I arrived home with one main question in my mind after attending the Latina Blogger Retreat with top Latina executives and a trip to the White House: “How can we sustain the momentum and energy from one of the highlights of my entire life?” I go to many conferences feeling exhilarated from new connections and networking. But this event was very different.
It consisted of a workshop which gave you the space to focus on creating a business out of our blogs, setting a goal for a year from now and getting ideas and insights from successful women in top corporate positions. The opportunity to talk one on one with these women in leadership positions gave me more confidence in what I would like to do with Mi Caminar. Stay tuned;)
Going to The White House was a surreal moment, probably like one of those things on everyone’s bucket list. When I took my son to Washington DC when he was twelve years old, all I wanted was a picture in front of La Casablanca! Little did I know that seven years later, I would be in the White House. This trip left me with a sense of responsibility to do something greater than my normal mind cannot yet comprehend.
I had the privilege to have an inspiring conversation with two of our mentors at the retreat: Catherine Conners, Director of Community and Social Good at Babble Media and the author of HerBadMother.com and Jeannette Kaplun, Chief Content Manager at Viva La Familia de Todo Bebe. Also present was Elianne Ramos, Vice-Chair, PR & Marketing for Latism and CEO of Speak Hispanic. I am honored to have Jeannette and Elianne as friends. Catherine, who I just met…all I can say is….WOW…this woman is a powerhouse!
Here are some of their insights:
Catherine: “We control our own narrative. It’s absolutely radical. There has been no moment in history for bloggers to talk to the political decision makers at the seat of government. The reason is because women are the story tellers. They (White House officials) are recognizing these women as the great story tellers.
Elianne: These are the top Latina voices. You cannot afford to not talk to these women. There was no hesitation for the Latina executives to attend the retreat.
Jeannette: Be a part of community to take ownership and contribute. If everyone thinks that no one is going to make a difference, then that is what is going to happen. Jon Carson( Director of Public Engagement for the White House) stresses the importance of civic engagement.
Being part of this White House briefing with top officials acknowledging our voices was very powerful. I didn’t get the courage to go up and ask a question. I wish I would have had the courage. After all, I have been directly affected by two of the top issues facing millions of Americans in this country in the past three years: jobs and affordable health insurance. I worked as a realtor in Miami for over 20 years and experienced firsthand the effects of the financial meltdown in 2008. While all my real estate deals fell apart, I had to undergo a surgery on my ankle due to traumatic arthritis from a car accident in 2002. My health insurance at the time didn’t cover the surgery because of a pre-existing condition: broken bones and many pins in my ankle.
They were very scary times for me and although I have moved ahead in a big way with transforming my life at the ripe age of 51, I can imagine the fear and stress that many families go through because I have been through all these fears (and panic) myself!
So what can I do after this experience? So much!! I can use my voice to inform others and motivate others to believe that their voice can make a difference. I am still absorbing that to my core self now! I can also share valuable information. For example, Lisa Pino, the Deputy Administrator for Snap (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program said that only 56% of eligible Hispanics are being served. That means that there is millions of dollars available for those in need.
I also learned of a new website called Let’s Move launched by Michelle Obama:
Let’s Move is dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping children become more physically active.
Think about it: Be healthy to pursue your dreams. We need active, nurtured minds motivated to study to graduate with a professional degree. There is so much that my mind is now stirring around that I don’t know where to begin. What is important is that it was a big leap to validate what I and many other bloggers are doing. We are pioneers in this new world. This is the New World! We are in it and I feel like I have some lucky star around me to have been able to be a part of this historic event….and very blessed.
Here are some pictures on my Flickr Account or you can see them on my Facebook Page so you can put the names to some of the faces since most are tagged: Top Bloguera Retreat 1st Day Reception and At The White House & With Latina Executives – 2nd Day
Link to Latism National Recap with Links of all the Top Blogueras blog posts.