Tell us a little bit about yourself? How do you identify as a Latino/a/x and what does that mean to you
I am an immigrant proud of my roots. I have worked smart and steady to make a difference in our community, nation, and the world through the work I do. My work centers around addressing cultural misunderstanding of nuances and lack of appreciation of our culture while fostering gender and diversity equality. I am passionate about sharing our customs and ancient foodways and using them as a conduit to unify, open minds, expand knowledge, and bring people together at the table to promote effective conversations with a long-lasting ripple effect.
As a proud Guatemalan native, I’ve believed, to entice others, it’s best to first understand and appreciate your own culture. I’ve studied, traveled extensively, researched, and built relationships with farmers, cooks, and business people to continue gaining deeper understanding of our Latin culture to keep making strides in the right direction.
As co-founder of Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN.org), I have mentored scores of aspiring women entrepreneurs. WeMN fosters entrepreneurship and leadership education through speaker events, mentoring, and conferences. Women entrepreneurship is stronger than ever and we are holding their hand to help them climb the leadership ladder. WeMN is open to all women.
What inspired you to the work that you do as a chef and how did you get there?
I learned the ropes of the kitchen with my maternal grandmother in Guatemala. I had a first executive career in international banking where I formed a strong business core, and then decided to pursue my true passion, food and culture education, and became a full time entrepreneur. I started by business, now certified by WBENC (the Women’s Enterprise National Council), to help organizations of all sizes develop a broader understanding and appreciation of Latin cultural nuances as a speaker, consultant, spokeswoman and media educator, and cultural experiences chef using healthy gourmet cuisine and my books as platforms. I have a masters in international business and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu. My books followed my growth path and desire to amplify my voice.
As board member and president-elect of NAWBO-MN (National Association of Women Business Owners), I extend my community support of entrepreneurship to women business owners.
How was your experience being a part of the inaugural leadership conference, LiderCon 2021?
I appreciated being part of such great and professional 2-day event that included national leaders. I am grateful for the opportunity and being part of the entrepreneurs panel led by Alfredo Martel. It was a great experience overall -there was so much variety of speakers and topics, I particularly liked hearing the career stories of high profile leaders. I like the interaction with the speakers and the audience. It made the event so much richer and exciting.
Why do you think the work of LatinoLEAD is important for our community in this new year?
Diversity is here to stay and continues to grow exponentially, locally and nationally. Our demographic is getting younger and it’s important to pass the legacy of the established leaders to continue a generation of future Latino leaders. We have so much to offer to our community yet continue to be underrepresented in many industries, and our work together is important to inspire and encourage inclusion everywhere because we matter. There’s momentum for this work to be continued by each one of us and LatinoLEAD can be the catalyst for this effort to reach a wider audience from all backgrounds.
Do you have any words, tips or thoughts to inspire the LatinoLEAD network?
Never give up. Do great work while following your dreams. Network and build meaningful relationships always. Give back to your community through board service and philanthropy.
Keep up the great work you are doing, LatinoLEAD. You are getting noticed where it matters. Keep inspiring us. Keep leading!