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The year 2023 was a big one for Latino Media Network (LMN), a media company with radio stations across eight of the ten top Latino markets. Stephanie Valencia and Jessica Morales Rocketto, the network’s cofounders, brought on Sylvia Banderas Coffinet and Rose-Anne Tifre to round out what is, as of fall 2023, the media industry’s first all-Latina C-suite.
“Women in Hispanic radio, at the executive level, make up less than 2 percent of the workforce—despite the fact that Latinas, as a demographic, are increasingly influential and are the primary decision-makers in household spending,” Valencia explains. “When you think about how underserved this demographic is, it only makes sense that we put them front and center and lead LMN with them in mind.”
Banderas Coffinet has been the company’s CEO since May 2023, after a long career in publishing and media that includes founding roles at Latina and Hola! USA and her most recent role as general manager of marketing, equity, and inclusion partnerships at Vox Media.
“I had the privilege of working and leading some of the best-known brands in the Hispanic market, like Latina, People en Español, and Hola! USA,” Banderas Coffinet says. “This is the first time that the owners and founders are also Latinas. It’s historic! Stephanie and Jess are visionaries, and part of their vision was to be ‘for us and by us’ and to truly serve our community, not just commoditize it or market to it but to service our community. This begins with acknowledging the diversity within Latinos and embracing our differences to unify our community in what truly connects us: culture, language, traditions, music, familia, and raices!”
“The heritage radio brands we own represent the voices of our community and we want the content to be representative of all Latinos,” Tifre says. “I felt a personal connection to our founders, CEO, and president, but mostly, I knew that I could really make a difference in helping Latino Media Network succeed.”
Latino Media Network’s leadership team is building upon the founding team’s vision to help ensure that their brands and content meet the needs of Latino communities across its eighteen markets.
“When we first set out on this journey, our vision was simple: to ensure that these Spanish-language stations stay in Hispanic hands and that the content they provided would be representative of all Latinos and points of view, regardless of geography or nationality,” Valencia explains.
That vision is what intrigued Banderas Coffinet and helped her ascertain that she was in the right place, as her personal mission overlapped with the network’s in more ways than one.
“I have devoted the better part of my career to building equity in media because growing up undocumented, I felt invisible, misrepresented, and at times criminalized by media narratives that did not reflect me or my community,” Banderas Coffinet say. “I made it my personal mission to help create, change, and build media ecosystems that honored authentic narratives, representation, diversity, and visibility. These are more than DEI buzzwords; they are principles that help build belonging in our society, and that’s at the core of LMN’s mission.”
Together, the women behind Latino Media Network are building content that inspires and honors the Latino community, celebrates the community’s successes, and sparks conversations around the community’s most important issues and topics.
The Leadership Tenets
Internally, they are tackling similar big questions like what kind of leaders they will be, what values will they prioritize, and how will they continue cultivating a team that can propel the network’s vision forward.
For Valencia, it comes down to ensuring that their team looks like the communities they are trying to serve. “On a broad scale, I think it is a powerful demonstration of our vision and mission of what is possible if you are committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive corporate culture. It sends a strong message that women can and should be valued at the highest levels of leadership within a media organization. More importantly, that women in leadership can work together to foster an inclusive corporate culture from the top down, where individuals from various backgrounds feel welcomed and represented.”
As a cofounder, Morales Rocketto couldn’t agree more and adds how her activism shaped her leadership philosophy. “Creating a team is an exercise in figuring out how to blend your language, style, and experience to get the most out of the individual and together. We’re building a company and building a team and trying something new,” she explains. “In community organizing, we say that things ‘move at the speed of trust,’ and I love that process of building trust and relationships. That’s what makes start-ups so exciting—lots of possibilities that you turn into a reality together.
“It takes work to get to know each other and uncover everyone’s superpowers, but when you are firing on all cylinders together, it feels so powerful,” she adds. “It really motivates me every day to get it right.”
While everyone’s leadership style is unique to them and the teams they lead, all four women come together under the umbrella of change and impact they believe Latino Media Network can harness.
Valencia reflected on this truth when asked about what makes their team unique and powerful.
“I think the most powerful tool we possess as a unit is that we truly are a snapshot of what the Latino community in the United States looks like,” she says. “From our family’s immigration drivers to our unique cultures and upbringings, the four of us are representative of the immense amount of diversity that exists within the Latino population in the US. Through those origin stories and personal experiences, we seek to create a space where all Latinos in each of the communities in which we operate and the teams leading our efforts can be seen.
“If we can pour our authentic selves into this journey, together, we can help begin filling a void that has existed for so long,” she adds. “Our combined set of skills will also make us more adaptable and help to spur creativity and innovation as we grow and expand.”
An All-Latina C-suite’s Advice to the Next Generation
Each of these C-suiters has an impressive career trajectory preceding them, leaving a road map for the next generation of Latinxs who may want to follow in their footsteps.
“As an Afro-Latina, it means the world to me to be part of the largest Latina C-suite,” Tifre says. “Hispanic females and Black females are both sorely underrepresented in executive positions as well as sales positions in general. Latino Media Network heard my story, listened, and knows that I will leverage my experience to ensure we succeed. In addition, I know that my success will open the door for all young Black and Brown professionals to strive to be in the C-suite someday.”
When asked for her advice to those Black and Brown professionals hoping to follow in her footsteps, Tifre adds: “Every move you make in your career should be a strategic one in which you can contribute greatly but also a role where you can learn and keep things exciting! I also advise Latinxs to create their own personal board of mentors within and outside the community to inspire and encourage them for future growth.”
For Banderas-Coffinet, she hopes that Latinos who learn about the women behind this C-suite realize that they’ve put the cracks in the ceiling to uplift all Latinxs.
“I hope they see strength, resilience, grit, hard work, and inspiration to do great things, even when they seem impossible,” she says. “Stephanie and Jess made history by raising $80 million, one of the largest raises by Latinas, who see less than 1 percent in venture capital funding despite being part of the largest and fastest-growing demographic in the US today. They saw an opportunity to serve and together made an impossible dream a reality.”
In similar but different ways, Banderas-Coffinet and Tifre continue the legacy that both Valencia and Morales Rocketto had envisioned all along.
“In the end, we want this venture to create cultural pride for Latinos by providing content that is inspiring, and that celebrates our community including our language, our leaders, our stories, our concerns, and our possibilities,” Valencia explains. “We believe that our collective voice can redefine our place in the world and create community cohesion that allows us to build a new future in the US and abroad. This was, is and will continue to be our mission and vision.”