Julia Arata-Frata was already a civic leader when she ran for and won a seat on the Fitchburg City Council last year. She serves or has served on a number of boards and volunteer positions, including helping to start the Latino Professional Association of Dane County and serving as president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce. A native of Argentina with an MBA in international business, she’s a supervisory accountant at Wegner CPA.
Rank your Top five MCs. Adele, Mana, Juan Luis Guerra, Ed Sheeran, Journey.
Which motivates you more: doubters or supporters? Supporters. People who encourage me and believe in me and give me the energy to move forward. They provide you with the fuel needed it to keep going.
What does it mean to be a Latina in Madison? First of all, I consider myself a “working mom.” I need to constantly balance my work and family. To be honest, I don’t like when people start putting people in boxes like a Latina, African American, etc. When you start seeing yourself in one of these boxes, I believe that the stereotype that comes attached to each box can distort your own vision. I am very proud of my Latino heritage, to be a professional immigrant woman and mom, and an elected official that serves my beloved city of Fitchburg.
What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most? There are more than three leaders in Madison who have impressed me since I came here, and my list is long. If I have to name some of them, I will say Annette Miller, Karen Coller, Zach Brandon, Shawn Pfaff, Shiva Bidar, Rachel Krinsky, to name a few.
But I am most impressed with the ones that are quietly making an impact in our community. I call them the unheard leaders. There are several in our community.
What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities? That people are talking too much and not doing enough because we are becoming a very politically correct society. We need to start taking action and be accountable for things that need to be changed in our community.
What are your top three priorities at this point in your life? Be healthy: do more of what makes me happy, celebrate friends, and spend more time with my two sons before they go to college.
Your motto is “to be an agent of change and transform the communality around you to make it better”. What makes someone a good agent of change? A person who gets involved with issues that are important in our community and who doesn’t mind getting uncomfortable with the findings and making things happen. People who have the guts to try to fix things that are broken in our community. This is one of the reasons I got involved with the Latino Chamber of Commerce eight years ago, and ran for Alder in 2015.
There are two types of people: those who watch things happen and those who make things happen. I believe that an “agent of change” is the latter.
During your time as president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, what one positive thing did you learn about Madison, and what thing did you feel could be improved in Madison? Madison is the land of opportunities but it should be more tolerant toward Latinos. There is a negative perception about Latinos in our country at this time and also in our liberal Madison, and we need to change that picture. Latinos are building strong communities, growing the economy and providing jobs through their businesses.
I also believe that we need to have more people of color in our local government, especially Latinos. When minority groups are included in the democratic process to be part of the civic movement, it is an assurance that we (the minority candidates) feel more like a citizen instead of a member of a specific ethnic group. We need to promote the inclusion of minorities in the political process. We need to break the other glass ceiling, for women, Latinos, and African Americans to aim higher in election process.
One in three Fitchburg residents are people of color. What do you think makes Fitchburg an attractive place for people of color to live? In Fitchburg, the Latino population is about 17 percent and African Americans around 16 percent, making Fitchburg a very diverse community. There are several reasons that people come to this part of town. One is the school system. Fitchburg has three school districts instead of one. One school that it is especially crucial in our area for the great programs that it offers is Leopold Elementary School with its bilingual and ESL program. Second, the city of Fitchburg offers affordable rental housing. Third, location. Our proximity to Madison, other surrounding municipalities, and the Beltline. Lastly our outstanding quality of life.
What made you decide you wanted to be an accountant? My high school diploma had an emphasis in accounting, so it was easy for me to decide to go to business school in college and have an accounting degree. I have a very analytical mind and math comes easy to me.
You used to serve on the board of directors for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. What are three things you learned from serving alongside some of the top CEOs in Dane County? That they care a lot about our community, they want to make the greater Madison a business destination, retain our talent here, and improve quality of life for all of us.
What was your favorite TV show growing up? Why? Wonder Woman. I would love to have her cape and be able to have her superpowers.