Latina Lista blog re-launches as multimedia news site

DALLAS, TX - Political analysis blog Latina Lista ( ) re-launched this week as an online niche news destination.

Founded by syndicated journalist Marisa Trevino, Latina Lista’s editorial mission is to elevate the voices of Latinas/os by featuring stories about or of interest to Hispanic readers, not found in mainstream media.

A newly redesigned homepage – retaining the signature pink masthead – highlights, as never before, the high-quality content of Latina Lista with exciting additions: more original and multimedia stories, links to breaking headlines at respected news outlets and dedicated space showcasing news videos, documentaries, films and groundbreaking entertainment series and webisodes.

Yet, Latina Lista positions itself further in the forefront in this new age of journalism by creating a true community news entity through an unprecedented number of partnerships with respected regional Hispanic English-language publications, talented bloggers, esteemed college journalism departments, and amazing writers from south of the border.

“The news industry is obsessed with hyper-local content, yet when it comes to niche communities, like Latinos, most fail to realize that national is local,” explains Marisa Trevino, publisher of Latina Lista.

“Within the Latino community, there is a strong collective sense of pride and interest when it comes to knowing about our fellow Latinos that isn’t restricted by geographic boundaries,” says Trevino.

With sections such as “Hometown News,” that showcases content-sharing partnerships with regional Hispanic English-language publications, “Linking Latinas,” a growing network of women writers from various South American countries reporting on the news in their countries to blogBeat Partners, where talented bloggers blogging on a particular topic of interest to Latina/o readers are highlighted, Latina Lista’s partners further exemplify the belief that no matter where news impacting Latinas/os happens, it’s of interest to the greater community.

Call for entries announced for the 2010 NAMIC Vision Awards; entry deadline Dec. 4

LOS ANGELES, CA – NAMIC (National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications) today announced the call for entries for the 2010 presentation of the NAMIC Vision Awards.  Submissions are welcomed in 16 award categories presented in honor of original television programming that best reflects the increasingly diverse, multi-ethnic global viewing audience.  Qualified submissions received by the December 4, 2009 deadline will be eligible for consideration.  Nominations will be announced in early February of 2010.

The NAMIC Vision Awards are presented annually at a special luncheon ceremony held in conjunction with the NAMIC-Southern California West Coast Creative Summit, which is part of the trade organization’s signature, daylong educational forum focused on creating, delivering and marketing content across multiple platforms for the multi-ethnic consumer.  Creators of original television content demonstrating a commitment to producing quality, multi-ethnic and cross-cultural programming will be recognized in the following award categories: Animation, Children’s, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Foreign Language, Lifestyle, News/Informational, Original Movie or Special, Reality, Sports, Variety/Talk Show, Best Performance – Comedy, Best Performance – Drama, Digital Media – Short Form and Digital Media – Long Form. Original programs airing between November 1, 2008 and October 31, 2009 via broadcast networks, cable networks, cable operators (local origination programming) and VOD content produced by cable and/or broadcast companies for digital platforms including web and mobile are eligible for award consideration.

“As the television viewing audience becomes more ethnically, racially and culturally diverse year over year, NAMIC is honored to celebrate those broadcast and cable entities committed to green lighting and producing programming content that truly reflects our world’s mosaic landscape,” said Kathy Johnson, president, NAMIC.

Judging will be focused on overall imagery (creative merit, originality, and presentation quality), sensitivity (the consideration given to cultural nuances), writing (the depiction of issues relevant to people of color) and the quality of acting in the performance categories.  Entries will be judged by a distinguished panel comprised of communications industry executives, producers, scholars and community leaders.

For more information on the 2010 NAMIC Vision Awards or to access nomination forms and detailed eligibility/submission requirements, visit or contact Sandra Girado, director of Meetings and Events, NAMIC, at 212-594-5985 ext. 23.  For inquiries pertaining to sponsorship opportunities for the NAMIC-Southern California West Coast Creative Summit and the NAMIC Vision Awards luncheon ceremony, contact Danny McGlone, vice president for Fund Development, NAMIC, at 212-594-5985 ext. 13.

Beyond Acculturation II

By Lauren Romero
Strategic Planner for Wave, cross-cultural experts of The Marketing Arm

The last time I posted here, I proposed that the world of U.S. Hispanics is so multi-dimensional, so complex, so much about living in multiple subcultures, that we now have to get beyond the initial simplifications marketers relied on to label and segment them.

Acculturation and language use, national origin and birthplace, tenure in the U.S. and generational distance from immigration — all of these are relevant and useful in the right contexts. But, I argued, the reality of daily life for U.S. Latinos involves navigating a variety of subcultures, and cultural shape-shifting from day to day and even hour by hour, depending on the context. Bilingual, bicultural Latinos are quite expert at this, as are most other so-called “minorities,” as are men and women, as are we all when it comes to navigating the various roles we each play in our lives.

I believe this concept of “contextual identity,” or “situational Latinidad” in the case of Hispanics, is vitally important because we now have the information and personal media channels to reach consumers in context-relevant and welcome ways. Our agency uses a systematic approach to tease out contexts in which Latinos feel more or less Latino, what that means, and how it shapes their behavior in a variety of specific product, service, media, and sponsorship categories. It’s exciting work, and we look forward to helping clients develop more impactful 360-degree marketing programs using this approach.

In the meantime, we are exploring the marketing implications of two related phenomena within U.S. Latino culture: cross-cultural “swirling,” and “retro-acculturation”. What we’re calling “swirling” refers to a delightful tendency we U.S. Latinos have to enjoy certain aspects of Hispanic cultures other than our own, as well as other cultures in general.

In particular, many of us enjoy the food, music, and dances of Latin American subcultures different from ours. Marketers wring their hands over the distinct vocabularies among the many Latino nationality groups. As Latinos in the U.S., we encounter these differences regularly in our social and professional encounters with Latinos of different heritage than our own. More educated Hispanics tend to be aware of these differences, and many of us enjoy learning about them, as they are sometimes pretty amusing.

Here is the marketing implication of “swirling”: While at times we might need to engage one particular Spanish-language subculture, it would be a mistake for us to assume that other Latino groups cannot be engaged with the same communications. For decades, U.S. Hispanics have experienced the dialects of a variety of countries through Univision and Telemundo programming. Rather than focus on the challenges of national dialects, the more relevant consideration for marketing communications is whether the dialect to be used, the message, and the media and programming address the right socioeconomic group or category-based subculture.

The other marketing-relevant phenomenon, “retro-acculturation,” refers to a desire by second and later- generation Latinos either to strengthen connections with their Latino heritage, or to revive ones that have faded over time. Music, food, dance, Latino community causes, and the arts offer emotionally evocative vehicles for this.

One example of recent “retro-crossover” is Nelly Furtado’s new album in Spanish. She got her start as an English-language musician, but now sought to celebrate her Hispanic heritage by singing in Spanish and collaborating with Latin music artists. I haven’t seen information on her fan base, but she’s probably bringing more acculturated Latino fans along on this journey.

So now, marketing to Latinos gets beyond language to consider “retro-acculturation” and cultural “swirl,” taking Latino-relevant marketing into the demographic future.

Story courtesy of MediaPost: EngageHispanics

Verizon Wireless Hispanic CSR PR program donates $50,000 to fund anti-domestic violence Hope Campaign by Casa Esperanza

ST. PAUL, MN – Believing that domestic violence will end only when it is no longer acceptable, Casa de Esperanza, a national Latina domestic violence organization based in Minnesota, launched its Hope Campaign to challenge people across the country to take action in their daily lives to create a world free from domestic violence.

Sponsored by Verizon Wireless, the national Hope Campaign puts the work of ending domestic violence in the hands of individuals and communities.  A new, interactive Web site - – offers tools, tips and ideas for people to get involved in the Hope Campaign, including taking the Pledge of Hope – a personal commitment to ground relationships in love, respect and understanding.

“It isn’t the work of Casa de Esperanza or any other organization that will end domestic violence,” said Amy Sanchez, chief executive for external relations at Casa de Esperanza.  “It is individual and community action that will end violence and create communities where all are safe and valued.”

“Casa de Esperanza has demonstrated leadership within Latino communities around the issue of domestic violence, and we are proud to work with them to raise awareness and provide resources through the Hope Campaign,” said Jim Gerace, vice president of corporate communications at Verizon Wireless.  “No single company or agency can break the cycle of violence we face, but, working together, we can make a larger impact.”

  In addition to taking the Pledge of Hope, the Campaign provides:
  –  Access to resources and information about domestic violence and ways  to promote healthy relationships.
  –  Ideas to support domestic violence prevention through fundraising events with the Hope Campaign or by donating no-longer-used cell       phones to HopeLine®, Verizon Wireless’s phone recycling program.
  –  Tools for shelter or agency workers to help explain domestic violence  to children and other community members.

A key element of the Hope Campaign is new audio and video public service announcements, available in both English and Spanish, that remind us of the positive impact we all can make through our words and actions.  To preview or order the PSAs, visit

The Hope Campaign was created from the belief that no one is born violent – violence is a learned behavior.  We all have the opportunity and responsibility to take small, but important, action in our daily lives and to promote hope, not fear and peace, not violence.

Verizon Wireless has long been involved in domestic violence prevention and awareness activities, led by the company’s HopeLine phone recycling and reuse program.  Consumers are invited to donate no-longer-used cell phones at Verizon Wireless Communications Stores nationwide or use a pre-paid mailing label found on the Web (  The phones are either refurbished or recycled.  With the funds raised from the sale of the refurbished phones, Verizon Wireless donates wireless phones and airtime to victims and provides funding and other contributions to non-profit domestic violence shelters and prevention programs across the country.

To learn more about the Hope Campaign, visit

Anti-Defamation League poll: Anti-Semitic attitudes match lowest level recorded

NEW YORK, NY – A nationwide survey of the American people released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) finds anti-Semitic attitudes equal to the lowest level in all the years of taking the pulse of the American attitudes toward Jews.

The survey found that 12 percent of Americans hold anti-Semitic views, a decline from 15 percent in 2007 and matching the lowest figure ever recorded by ADL, in 1998.   In its 1964-benchmark survey 29 percent of Americans were categorized as having anti-Semitic views.

The 2009 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America, a national telephone survey of 1,200 American adults, was conducted September 26-October 4, 2009 by Marttila Communications of Washington, D.C. and Boston. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 percent.

“The fact that anti-Semitic attitudes have reached their lowest point to date is good news, the product of many years of constant and intense efforts by ADL and others to make America a more accepting society,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

“At the same time,” Mr. Foxman noted, “there continues to be violence targeting Jews and an increasing use of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.  We can’t dismiss that 12 percent of the American people means that there are still over 30 million Americans that hold anti-Semitic views.”

Commenting on the incongruity of good numbers with the headlines of anti-Semitic violent incidents and public expressions, Mr. Foxman said that “just as the good news about the election of an African-American as President has been tempered by the surfacing of racism and conspiratorial thinking in reaction, so too the significant diminution of widespread prejudice against Jews is tempered by the manifestation of violence, conspiracy theories and insensitivities toward them.”

Mr. Foxman added “that even in this 2009 good news survey, some bad news remains a constant, such as 30 percent believing that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America, and 29 percent believing that Jews are responsible for the death of Christ. Equally of concern is that more than a quarter of African-Americans — 28 percent — hold anti-Semitic beliefs and more than a third of foreign born Hispanics — 35 percent –have such attitudes.”

  The Findings: Reinforcing Certain Trends

  –  Education remains a strong predictor of anti-Semitic propensities, with the most well-educated Americans largely free of prejudicial
      views while less educated Americans are more likely to hold anti-Semitic views. 19.5 percent of Americans with less than a college
      education hold anti-Semitic views, a significantly higher figure than the overall 12 percent.
  –  The major manifestations of anti-Semitic attitudes lie in the accusation of disproportionate Jewish power among those holding
      anti-Semitic views.
–  79 percent of those holding anti-Semitic views believe that Jews have too much power in business, compared to 18 percent of the
      general population.
–  68 percent accuse Jews of controlling Wall Street, compared to 15 percent overall.
–  64 percent say that Jews have too much power in the U.S. compared to 13% overall.
–  Once again, the survey found a major gap between foreign-born Hispanic attitudes toward Jews and for those born in the U.S.
–  35 percent of foreign-born Hispanics hold anti-Semitic views, compared to 18 percent for those born in the U.S. This finding holds out the hope that children of Hispanic immigrants, exposed to America’s diverse society and education, will continue to move away from classical anti-Semitic attitudes.
  –  Attitudes towards Jews in the African-American community continue to be of concern though in this survey there is a significant decline in
      those holding anti-Semitic views.
 –  28 percent of African-Americans fall into the category of those holding anti-Semitic views, a lowering from the high of 37 percent in 1992 and 32 percent in 2007.
–  At all age levels, men are more likely than women to hold anti-Semitic views.  Between the ages of 18-39, 16 percent of men compared to 12
      percent of women hold anti-Semitic views; between the ages of 40-64, 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women hold anti-Semitic views, and 65 and older, 15 percent of men and 9 percent of women hold anti-Semitic views.

In measuring anti-Semitic attitudes the survey relied upon an anti-Semitism index developed by ADL and the University of California over 45 years ago.

The index includes 11 questions which are used to gauge respondent’s anti-Semitic propensities.  Those who agree with six or more of the index statements are considered to have anti-Semitic attitudes.


Marttila Communications, a Washington, DC/Boston-based public opinion research firm, which has conducted ADL’s previous surveys, conducted this national telephone survey of 1,747 adults. The base sample is 1,200 plus an oversample of 256 African Americans and 250 Hispanics, bringing the oversample for both communities to 400 each.

For those questions answered by all 1,200 respondents, the survey results have a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. For many questions, the survey used the technique of “split sampling,” a process in which the 1,200 person sample was split into two demographically representative samples of 600 respondents each. For those questions that were answered by 600 respondents, the survey has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

The purpose of split sampling in the survey was to maximize the number of questions that could be asked, to test different hypotheses about an issue, and to test the impact of different question wording.

The full poll is available online at

Reports show Hispanics most at risk for Alzheimer’s. New Spanish book, ‘La Guía Holística para la Enfermedad de Alzheimer’, offers help to Latinos facing dementia

MIAMI, FL – Recent reports show disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease among Hispanic patients nationwide. A leading physician expert on care giving warns that Latinos face gaps in understanding of the disease and barriers to adequate care. Her new Spanish book offers basic, comprehensive education for Latinos facing dementia. “We already know that U.S. Latino caregivers, in particular, constitute a group that under uses dementia-specific care services.  This group of caregivers may experience higher rates of physical and psychological distress related to dementia care giving. From research, we also know Latino caregivers are more likely to be younger, poorer, less educated, underemployed, and in significantly worse mental and physical health than their non Latino counterparts.

Zoë A Lewis, M.D., FACP, Diplomat of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, internist, hospice and palliative care physician, author, speaker, Alzheimer’s disease education activist, radio show producer and host of Blogtalk radio’s Hospice Radio, has been working with Alzheimer’s patients and their families for over fifteen years. She contends help is on the way for Latinos facing this disease with her newly released book, claiming comprehensive simple information is what is needed and delivered.


Dr. Lewis cites the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America report, “Investigating Caregivers’ Attitudes and Needs (I CAN 2) Survey”, as her motivation to translate the book into Spanish. “We now know from this study, Latinos show the most prevalent benign family neglect of an elder with dementia, and this is secondary to lack of understanding of the disease. Making matter worse, professional and financial barriers in the healthcare system also hurt Latinos. Poor basic outreach is leaving these people out. My organization, Hope through Knowledge offers community service efforts for aging and end-of-life care. My books are listed resources with the National Alzheimer’s Association. I work along side the Alzheimer’s Association to help educate folks in my local community.

Using freelance Spanish translators and editors from a major Spanish publishing house, “La Guía Holística para la Enfermedad de Alzheimer”, ISBN # 978-1602643765 (soft cover), Virtualbookworm Publishing (2009) $18.95, was produced from the popular English version, “I Hope They Know: The Essential Handbook on Alzheimer’s Care,” ISBN #: 978-1602641778, (2008), from the same publisher. The books cover a multitude of care and care giving issues for both the patient and caregiver facing a dementia diagnosis. Chapters are organized in three sections spanning early diagnosis through death with dignity. Advice focuses care givers on lowering the high emotional and healthcare costs associated with dementia, while providing time-saving solutions for those already stressed out from lack of care planning. Prose style is basic and font size is gentle on the older reader.

The English version, “I Hope They Know”, reached number two in online sales in its category on, and received favorable reviews from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Gerontological Nursing, Latin and North American Alzheimer’s experts and peers in the fields of music and art therapy. The National Alzheimer’s Association Greenfield Library carries each book.

Dr. Zoë Ann Lewis was a faculty speaker at the 2009 National Council on Aging conference on dementia and hospice care and her work was recognized by the NHPCO 2006 guide, ‘Caring for Persons with Alzheimer’s and other Dementias Guidelines for Hospice Providers’. She is a former Harvard Medical School Clinical Instructor of Medicine among other accomplishments. Her dedicated website,, promotes education using the principle ‘hope through knowledge’.

The books will be on sale at the Miami International Book Fair at the South Florida Writers Association Booth, November 13-15th, 2009.

National Hispanic Corporate Council taps Ray Celaya as interim president

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Hispanic Corporate Council (NHCC) has tapped Ray Celaya as its Interim President.  In a short statment issued by the NHCC Vice President/COO Helen Trinidad said:  “The NHCC is evolving to meet the needs of Corporate America. As such, an Interim President, Ray Celaya, has been identified to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization as the Board of Directors looks to future opportunities to differentiate NHCC and to continue adding value to corporations seeking to maximize the Hispanic market opportunity by increasing shareholder value for its member corporations.” Ray Celaya

Celaya is president and founder of Diverse Markets, a venture he  launched after retiring as Vice President Supplier Diversity with Allstate Insurance Company. He was with Allstate for 28 years.

The NHCC is a unique membership organization comprised of Fortune 1000 corporations providing leading-edge corporate best practices, research and network opportunities for the benefit of its corporate members.  NHCC is the premier resource on effectively maximizing the Hispanic Market opportunity through marketing, community relations, human resources, and procurement within the foundation of corporate social responsibility.

Southern Partners Fund celebrates 10 years of excellence in philanthropy Nov. 21 with the inaugural launch of the Social Justice Institute

ATLANTA, GA –  The Southern Partners Fund (SPF) is celebrating 10 years of excellence in philanthropy in the Southeast by hosting the Inaugural Launch of the Social Justice Institute (SJI) on November 21, 2009.  The SPF is a public foundation (501c3) committed to social change and equity for individuals and communities in the South. The organization’s mission is to support rural Southern communities and organizations seeking social, economic, and environmental justice by providing them with financial resources, technical assistance, training, and access to systems of information and power.

The Launch event, “Organizing Power: The Force of Change in the South” includes a full day of workshops addressing relevant social justice topics, an armchair discussion with leaders in the fields of community organizing, philanthropy, and social change movements, and features keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery! Hailed as the “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement,” Dr. Lowery represents a legacy of service and commitment to the nonviolent struggle for the causes of justice, human rights, economic equality, voting rights, peace and human dignity. Dr. Lowery delivered the Benediction on the occasion of President Obama’s inauguration and is the recent recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Southern Partners Fund will be also be presenting him with a Humanitarian Award for his commitment to social justice and creating a better quality of life for all.

The evening event for the Launch, the Social Justice Leadership and Humanitarian Awards Dinner and Gala recognizes some of the South’s key social change leaders representing philanthropy, grassroots organizing, and service to humanity. Atlanta’s WSB-TV anchor and reporter, Ms. Jovita Moore will be acting as the Mistress of Ceremonies for this honorary evening. Some of the night’s awardees include legendary civil rights activist and President & CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Ms. Xernona Clayton, as well as R&B star Ne-Yo and his nonprofit organization, the Compound Foundation, for supporting and creating opportunities to be successful for youth in the child welfare system.

Southern Partners Fund invites community partners, philanthropic and business leaders, HBCU and other college and university colleagues, nonprofit professionals, grassroots organizers, and young leaders to share in the excitement of this inaugural event! Sponsorship opportunities for the Launch are available!

For more information on registering for the event visit or call 404-541-9091 ext. 13.

Ad Council, U.S. govt. launch campaign promoting adoption of black children

WASHINGTON, DC – The Advertising Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Children’s Bureau and AdoptUsKids, announced the launch of a campaign designed to encourage the adoption of African American children from foster care.

According to the Administration for Children and Families, there are currently 496,000 children in the foster care system and, of these, 130,000 are available for adoption. Thirty-one percent of the children in foster care waiting to be adopted are African American; African American children are overrepresented in the foster care population relative to their percentage in the U.S. general population.

“We are optimistic that this campaign will result in a significant increase in inquiries to AdoptUsKids by families who are interested in adoption, specifically the adoption of older African American children and youth in foster care in the United States,” said Kathy Ledesma, Project Director, AdoptUsKids. Created pro bono by kirshenbaum bond senecal + partners, the new multimedia campaign which includes television, radio, and print PSAs, is designed to help prospective parents realize that “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” It also aims to significantly increase awareness of the need to provide loving, permanent families for children in the foster care system. The new PSAs illustrate to potential parents that children in foster care don’t need perfection, they need the commitment and love a “forever family” can provide. The PSAs direct audiences to visit, or call 1-888-200-4005 for more information on the adoption process.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Children’s Bureau and AdoptUsKids on this humorous and heartwarming campaign that has inspired thousands of Americans to consider adopting a child from foster care,” according to Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of The Advertising Council. “I am confident that these new PSAs will help increase the adoption of African American children.”

The new PSAs are an extension of the previously successful campaign, launched in 2004, which focused on the adoption of children from foster care. The need for adoptive homes for older children, sibling groups, and children of color is especially great and the campaign has therefore targeted prospective homes for those populations. In the first 18 months following the launch, calls to the AdoptUsKids toll-free number increased by 236%. Additionally, more than 11,000 children whose pictures and biographies were featured on the AdoptUsKids website have been placed with a “forever family.”

Target Market News to host 2009 African American Internet Marketing Summit on Nov. 19

Target Market News announced it will host the 2009 African American Internet Marketing Summit on Thursday, Nov. 19th in Chicago at the Wyndham Hotel downtown. The all-day conference — the only such gathering of its kind in the nation — will feature some of the industry’s leading executives and companies in marketing, advertising, media, technology and research.

“Think of this as the 2.0 version of our 2008 Internet Summit,” said Ken Smikle, President of Target Market News. “We added marketing to the title because we’re putting an emphasis on how the Internet and digital platforms reach the $800 billion African American consumer market. With the boom in social media, there needs to be more dialogue on how marketers continue to explore and use the hundreds of targeted digital media platforms available. The financial opportunities are too great to ignore — especially in this economic climate.”


Hispanic PR interview with Melissa Smith, EVP of RLPR

Melissa Smith is executive vice president of RLPR.  She manages the New York office of RLPR which is headquartered in Los Angeles under the leadership of Roxana Lissa.

What was your childhood ambition? Melissa Smith - RLPR

I was a moody kid with a big personality – not too dissimilar to who I am today! I loved to socialize and dance and I loved telling everyone what to do. I don’t remember thinking too much about a future career – I was too focused on the me and the now – at least that part has changed a bit!

Tell us about three people you admire and why?
My father. He grew up in Brooklyn with two siblings and was not an academic kid. He enlisted in the army and came out a focused man. He attended college while working as a bank teller, and retired as a high-profile banking professional. He is driven and serious, but always balanced his life with love and play. (My mother was one of his high school girlfriends who he lost touch with when he went to the army. After running into her on the subway when he became a civilian, they were engaged within three months). I try to structure my life with my father in mind.

My husband. Somewhat similar to my father, my husband struggled as a student and became a Marine out of high school. He recently went back to school at night to complete his bachelor’s degree. He, like my father, values balance in his life, and works hard to succeed at work (at the UN), at school, at his friendships, with our family and with his health. He is one of the most disciplined people I know, if not the most. He is a real inspiration and example to me of how to have it all.

My boss. Roxana is the reason I went into Hispanic PR. I have had few female mentors in my life and she is definitely the most significant one of them. How a young woman could have so much passion, commitment and vision about her business – and achieve such success, while also having a family and being so loving to all who know her is really admirable, and I am honored to be in her circle of love.

What is your favorite life or business quote?
Persistence pays off.

Besides your firm, what are you really passionate about outside of work?
Wine, food, friends, family – specifically, my new son. Not necessarily in that order!

Tell us about your educational background.
I am a product of the NYC public school system, although I had a stint in private school from 6-8th grade because my Brooklyn accent was so severe my mother could not understand me. Apparently the words “shirt” and “shorts” were coming out the same.. .
I attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a degree in English Literature with a minor in Drama and Anthropology. There were no PR classes at that time!

What is one of the best lessons your parents taught you about life?
To be independent, to be responsible, to enjoy life and to be financially secure.

What is the most important business habit you have?
I still write down a weekly to do list on a legal pad.

What is the best book you’ve recently read and why?
As a new mother and a fulltime professional, I will admit that reading books has fallen way off my list of priorities. I do however read this great book called “Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons” to my son almost daily and it’s full of meaningful advice for all ages – such as sharing means giving your friends cookies, and content is when you enjoy just sitting on the stoop eating cookies with friends. It’s become a nice reminder for me on my values and priorities every day.

How did you start your career in PR and where has that taken you?
My first PR internship was with Creative Time, a non-profit arts organization in NY that installs art exhibits in public places. It made me feel strongly about non-profit work, and led to my first full-time position in the PR department of the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, which unfortunately showed me some of the problems with non-profit work when I got laid off. After that I worked for a couple of small PR agencies run and owned by women. I experienced a lot of drama, but I learned a good deal about many different industries and became a PR generalist. I took a pay cut and a title demotion to join GCI Group in 1998 as a SAE. Finally in a structured environment, I excelled, but I also lacked for real mentorship which I felt I needed after my boss Susan Patton left the agency. I was managing one Hispanic account by default and became passionate about the work. I met Roxana in 2000 and also felt passionate about her and her agency. When she offered me the opportunity to open her NY office in 2003 I jumped at it. I was a Group Vice President of the Consumer Marketing Practice by then and felt I had hit the glass ceiling. It was time for a change, and for the right change. Almost 6 years later I could not be happier with the decision I made.

What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?
I believe there are not enough young professionals entering this field, so to those interested I would say definitely explore this opportunity because niche businesses set you apart from your peers. I would recommend becoming familiar with the media most followed by different audiences, and also thinking about the core touchstones that are meaningful to different populations.

Tell us something about you that would surprise even many of your closest friends.
I am not a good sleeper – that is a pretty well known fact by most. But on the nights I cannot sleep, I replay my wedding day and my honeymoon in my mind… all of the little details of both occasions. I am a true romantic and thinking about these times with my husband calms me and helps me relax.

What do you believe differentiates your agency and how big is your Hispanic-focused PR team?
Our core focus IS the Hispanic market. So we all work on this business. I think though that what sets us apart from our competitors is our unique position as an independent agency that is run by a visionary and entrepreneur and a woman to boot! You can feel and see Roxana’s influence in everything that we do and it is because she has faith in her people and instills confidence and pride in everyone that we are who we are. Additionally, we boast the only Latino Sports PR division in the country – Sportivo, which helps brands connect with Latinos sports fan in the U.S.

Describe the most effective Hispanic marketing campaign you’ve worked on and what made it special?
The Cover Girl My Colors of Success program was a real stand out in my career. It addressed a true need in the community – providing scholarships and guidance to high school Latinas who were at the time winning the dropout race. The program was a great PR success, but it also really affected young woman around the country. For years after it ended, both Roxana and I stayed in touch with scholarship winners and young women we met through the program. They are now in college or are recent graduates. It is a benefit to our work to know that we made the client happy and brought some life-changing experiences to young people in this country.

What are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your team is presently working on?
Heineken USA, Verizon Wireless, Nike, Clarins USA.   I think the most exciting thing we are working on is the 2010 Hispanic PR plan for Heineken USA, but you will have to wait until next year to see why!

What is the special challenge of working for a Hispanic PR agency when you are not Hispanic?

If I had a penny for every time I had that question, but of course it is a good one.  Roxana and I both believe that passion and commitment will lead your abilities, and will be the foundations of your success. In fact ,we hire people with no PR experience, or who are new to the US and are not yet knowledgeable about the dynamics of the Hispanic market in the U.S. as proof of that belief.  Yes, when I began my work with RLPR I took Spanish classes and had a tutor.  And yes, I understand much of what you are saying when you speak in Spanish (as my staff knows!), but no, I am not comfortable speaking the language.  It is definitely something I hope to overcome, but in the meantime it has not caused a barrier for me at all. And in fact, dare I say it, I feel that being a non-Latino sometimes help clients and potential clients who are also not Hispanic feel a little more willing to learn and understand the Hispanic marketplace. They think – if she did it, so can I.

What adjustments has your agency made to overcome some of the challenges of the current prolonged recession?
Fortunately, we have not had to make any significant changes. We are more aware of our vendor contracts and out of pocket expenses because we want to ensure our client’s dollars are spent properly, but we have not had to make any staffing changes. In fact we have had several promotions this year!

What’s in the works at RLPR for continued growth and expansion?
We have evolved our Hispanic social media practice and are servicing most of our clients with social media initiatives. From reaching out to blogs, to developing Hispanic-relevant content on Facebook and YouTube, we are assisting our clients in areas that are new to them and new to the market.

What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliché that you would love to see go away?
That a translated press release is a Hispanic PR campaign.

What are the top dos and donts about marketing through Hispanic social media?
1) Know your target. Depending on their level of acculturation, language preference, age, hobbies, etc., your target will follow different social media outlets, blogs, etc.  Just because it’s a “Hispanic website” does not mean it is touching or influencing your target.
2) Think about being “in culture” and let the language part follow. We often say that cultural relevance is a strategy and language is a tactic.
3) Balance your campaigns. I do not believe that there are enough quality social media outlets reaching Hispanics in the U.S. right now. To be effective, you need to balance a social media effort with some traditional opportunities that work such as community outreach, grassroots or traditional media relations.

What are your three favorite sources to find out what is going on in the US Hispanic world and what do you look for in these resources?, The Pew Hispanic Center and Juan Tornoe’s blog.  I look for fresh content and news, new research and also what other brands are doing in the industry.

National Institute for Latino Policy members respond to CNN’s ‘Latino in America’

By Refugio I. Rochin, Ph.D., Debbie Porcayo, Lorenzo Canizares, Mickie Luna, F. Chris Garcia, Ph.D., Michaelangelo Rios, Gloria Montealegre,  Elena Rios, MD, Lourdes Colon, Margarite Fernandez Olmos, Ph.D. and Lorraine Lopez
It was interesting that we received a number of responses from NiLP Network members who do not own televisions or do not have cable (which, I think, is un-American!) but wanted to chime in anyway. Then there are those who tie the series to the issue of the campaign to remove Lou Dobbs from CNN, which we will address in separate emails.

Charlie Ericksen, the legendary publisher of The Hispanic Link Weekly Report also wrote to inform us that his publication has asked some prominent Latinos to comment on the series. In the next installment, we plan to include the responses he received that he generously sent us.

We hope this generates a lively discussion in our community, not only about this documentary, but also about how Latino images are projected by the American media and what we need to do to change this, concentrating for the moment on CNN and their parent company, Time Warner, and what their next steps should be.
—Angelo Falcón
Refugio I. Rochin, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center 1998-2002:
I’m pleased to respond quickly while my memory serves me. Hope I don’t distort any of Soledad’s interviews and aims.

I commend Soledad for keeping her cool and generating responses to a number of questions covering Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American and Mexican immigrants in America to interviews with non-Latinos on sensitive topics. She touched the surface of topics and issues. I’d definitely like to see more.

What she exposed was heart warming and sometimes troubling. I’m Mexican-American and the blatant discrimination shown by non-Latinos was sad but true to my experience. The thing to note is the Anglo perception of all laboring Latinos as being illegal Mexican aliens. Some Anglos who were interviewed even called Puerto Ricans, “Mexicans.” Just being Mexican was a negative connotation among Anglos.

In one short she looked into the Cuban impact in Orlando and Miami and Congressman Martinez’s rise from being a child immigrant without parents, surmounting the Peter Pan syndrome. His story is remarkable and Soledad showed him to be a man who cares for all immigrants.

The story of the child from Central America who entered the US on her own, in search of her mother, was eye-opening. Reminded me of my father’s entrance into the U.S. when he was 15 years old – all alone.  But in the case of this young 15 year-old she became a quasi-prisoner in Boys Town because her mother couldn’t take her. There was a good outcome for her with a famous Cuban cantante, [please add name], a foster home, and a resident visa. I can only surmise that Soledad did a lot to bring peace and happiness to this young woman – I suppose she is now a high school graduate.

Soledad carefully examined Latinos in Pennsylvania – Shenandoah – a small town with high unemployment, inter-marriage between Latinos and local Whites, and anti-immigrant discrimination. On top of this the violent killing of a Mexican man with two children by a local white women who loved him dearly. They were set to get married when high school kids beat him to death for being Mexican.

Pico Rivera – Los Angeles – was beautifully portrayed as a community of 90% plus-Latinos that eliminated gangsterism among troubled youth by supplanting gangs with Latina/o familia values and community building. Any town facing gangs and killing would benefit by seeing this part of Soledad’s coverage.
Debbie Porcayo:

The first thing I think about when I think of “Latino in America” is the young DominicanRican boy saying “They call me Mexican. I don’t like being called Mexican.” What up? I am Mexican-American and I feel so proud of being part of such a beautiful culture. I would like this young man to know it. Does he know something about Mexicans that I don’t know? First of all God, then beautiful colors, aromas, tastes, celebrations, music, dancing, pride (good pride), art, charity, community, happy babies, unity and family are things I think about when describing the Mexican culture. Yes, God first. On the real.

I think LinA accurately represented the realities of the Latino population in this country today but only the realities of the people on this particular program. There are a zillion stories to be told. I think this should be an ongoing window into the Latino life to educate people about our beautiful and wonderful culture. Knowledge IS power. Cultural sensitivity they call it. I believe it is important to be culturally sensitive. Hey, let’s make a reality show called “Real Latina Housewives of Yuba City, California”. This is where I am from. ha ha ha. 

I choose not to see negative in anything because I believe God’s word in Romans 8:28 in the bible which says “all things happen for good for who believe in the Lord, our God and are called according to His purpose”, thus the saying “It’s all good”. I believe attitude is everything.

As far as the young Latina images projected in the program, again, a tip of the iceberg was touched. I wish there was a program created to talk to and council directly to young Latinas and that would plant seeds of desire for all that is good for the purpose of advancement in their lives.

The issues were also covered well but there are so many more issues to cover. Health care for the illegals, education for illegals, how to unite as a community for the good of all, the high school drop out rate, teenage pregnancy rate, drug dealing, addiction, latchkey Latino children and solutions to the problems & so much more needs to be addressed.

I do believe there should be more documentaries on Latinos. As I said before, this should be ongoing (and I will add) & forever. I also think there should be ongoing documentaries of all cultures. I would love to be educated about all cultures.
All in all, I was very pleased to be able to watch this documentary on CNN (one of my favorite TV stations) and that it was so easily accessible to non-hispanics as well. I hope many watched it. Keep up the good work CNN. I thought Soledad Obrien did a great job as well.
Lorenzo Canizares wife (he didn’t give her name):

1. Did “Latino in America” accurately represent the realities of the Latino population in this country today? Yes.

2. What were the most positive contributions of this documentary? How Latinos influence a community, for example Miami,in fostering growth and prospering a community. By working together Latinos have shown the capacity to influence the political sphere surrounding them, and overcoming the fear of their presence.

3. What were its most negative aspects? None

4. What images or images of the Latino community do you think this series projected to the non-Latino American public? The truth which reflects all aspects of human beings. We are just simply like everybody else.

5. Did you find the series’ focus on personal profiles, especially its examinations of the problems faced by young Latinas, effective? Yes. It covered the hardship that women face in America. From the immigrants facing deportation or separation from their children to how they overcome to achieve success.

6. Did the series adequately look at issues beyond that of individuals to examine the role of social structures and institutions in affecting Latino realities? Yes. because it identifies the pivotal issues with relevance today that needs correction.

7. Were all significant segments of the Latino population (national origin groups, age and gender groups, social classes, etc.) adequately represented in the series? Yes, it was very evenly portrayed.

8. Should CNN follow-up with another documentary on Latinos? Why or why not? Yes, because we must relate the struggles of Latinos in America to share with others our wonderful culture, and look for solutions to remedies the obstacles in our way.

9. If CNN produces another documentary on Latinos, what issues do you feel they need to cover? I feel they should follow up with another documentary with emphasis just on immigration. it is essential to recognize the need for reform to validate the hardwork of Latinos in the USA.
Mickie Luna:

1. Did “Latino in America” accurately represent the realities of the Latino population in this country today? Not all segments of issues pertaining to Latinos, especially immigration were not fully covered.
2. What were the most positive contributions of this documentary? Students staying in school and never giving up, opportunities that follow persistence if you really want to achieve something in life.
3. What were its most negative aspects? SHENANDOAH PA! This small community needs to be organized by Latinos. We should all make an effort to descend upon this community once a year to develope programs and citizenship training for latinos. The murder of that young latino and the way people reacted to his death was appalling to say the least.
4. What images or images of the Latino community do you think this series projected to the non-Latino American public? Latinos give back to the community by working at jobs others will not do, pay into social security and leave never receiving the benefits that they contributed to.
5. Did you find the series’ focus on personal profiles, especially its examinations of the problems faced by young Latinas, effective? Yes it was touching to see young latinas struggling to prove themselves, to be persistant in achieving something in life.  I hope there is a followup on what these young ladies have accomplished in the future.  It would be nice to keep the public informed on their successes.  These stories are inspiring to other young women.
6. Did the series adequately look at issues beyond that of individuals to examine the role of social structures and institutions in affecting Latino realities? I think it is a beginning, Soledad O’Brien did a very good job in asking the right questions when the situations arose that needed clarification. Some well known Latinos who were interviewed did not seem to have a clue of the suffering that continues within the Latino communities. Some could not even speak spanish. What a shame!
7. Were all significant segments of the Latino population (national origin groups, age and gender groups, social classes, etc.) adequately represented in the series? I don’t think many farmworkers who still live and work in areas of this nation that are deplorable were covered. It would have brought attention to the housing needs of this segment of our communities.
8. Should CNN follow-up with another documentary on Latinos? Whay or why not? I definitely think that CNN should do a followup on this documentary, especially the stories of descrimination and the struggles of young latinos.
9. If CNN produces another documentary on Latinos, what issues do you feel they need to cover? Stories on Shenandoah Pa and how Latinos are combating discrimination. Stores about the young ladies who are working toward accomplishing higher education through all the problems and struggles at home, and children who are being held in immigrant camps all alone and the possibility of someone adopting them or becoming foster parents for these children.

F. Chris Garcia, Ph.D., former president of the University of New Mexico:

This is a great idea! I have been struck by the small amount (so far) of commentary on the show.

I myself had mixed feelings about it, overall and about each different segment.

I did find it amusing that the bad name used against many Latinos was to call them Mexicans! Of course, I have the perspective of a Manito.

Cruz Sanchez:

I was very disappointed with the documentary. I think that It put too much emphasis on the negative/stressful experience of the Latino community, 

I was also disappointed on how young Latinas were portrayed in it. The piece of the young Latina who had to stay home to baby sit and help run the family store does not represent the reality of the majority of young Latinas. 

I was expecting a more balance coverage of  the negative and success stories of the Latino community, The documentary mostly emphasised the stresses of the life of Mexicans and barely touch on the life of other Latinos.

CNN needed to conduct better research about the realities of Latinos in the United States. Total disappointment.
Michaelangelo Rios:

I will think a little more about it in depth.

Sam Lopez of Brevard County Florida was furious and disappointed how they still portray the Latinos/Hispanic.

I rather classify myself as a Hispanic and not Latino, because my Puerto Rican blood is of Spaniard descent. Others should have to right to call themselves what ever they want, but I know for certain my bloodline. CNN can portray non-America heritage culture and ancestry however they want. Puerto Ricans, on the other hand, do not fall under the same category.

But, we need CNN to portray Puerto Ricans of today, and their factual struggles and accomplishments.
Gloria Montealegre:

Here are my gutt reactions to the series.

1. Did “Latino in America” accurately represent the realities of the Latino population in this country today? My answer: yes
2. What were the most positive contributions of this documentary?
My answer: the exposure to Latino culture. No sugar coating.

3. What were its most negative aspects? My answer: perhaps we need to also look at communities that are more upwardly mobile … not just the down trotten and the kids with all the drug and juvenile problems.
4. What images or images of the Latino community do you think this series projected to the non-Latino American public? My answer: we look like white trash. (hahaha)
5. Did you find the series’ focus on personal profiles, especially its examinations of the problems faced by young Latinas, effective? My answer: yes, on the few Latinas they focused on given the length constraints.
6. Did the series adequately look at issues beyond that of individuals to examine the role of social structures and institutions in affecting Latino realities? My answer: no. The explanation that Latinos are in the US because they want a better future for their famiies never, never examined the fact that their economies are controlled by the US. Everything they do. from the food they are eating to the clothes they are wearing…Latin America and the Caribbean is an extension of the US.
7. Were all significant segments of the Latino population (national origin groups, age and gender groups, social classes, etc.) adequately represented in the series? My answer: it was okay.
8. Should CNN follow-up with another documentary on Latinos? Why or why not? My answer: Yes, we need to do more…we have Latino inventors, professionals and CEOs, we have Latinos in none traditional jobs and Latinos who are at the White House. We need to see them too. Not just the gang bangers.

9. If CNN produces another documentary on Latinos, what issues do you feel they need to cover? My answer: issues that block their progress. For instance, NY City firefighters exclusionary tests that keep people of color out of the profession; the same as construction industries and the higher paying jobs. There are real obstacles that keep Latinos out. and the fear by Latinos to network and help each other, what will my colleagues at work think if I help you ??? attitude. Or the fact some Latinos are actually less sympathetic to their own. 
Elena Rios, MD:

I really didn’t see much of it — but did see part of the segment on Pico Rivera — where I grew up. In fact, my picture from history was in it —the Miss Pico Rivera and her court (1973) — I was a runner up — the only Mexican American in the photo …

I tell you the family life, struggles of working class — were not at all focused on — the changing demographics, some success (Lupe Ontiveros who used to work with my mom at a huge ELA Clinic in the home health care of poor Latino elderly all over the area) was the focus without an insider’s view telling their side of the story — you could tell someone from outside wrote the script (telling what they saw)

Lourdes Colon:

Yes – I did watch LATINOS IN AMERICA with Soledad O’Brien, Part I and Part II.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. For the most part, the presentation focused on recent/illegal immigrants, the challenges they face, with which we sympathize totally. A segment on a young girl (from Central America) who, for personal reasons, could not live with her natural mother and she was placed in a detention center. Fortunately, through a good lawyer, she fought deportation and she won the right to stay in the U.S. Thankfully, she was placed in a good foster home with a Cuban couple.
Ms. O’Brien barely mentioned Puerto Ricans, if at all — their arrival in the U.S. (not just New York) in the late 1890′s, shortly after World War I, the 20′s and 30′s, how they were the trailblazers that made it possible for other Spanish-speaking groups, our contributions: in service of our country, politically, culturally, ithe media, in the sports and entertainment fields, etc. Antonia Pantoja and her efforts, the NILP and other groups are perfect examples of these contributions.
Of course, this is my personal opinion. I hope it helps.

Margarite Fernandez Olmos, Professor of Spanish, Brooklyn College (CUNY):

Regarding the CNN Special, as a New York Puerto Rican I was personally offended by the piece. Why the obligatory court scenes? The outcome was clear from the start and they did their best to locate attractive girls for the general audience.

Not enough historical context, losing an opportunity to educate the public and too much reliance on sentimental pap. And finally, boring. It’s hard to make a story on Latinos boring but the piece accomplished that by focusing too much on these individual cases. I was looking forward to seeing the program and was sorry that I did.

Hector (netrey@ . . .}:

1. Did “Latino in America” accurately represent the realities of the Latino population in this country today? No, it did not. Latino in America used a very superficial approach when describing America’s Latinos.

2. What were the most positive contributions of this documentary? The most positive contribution of this documentary is that it might very well be informative for many Americans that still don’t realize that we are here to stay.

3. What were its most negative aspects? No negative per se, just incomplete. The documentary didn’t focus on Hispanic communities’ contributions, but rather on individuals’ achievements.

4. What images or images of the Latino community do you think this series projected to the non-Latino American public? I am not quite sure about that. I am hesitant to say it, but I do not think that the producers and Soledad achieved their objectives.

This show didn’t raise to the level of its predecessor “Black in America”. It doesn’t provide enough elements for non-Latino American public to develop an accurate understanding about our community.

5. Did you find the series’ focus on personal profiles, especially its examinations of the problems faced by young Latinas, effective? Yes indeed, it concentrated on some Latinos individual success stories. But, it fell short in presenting the Latino community’s contributions and aspirations.

6. Did the series adequately look at issues beyond that of individuals to examine the role of social structures and institutions in affecting Latino realities? No, it didn’t. The series covered stories of several successful Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican individuals, but ignored many, many other Latino communities.

It is impossible to identify Latino realities from the series. The extensive number of pictures, and videos do not provide a comprehensive report of US Hispanics.

7. Were all significant segments of the Latino population (national origin groups, age and gender groups, social classes, etc.) adequately represented in the series? No.

8. Should CNN follow-up with another documentary on Latinos? Whay or why not? It would be nice to see. That would give an opportunity to fill the blanks.

Even though, the series didn’t meet my expectations, I must say that was a serious attempt to tell America about us.

9. If CNN produces another documentary on Latinos, what issues do you feel they need to cover? Contributions of Latinos to the economy. The impact of Latinos in healthcare, education, construction, agriculture, industry. Latino or Hispanic professionals in Science, technology, research, engineering, etc. US Latino economy trends. Current and future Latino political representation in government.

Lorraine Lopez:

To be completed honest, I was quite disappointed with the CNN portrayal of Latinos in America. Now to be advised that I wasn’t able to view the 2nd section in its entirety; therefore, some of my comments might not apply.

I had two main problems with the CNN report:

1) The situations/problems presented, though they occur in Hispanic households, were not specific to only Latinos; and

2) Examples of the successes Latinos have experienced were not emphasized (again maybe this happed during the second segment).

The problems the three Garcia families faced are indeed problems faced by many Latinos in America. They are not problems specific to Latinos, though. These are problems any low-socioeconomic family of any minority group can face on a daily basis.

I was very upset when CNN presented the program which helped children stay focused and in school. But this is more a personal issue. I don’t agree with programs that place children in jumpsuits and handcuffs to show them what a prisoner’s life is like in order to dissuade them from entering a life of crime. There are many, many positive programs encouraging Latino children to stay in school that do not use the methods portrayed on CNN.

My opinion is that CNN’s Latino in America did not accurately represent the realities of the Latino population in this country. In order to present an accurate portrayal of Latinos, CNN needs to air many episodes that will include the various Latino cultures.

These two episodes portrayed Latinos as one group in America with commonalities that, as a Latina, I know are misunderstood. As a 1st generation Puerto Rican Latina, my children and I (as well as most of my friends) have not experienced any of the situations presented on CNN.

The images of the Latino community that were projected to the non-Latino American public, were extremely negative. It reminds me of the non-Latino who visits Puerto Rico for the first time to discover that English is spoken on the Island and to their surprise, businesses such as Walmart and McDonalds co-exist side-by-side.

CNN’s negative portrayal of Latinos in America confirmed images that non-Latinos, who barely come in contact with Latinos, have; that is, that Latinos are school drop-outs, criminals who can’t speak much English. They believe that the Latino success stories can only be seen in Latinos like Sotomayor or Mayor Villaraigosa.

I’m an educator in NYS and know first-hand the struggle that many Latino children and their families, especially immigrant families, face and do not want to understate the harsh realities these families face on a daily basis. I just think CNN dwelled on the negative too much.