Harvard hosts Latino law, policy, and business conference, inspires youth

Keynote speaker and former COO of Goya, Andy Unanue, addresses the conference
(Photo courtesy of Harvard Law Latino Law, Policy & Business Conference)

The numbers are on our side. The future is on our side, but what are numbers without action to shape the future? In a two-day conference April 4 – 5, Harvard Law school hosted its seventeenth annual Latino Law, Policy, and Business Conference to present a program that inspired students, speakers, and panelists that traveled across the nation to go “from vision into action” for Latinos in the U.S.

Monika Mantilla, President and CEO of Altura Capital Group, was the first keynote speaker to address the audience on the night of April 4. ACG is an organization that aids small businesses and companies in debt, focusing primarily on the ones owned by minority groups. Master of Ceremonies Fernando Duran, invited guests to share their thoughts on her message the following morning.

“Sometimes Latinas think we can’t have it all, but we can,” an audience member from Lubbock, Texas said.

Founder of popular magazine People en Español and present Chief Diversity Officer of Time Warner Inc., Lisa Garcia Quiroz shared her journey and projects to increase Latino exposure in the media and the future of media.

Prior to the launch of People, there were no major publications in the U.S. that centered on Latinos that lived in the country. Quiroz emphasized that although the magazine has been critiqued to only show celebrities and Hollywood events to truly represent the entire Latino community in the nation, People showed that there was influence by people from Latin America in our culture and helped them be recognized.

As for the future of media, Quiroz acknowledged that the context of media has been changing rapidly in the past years, now being almost entirely digital.

“Our biggest competitors are no longer companies like ABC News, but Netflix and YouTube,” she said.

She wrapped up her speech by addressing the power the youth will have in influencing and controlling the media in the future, and asked the audience, mostly composed of students, to use that to help diversity and minority communities in the U.S.

“Tapping into the Hispanic Market” was a session with panelists whose expertise centered on small and nationwide businesses. The discussion pointed out how in today’s efforts for companies to market to Latino families whose children have been born or raised in the U.S., major challenges and questions have come to light.

Panelist David Wellisch, co-founder of Latinum Network, described young Latinos in the U.S. who are bicultural and bilingual as the people with “most potential” for marketing, but also the most difficult to figure out because of the education and acculturation difference between them and their parents.

Ana Recio Harvey, Managing Partner of a bank advisory group and 2009 appointee by President Obama as assistant administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Women’s Business Ownership, said that one of the biggest challenges from immigrants in U.S. to start and keep their businesses thriving is the lack of education on the laws and rules.

She later added that the error of many marketing strategies aimed at Latinos are not designed to appropriately accommodate their needs.

“Tap into the Hispanic market not to make money, tap into the market to create wealth to help make the people your clients.”

Other sessions included topics such as civic leadership, a leadership workshop for Latinas, how to “assert” one’s Latino identity, and immigration action, where United We Dream Board Chair Sofia Campos led a passionate discussion on immigration reform and the action we can take today.

To get view more comments, quotes, and insight from guests at the conference, search the trends #SinLimites and #LatinoConf on Twitter.