The main goal of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA) is to develop, support, and increase the number of US Latinos on corporate boards. The organization, founded in 2016, prepares Latinos to step into influential roles by providing training, offering education, hosting events, and creating networking opportunities. Monique Navarro, LCDA’s associate vice president of marketing and communications, spoke with Hispanic Executive about her passion for the LCDA and how her personal and professional journeys have motivated her to empower others.
I grew up in El Paso, and that demands a full explanation all its own. It’s a border town. It’s a unique place. Growing up five minutes from the US-Mexico border gave me a unique point of view about the world. I still carry that with me today.
Hispanics are more than 80 percent of the population. . . . We are the majority in El Paso. There is rich culture, and the Latino influence runs deep within my veins. It was and is such a beautiful place, but there are also things like a lack of income and resources and education and opportunity and networks.
This is the context for my whole life and career. I know that my trajectory is somewhat unique for people from El Paso. I’m in communications and public relations, but if you’re from El Paso, you don’t grow up knowing people in the media, so how are you supposed to envision what you can become? That’s part of what has compelled and motivated me to do the work I do today to help the Latino Corporate Directors Association fulfill its important mission of getting more Latinos on corporate boards.
The place where I come from gives me the want and the need to push the Latino community as a whole forward and impact it in a positive way. I’m always thinking of how I can bring the resources and build an understanding of what this community is really like so together we can change the narrative of what we’ve seen. So often, the stories that get told about our community are only built on issues like family separation and immigration. I want more for us. I want people to look at the great tapestry and culture of what and who we are.
I’ve built my own portfolio and professional path based on the need to advance El Paso and the Latino community. That has been a target that I’ve remained laser focused on for many years, and I don’t think that’s going to change. Marketing, communications, and PR let me create narratives and tell stories from my own point of view and expand our community’s reach.
I got my start early, and was even working on some political campaigns after high school. Early on in my professional career, I realized how big the potential is for impact. We have to make the power of the Latino community known. We are now 20 percent of the population, but still, nobody takes the time to really explore who we are. I thought, “Maybe I am that person.” I have the skills, and maybe I am the right one to tell these stories.
So that’s what I did. I worked with Organizing for America and helped with Obama’s 2008 campaign and his 2012 reelection efforts. I’ve also done Senate races and everything from local bond initiatives to the biggest elections, all with the idea of raising the Latino perspective. If I can impact the conversation in just one small way, then I’ve done something worthwhile with my time.
I’ve done various things over the years, and at every stop I’ve seen the same underrepresentation of Latinos in all areas of life. We are absent in so many areas where we need to be present to influence decisions and outcomes.
I encountered the LCDA about three years ago, and it was the perfect time for me to join in an official capacity. I’m a mother of two young children now, and that adds another layer of importance because if we don’t do this work now, if we don’t push for representation at the highest levels, we are doing a deep injustice to future Latinx generations.
We want to change the perception of Latinos and Latinas so it’s normal to see them in the boardroom. We simply have to work to normalize these things so when my kids get to that point, the doors are open wide for them.
I see my background playing into this role in many ways as we work to grow demand, grow supply, and raise awareness. Demand means we have conversations and serve as a resource for board placement. Supply means we get Latinos ready, and awareness is the work that I get to do in using my marketing and communications and public relations training to produce research and host events where I can raise the profiles of our members and our network.
My advice for Latinos out there is to bring your presence to whatever field you are in—if there are only a few of us, we have to give it our all. Our stories are rich and unique and valuable. And they are so important.