Latinx professionals across the Madison area attended the inaugural one-day talent development conference titled “Building Our Legacy Professional Development Conference” at Madison College Truax Campus on Friday, Nov. 9. The Latino Professionals Association of Greater Madison were the hosts.

“For LPA it really solidifies our mission. We have the right mission and vision. This is kind of validation,” Latino Professionals Association Board Chair Tania Ibarra told Madison365.

Attendees experienced intimate conversations with professional mentors across the city and learned about their strengths in workshops. Focused on both career advancement and fulfillment, the conference addressed areas of professional growth, leadership development, civic and public engagement and personal enrichment.

“I really like events like these because they’re inspirational,” attendee Joanelle Sanchez said.

Sanchez, a Middleton High School senior, came to the conference with other students from her high school who are all a part of Latinos Unidos, a group created to empower Latinx students. She said had the opportunity to reflect on the skills which make her unique and hone in on them.

For this conference, some professionals came along with friends, classmates, colleagues or by themselves to meet other professionals in the Madison community. While there were many opportunities to get to know others inside of workshops, attendees spoke with one another throughout the day. Dream Bank curator Nathan Acevedo took advantage of this opportunity.

“That’s one thing I regret. I wished I put myself out more while I was in college,” he said.

Whether for recent graduates who just entered the workforce or longtime career professionals, the conference offered something for everyone. Lunch included speed mentoring on the side, reinforcing a theme that carried on throughout the day.

“Anyone who knows about me, they know I’ve been here for 12 years. I spent a lot of time networking in these spaces,” Ibarra said to the crowd in between sessions.

Ibarra worked to help plan the conference along with other LPA members who volunteered. She spoke about the importance of getting to know everyone and becoming familiar with the programs happening within your community. Ibarra, whose experiences include former being the former LPA president and service through being a member of the board of directors of both Centro Hispano of Dane County and Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County (LCCDC), understands the power of informal and formal networks.

Marcel Alves Salgado and Paola Paulino were two of several people from Summit Credit Union who attended the conference together. Paulino who spent the last 20 years in the Madison area said sometimes attending events like these are difficult as someone who works full-time and is a mother.

“The conference has been great. It gave me an opportunity to learn about myself and future goals,” she said.

In addition to their conference giveaways, attendees received handouts to work through their own journeys, writing down both the pros and cons in their particular profession for career advancement. When concluding the conference, attendees referenced their personal goals for one last activity – writing it down and speaking it into existence.

“The whole goal was to learn about yourself, your growth and learn about others,” Ibarra said.

A month from now each person who wrote down their plans for the next 30-to-90 days will receive a nice postcard in the mail from LPA reminding them of both their successes as well as things they hope to achieve.