7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like

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employee resource group - group shot of professional diverse employees

Diverse and inclusive workplaces can be both difficult to find and hard to create. But if you care about making your own workplace truly inclusive, you have the ability to effect real change—as an ally.

An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group but who takes action to support that group.

It’s up to people who hold positions of privilege to be active allies to those with less access, and to take responsibility for making changes that will help others be successful. Active allies utilize their credibility to create a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, and find ways to make their privilege work for others.

And wielding privilege as an ally doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve seen allies at all levels take action with simple, everyday efforts that made a difference—often a big one!

Here are a few roles that allies can choose to play to support colleagues from underrepresented groups in beneficial ways.

1. The Sponsor

I once worked for a software company that was acquired by a larger company. In the first few months following the acquisition, I noticed something interesting. My new manager, Digby Horner—who had been at the larger company for many years—said things in meetings along the lines of: “What I learned from Karen is the following…”

By doing this, Digby helped me build credibility with my new colleagues. He took action as an ally, using his position of privilege to sponsor me. His shoutouts made a difference, and definitely made me feel great.

When an ally takes on the role of the Sponsor, they vocally support the work of colleagues from underrepresented groups in all contexts, but specifically in situations that will help boost those colleagues’ standing and reputations.

How to Act as a Sponsor

  • Talk about the expertise you see in others, especially during performance calibrations and promotion discussions.
  • Recommend people for stretch assignments and learning opportunities.
  • Share colleagues’ career goals with influencers.

2. The Champion

In May 2015, Andrew Grill was a Global Managing Partner at IBM and a speaker at the Online Influence Conference. He was on a panel along with five other men when a female member of the audience posed the obvious question to the all-male lineup: “Where are the women?”

The moderator then asked the panelists to address the topic of gender diversity, and Andrew, after sharing some of his thoughts, quickly realized he wasn’t the best person to respond. In fact, none of the panelists were. He instead asked the woman who asked the question, Miranda Bishop, to take his place on the panel. By stepping aside, Andrew made a bold statement in support of gender diversity on stage and championed Miranda at the same time.

Since then, the nonprofit organization GenderAvenger has created a pledge to reduce the frequency of all-male panels at conferences and events. It reads, “I will not serve as a panelist at a public conference when there are no women on the panel.” Anyone can sign the pledge on their website.

When an ally takes on the role of the Champion, that ally acts similarly to the Sponsor, but does so in more public venues. Champions willingly defer to colleagues from underrepresented groups in meetings and in visible, industry-wide events and conferences, sending meaningful messages to large audiences.

How to Act as a Champion

  • Direct questions about specific or technical topics to employees with subject-matter expertise instead of answering them yourself.
  • Advocate for more women, people of color, and members of other underrepresented groups as keynote speakers and panelists.
  • If you’re asked to keynote or serve in a similar public role and know someone from an underrepresented group who’d be an equally good fit (or better), recommend that person (after asking them first if they’d like to be put forward).

3. The Amplifier

In a Slack channel for female technical leaders, I met a data engineer who was working at a 60-person startup. One team inside the company had an unproductive meeting culture that was starting to feel truly toxic. Yelling and interrupting frequently took place, and women in particular felt they couldn’t voice their opinions without being shouted over.

One of this engineer’s colleagues decided to take action to ensure that the voices of those who weren’t shouting would be heard. She introduced communication guidelines for a weekly meeting, and saw an immediate improvement. The guidelines included assigning a meeting mediator (team members would take turns in this role), setting clear objectives and an agenda for every meeting, conducting a meeting evaluation by every participant at the end of every meeting, and reminding the members to be respectful and practice active listening.

When an ally takes on the role of the Amplifier, that ally works to ensure that marginalized voices are both heard and respected. This type of allyship can take many forms, but is focused on representation within communication.

How to Act as an Amplifier

  • When someone proposes a good idea, repeat it and give them credit. For example: “I agree with Helen’s recommendation for improving our net promoter score.”
  • Create a code of conduct for meetings and any shared communication medium including email, chat, Slack, and so forth.
  • Invite members of underrepresented groups within your company to speak at staff meetings, write for company-wide newsletters, or take on other highly visible roles.

4. The Advocate

Shortly after she became the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki spoke up about how tech industry titan Bill Campbell had advocated for her. In an article for Vanity Fair, she wrote:

I learned about an important invitation-only conference convening most of the top leaders in tech and media, yet my name was left off the guest list. Many of the invitees were my peers, meaning that YouTube wouldn’t be represented while deals were cut and plans were made. I started to question whether I even belonged at the conference. But rather than let it go, I turned to Bill, someone I knew had a lot of influence and could help fix the situation. He immediately recognized I had a rightful place at the event and within a day he worked his magic and I received my invitation.

When an ally takes on the role of the Advocate, that ally uses their power and influence to bring peers from underrepresented groups into highly exclusive circles. The Advocate recognizes and addresses unjust omissions, holding their peers accountable for including qualified colleagues of all genders, races and ethnicities, abilities, ages, body shapes or sizes, religions, and sexual orientations.

How to Act as an Advocate

  • Look closely at the invite list for events, strategic planning meetings, dinners with key partners, and other career-building opportunities. If you see someone from a marginalized group missing, advocate for them to be invited.
  • Offer to introduce colleagues from underrepresented groups to influential people in your network.
  • Ask someone from an underrepresented group to be a co-author or collaborator on a proposal or conference submission.

5. The Scholar

I’m a member of the Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley, a nonprofit leadership incubator for women. Many of our events are open to guests, who come to hear the speakers and participate in our workshops. Most guests are women, so it stood out when a male guest started attending our events. I asked one of my friends who he was, and she told me he was a former colleague who wanted to better understand the challenges women face in the workplace. He spent many evenings at our events, listening and absorbing information about the issues we discussed so he could be a better ally.

When an ally takes on the role of the Scholar, that ally seeks to learn as much as possible about the challenges and prejudices faced by colleagues from marginalized groups. It’s important to note that Scholars never insert their own opinions, experiences, or ideas, but instead simply listen and learn. They also don’t expect marginalized people to provide links to research proving that bias exists or summaries of best practices. Scholars do their own research to seek out the relevant information.

How to Act as a Scholar

  • Investigate and read publications, podcasts, or social media by and about underrepresented groups within your industry.
  • Ask co-workers from marginalized groups about their experience working at your company.
  • If your company or industry has specific discussion groups or Slack channels for members of underrepresented groups, ask if they’d be comfortable letting you sit in to observe. Asking is essential: Your presence may cause members to censor themselves, so be sure to check in before showing up.

6. The Upstander

I remember being impressed by Lisa, a white software engineer who stepped outside of her comfort zone to be an ally. When asked to name her “spirit animal” as part of a team-building exercise, Lisa spoke up. She wasn’t comfortable taking part in an exercise that appropriated Native American spiritual traditions.

When an ally takes on the role of the Upstander, that ally acts as the opposite of a bystander. The Upstander is someone who sees wrongdoing and acts to combat it. This person pushes back on offensive comments or jokes, even if no one within earshot might be offended or hurt.

How to Act as an Upstander

  • Always speak up if you witness behavior or speech that is degrading or offensive. Explain your stance so everyone is clear about why you’re raising the issue.
  • In meetings, shut down off-topic questions that are asked only to test the presenter.
  • Take action if you see anyone in your company being bullied or harassed. Simply insert yourself into a conversation with a comment such as, “Hi! What are you folks discussing?” and then check in with the victim privately. Ask if they’re okay and if they want you to say something.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Meet Afro-Latina Scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel
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Dr. Jessica Esquivel

By Erica Nahmad, Be Latina

It’s undeniable that representation matters and the idea of what a scientist could or should look like is changing, largely thanks to pioneers like Afro-Latina scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel, who is breaking barriers for women in STEM one step at a time.

Dr. Esquivel isn’t just extraordinary because of what she is capable of as an Afro-Latina astrophysicist — she’s also extraordinary in her vulnerability and relatability. She’s on a mission to break barriers in science and to show the humanity behind scientists.

Dr. Esquivel makes science accessible to everyone, no matter what you look like or where you come from. As one of the only Afro-Latina scientists in her field, and one of the only women who looked like her to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, Dr. Esquivel knows a thing or two about the importance of representation, especially in STEM fields and science labs.

Women make up only 28% of the science, technology, engineering, and math workforce in the U.S. Those disparities are even more severe when you start to look at minority populations.

“When you start looking at the intersections of race and gender and then even sexuality, those numbers drop significantly,” Esquivel told CBS Chicago. “There are only about 100 to 150 black women with their Ph.D. in physics in the country!”

Fighting against the isolation of uniqueness
Dr. Jessica Esquivel recalls being a nontraditional student and being “the only” when she entered graduate school for physics — the only woman in her class, the only Black, the only Mexican, the only lesbian — and all of that made her feel very isolated.

“On top of such rigorous material, the isolation and otherness that happens due to being the only or one of few is an added burden marginalized people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, have to deal with,” Dr. Esquivel told BeLatina in an email interview. On top of feeling like an outsider, isolation was also consuming. “Being away from family at a predominately white institution, where the number of microaggressions was constant, really affected my mental health and, in turn, my coursework and research, so it was important to surround myself with mentors who supported me and believed in my ability to be a scientist.”

While she anticipated that the physics curriculum would be incredibly challenging, she was definitely not prepared for how hard the rest of the experience would be and how it would impact her as a student and a scientist.

The challenges she faced professionally and personally made her realize early on just how crucial representation is in academia and all fields, but especially in STEM. “It was really impactful for me to learn that there were other Black women who had made it out of the grad school metaphorical trenches. It’s absolutely important to create inclusive spaces where marginalized people, including Black, Latina, and genderqueer people, can thrive,” she said.

“The secrets of our universe don’t discriminate, these secrets can and should be unraveled by all those who wish to embark on that journey, and my aim is to clear as many barriers and leave these physics spaces better than I entered them.”

When inclusion and equal opportunities are the ultimate goal
Dr. Jessica Esquivel isn’t just dedicating her time and energy to studying complex scientific concepts — think quantum entanglement, space-time fabric, the building blocks of the universe… some seriously abstract physics concepts straight out of a sci-fi movie, as she explains. On top of her research, she put in so much extra work to show people, especially younger generations of women of color, that the physics and STEM world is not some old white man’s club where this prestigious knowledge is only available to them. Dr. Esquivel is an expert in her field; she knows things that no one else currently knows and has the ability and the power to transfer that knowledge to others and pass it down to others. There is a place for everyone, including people who look like her, in the STEM world, and she’s on a mission to inspire others while working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM space.

“Many of us who are underrepresented in STEM have taken on the responsibility of spearheading institutional change toward more just, equitable, and inclusive working environments as a form of survival,” she explains. “I’m putting in more work on top of the research I do because I recognize that I do better research if I feel supported and if I feel like I can bring my whole self to my job. My hope is that one day Black and brown women and gender-queer folks interested in science can pursue just that and not have to fight for their right to be a scientist or defend that they are worthy of doing science.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Sandra Velasquez, the CEO and Founder of Nopalera, Creates Body Care as a Celebration of Her Latina Culture
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Nopalera soap ad

By Nashia Baker, Martha Stewert

Going back to the summer of 2019, Sandra Velasquez, the CEO and founder of Nopalera, a luxury, clean body care brand, visited with family in San Diego, Calif. while in between jobs. During this time at her childhood home, she started her now-business purely based on the beauty of her surroundings. The entrepreneur had an itch to learn how to create new things in her spare time, soap being her main focus. Most of the recipes she referenced called for aloe vera, though—which she didn’t have on hand.

“Here in Southern California, we have plenty of nopales, which is what in English, people call the prickly pear cactus, but we Latinos call it the nopal,” says Velasquez. “My parents, like most of the neighbors around here, have a nopalera, which is a cactus plant, in their front yard, so that is what I started to use instead of the aloe.”

Creating this cactus-infused soap proved to be her “a-ha” moment to start a brand of her own. The plant is sustainable with nourishing properties, and she pulled from her previous experiences as a musician and a sales professional to blend her passion for celebratory, cultural storytelling and authentic self-care to bring her product to market. “I could create this brand, a high-end Latina brand, that could really disrupt the Eurocentric values in this country that we see in the beauty industry, that normalize higher price tags for brands with French and Italian names,” she says.

Designing and Collaborating
Everything that goes into the Nopalera brand, whether it be the design to the naming of every product, is intentional on Velasquez’s part. “You know, you’re wearing the shoes that you’re wearing, because of how they look with your outfits, right? We buy things based on how they make us feel,” she says. “I knew that the branding was going to be critical.”

She started her brand by putting any necessary payments (like enrollment for formulation school) on her credit card. She then paid a designer she knew from a previous job to create the storytelling-centric packaging and researched to find a packer to lend a hand and get her products made.

“It was just a lot of just falling down rabbit holes on the internet, asking everyone I knew, reading industry articles, following the right publications, finding people’s names there, and then going and finding those people directly,” Velasquez says, noting that she would attend trade shows and panels—and still connects with women of color professionals personally. “It’s because I made a concerted effort, consistently, to keep finding people; you’re not going to find anything unless you go and literally put yourself in the rooms.”

Culturally Inspired Brand
Most importantly, Velasquez credits her love for her culture as being the heart of Nopalera as a whole. “My family has impacted me and my business because they really instilled strong cultural pride in me, which I’m very grateful for,” the CEO says. She expresses how her parents taught her about the pride in being Mexican growing up and to never assimilate in her life. “That cultural pride is what I have carried through in my brand,” Velasquez adds. “Bath and body products are the goods that we sell, but the perspective and the mission behind it is about elevating our culture and changing the perception of Latino goods in this marketplace.”

Cultivating an Audience
After completing the branding, Velasquez worked to grow her audience. “I started to advertise on Facebook and Instagram early on, even pre-launch,” she says. She invested in herself during this process by taking a social media ad class. From there, she says that she began running targeted ads in areas such as California, Texas, and Arizona with large Latino populations and building an email list so she knew who to send brand messages to when Nopalera made its official debut.

“That’s one of the best pieces of advice I can give to people; don’t go and create in the shadows, and then all of a sudden appear and expect for people to notice,” she says. “Building your email list in advance is so important, if you can, if you’ve already started [your business], just start building it now.” This helped her get the Nopalera brand name out there from day one, and she says people still find her business today through her email list. She’s also continued putting out targeted ads, as over 600 boutiques that have applied to become her stockist found the brand through the advertisements.

Click here to read the full article on Martha Stewert.

Latina Entrepreneur Melina Fuenmayor Builds a Successful Seven-Figure Business in Under Two Years
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Melina Fuenmayor in a blue dress

By Digital Journal

Melina Fuenmayor started her business with just $3000. Now it’s one of the largest signing service companies in Florida.

Melina Fuenmayor, a Venezuelan Immigrant, and a successful businesswoman, is inspiring Latina entrepreneurs across the US with her incredible story of struggle and triumph. Taking charge of the life she wanted to achieve, Fuenmayor is now living the American Dream. She’s one of Florida’s most successful Latina business owners, running a seven-figure notary signing company, The Closing Signing Service.

Fuenmayor came to the US in 2017 armed with nothing but the desire to build a good life for her family. As a woman immigrant, things haven’t been easy. She had to work four jobs just to make ends meet and provide for her family. She started working as an Administrative Assistant and then a Paralegal at a law firm. At one point, she also had to work as a babysitter.

Despite the language barrier and the challenges she faced, Fuenmayor is fueled with determination. While working at the law firm, she pursued studies in Notary Public and became a Certified Notary Signing Agent. After seeing the potential in the notary signing industry, Fuenmayor invested $3000 to establish a business. While it started as a side-hustle, she soon found herself quitting her jobs one by one. Four months later, she took a leap of faith and quit her last job to dedicate her focus to running the business full-time. Her gamble paid off.

In just three months, she was doing hundreds of monthly closings, becoming the first Notary Signing Agent in Florida to hit 10k a month. Her expertise is in loan signing. She guides borrowers through the signing process, ensuring the entire loan package is signed, initialed, dated, and notarized without any errors. Fuenmayor established herself as a leader in her field and became widely recognized as a referent.

In August 2020, during the pandemic, she launched The Closing Signing Service to meet the rapidly growing demands for her expertise. Title Companies and Real Estate Attorneys rely on her and her team to find and hire mobile notaries to close real estate transactions. They oversee the entire operation, from hiring the right notaries to ensuring all documents are signed, notarized, scanned, and dropped off on time. The company offers its services nationwide, facilitating successful and seamless closings.

In under two years, The Closing Signing Service completed thousands of closings for hundreds of clients and has amassed a significant client base across the country.

Despite her accomplishments, Fuenmayor is not one to rest on her laurels. Aside from running her company, she’s also focusing her efforts on sharing her expertise and insights as a Notary Signing Agent and a Signing Service Owner. She has a training program called Notary Business Guidance dedicated to helping aspiring business owners succeed in the notary service industry.

Click here to read the full article on Digital Journal.

3 Strategies Female Founders of Color Can Use to Secure Funding
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Select business owners will receive a "Jefa-Owned" neon sign.PepsiCo

By Xintian Tina Wang, Inc.com

Black and Latina women founders received only 0.43 percent of the $166 billion in VC funding dished out to startups in 2020. That’s according to ProjectDiane, a biennial report on the state of Black women and Latina founders by the organization DigitalUndivided.

Two women who are beating the odds are Kelly Ifill, the founder and CEO of Guava, a neo-bank and community platform designed to serve Black entrepreneurs and small-business owners, and Evelyn Rusli, an angel investor and the co-founder and president of baby food brand Yumi. The two sat down with All the Hats editor Teneshia Carr to talk about the best strategies for overcoming the hurdles to getting funding as a female founder of color. Here are three that stand out.

1. Be prepared to hear ‘no’ and keep pitching.
Rusli says she receives probably hundreds of rejections when pitching to investors, but encourages founders to stay positive nevertheless. “I think you have to pitch a lot of investors in the beginning, where not everyone is going to say yes. In fact, you’re going to get many nos,” says Rusli. “For every no out there, there is a yes. If you believe so strongly in your vision and that’s why you took the leap, then you just have to continue to knock on those doors and try to find the angles.”

Ifill agrees and suggests that pitching is a numbers game — by pitching more, you’ll come to understand what resonates with investors best. “Some investors will give you feedback, so you can scrap from your pitch what’s not working and what you need to double click on,” she says.

2. Find a compelling story.
Practice telling your pitch story to get it right and tight. Investors are humans, and they respond to stories that have humane aspects.

“We don’t pay attention to the storytelling aspect of the pitches enough,” says Ifill. “Try to tell stories of the lived experience of people that you’re trying to change or an industry problem that you’re trying to solve. I find that’s [led to] the most successful moments that I have had with investors.”

3. Leverage your network to find the right investor
LinkedIn can be your go-to platform to get to know people in your industry. Rusli urges being unafraid to cold call people you don’t know. “People reach out less than you think they do in general. If an investor finds your subject line interesting, they might just respond.”

Click here to read the full article on Inc.com.

This 31-year-old quit her $150,000-a-year tech job to start an equal pay app: Here’s how she got started
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Christen Nino De Guzman, founder of Clara for CreatorsPhoto: Christen Nino De Guzman

By Christen Nino De Guzman, CNBC

I’ve always enjoyed working with content creators. At 31, I’ve helped launch creator programs at some of the biggest tech companies, including Instagram and Pinterest.

But it was frustrating to see the pay inequality that content creators constantly faced. So earlier this year, I decided to quit my $150,000-per-year job at TikTok to start a “Glassdoor-like” app called Clara for Creators.

Since launching, it has helped more than 7,000 influencers and content creators share and compare pay rates and review their experiences working with brands.

The pay gap in influencer marketing

Nowadays, there are very few barriers to becoming a content creator. With the popularity of TikTok, for example, you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment; anyone can try to build an audience and monetize their platform with videos they shoot on a smartphone.

As a result, more and more creators have entered the business. The problem? They have little knowledge about how much money they could — or should — be making.

Content creator deals are tricky. How much you’re paid depends on the type of content you’re offering a brand and on what platform — an Instagram post versus a YouTube video, for example. Other factors include the size of your following, engagement metrics and success rates with previous partnerships.

To make matters even more complicated, brands often ask an influencer for their rate instead of offering everyone a base pay with room to negotiate.

Many creators end up selling themselves short, especially women and people of color. I once saw a man get paid 10 times what a woman creator was paid for the same campaign — just because he asked for more. I’ve also seen Latinx creators with triple the following of white creators be paid half as much.

How I started my mission-based business

I knew a major problem that creators faced was that they couldn’t Google how much money they could charge for marketing a product or service on their platform. That lightbulb moment — and how much I cared about the creators I worked with — inspired me to build Clara.

I wanted creators to be able to share reviews of brands they had worked with, along with how much they were paid for different types of content based on their number of followers.

In March 2021, I sent a bunch of cold messages to potential investors on LinkedIn. In July, after weeks of non-stop outreach that turned into more than 10 pitch meetings, I received a small investment from an individual investor. I used that money to contract a team of developers, who I worked alongside to build and test the app.

Clara finally launched for iOS in January this year. Within a month, without spending any money on advertisements, more than 7,000 creators signed up to share their rates on Clara, including top TikTok creators like Devon Rodriguez and Nancy Bullard, who each have 24.4 million and 2.9 million social media followers, respectively.

On January 14, I quit my job at TikTok as a creator program manager to work on Clara full-time. While I am taking a massive pay cut by leaving my 9-to-5, I’m living off money I make as a content creator and my savings.

Right now, I’m focused on raising capital to grow the platform. I’m also spreading the word about equal pay and how important resources like Clara are. l post career advice and other resources on my TikTok account, where I currently have 348,000 followers.

Get paid fairly: Know your rights and do your research

There are many things you can do to work towards greater pay equity for yourself and others in your industry.

When discussing pay with your coworkers, it’s important to know your rights. Some corporations may try to scare you from it by saying that salary talk is against company policy. But under the National Labor Relations Act, many employees have the right to talk about their wages with their coworkers.

I’ve had six full-time jobs, and fear used to keep me from talking about money. But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a colleague, I found out I was being underpaid. I then used that knowledge to look for new roles where I’d be paid more fairly.

These conversations don’t have to be awkward, especially if you’ve established a safe and comfortable relationship. Rather than flat-out asking “How much are you making?,” approach the discussion in a “let’s help each other” way. You might be surprised by the number of people who are willing to talk about it.

Keep in mind that while you have the right to communicate about your wages, your employer may have lawful policies against using their equipment — like work laptops — to have the discussion. Protect yourself by understanding your company’s policy before sending a rallying Slack message.

And always do your research before accepting a contract. Sites like Glassdoor, Levels and Clara offer this data for free.

You can also search sites like TikTok and YouTube to get deep insights about pay. There are many creators who, like me, are open about what they’ve been paid at previous companies — down to stock offerings and sign-on bonuses, and who share information about company cultures overall.

I also created a spreadsheet for people to share their titles and salaries alongside important demographic information I’ve seen left out on other databases, like gender, age and diverse identity fields. So far, it has over 62,000 entries.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Latina-Owned Candle Business Captures the Scents of Childhood
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Latina-Owned Candle Business Captures the Scents of Childhood

By Génesis Miranda Miramontes, NBC Los Angeles

Who can forget the smell of a Saturday spent cleaning, as the sound of music blasted in the background: the smell that filled the air and made you get up knowing you would have to grab a broom and help out?

Or perhaps you recall the smell of hot chocolate and pan dulce as you sat around the table hearing your comadre’s latest chisme.

What if you can relive those memories by lighting a candle in your room? While you fold that pile of laundry you’ve been putting off.

Marcella Gomez, a mother, nurse and cancer survivor from Downey is the founder of Oh Comadre Candles, a Latina-owned business that quite literally captures those memories in a candle.

“Oh Comadre Candles celebrate life through a Latina’s eye. The candles are intended to evoke emotion, comfort, memory, or even a laugh,” Gomez said.

Gomez started her business online in 2014 as a form of therapy, and time away from the nursing job she had at the time. It was a way for her to disconnect from the stress of a work day and help distract her, she explains.

In October of 2020, Gomez was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has since received treatment and has been in remission.

She says she would like her story to be an example of the importance of taking care of your health and seeing your doctor.

“Take care of yourself like we take care of others,” Gomez said. “If your best friend told you they found a lump, you would drop everything and help your good friend seek medical attention. Why not do the same for yourself?”

Since starting her business, Gomez has gained over 76,000 followers on Instagram and has recently opened her first storefront in Downey a couple of months ago.

“I have nothing but gratitude for anyone taking the time to walk through our door. It’s an awesome feeling that any small business can relate,” Gomez said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of support the shop recieved. I still can’t believe it. Someone please pinch me.”

Gomez says it was a long process to find the right formula for her candles. Then in 2016 she received her first online order.

“I could not believe someone purchased it from me. I thought it was a joke because the order came on my birthday. Fortunately, it was the first of many orders to come,” Gomez said.

Most Latinos can relate to the scents of Fabuloso, Vaporub, Pan Dulce, Abuelita Hot Chocolate, Horchata, and even Jabon Zote.

These are the scents of childhood and the day to day that bring happiness and can now be enjoyed in your sala.

Click here to read the full article on NBC Los Angeles.

How a Musician Turned Cosmetics Executive Spends Her Sundays
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Sandra Velasquez in Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn. “It’s quiet there, with hardly any people,” she said.Credit...Hiram Durán for The New York Times

By Kaya Laterman, The New York Times

In 2019, Sandra Velasquez, a longtime musician most recently with the band Pistolera, visited her family in California and realized that she needed to make a change.

There, she learned how to make soap. The recipes called for aloe vera, which she didn’t have. But her mother’s yard had plenty of nopal, a type of cactus that is also a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine. She replaced the aloe vera with nopal and was pleased with the results.

That was when Ms. Velasquez had a light bulb moment: She would start a cactus-based natural botanicals company.

“It always bothered me that there aren’t any high-end Mexican beauty products,” she said, especially considering that the latest census figures show there are 62 million Hispanic or Latino residents in the country.

She started Nopalera right before the pandemic, basing operations out of her Brooklyn home. Now her balms, exfoliants and soaps are carried in independent boutiques as well as in Nordstrom.

Ms. Velasquez, 45, lives in Kensington, Brooklyn, with her 14-year-old daughter and her partner, Sean Dixon, 45, a musician.

STRETCH, BERRIES I wake up naturally around 8 a.m. I try to warm up my body with a quick stretch, like five to 10 minutes, or whatever my trainer has taught me. Recently I’ve tried to focus on eating a healthy breakfast, nothing big, like oatmeal and berries. I’m trying to have a better morning routine, because in the past, I didn’t eat a good breakfast and I was tired all day. Like I would check emails first and then eat something and I can’t do that anymore. For the past four months, I’ve been trying to turn myself around and be on a path of good energy and brainpower.

QUICK CLEANUP I like to straighten out the house on Sunday. I don’t do a deep clean, but just want to get things out of the way. It feels better to prep the house and make it look decent.

CLARITY If it’s a nice day, I’ll go take a walk. Sometimes I wander my neighborhood or go to Green-Wood Cemetery since it’s so close. Since the pandemic, the cemetery opened up its gates near me every day, so that’s been great. It’s quiet there, with hardly any people. Usually, I’m out for about 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes I walk and talk and record notes on my phone, but mostly I get clarity by staring at the trees.

MARKET-READY My business has expanded so quickly that I’m at the point where I need new capital so I can buy inventory. The good news is that some investors have now come to me, but they’re always asking for additional and updated information so I have to work on my pitch deck all the time.

SUCCESS SQUAD I then text with my C.E.O. squad, which involves several minority women I met during a seminar for entrepreneurs. I need to surround myself with other people in the same boat. They’re all badasses and we’re each other’s listening board. We live in different places so we’re starting to meet every few months and treat it like a retreat. The next one should be in Colorado. I’m so glad I found my “Success Squad.” They’re incredible women who keep me going.

INSIDER INFO Then I work on my newsletter. It’s for anyone who wants to know how to start a business with $1,000. I didn’t go to business school, and there are plenty of minorities, especially Latinas, that need to know how capitalism works. I have no secrets. I will let you know how I grew my business, what mistakes I made, and what I wished I knew. It’s giving people access to information, and there’s so much to tell.

TOURIST FOR THE DAY It’s time to get out of the house! I’m trying to be a tourist in my own city. I will pick a random place to go, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because I can and I should visit it. Recently I went to Governors Island with my partner, Sean. We strolled around and took in the view. Then we had noodles for dinner in Chinatown.

PORCH DRINKS Back home in the evening, it’s time to lounge and unwind. Sometimes, I’ll have drinks on my porch; other times I watch a movie. I write in my journal and plan out my coming week. I have a “No Meeting Monday” policy at my company so I take a look at what I can get done the next day before all my meetings start on Tuesday. It’s really astonishing how I was a musician and a night owl for many years, because now it’s lights out around 10 p.m.

Click here to read the full article in The New York Times.

Renowned Latina chef helps spread word about free summer meals for kids, teens
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Renowned Latina chef Lorena Garcia wearing a red chefs uniform while smiling at the camera

By Edwin Flores, NBC News

Latina chef, author and TV personality Lorena Garcia is partnering with a national nonprofit group to let families know there are free meals available for children and teenagers as more people face hunger and food insecurity amid high food prices.

“We’re really trying to raise awareness, particularly this summer, about the meals that are available — parents and caregivers can find free summer meal sites right in their neighborhood,” the Venezuelan American chef said about No Kid Hungry, a campaign by the nonprofit group Share Our Strength based in Washington, D.C., which helps feed children and teenagers across the nation.

Even before the current issues of inflation and steeper food prices, the Covid-19 pandemic fallout resulted in a loss of jobs or reduced hours for millions in the country, leading to more families struggling to put food on the table, according to an analysis by Feeding America, which focuses on equitable access to food.

In 2020, food insecurity for Latinos increased by more than 19%, with Hispanics 2.5 times more likely to experience food insecurity than their white counterparts. Latino children were more than twice as likely to live in food-insecure households than white children, according to the nonprofit group.

Additionally, census data indicates that 1 in 6 Latinos live in poverty compared to 1 in 16 non-Latino whites.

Parents and caregivers can find a free summer meal site by texting “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 304-304 or by visiting the group website’s free meal finder. The free meals provided are for youths 18 and younger.

Summer marks the hungriest time of the year for children since school is no longer in session and there is less access to daily, reliable meals. The No Kid Hungry summer meals programs reach 16% of children nationwide.

García said some of the summer meal programs are providing up to 750,000 meals a day to feed children and teenagers throughout the summer.

“The help is there, we just need to make sure that people know that this program is out there,” Garcia, who joined actor and TV cooking personality Ayesha Curry and rapper Big Freedia as No Kid Hungry partners, told NBC News.

As families grapple with the issue of meals in the summer months, millions of students could lose access to free and reduced-price meals after Congress failed to extend the federal Child Nutrition Waivers — introduced during the pandemic — which are set to expire June 30 after two years.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

At 17, she was her family’s breadwinner on a McDonald’s salary. Now she’s gone into space
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At 17, she was her family's breadwinner on a McDonald's salary. Now she's gone into space

By Jackie Wattles, CNN

A rocket built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin carried its fifth group of passengers to the edge of space, including the first-ever Mexican-born woman to make such a journey.

The 60-foot-tall suborbital rocket took off from Blue Origin’s facilities in West Texas at 9:26am ET, vaulting a group of six people to more than 62 miles above the Earth’s surface — which is widely deemed to make the boundary of outer space — and giving them a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting to landing.

Most of the passengers paid an undisclosed sum for their seats. But Katya Echazarreta, an engineer and science communicator from Guadalajara, Mexico, was selected by a nonprofit called Space for Humanity to join this mission from a pool of thousands of applicants. The organization’s goal is to send “exceptional leaders” to space and allow them to experience the overview effect, a phenomenon frequently reported by astronauts who say that viewing the Earth from space give them a profound shift in perspective.

Echazarreta told CNN Business that she experienced that overview effect “in my own way.”

“Looking down and seeing how everyone is down there, all of our past, all of our mistakes, all of our obstacles, everything — everything is there,” she said. “And the only thing I could think of when I came back down was that I need people to see this. I need Latinas to see this. And I think that it just completely reinforced my mission to continue getting primarily women and people of color up to space and doing whatever it is they want to do.”

Echazarreta is the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space and the second Mexican after Rodolfo Neri Vela, a scientist who joined one of NASA’s Space Shuttle missions in 1985.

She moved to the United States with her family at the age of seven, and she recalls being overwhelmed in a new place where she didn’t speak the language, and a teacher warned her she might have to be held back.
“It just really fueled me and I think ever since then, ever since the third grade, I kind of just went off and have not stopped,” Echazarreta recalled in an Instagram interview.

When she was 17 and 18, Echazarreta said she was also the main breadwinner for her family on a McDonald’s salary.

“I had sometimes up to four [jobs] at the same time, just to try to get through college because it was really important for me,” she said.
These days, Echazarreta is working on her master’s degree in engineering at Johns Hopkins University. She previously worked at NASA’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. She also boasts a following of more than 330,000 users on TikTok, hosts a science-focused YouTube series and is a presenter on the weekend CBS show “Mission Unstoppable.”

Space for Humanity — which was founded in 2017 by Dylan Taylor, a space investor who recently joined a Blue Origin flight himself — chose her for her impressive contributions. “We were looking for some like people who were leaders in their communities, who have a sphere of influence; people who are doing really great work in the world already, and people who are passionate about whatever that is,” Rachel Lyons, the nonprofit’s executive director, told CNN Business.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Former TV News Producer Showcases Latin Culture With New Series ‘Gordita Chronicles’
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Former TV News Producer Showcases Latin Culture With New Series ‘ Gordita Chronicles '

By Elizabeth Chavolla, NBC Los Angeles

Working in the newsroom helped her become a better series writer, said Claudia Forestieri, creator of the new comedy “Gordita Chronicles.”

“By day I was a full time journalist and by night an aspiring series writer,” Forestieri told Telemundo 52, as she recalled the years she worked as a reporter, an assignment editor, and a news produce for various Telemundo stations.

“Telemundo helped me become a TV writer. When we do news, you have to pitch stories every day, and if your story didn’t get picked, you can’t sit and cry about it, you have to keep pitching ideas, know how to meet a deadline, and able to summarize a story quickly, so news prepared me well to be a TV series writer,” said Forestieri.

I wanted to showcase the life of the immigrant that is never shown, the fun side, the happy side, the positive side, and show the wonderful things about the Latin culture and how our culture and the American culture can come together and create a beautiful community.

And even though she loved being a journalist, her heart’s desire was becoming a writer for a television series, and nine years later, after years of sacrifice, tears, sleepless nights, and being almost 3,000 miles away from her family, the Dominican immigrant created a series that has received support from HBO Max and the actresses and executive producers, Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldaña.

IT WASN’T EASY
“I started from scratch. I didn’t have any contacts; I didn’t know anyone in this industry. I sacrificed a lot, I missed many weddings, vacations, but in the end my family understood.

Forestieri, who left Miami at age 35, said arriving to the West Coast with a mission forced her to prepare for the challenge she was about to face. “I had to fall in love with the journey. I had to learn to be a better writer, take classes.”

THE SERIES “GORDITA CHRONICLES”
After having been accepted into several writing programs, in 2018 Forestieri did her first screenwriting job, and in 2019 she collaborated on the Netflix series Selena.

Then in 2021, Right during the pandemic, HBO Max announced they had chosen the series “Gordita Chronicles”, and that Zoe Saldaña and Eva Longoria would become the executive producers of this project.

Inspired by the life of Forestieri, the protagonist of “Gordita Chronicles”, Carlota, “Cucú” Castilli (Olivia Goncalvez), is a 12-year-old girl who, along with her parents and older sister, left the Dominican Republic to pursue the American Dream in 1985 after her father, an airline marketing executive, got transferred to Miami.

The series shows how young Cucú faces the challenges of being an immigrant in a new world, showing her courage, humor, mischief, as well as the importance of her culture and family.

“I wanted to write a script that was personal. I was an immigrant girl, I wanted a better life, I had to learn a new language, a new lifestyle in a new country, and make new friends,” said Forestieri.

“I wanted to reflect the life of the immigrant that is never shown, the fun side, the happy side, the positive side, and show the wonderful things about the Latin culture and how our culture and the American culture can come together and create a beautiful community,” she added.

The writer added that most immigrants who arrive to a new country “want a better life, they want the country to be better” and that is precisely what the series will show.

Click here to read the full article on NBC Los Angeles.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. ALPFA Conference 2022: Join us to celebrate 50 years!
    August 7, 2022 - August 11, 2022
  4. USHCC 2022 National Conference Kick-Off Reception
    August 18, 2022
  5. CHCI’s 2022 Leadership Conference & Gala
    September 13, 2022 - September 15, 2022
  6. The 2022 Global ERG Summit
    September 19, 2022 - September 23, 2022
  7. National College Resources Foundation Upcoming Events–Mark Your Calendar!
    September 24, 2022 - April 1, 2023
  8. ROMBA Conference
    October 6, 2022 - October 8, 2022
  9. HACU 36th Annual Conference
    October 8, 2022 - October 10, 2022
  10. NMSDC 50th Anniversary Conference & Exchange
    October 30, 2022 - November 2, 2022