In 2015, after an eighteen-year media career in Puerto Rico, Charo Henríquez relocated to New York City to pursue other opportunities in the industry. She began working for Time Inc. as the executive editor for People en Español.
Then, in 2017, an opportunity to join the New York Times came knocking.
Today, as the editor for newsroom development and support, Henríquez leads a team focused on shifting the famed newsroom’s culture, diversity, and development. She is the first Latina department head in the newsroom at the Times.
“Being Latina, Puerto Rican, Spanish-speaking; being what’s considered here, biracial—having all of those things as part of my identity and being able to be a leader and fully understanding that . . . when I got the job here, I understood that that was really meaningful,” Henríquez says. “It shows other people that it is possible, and it is my goal to continue figuring out the gaps that are keeping people from being able to do that.”
Henríquez has ample opportunities to identify those gaps in her current role. Her team focuses on preparing new employees to work in a modern-day digital news setting: through a variety of initiatives, they make sure that those who are hired are given the tools they need in order to thrive as journalists and in a newsroom. Those skills are taught via training programs, peer-to-peer coaching, and clear direction from managers.
But this is not Henríquez’s first role at the New York Times. She previously served as senior editor for digital transition strategy, as well as senior editor for digital storytelling and training.
She took on her current role in 2020. If asked to describe the core of her expertise, she would say that it lies at the “intersection of journalism and technology”: she believes that company culture is at the center of a healthy ecosystem in a newsroom and that the way employees are trained directly influences that.
“You need newsrooms that are shifting their culture so that everybody can succeed,” she explains. “It’s not about who you hire; it’s about the system to put in place to retain, develop, and provide mobility and opportunities for people.
“I’m very aware that people look at the Times as the model because the Times is the gold standard of journalism,” Henríquez continues. “The journalism we produce is excellent, so the culture of this place has to match that because out of this culture comes our excellent journalism.”
Outside of the newsroom, Henríquez finds other ways to create space and opportunities for Latino journalists and other people of color. She is the vice president of the board of directors of the Online News Organization and is also involved with the faculty of the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, where she provides mentorship and coaching. She also gives back by independently meeting with young professionals and mentees who are looking to pursue careers in media and by volunteering at Digital Women Leaders as a coach.
Henríquez’s determination to see women and BIPOC professionals land leadership roles in the media industry is born from her observations of who the decision-makers in that industry usually are and what they look like. But her mission is also informed by her years of experience in Puerto Rico, which showed her that diverse media leadership really is possible.
“I never didn’t see Latinos in leadership, because I worked in Puerto Rico,” she explains. “But there were fewer women in leadership.” Henríquez experienced a strong culture shock after moving to New York, where she felt like a minority in the news world for the first time.
Henríquez appreciates her role and influence more than ever and looks forward to continuing to shift the paradigm and turning the New York Times into a place where journalists of any race, ethnicity, and gender belong in decision-making positions.
“It’s really cool to be able to be in a position where I am managing a team that manages change in a newsroom like this,” she says, “and [to be someone] who is opening up possibilities to experiment and try new things in this newsroom that could resonate in other places.
“At my core, I’m a journalist through and through,” she adds. “But the way that I commit my acts of journalism has been nontraditional throughout my career, and figuring out what comes next in journalism while retaining those core values is a thing that I’m excited about.”