In the past few years, we have grappled with not one, not two, but an array of “once-in-a-lifetime” events. As I write this letter in the spring of 2022, the world is still reeling from the economic, social, and public health impacts of COVID-19. Yet even as we attempt to address that crisis, we must simultaneously reckon with rising global political tensions, a slowdown in the economy, the looming threat of both inflation and climate-related disasters, and ongoing uncertainty about the future of work.
Any one of these changes would be difficult to weather on their own. Together, they become a maelstrom.
That is not to say that this storm is unnavigable. As a community, we are coming together to address these challenges and adapt to the changes we seem to be encountering on a near monthly basis.
But some of us have taken it a step further. The disruptions we have experienced in recent years have emboldened many of us Latinos to chart a new path for ourselves: we have launched new business, changed careers, gone back to school, bought first homes, and started families.
Our Change for the Better issue is an opportunity to celebrate exactly those types of changes. More importantly, it is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the uniquely Latino qualities that enable our community to take action and reinvent in the face of adversity.
We Latinos come from a long line of changemakers. Whether it be our parents, our grandparents, or our great-great-grandparents, someone in our family, at some point, decided (or was forced) to leave their homeland in search of a better future. And their stories of monumental change have resonated in each one of us for generations.
Uprooting oneself is not the only kind of change we Latinos face, but it is the most common link connecting our community. Each one of us today, in some way or another, honors that legacy by championing the values that drove our elders and perhaps even ourselves forward.
And from talking to countless Latinos who share this common narrative, I note three such values. The first is conviction. At a time when many are losing faith in our systems, our institutions, and the very nature of the American Dream, leaders like Erik Cardenas can imagine a future worth fighting for—and start building toward it resolutely.
The second is character. Character, which provides the confidence-of-self necessary to tolerate discomfort, is what allowed Guest Editor Keith Hernandez to get back up after losing his father and start the business he had been dreaming of. Hernandez knew he might fail, knew he might not be able to make the impact he wanted, but he did it anyway.
The third, and perhaps more important, is courage. Without courage, Lisa Carrington Firmin may not have been able to stand up to the systems of power and speak out about her experiences as a survivor of military sexual harassment and trauma.
But at the core of conviction, character, and courage is the fuel that ties them all together: love. Our love for our families, our communities, and our countries—both the United States and the countries we have left behind.
That love of country is what inspired us to dedicate a special section of our Change for the Better issue to notable veteran executives. Bobby Herrera, Charlie Garcia, Michael Montelongo, and Lisa Carrington Firmin all enlisted in a career centered on change. They took a sacred oath to defend and preserve our freedom, and they paved the way for the next generation of Latino servicemen and women—now the fastest-growing population in the US military.
Those values—our higher ideals—are what gives us the strength to conquer the storm. But they are also what forces us to confront the fact that things cannot always remain as they are. And that is exactly the position we are in now.
The economic, social, political, and environmental crises we are facing are not going away overnight. And our communities are in need—in need of leaders who are willing to step up and make a better future.
You have read in the pages of this magazine and heard at our events that “there is no better time to be a Latino” because of our growing demographic numbers. Lately, I have been looking at it differently. Our innate values as Latinos—conviction, character, courage, and love for community—have primed us to lead. Our fractured society needs us, and that is both our opportunity and our honor. Let’s lead the way.