments.

If humility is wisdom, as Proverbs says, he’ll continue to grow wiser, because he’s got two secret weapons named Ella and Natasha.

“My girls are great at making fun of dad,” he laughed. “They’re never impressed with anything I do. I love that.”

 

Netflix is a Joke Comedy Festival announces its 2022 line-up and it includes Gabriel Iglesias headlining Dodger Stadium
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Gabriel Iglesias performing at the dodgers stadium

By , Daily News

Netflix is bringing back its Netflix is a Joke Comedy Festival in 2022 with more than 130 artists performing in over 25 different venues across Los Angeles including Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl.

A full schedule of performances that will take place April 28-May 8 will be available at netflixisajokefest.com, but some of the highlights include Southern California’s own Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias becoming the first comedian to ever headline a stand-up show at Dodger Stadium as he records his newest Netflix special inside the iconic ballpark.

Kevin Hart will headline Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center); Dave Chappelle and Friends will take over the Hollywood Bowl; Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host a freewheeling chat at YouTube Theater; Seth Rogen will host four nights of table reads at the Orpheum Theatre; Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum’s Prince cover band, Princess, will perform at The Belasco; Netflix will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Comedy Store with special programming at the club throughout the festival; Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration with Eddie Izzard, Fortune Feimster, Bob the Drag Queen, Margaret Cho and more is coming to the Greek Theatre.

Other performers include Amy Schumer, Bert Kreischer, Chris Rock, David Letterman, Felipe Esparza, Iliza Shlesinger, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Ken Jeong, Larry David, Nick Kroll, Pete Davidson and Tig Nataro. Several of the performances will be recorded for upcoming Netflix specials.

The closing event will be a recorded special titled “The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up” and will feature the best in comedy today paying homage to pioneers including George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and Robin Williams at the Hollywood Palladium.

Click here to read the full article on Daily News.

Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega Is Using Art to Uplift Brown and Black Women
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Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Pop Sugar

In 2017, Afro-Latinx visual artist Reyna Noriega began her career as a full-time creator. Little did she know that in just a few short years, she would have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, would be working with huge brands like Apple and Old Navy, and would design a cover for The New Yorker. Born and raised in Miami to a first-generation Cuban father and a Bahamian mother, Noriega, who is best-known for her bold, vibrant, graphic work, was destined to be an artist.

“My father is also an artist, and I became interested early on in just the magic of it all, being able to bring ideas to life on paper and communicate in a universal language,” Noriega told POPSUGAR in a recent interview. “I was always the ‘sensitive kid’ feeling a lot and thinking a lot, so art and writing were great outlets for me to get all of that under control and to be able to process my emotions.”

Now, Noriega’s art is being seen on a much wider scale and impacting thousands of people who follow her on social media or see her art on city walls and T-shirts. To get there, she had to put in a lot of work, including studying and learning on her own, despite the fact that she took art classes throughout high school and minored in art in college. Using the help of books and YouTube, Noriega honed her skills and eventually left her job as a teacher, with the full support of her parents.

“I was very fortunate that my family believed in me and my ability to make my passion a career and even help me make it happen! To this day, my mom is the person that helps me run my online shop, and they encourage me to strive higher,” Noriega told us.

By 2019, Noriega started doing brand work, after getting comfortable with her style and what she wanted to represent as an artist. It gradually became easier for her to align herself with brands that had the same mission. She is currently working on Amex’s “Always Welcome” design collective launch, which will provide businesses with signage for their storefronts and indicate their stance on inclusivity.

“Honestly, every time I get an email, I am honored and humbled that my name enters rooms I never thought would. From companies whose products I used to save up for at one point, like Apple, to legendary publications like The New Yorker, or having thousands and thousands of people wear a shirt I designed with Old Navy. It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Noriega embracing her culture and her commitment to advocating for Black and brown people through her art that got her there. She says her Afro-Caribbean culture is what brings “vibrancy and flavor” to her art. But we think it’s so much more than that. With just a single glance, it’s obvious that Noriega’s background informs her work. Her use of color, the way she showcases the female form, the various complexions and skin tones she celebrates in her work, and the stunning, tropics-inspired botanical scenes she often creates speak to exactly who she is and where she comes from.

“Art has always been a place I look to boost my mood, museums, galleries, [and] learning about art history. But unfortunately in those spaces, rarely did I ever feel I belong, because my story wasn’t told on those walls, and in the rare occasion it was, it only highlighted the struggles and traumas,” she said. “I wanted to create work that would lift moods and raise the self-efficacy of Black and brown women with positive representation and vibrant depictions of joy.”

Noriega describes the art she creates with a tremendous amount of care and respect. Her mission is to create art that represents and uplifts communities that are often left out of the conversation. “I focus on women because as a woman, I know all of the challenges and barriers we face,” she said. “Inequalities in pay, harmful messaging on body image, the ongoing fight for body autonomy . . . it can be really exhausting. Add on to that the challenges being a BIPOC, and it just magnifies. My art is meant to celebrate women, inspire joy, and a reclamation of peace and rest.”

Noriega recognizes how important it is to not only amplify voices like hers but also to use her gifts and resources to speak up for people who don’t have the same advantages that she does. Even as a Black Latina, she’s cognizant of the privileges she has and the responsibility associated with them. “For me personally, I often look at my identities as a privilege, which pushes me to amplify Black voices even more. I am all too aware of the advantages I have received being a Latina in Miami, and even being ethnically Caribbean, although my race is Black,” she said. “Being able to say where your lineage comes from is a privilege many Black Americans don’t have. I have been unfairly judged and treated and had some very hurtful comments said to me, but I must also be aware of how my skin tone provides privileges, how my heritage provides privileges, and how knowing more than one language is a privilege.” And in recognizing that, she’s able to leverage her position to empower others in really visible ways.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

Selena Gomez launches new media platform with a focus on mental health
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Selena Gomez – Headshot;

By Megan Marples, CNN

Talking about mental health is good for you, according to pop star, actor and producer Selena Gomez, and she’s determined to be the catalyst for positive change.

The “Ice Cream” singer announced the launch of her latest venture, Wondermind, a mental health platform focused on connecting people with educational resources and ending the stigma around mental illnesses.

She teamed up with her mother, Mandy Teefey, and The Newsette founder and CEO Daniella Pierson to create the media company, which is set to launch in February 2022.

Gomez hasn’t been shy when it comes to discussing her mental health publicly. She previously wrote for CNN about how she’s a “big advocate for social media detoxes” and therapy.

And she announced on Miley Cyrus’ Instagram show “Bright Minded” in April that she has bipolar disorder.

“I went to one of the best mental hospitals in America, McLean Hospital, and I discussed that after years of going through a lot of different things, I realized that I was bipolar,” Gomez said. “And so when I got to know more information, it actually helps me. It doesn’t scare me once I know it.”

Her mother revealed being misdiagnosed for over 20 years with bipolar disorder that later turned out to be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with trauma, according to the Wondermind website’s welcome video.

Pierson opened up in the video as well, saying she has dealt with obsessive-compulsive disorder since she was a child.

The three said they struggled to find a safe space online where they could engage with uplifting content about mental health on a daily basis. Enter Wondermind.

Click here to read the full article on CNN

Inspired by Family and Driven by an Entrepreneurial Spirit, Here’s How This Latina Baker Is Forging Her Own Path
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Inspired by Family and Driven by an Entrepreneurial Spirit, Here's How This Latina Baker Is Forging Her Own Path

BIRENE SAN SEGUNDO, Pop Sugar

Ten years ago, Danira Cancinos was a busy single mom of three who dreaded going to work every day at an arcade. During her 9-to-5, all she could think of was her dream job: baking. “I would just think of new things I wanted to add to my menu, my orders, new classes. It was all I wanted to do,” she said. Today, that side hustle is now her full-time career.

Danira’s passion for baking started when, as a child, she watched her aunt Irma and her cousins whip up the most creative cakes and cupcakes. She insisted she could have never gotten to where she is today without the support of her family — or her “backbone,” as she calls them — never doubting her drive or her love for baking. Her family helped watch her kids while she was building her business, and her grandmother set the stage for how she approaches her work ethic and cultivates her ambition.

“My grandma was a hard worker,” Danira said. “She was super independent. She owned her own little shop where she would sell drinks and candy, and she worked until she was 90.” Danira also said the other women in her family, like her mom and aunts, take after their grandmother as well. “That has been such a great influence on me. I have big shoes to fill in,” she said.

An introvert with a tendency to worry, Danira said the hardest part of taking the leap to become a business owner and chase her baking dreams was putting herself out there and believing that she could achieve it. She decided to read, listen, and learn from other entrepreneurs who had found success. “Surrounding myself with people who had gone before me, who were killing it as entrepreneurs, was crucial,” she said. These people gave her the inspiration she needed, even though they were total strangers.

It is this same inspiration that drives Danira to want to spark the entrepreneurial spirit in others. “I want to be able to help other people believe in themselves and reach for more,” she said. So through her company, Dani’s Dulce Confections, Danira not only teaches her students to bake a perfect cake pop but also gives tips and advice on how to grow their baking businesses.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

Latino Businessman Empowers Communities Of Color
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Latino Businessman Empowers Communities Of Color

By Birmingham Times

Hispanic businessman George Burciaga enjoys serving on the board of directors of Chicago United, an organization seeking to empower entrepreneurs from Chicago’s communities of color.

“As a member of the board of directors, I can make a change by supporting other Latinos, other African Americans, and other business leaders of color,” said Burciaga, who also serves as the organization’s treasurer.

“Chicago United allows me to assist them. It is my responsibility to help others.”

He knows that his role allows him to give back to the community some of what he received while growing up in a poor home in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.

Chicago United promotes and encourages entrepreneurs of color to join its board of directors, said Burciaga. “I am a Latino who is not only a member of the board of directors but the treasurer. … They recognize the importance of empowering Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and other minorities.”

The 45-year-old businessman won a “Business Leaders of Color” award in 2017. Chicago United grants these awards annually. Receiving it was an honor that boosted his career, Burciaga said.

“Chicago United is taking an empowering position showcasing and highlighting business leaders of color. We are making sure that they … are recognized and more visible so that they have better chances to grow,” said Burciaga.

These entrepreneurs create jobs that help support their communities, he said.

The boost Burciaga received from the award led him to launch Ignite Cities, a consulting company designed to support mayors across the country with critical issues facing cities today. Burciaga is Ignite Cities’ CEO and managing partner.

“I’m working directly with the mayors of Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, among other great mayors. I provide them with new technology that gives all vulnerable communities of color the ability to compete. It also empowers them,” said Burciaga, who sold his software company, Elevate DIGITAL, to the CIVIQ corporation in 2016.

Burciaga hopes that with his input, the communities of color he serves can “receive funds to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, or broadband to connect students.”

“From being poor in Pilsen and needing help, I grew up to a place where I can give back [some of] what I have received and help the city, the community, the mayors, and Chicago United,” Burciaga said.

Click here to read the full article on Birmingham Times.

Latina Entrepreneurs Are Forcing Beauty Giants to Pay Attention
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Latina entrepreneur and beauty giant

By , Bloomberg

Almost nine years ago, Jessica Torres launched a style blog to help build her resume as an aspiring fashion journalist. A self-described plus-sized Latina from the Bronx, she didn’t see herself reflected among staffers at the magazine where she interned. She eventually came to the conclusion that the path to success would require striking out on her own.

Today, Torres has 138,000 Instagram followers. Instead of writing stories, she’s paid by the likes of Sephora and Ugg to promote their products, raking in as much as $25,000 for posts and projects on behalf of some brands. But Torres isn’t your typical online influencer: she’s part of a wave of Latinas looking to expand their online footprint and boost corporate respect for one of the largest U.S. consumer demographics.

Especially in the realm of beauty products, Hispanics are increasingly driving and shaping the industry as consumers and business owners. In 2020, Latinos spent 13% more than the average shopper on beauty and personal care, according to research firm NielsenIQ. And there’s a growing number of internet personalities and Hispanic-owned startups getting the message out, from influencer Mariale Marrero and her 6 million Instagram followers to Treslúce Beauty, a makeup brand launched in June by Billboard top 5 Latin female artist Becky G.

Now 31, Torres finally does see herself—she’s part of a burgeoning group of Hispanic entrepreneurs and social media stars. “It’s been really cool to see how much power Latinos are having—and taking,” Torres, who is Ecuadorian-American, said. “It’s game changing.”

This growing prominence in the retail space has accelerated a push to dispel media portrayals that often ignore the diversity and evolving identity of Latinos. Hispanics boast a wide range of skin tones and hair types, which means that no single commercial approach can meet all beauty needs.

“There’s still a lot of education that needs to be done,” said Marrero, who was born in Venezuela and last year launched an eye and cheek palette in collaboration with Too Faced. She said there’s still an outdated idea “of what a Hispanic or Latina has to look like.”

Natasha Pongonis is the chief executive officer of multicultural consumer research firm O.Y.E. and a partner at marketing agency Nativa. She said most advertisements featuring Hispanic models don’t reflect the wide spectrum of Latino looks, like hairstyles ranging from locks in tight curls to pin-straight. The range of shades for certain skincare and makeup products also remains limited, while marketing campaigns by big skincare companies often feature models with lighter complexions, Pongonis said.

Representation of Hispanics in content across platforms was 6% in 2020, according to analytics company Nielsen, even though they make up almost 19% of the U.S. population. And when Hispanics do appear online or in a magazine, they’re often depicted as “exotic,” according to Deyanira Rojas-Sosa, an associate professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Indigenous and Afro-Latino people in particular get little representation in personal care and makeup ads, said Danielle Alvarez, founder of public relations firm The Bonita Project.

Despite the rise of Hispanic-owned brands, they’re still a small part of the beauty market. In a recent panel featuring Latino entrepreneurs by think tank Ready to Beauty, 88% said improved access to capital was critical to expanding the sector. But some entrepreneurs are done waiting for investors.

“I think many people are going ‘well, what the heck?’ I might as well just do it myself,’” said Margarita Arriagada, who served as Sephora’s chief merchant for nine years.

Arriagada, 68, launched refillable-lipstick company Valdé Beauty in the fall of 2020. The name is an homage to her mother, Carolina Valdelomar, who immigrated with her children from Peru. She always wore lipstick as a “glamorous coat of armor” while working three jobs to make ends meet, Arriagada said.

Bloomberg Digital: Why Skin Lightening Is Big Business In Some Parts of the World

Then there’s Latina music star Rebbeca Marie Gomez, better known as Becky G. Her song “Mayores,” featuring Puerto Rican sensation Bad Bunny, has racked up more than two billion views on YouTube.

A former CoverGirl, the 24-year-old realized she didn’t just want to be one mainstream brand’s Hispanic face, saying she’d rather show that Latinas could start their own product lines and craft their own narratives. Like Torres, she too saw minimal representation of people like herself in the media and advertising.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

A Latina’s manifesto ‘For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts’
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Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez examines how powerful forces such as racism and colorism affect women — like they did to her — and what readers can do about them in here manifesto

By Raul A. Reyes, NBC News

Latina author Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez is familiar with low expectations, the judgment of strangers and colorism — even among her own community.

In fifth grade, fellow Latino classmates mocked her dark skin, calling her “India” in a reference to Indigenous people. She recalls her high school counselor discouraging her from taking advanced classes.

As a graduate student, she was rejected from the campus writing center because of poor English skills — and then turned away from the English as a Second Language (ESL) center because her English skills were too advanced. A cashier at a store once casually asked if she had ever shot anyone.

Now Mojica Rodríguez is out with a book, “For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts,” that breaks down the experiences that have shaped her life. Subtitled, “A Love Letter To Women of Color,” the book examines how powerful forces can affect women like her — and explains what readers can do about it.

“My goal was to democratize knowledge,” said Mojica Rodríguez, 36, the founder of Latina Rebels, an online platform with more than 350,000 followers. “I wanted to share what I learned at college and graduate school with everyone; this information shouldn’t be so inaccessible, so women of color can see what we are up against in our daily lives.”

“For Brown Girls” is part memoir, part manifesto. Publishers Weekly called it “an inspiring and well-informed call to action.”

Mojica Rodríguez hopes that her book will help Latinas thrive in spaces that were not designed for them.

Born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami in an Evangelical Christian household, she holds a master’s degree in divinity from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “Access to information changed my life,” she said. “For years, I was so angry, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. Once I figured it out, I moved through the world with a lot more grace.”

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Latina historian Monica Muñoz Martinez among MacArthur ‘genius grant’ recipients
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Latina Historian Monica Muñoz Martinez, seen here in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 16, 2021, is among this year's recipients of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants.

By Associated Press

CHICAGO — A Latina historian devoted to keeping alive the stories of long-dead victims of racial violence along the Texas-Mexico border is among this year’s MacArthur fellows and recipients of “genius grants.”

Monica Muñoz Martinez, a historian at the University of Texas, Austin, was recognized, in part because of her book “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas,” about a period a century ago when hundreds Mexicans and Mexican Americans were slaughtered by vigilantes as well as the Texas Rangers.

“This award is so timely for me, personally … to remain committed to make sure the public has access to the truth, true history, even when it is troubling (and) especially when that history can help us build a better future,” Martinez said, pointing to efforts in some states to limit how teachers discuss racism.

The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Tuesday announced the 25 recipients, who will each receive $625,000.

The historian was part of an eclectic group that includes scientists, economists, poets, and filmmakers. As in previous years, the work of several recipients involves topics that have been dominating the news — from voting rights to how history is taught in schools.

Race figures prominently in the work of about half of them, including that of Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to be an Antiracist” and “Stamped from the Beginning,” which was a National Book Award winner for nonfiction.

There is a generation of older and younger writers, thinkers and creators who are able to recognize the “complexity of racism” and “clarify it for everyday people to see it and grasp it and be outraged by it,” Kendi said.

“These generations have been hugely inspired by previous generations,” added Kendi, who will contribute an essay to the forthcoming book “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” that’s based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” that centers U.S. history around slavery. “I think we built this movement to a point in which it is indeed a juggernaut with no way of stopping.”

The selection process for the MacArthur grants is shrouded in secrecy. Instead of applications, anonymous groups make nominations and recommendations to the foundation’s board of directors.

Kendi, 39, said he had no knowledge he had been nominated.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Latina CEO Breaks Down Gender Barrier In Engineering And Provides Employment Solution For Military Spouses
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Erica Beal professional picture posing outside greenery background

By Shelley Zalia, Forbes Women

Erica Beal is the founder and CEO of AVIVV, a professional services engineering firm serving the energy and utility industry. In March 2021, her company became the first engineering firm to be a certified military spouse-owned enterprise in the United States, adding to its distinction of being woman and minority-owned.

I recently caught up with Beal via Zoom while she was on location at a job site to hear how she successfully launched her company right before the pandemic, and how she is setting an example for not only Latina women and military spouses — but for all women. If you can see her, you can be her.

Married to a U.S. Navy SEAL, with two young sons, Beal grew up in Texas in what she described as a very lovely, biracial family; her mother is Mexican-American and her father, Anglo-American. The first in her family to pursue a degree, she praised her parents for the sacrifices they made and the tremendous work ethic they instilled in their children.

“My dad was in oil, gas and construction and never took a sick day. He was there when the sun came up. My mom, a Latina career woman, worked for a Fortune 500 company, starting as an admin and became a national account manager (before receiving her business degree years later). She showed me how to break through barriers.”

Beal met her husband in college and together they began a new life in San Diego. She always had a love for construction and began to look for employment with no local friends or networks to help with leads. After opening their electric bill, she called the 1-800 number and asked, “How do I get a job there?”

A simple question that led to her 16-year career in the energy utility sector. Starting as a temp, she worked her way up, learning a range of functions including audit, procurement, supplier diversity, energy efficiency and finance. Inside, she had always felt her “internal entrepreneur” nagging her to go off and start something; she just didn’t know when she was going to take that leap.

“I was lucky because my husband came home,” said Beal referring to her spouse, a decorated military officer. Over the course of his 21-year active duty career, their family has endured multiple, months-long combat deployments. After his last he said, “‘I’m tired, my body is tired, it’s time for me to help support you back.’ I had to have his commitment to make this leap as a family, we’re a unit.” That was the fuel she needed to found AVIVV (which means “growth” and was suggested by her sons) in September 2019.

Launching a business a few months prior to the pandemic may have proved disastrous for some, but Beal pivoted quickly and with positive results. She’s in an essential business — people need electricity and they need reliability. Her instinctive calling has been to help other military spouses by reducing the roadblocks they face when trying to sustain careers on the move. A report from the White House released last month shared that unemployment among military spouses remains at a staggering 22%, a number that has barely budged in ten years.

“There’s a void and we have to do something about it,” said Beal. “There’s a very qualified workforce that wants to get out there.” The construction industry is a big opportunity for military spouses and those transitioning who are not aware of how deep the need is for infrastructure projects.

Read the complete article originally posted on Forbes.

This first-generation Mexican-American became one of fashion’s top CEOs — while raising three kids as a single mom. Here’s how
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This first-generation Mexican-American became one of fashion’s top CEOs — while raising three kids as a single mom.

By Jade Scipioni, CNBC

For nearly three decades, Sandra Campos has helped build global brands like Diane von Furstenberg, Juicy Couture and Ralph Lauren — but the question she gets most frequently has nothing to do with fashion.

That’s because she’s also spent the last 16 years as a single mom, raising three children while rising up the career ladder. As Campos tells CNBC Make It, women often ask her: “How did you do it?”

Her answer: “I didn’t have a choice.”

In 2018, Campos became Diane von Furstenberg’s first-ever Latina CEO, a position she held until the company reorganized last year due the pandemic — a mutual decision, Campos says. Now, she’s the CEO of retail tech start-up Project Verte and the founder of Fashion Launchpad, an online education platform she launched shortly before leaving Diane von Furstenberg.

Campos, a first-generation Mexican-American, didn’t come from money — but from an early age, she dreamed of becoming a fashion company CEO. Her only regret, she says, is not publicly embracing her heritage as she climbed.

Instead, she was consumed by the competition of rising to the top, she says — and being a woman competing against men for top executive jobs was already enough of a challenge. ”[I] thought that it was going to be another part [of my identity] that was not going to help me,” Campos says.

But internally, her heritage has always motivated her. When she focuses on her “why,” she says, she remembers the sacrifices her parents and grandparents made coming to the U.S. so she and her siblings could have a better life.

“I’ve never taken that for granted,” she says.

Here, Campos talks about working at her family’s tortilla factory, why she didn’t publicly embrace her heritage sooner and the ups and downs of being a single working mother at the top of her field.

On growing up working in a tortilla factory: ‘My family was always about hard work’
My parents both immigrated from Mexico. My father was 14 years old, and didn’t get a middle school or high school education. He went straight to work. My mother immigrated when she was 18 years old. She didn’t have a college education [either]. They had six kids.

I was born in California. My father went to El Paso, Texas, to learn the tortilla factory business from one of his uncles — so we moved in with his uncle, who already had a family of 10 kids.

After that, we moved to a suburb of Dallas. My family was always about hard work: After school or on the weekends, I’d work at our tortilla factory, in the back packing boxes or on the assembly line.

They were entrepreneurs. I was like, “I don’t want to do this.”

On finding her dream industry: ‘I knew I wanted to be in fashion, but I didn’t know what fashion was’
I knew I wanted to be in fashion, but I didn’t know what fashion was. When I was growing up, I didn’t have magazines around.

My mother would take me to the fabric store and I would pick out fabrics to re-decorate our sofa. I made slipcovers, drapes, pillows and cushions. When I went to college, I made clothes for myself, my siblings and my friends. I thought I wanted to be a designer.

Then, I had a pattern-making internship and realized that [being a designer] was far too technical. I wanted a role with more movement and upward mobility, so I focused on marketing and business instead.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

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