Midwest Mujeres Collective, a regional Latina network, will be hosting its first virtual summit on workplace wellness titled “Let’s Speak Up: Elevating, Belonging, & Centering Our Stories” with the goal of empowering women and people in creating a safe workplace environment on Sunday, March 26, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The summit will feature 14 Latine speakers and inclusionary leaders in diversity and inclusion. Organizer Araceli Esparza, the founder of Midwest Mujeres, hopes that women will leave the summit feeling empowered after listening to powerful women share their real-life testimonies, tips, and advice for incorporating your story into your career goals.
“This event came from a need to speak up about elevating and belonging in our workplaces,” Esparza says. “I have been racially attacked. I’ve been discriminated against several times in my life. I think it’s important to tell our stories. This is part of a larger mission of storytelling. I believe that we can utilize storytelling to make an impact, build empathy, and encourage people to want to change the systems from both the inside and the outside.”
Six local leaders will be leading the conversations at “Let’s Speak Up!” including Felisa Forte, a bilingual financial leader; Karen Garcia, chamber ambassador and community bridge builder; Marcela Kyngesburye of the Rape Crisis Center; Dr. Laura Minero, a UW graduate of the counseling psychology program who is well-recognized for their insight on trauma-informed, intersectional liberation. All four are from the Madison area. From Milwaukee, there will be Rebecca Arrichielo, a wellness leader, and Isamary Reyes Rosario, a higher education leader for Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Midwest Mujeres is a social enterprise that has served more than a thousand women through its online network. “Midwest Mujeres is all about opening up a platform for other women,” Esparza says. “A grant from a local organization here called the Social Media Breakfast Club really helped to put on this event.”
Esparza adds that she wants the first annual event to “be a place of connection for Latina/Black/Indigenous/Asian/
“Some of us are from Madison and Milwaukee and the rest of us are from around the world from as close as Mexico to as far away as Asia. Each one of us has a special superpower,” Esparza says. “We have 14 different speakers. It’s been such a beautiful collaboration, kind of like co-learning for all of us. It’s been something we’ve all been able to learn something new from.”
“Let’s Speak Up!” will be an important event for women to get essential information and resources from but will also be a chance to network and meet knew people.
“It’s important to break that isolation. A lot of us feel isolated being the first or the first-gen[erational] or the only person of color in the workplace in your section or your department. There’s not a lot of us in the Midwest .. an we’re doing first things. We just have the first Latina running for mayor. We’re doing a lot of firsts. And in that, I think we can learn from each other on a global scale of what it means to survive being the first.”
To register for the first virtual summit on workplace wellness, click here.
“I’ve done a lot of these talks previously, but this is the first one where I have brought together so many different women. This was really ambitious and it’s tested all of my curation and organizational skills,” Esparza says. “But it’s also been really cool. We can’t wait for the event. It’s going to be amazing. This is something I could easily see as an annual event.”