The Latino Professionals Association, Inc. of Greater Madison will be kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month tonight with “LPA Presents: Yo Soy El Pueblo Unido” (I am the united village) at the DreamBank in the Spark Building on East Washington Ave. It’s a chance for Madison-area Latino professionals to have deep discussions, problem solve and network with each other in a fun atmosphere.
“This year, the theme is Yo Soy El Pueblo Unido which means ‘I am the united village.’ It’s from a famous protest chant,” LPA member Carla Garcés, who is organizing the event, tells Madison365. Garcés, is referring to “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” which means, “The people united will never be defeated.”
“Each year we really want to highlight the diversity of Latino professionals in Madison and really explore people’s self-identities as well as what does it mean to be part of this larger community of people who identify as Latino – both in terms of career and personal life,” Garcés adds. “We really want to explore the uniqueness of individuals.”
The vision of LPA is to cultivate a community that inspires, develops, and empowers Latino Professionals to achieve success. At tonight’s event, LPA wants to hear from young Latino Professionals.
“It’s the annual celebration that we do to kick off and to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and every year we’ve done something a little different,” Nicole Sandoval, LPA president, tells Madison365. “There will be networking and table captains who will have four or five topics that they will have discussions about. The captain will lead the discussion so that we can get good feedback and we can learn how LPA can affect changes in those areas.
“It’s something that we do every year. Last year, we did a presentation with a series of speakers who talked about how they did or didn’t bring their authentic selves to work and how that affected their growth, their development, their retainment in the company,” she adds. “So that was a very interesting conversation to have.”
The Latino Professionals Association currently has a little over 250 members and are continuing to grow.
“We started six years ago with just 50 members with a whole bunch of ideas on what we’ve wanted to be,” Sandoval says. “Over the years, we’ve honed that down to what we call ‘four pillars.’
Those four pillars are leadership development, career growth, political engagement and personal enrichment.
“This year, we really want to do more of what we call ‘member engagement’ to really hear politically what our members feel,” Garcés says. “That’s one of our pillars – political engagement – so we are eager to have a series of discussions at this event where there will be breakout groups and discussion questions really asking this group of professionals where we see our political clout and what do we want to do.
“The Latino Professionals Association is really growing in numbers and we really want to position ourselves as Latinos,” Garcés adds. “We want to use the LPA membership to be in positions of influence to continue to affect change and really examine the areas in Madison that we need to focus our attention on.”
In the Madison area and throughout the state, Latinos have been excelling in many industries and career sectors and reflecting the growing diversity of the overall Latino population that is contributing to overall growth in the workforce.
“Our membership is diverse – we have professional diversity and age diversity,” Sandoval says. “We really like to highlight that and I think that it will be evident at the Yo Soy El Pueblo Unido event.
“We are expecting 30-40 individuals. The more the merrier,” she adds. “Everyone is welcome to come. These are important discussion and conversations we will be having.”
This event is also a great chance to network.
“That’s the appeal of this organization is getting to know so many different people,” Sandoval says. “Most people at the event will be Latino but we welcome anyone and everyone who is supportive of the Latino community.”
Appetizers will be provided at the event by Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant.
“We’re really excited about this event and excited to be at the Spark Building,” Garces says. “It should be fun.
“We have a handful of high school students who are coming from East High School. So far the registration has a mix of all kinds of industries and I think it will be a really good representation of what the Latino professionals look like here in Madison,” she adds.
“LPA Presents: Yo Soy El Pueblo Unido” will be held Tuesday, Sept. 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Spark Building, 821 E. Washington Ave. For more information about the event, click here.