boss Chic

Delayed Destiny

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We have all been there. Waiting for the next opportunity, wondering why we are being turned down for that promotion again. We have all seen those perfectly crafted Instagram accounts telling us to market, sell, and brand ourselves. Pushing us to hustle, grind and get ahead. But what if we are trying to get ahead before we are destined to? There is something to be said about a delayed destiny. If I’m being honest, my destiny had been delayed requiring several leadership trainings and two master degrees with no promotion in sight. It was delayed but necessary. 

When I took a promotion a few years ago a good friend suggested I read the book titled Anonymous:Jesus’ Hidden Years…and Yours by Alicia Britt Chole. I had no idea what I was in store for, but man am I glad I did. In it, the Chole shares that “During these uncelebrated years, Jesus submitted to a seemingly delayed destiny. A God-sized mission pulsated in his heart, but he was too free to explain it, proclaim it, or actively pursue it.” That sums up my professional career. I had dreams, hopes and a plan for my future that required I wait. 

For many years I grew my skill set privately. I also knew I wasn’t yet ready to lead a team. I first needed to learn how to be a leader right where I was planted. That took time. Actually...it took years. Did I enjoy being in this delayed space? NOPE!  Alicia Britt Chole perfectly echoes this idea when she says, “we struggle if our dreams are delayed one year, let alone twenty!” For me, it was more like fifteen years! 

When young women early in their career ask me for advice on how to get a promoted, my response is always the same, stay humble, show up, be diligent and be willing to grow. Most importantly are you willing to be hidden while others lead? Hidden while you develop your craft? Are you willing to delay your destiny until the right time presents itself?

Are you willing to be hidden while others lead?

Are you willing to be hidden while others lead?

Today’s culture doesn’t teach us that promotion comes from God. I get it. We spend an exorbitant amount of time figuring out the secret to someone else's success. When you know that God is the one that promotes you, you become good with waiting. While you wait you should be intentional in developing your craft and failing epically. Yes, failure. I am convinced that facing failure and obstacles is the only way to grow into your purpose.

In the Bible, when believers were called to grow or lead, they were busy working in some seriously low-key jobs. David was shepherding and only when his father asked him to bring food to his brothers who were at war did he step into his calling…his promotion. Elisha was driving oxen, and Moses was taking care of his father-in-law’s animals. They authentically worked through grime, danger, and embarrassment, oftentimes overlooked and underappreciated by those around them. God saw them just like he see’s you. He eventually promoted them, when the time was right.

 My hidden years prepared me for this very moment. I vividly remember being in graduate school, taking the 12- month Adoption Competency Training, completing an additional leadership academy for 18 months all while working a full-time job and thinking to myself “How am I doing all of this?”

 My boss and mentor at the time had an idea of the areas I needed to grow in, and she made space for me to make that happen. While in your season of waiting do you have a strong mentor or two? That season was hard and sacrificial. It required much of me with very little recognition. Now I know it was all preparation.

 What those the hidden years taught me was to think through every decision. To seek advice from mentors, to pray and watch how others modeled leadership. The choices I make today reflect the choices I made during my delayed destiny.

 I would like to think that my prolonged obscurity kept me from becoming my own promoter. My Hidden years “empowered me to patiently trust God with my press release.” Hidden years teach you it's ok to keep quiet and not need the approval from those following your Instagram account when God releases you into your calling. It's ok to be hidden in your purpose for a season. It's ok to wait for that promotion.

 In January, God really moved me to put our adoption journey into a book. If I’m being honest, I didn’t feel ready. As I got close to the launch date I second-guessed myself every step of the way. “Who would want to read another story about adoption?” I would ask myself.  Or when the time came to move my family across the country to take “that job” He knew it was time to move. More so now than ever before I never want to lose sight of this important truth: God is the one who promotes us. 

I love this quote from Christine Cain which says, “Remember, if God has assigned you, he will find you. And he tends to work with those who are already working. When you align yourself with God in faithfulness and diligence, he will work on your behalf and open doors for you that no man can shut.” If you find yourself working hard but without any fame or acknowledgment, don’t be disheartened! You’re in a better place than you recognize. God is using your present to equip you for your future.

 

Jefa Series: Profiling Poderosa (Powerful) Latinas Pt.1

What is a Jefa?

The term Jefa refers to a “female boss or leader; a woman in charge.”  When thinking of the word Jefa I believe it means more. I believe the world has changed tremendously and definitions evolve over time. Jefa in todays world is to lead by transcending cultural expectations while being intentional about mentoring others, therefore making space for Latina’s everywhere to take on roles that weren’t created with us in mind. It’s in these spaces that we shine the brightest.

As we enter Hispanic Heritage Month, I started thinking of all the inspirational Latinas in my life who influence their community, shine in their career, and have conquered the obstacles that come with being Latina in a world that doesn’t always see our value. These brave chicas transcend theater, merge corporate and public sectors, and enhance the higher education experience as well as the judicial system. Their influence comes from a long line of brave mujeres who have left their country of origin to pave a new life in America. Their mothers were brave, and they have risen to the challenge to do the same.

How do I know this? These Jefas are beautiful and ponderosas (powerful). They have inspired a movement and they just so happen to be my family. I’m introducing real women, with real lives that are not always perfect. Women who were not buried but rather planted with deep roots. That’s why I admire them most of all. Their stories are of triumph in a world that sexualizes us rather than envisions us in the boardroom. These women have a story that’s rich, deep, and inspiring. Here is just a piece of their journey. For more about them, their movement, and vision I encourage you to follow their social media accounts. Shine bright ladies, shine bright! The following women exemplify the true Jefa spirit in more ways than one.

 Meet Clarybel

Clarybel Peguero is one of my favorite primas (cousin) and believe me I have many. Growing up we would spend summers together either in Washington Heights (NYC) or West Palm Beach FL. As an Afro Latina, Clarybel has always stood true to who she is. One thing I admire most about this Jefa is that she is unapologetically herself which allows her to shine in spaces where many of us would not.  Her strength has come from being raised by a single mother from the Dominican Republic who taught her to carve a life for herself in spaces where daughters of immigrants rarely enter. She did just that.  

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“A Jefa is not afraid of transformational change.”

In 2010, Clarybel joined the staff at Duke University where she now serves as the Senior Director for Volunteer Engagement.  In her role, she is responsible for overseeing the management of the “volunteer pipeline” which includes identifying, recruiting, and providing training and recognition of alumni volunteers. Clarybel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University and holds a Masters in Higher Education Administration from the University of South Carolina.  In 2014, she successfully defended her dissertation entitled “The re-conceptualization of historically white fraternities and sororities; the black students experience” earning her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Communications from Northeastern University.

When asked how she would define a Jefa, Clarybel shared that “about a year ago the President of Duke University, Richard Brodhead, was asked by alumni “What advice would you give a young person today?” and he answered with certainty and said , “it’s advice I would give anyone…. YOU MUST HAVE THE COURAGE TO LIVE.” Those words have had a profound effect on me. To me, Jefas must have the courage to live.

“For the past 9 years, I have worked at Duke University for 8 out those years I served as the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life.  Over a year ago, I accepted a new position at Duke and so today I am the Senior Director for Volunteer Engagement at the Duke Alumni Association.  I have been in the field of Higher Education for 20 plus years and have worked at some very prestigious institutions including American University, Johns Hopkins, Boston College, and UVA.  I have three degrees and I’m proud to say that in 2014, I successfully defended my dissertation where I critically examined racial issues within the Greek community. I am very proud of my professional accomplishments. However, being a true Jefa means knowing who you are and what you value.” She goes on to say ,”A Jefa is someone that believes in people and making sure everyone around her is achieving their best self possible. A jefa is not afriad of transformational change and is determined to be about self-betterment. A jefa knows to never dim her light. A true Jefa gives as much as she has taken from this world.”

Meet Helen  

Helen was one of my first childhood friends and is also my prima (cousin). We grew up in Washington Heights, NYC and over time she grew into a strong professional in the judicial arena. Helen earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Fordham University and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from John Jay College.  Early in her career she was a clerk for superior court while also teaching undergrad students in areas like politcal science and criminal justice. Once her kiddos have “worked on developing their dreams” she hopes to pursue her PhD.

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“Jefa’s do what they are supposed to do.”

Helen is not only a Jefa in the courthouse, but she runs a tight ship at “Hacienda Ramos,” where she and her husband raise 3 kids all under the age of 5. Did I mention her girls are twins!! When asked what it means to be a Jefa Helen shared that “over the past year, people constantly say to me I don’t know how you do it all. This question often comes because I have 3 kids, work full-time and have a deployed husband. My answer is and will always be, I am doing what I am supposed to do. Jefa’s do what they are supposed to do. I am not doing anything out of this world. Am I tired? Yes, with 3 kids under five I live a tired life. However, I have healthy, happy children. In addition, I am the healthiest I have been in years.” Helen recently took charge of her weight dropping over 30lbs.   

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When asked about her marriage Helen shared that “although we don’t have a perfect marriage our marriage is perfect for us.” Running an active tribe of while having a deployed husband Helen says “I tackle what each day brings and leave what has passed is in the past. I deal with the tomorrows when they need to be dealt with.” To learn more about her eating plan, exercise routine and the funny things her little girls say you can find Helen on her Instagram Page.

Meet Laura   

Laura is my little sis who just so happens to be a super creative chica. She is an actor and singer, but her biggest role at the moment is that of being a new mother to the cutest baby boy. In addition, she recently took on the role a Breastfeeding Counselor in Bronx, NY. She graduated from the Two-Year Conservatory at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting (NY) and has been fulfilling her acting career on both coasts. Laura is currently represented by Plaza 7 Talent Agency and Lil Angels Unlimited. For more information on her latest acting work, visit www.imdb.me/lauraguzman.  

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“A Jefa empowers other women because she knows that there is power in numbers.”

Laura Guzman

As an Afro-Latina actress Laura has often experienced type cast roles that do not always represent who she is ethnically. Being Afro-Latina is something she takes pride in and she hopes that as the new wave of Hollywood actors, directors, and produces take over that there will be space to have difficult conversations of how Latinas are diverse in the roles they can take on and their apperance. She hopes to change the narrative of what “typical” Latina roles look like.

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As if she’s not busy enough, Laura recently launched her new YouTube Channel where she shares thoughts about her career as an actor, motherhood, curly hair care, and her afro Latina experience. When asked what it means to be a Jefa, Laura notes that “una Jefa is a woman who is unafraid to go after her dreams. A woman who walks in her truth. She empowers other women because she knows that there is power in numbers and we can all win. She knows there are enough seats at the table for us all. She doesn’t compete with anyone but herself.” You can also follow Laura on her Instagram Page.  

Meet Jenny

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Jefas remain grounded.

Jenny Pichardo

One of the neat things about this series is that I am being intentional about promoting the many wonderful women in my life like my sister Jenny. We grew up listening to hip hop and making up dance routines to free style music. She is a trendsetter and inspires women everywhere she goes. Jenny has also found a away to change the narrative for teens in the community we grew up in by connecting the public and private sector to provide them a stellar education.

Jenny joined Inwood Academy for Leadership from the International Leadership Charter High School (ILCHS). At ILCHS she secured a $17.5M municipal bond financing for a new facility, becoming the first NYC charter school to secure funding through Build NYC. Prior to joining the charter community, Jenny worked in the financial sector for over 14 years. Currently, Jenny is the COO/CFO at Inwood Academy for Leadership in New York where she successfully completed a second bond financing for her Charter school.

She began her Wall Street career in 1997, working at Muriel Siebert & Co. Inc., in the firm’s retail division. In 1999, she joined Siebert Capital Markets, working directly with the managing director and assisting the sales force and traders with equity, fixed income and mutual fund trades. From 2001 to 2009, she was Vice President—promoted from AVP in 2005—of the Institutional Equity Sales and Trading Division and developed and managed institutional relationships at Utendahl Capital Partners, LLC. Jenny graduated Magna Cum Laude and received her BA in Economics from Lehman College. She previously held FINRA Series 7, 24, 55, 63, 65 and NY State Insurance Licenses. Jenny is a Washington Heights native and is married to Zoilo Pichardo. She is the mother of two children, Ethan and Abigail.

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Breaking ground for new Charter School she helped secure funding for.

When asked what being a Jefa means to her Jenny shared the following truth: “Being a Jefa is modeling for my team and peers to serve others well.  Its to place the needs of the stakeholders first. For me, those stakeholders are the students we serve every day.  Its mentoring students in the neighborhood I grew up in. Often times those kids resemble my siblings and I. That is motivation enough to keep going.

Jefa’s remain grounded and teach students that they can do it too. My goal is to lead like Jesus. I am not Jesus in many ways, but I can lead with grace and with an expectation of excellence. Lastly, I hold my team to high standards regardless of the positions because we are all impacting our students lives.”  With Jenny at the Helm it’s no surprise that the vision for Inwood Academy for Leadership is “Empowering students in Inwood and Washington Heights to become agents for change through community-focused leadership, character development, and college preparedness.”

Striding: The 5 things I learned at Harvard

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I had the honor to be given a sponsorship by Harvard Latina's to attend their Latinas Unida LEAD Conference. It was not only my 1st time at the conference but my first time at Harvard and needless to say I was extremely excited!! As an added bonus one of my dearest amiga, Melissa, joined me on this amazing journey. This experience changed my life and influenced my career forever. 

I wanted to take some time to share the top five things I learned while at Harvard. 

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Eliana Murillo delivering the Keynote

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I was impressed by the large representation of Latina's and their supporters in the room. 

  1. Be Rooted in Gratitude - Eliana Murillo does amazing work in fostering diversity in communities and business as the founder of Multicultural Marketing at Google. She uses her platform to advocate for minorities in the work place. Her advice was simple, "Always be rooted in gratitude." She shared that many of us in the room were the daughters of immigrants. Our parents gave up everything to give us the life we have here in America. We need to be grateful for the life and opportunities we have been afforded. She talked about how having a spirit of gratitude has kept her humble and reminded her that being thankful meant that we had to also fulfill ourselves outside of work. Being grateful means that we remember what all the sacrifice and hard work is for. To feel fulfilled in and out of work. 

  2. Network Across Not Just Up - I had the honor to meet Roxanna Sarimento the COO of We All Grow Latina Network. She was probably my favorite speaker of the entire event. A Dominicana of humble upbringing, her advice was powerful. She mentioned that often times professional Latinas are eager to network up believing that this will move them up the corporate ladder missing the benefit of networking across. When you network across, says Roxanna, people are more willing to work with and for you. Her palabras inspired particularly when she noted that those 'across networks' usually share in your vision which can take you further than you imagined. 

  3. Be Ambicultural - Roxanna shared that a big part of being successful in today's world is being Ambicultural. The word ambicultural is defined as “the ability to functionally transit between Latino cultures and the American, giving them a unique position in the consumer landscape." Roxanna mentioned that if 85% of Latinos identify as Latino-American, that means we naturally have developed the skill of navigating 2 worlds. To navigate today's professional landscape modern Latinos need to utilize this skill to their advantage. 

  4. Instead of Getting Mad Get Strategic - Susana G. Baumann was exceptional as she shared her insight. She not only shared her thoughts on branding, event launching and having a strong Latina circle she also shared that making mistakes is necessary to being successful. Susanna believes that instead of getting mad when you make a mistake, you should get strategic. She discussed how making mistakes is what builds your grit. She challenged us to explore if we were resilient or fearful. Her best quote was "learn to manage your fear...life is not linear."

  5. Be Diverse with your Network - I told you Roxanna was my favorite because her words reached my soul! Roxanna emphasized the importance of building a strong network that was broad. In other words, we need people in our network that not only believe in our vision and  inspire our growth but also that don't  look like.  Its important that our network come from many different backgrounds. Roxanna shared that although there is value in having other Latina's in your network, branching out and making real life long connections with those that don't look like us will help us grow into the leaders we are meant to be. 

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Melissa and I ready to for a night of good food and networking.

It was an honor to be in a room of women such as these. Above all, the focus was on finding what we are passionate about, knowing that our worth is not determined by our work and that standing in our purpose is just as important and helping others. My greatest take away is that the more I learn and grow in my craft, the more I pave the way for the Latinas that come after me.