Todo se transforma: thoughts on Latino leadership and change


Almost two years ago, I shared some thoughts regarding the topic of leadership and Latino communities. At the time, the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project reported the results of a 2010 poll that indicated the U.S. Latino populace did not feel there existed a single individual that could be considered their national leader. The organization recently released the results of a new survey has that indicated similar data despite indications that also suggest a national Latino leader is needed. Ironically, these results have been released at a time when we in West Michigan are now experiencing a change in leadership within our own Latino community. Again, I feel the responsibility to address how Latino leadership can be engaged with both locally and nationally, and how non-Latino organizations can engage with both Latino communities and leaders regardless of changes that may seem daunting yet inevitable.

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Latino Branding Power wins design accolades

I am proud to announce that Latino Branding Power’s infographic “Latinos in the U.S. are…” won a placement in the popular American Graphic Design Awards 2012 competition. The annual contest, presented by the magazine Graphic Design USA, highlights projects from designers, studios, and agencies throughout the nation. Originally created in conjunction with the 2010 Census results, the infographic touts statistics about Hispanic growth in the U.S. It is an honor to be considered among the many talented winners within the creative industry and to help give Hispanic influence a voice among them.

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Ferris State University addresses higher education for Latinos in Michigan

This past year, the Pew Hispanic Center released results from the U.S. Census Bureau that found Latino college student populations meeting a number of milestones in 2011:

  • The number of Latinos enrolled in college exceeded 2 million
  • Latinos made up 16.5% of all college enrollments
  • Latinos made up 25.2% of student enrolled in two-year colleges
  • For the first time, Latinos were the nation’s largest minority among four-year college and university students

These milestones reflect a continuing upward trend now seen by many college admissions departments. Should this be a wakeup call for college administrators? One university in rural northwestern Michigan decided to answer the call.

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LATISM delivers

Once again, the LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) National Conference proved to be one of the most vibrant and worthwhile Latino/a interest opportunities available. The three-day extravaganza hosted its 2012 version last month at the Hyatt Regency in Houston. I first attended the LATISM National Conference in Chicago last year at the famed Navy Pier conference center. This year, I had the privilege of being invited as a guest speaker in a panel discussion. Myself, along with Melissa Salas Blair, Claudia Deschamps, Olga Romero-Rios, and moderator Monica Vila, discussed various marketing communication insights on the panel entitled Understanding the New Hispanic Consumer. Our Friday morning panel was lively, well attended, and set the tone for what would be an exciting and invaluable second LATISM experience for me.

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Am I less Latino if I don’t speak Spanish?

Earlier this year I was intrigued by an article on the NBC Latino website. In an opinion piece by Raul A. Reyes, a question was tackled that I’m sure many of us of Latin American heritage have heard before. If you do not speak Spanish, are you less Latino? Reyes brought up San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro who became well known on the heels of his Democratic National Convention speech. Apparently Castro is not fluent in Spanish and his lack of fluency implies, by some, that his Hispanic heritage may not be perceived as authentic.

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Is controversy appropriate in Hispanic marketing?

Today, the Dallas based pizza franchise Pizza Patrón will launch a one-day marketing effort to connect with its burgeoning Latino consumer base. For a three-hour period, Pizza Patrón will give away free pizza pies to customers who order in Spanish. This seemingly low-key promotion tactic has actually sparked controversy for the pizza chain–mainly from critics who feel rewarding those who order in Spanish is discriminatory. Good or bad, controversy surrounding the marketing stunt has given Pizza Patrón plenty of publicity. Is there a place for controversy in marketing campaigns, even those that reference Latinos?

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The end of Hispanic marketing? (Part II)

I had just completed a new blog post this week when the Pew Hispanic Center released another study. This one is about the turnaround in Mexican immigration. According to the report, immigration from Mexico has dropped to zero and possibly even less. Like their previous report about Hispanic/Latino identity, this latest report also has implications for marketers and brands. So, is this now the end of Hispanic marketing? Again, not really.

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The end of Hispanic marketing?

A report this past month from the Pew Hispanic Center states that neither of the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” has been fully embraced by individuals of… well… Hispanic or Latino origin. While this may not be new news to those of us who belong or work within Latino populations, the report indicates challenges many brands and marketers face in trying to connect with Hispanic demographics. According to the report, half of Latinos identify more strongly with their respective country of origin (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, etc.) rather than a pan-Latino identity. Is this the end of Hispanic marketing? Not really. The answer, however, may be much more complicated.
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Latinnovating celebrates green Hispanic entrepreneurs

In recognition of Earth Day 2012, I am proud to present a review of the book Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating ThemLatinnovating, by author Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, explores the lives, ambitions, and influences of ten Latino business owners who have dedicated their entrepreneurialism to maintaining green business ventures. Latinnovating is essentially a series of well-developed case studies of the ten entrepreneurs and uses their stories as inspiration for students and professionals alike. Published last year, Latinnovating has already earned many accolades and propelled Tiscareño-Sato as one of the top Latina sustainability leaders.

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Latino Branding Power featured on Radio in Black and White

I was honored recently to have a guest spot on the West Michigan based show Radio in Black in White. The show, facilitated by Skot Welch and Rick Wilson, covers topics related to race, ethnicity, and cultural competence. Skot and Rick have many years of collective experience in these areas and will often delve into uncharted waters during their weekly broadcast discussions. I appeared during a segment of the show when they took a few moments to talk about Latino culture, Hispanic marketing, and the origins of Latino Branding Power. Listen to the clip below featuring my talk with Skot and Rick:

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Latino Branding Power debuts in Rapid Growth Media

Last week, I was happy to have a small feature in Rapid Growth Media, a local online weekly that reports about the arts, innovation, and economic development in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was interviewed by journalist and creative strategist John Rumery about Latino Branding Power as well as some of my thoughts and insights about marketing to Latinos.

Check out the Rapid Growth Media feature here.

Latino Entrepreneurs: West Michigan’s best kept secret

I was honored last week to be invited to participate on a panel discussion with other esteemed West Michigan colleagues at Davenport University. The panel was part of a series by the university entitled Secrets of Success. We were asked, as Latino business owners, to talk about lessons learned, barriers overcome, and our thoughts about how other businesses and organizations can connect to the burgeoning Latino demographic. It was a privilege to be invited and I truly enjoyed the engaging conversations held with the audience and my fellow panelists.

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Latino youth education achievement gaps

Last month I wrote a post about a new human centered design initiative from the Keller Futures Center for improving resilience among Latino youth. Interesting enough, about the time we were completing the project, an article appeared in The Rapidian (a local Grand Rapids online news and information source) about the Grand Rapids Latino student achievement gap. Unfortunately, the statistics look bleak. According to the article post, Grand Rapids students in the eleventh grade are scoring at 18% proficiency in math and 32% in reading compared to statewide scores of 52% in math and 63% in reading. What are causes of these educational gaps and what can be done to close them?

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California vintner Amelia Ceja to deliver keynote at West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet

This afternoon, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual awards banquet at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids. The coveted keynote address will be delivered by Amelia Ceja, owner and president of the Napa, California winery Ceja Vineyards (watch my video interview with Juan Tornoe, last year’s keynote speaker). Amelia Ceja has been recognized as “Woman of the Year” in 2005 by the California legislature for “breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business” and is the first Mexican-American woman ever to be elected president of a winery.

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Latino communities: Better by design

Since last month, I have been involved in a new initiative that uses human centered design to solve issues within Latino communities. The Keller Futures Center, an innovative program through the Grand Rapids Community College, facilitates project-based initiatives to help solve unmet and emerging needs in West Michigan communities. Previous research determined that resiliency is a key ingredient in the success of Latino youth – specifically within education.  Existing as a community coalition representing education, business, non-profits, philanthropy, parents, and students, the Latino Resiliency Project will innovate for seven weeks on the topic of what drives resiliency in our youth and determine how resiliency has a positive impact on the educational achievement and overall life conditions for Latino youth.

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Branding to end racism

In October, I wrote a post proclaiming a manifesto against discrimination for multicultural and Hispanic marketing professionals. In my opinion, not only do we have an obligation to our clients and business needs, but also to make our communities better places to live. Unfortunately, discriminatory attitudes still exist in advertising, marketing, and media. The good news is that those who have had the most negative impact on the perceptions of race and ethnicity are also in the unique position to propagate the most good. A recent campaign from Mexico may suggest there are other professionals that agree.

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