The 11th annual Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit was nothing short of inspiring. Walking into a room where you are immediately called familia is something we don’t experience every day. The summit emphasized the importance of building a culture of leadership and working together as a community to serve others. It prompted open and honest conversations to take place, with authenticity being encouraged in how we network with each other in order to build collaborations, to facilitate a sense of safety and belonging, to gain ideas from each other, and to establish relationships. Being in a room where most of its attendees were Latino and all of them were helping other Latinos in some way, was a huge inspiration. 

We heard from some of our most prestigious Latino leaders within their prospective industries sharing empowering messages that identified how emerging Latino leaders will define the future. The summit, born from the vision of Frank Carvajal, founder of Es Tiempo, LLC included the widely used dicho “Es Tiempo,” as a catalyst catch phrase to drive change. 

At the summit’s panel discussions, we heard various perspectives on defining cultural leadership based on the lived experiences and testimonials of Latino professionals. 

Sol Trujillo, Chairman at Trujillo Group, LLC, said it best, emphasizing that we all are important pieces that will lead to empowering our community and “The only difference between us is whether we eat black beans or brown beans. Somos familia!” 

Special Guest Stedman Graham shared some sound advice from his experiences that hold true to figuring out who we are as individuals and as a collective when taking on any project, whether it be starting a business or even completing a task. These universal laws are great advice to live by in order to achieving a goal: 

  1. Stay motivated – Be better today than yesterday
  2. Have a vision – Be bigger than your circumstances; have a global mindset
  3. Have a plan – Write down the goals of your plan
  4. Master the rules of the road – Have trust and determination
  5. Overcome your fears
  6. Acknowledge your response to change – only the strong survive; life is always changing
  7. Build your dream team – You can’t do it alone
  8. Look for information – Read, research, you have to be a reader. Read all the time, look for information that will empower you.
  9. Commit to your vision. The race of your success is based on falling down and getting back up. 

Some of the biggest industries that were in attendance were within the fields of mental health and STEM, all of which are areas that our communities have the least access to. The sobering truth of how lack of access deters pathways in which our communities are able to thrive.  

Some sober truths: 

One attendee told me that the second leading cause of construction worker deaths is due to suicide. He then showed me the app he built that was a training platform with videos for construction workers about mental health, various orientations and information needed in both English and Spanish, and a chat room designed for questions and social opportunities.

Other attendees were in the field of Education, providing resources to first generation students, opportunities for students to be exposed to ivy league schools, which is something that does not happen often enough to expose our students to experiences that they would not otherwise have.

My takeaways:

If we don’t start rocking the boat, who are we really serving? We must speak up about the injustices we face at every level. It’s the people at the top that will remain at the top and will continue to make us sell our souls because we remain silent. 

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Jessica Montalvo
Jessica Maria Montalvo has dedicated her life to the diverse field of education for over 19 years. She knows the importance of cultural inclusivity and diversity, equity, and inclusion as a part of what she stands for as not only an educator, but a life-long learner as well. Jessica is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Indiana University, and from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne with her teaching Certification for Secondary Education. Later she earned a Master of Education from Indiana Wesleyan University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana Tech in the global leadership program. Her passion for service has translated to her involvement in creative projects which include roles within an original musical theater production about mental illness written by James Wesley Williams, since its full-cast production opening premiere in 2014. She is also a producer for the recent film short, Grummy. Her greatest work of art is when she became a mother in 2020 to her beautiful baby girl, Lara Juliana Montalvo.