1. Please explain what you do for living.
I get to work with pretty inspiring community partners every day. Together, we are striving to advance equity and advocate for inclusive policies. I founded my social enterprise Change Agency in an effort to do just that: change who has agency in our community. We do this by convening stakeholders, connecting partners, and leading programs to directly address systemic barriers that exist in our region. Projects we are a part of include: All for All (immigrant inclusion), Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh (older adults), and Workplace Equity (WE) Challenge.
2. How important in your identity is being Latino?
It's everything. If I'm dramatic, it's because I'm Cuban. If I'm direct, it's because I'm Cuban. If I'm too political with my words, it's because I'm Cuban. If I'm entrepreneurial, it's because my parents are immigrants, and my dad's talent for cooking Cuban food turned them into small business owners out of necessity.
So, I identify first and foremost -- and proudly -- as Cuban, although technically I am Cuban-American as the first in my family born in the US. I also grew up with Brazilians as an extended second family, which has shaped my culture and identity too.
It wasn't until I moved away that the American side of me began to feel relevant.
3. Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?
There is a shared story, strength, and struggle that feels very real despite our differences as Latinos. So anytime I hear Spanish or Portuguese in the air, I feel closer to my roots and want to turn up the volume.
4. Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)? If so, can you describe a situation?
Yes. Sometimes it's a well-intended question that is clearly dripping with stereotypes and lacking any genuine openness. Sometimes it's a comment intended to be a compliment or stated as a cultural absolute, and these are not limited to non-Latinos. We could all use a little cultural humility.