It seems like ages since I first interacted with the Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media handle on Twitter six years ago. Since then, many things have changed and some remain the same, like the inspiration and empowerment I experiment each year during the annual conference. However, LATISM16 proved to be a totally different experience for me, the conference that will go down as my most personal, professionally successful and overall most fulfilling of all.
As it usually happens in life, this didn’t happen by accident, I actually had envisioned most of it a year before as I walked the Coronado Springs conference area and viewed the rooms with Ana Roca in November 2015. I was so excited that LATISM16 was going to be held at Disney, and at that very moment I decided I had to bring my family with me to the conference; this would be a first for them as I often travel solo for these types of events.
Keeping this decision a secret wasn’t easy as I felt like a little girl who knew she was going to Disney with her favorite people in the world; but I kept it together and planned every practical detail, and imagined my kids entering Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and meeting my LATISM familia. Fast forward to two weeks ago when we boarded the plane headed to Orlando and all that happened afterwards was even better than my vision; an experience I will never forget.
There are so many things I could share about the time we spent there, but that would be a very long post. Instead, I decided to pick my 7 favorite things about all that I experienced at LATISM16. These are my top picks, so they are listed with no particular order. I know I will be writing a couple more posts about the conference and the important topics that were discussed, but right now I can just tell you what I enjoyed the most so you can share my excitement and pride.
My Favorite Things About LATISM16
- Being in my element, speaking in front of my family. This was really the moment I dreamed of, what I envisioned when I decided that I would bring my family to LATISM16 in Orlando. Having my family, especially my children, there in the audience to watch me do what I love to do, and something they never get to see, because they are home when I travel. I wanted my kids to know that when mami travels for work, this is what she does. More than that, I wanted them to see me doing what I love, being empowered and be that role model of a strong woman I want them to know. It was great to share the stage with dear friends who are amazing speakers and influencers: Diana Limongi Gabrielle, Elyssa Fernandez and Juan Alanis. This was by far, my favorite moment of all. I know I will continue to travel for conferences on my own, and I hope I get to bring them with me at another time, but this one, the first, I will treasure dearly in my heart.
- Having my niece win the LATISM16 STEAM Fair for her art. This girl is not only my niece, I love her as my own daughter and had the privilege to be in the room the day she was born. She has amazing artistic skills and worked on her drawings to present for the fair. When I decided to take my family, I had her in mind for the STEAM Fair, and turns out, not only she participated, but also was one of the winners. I was so happy and proud to see her talk to the judges and present her work, as well as to hear her name as the winner for her category. This was simply priceless.
- Doing a second panel about my book La Familia Cool. Although having the opportunity to present in one panel was already awesome, that same day I had the chance to join a second one. I was happy to sit in with fellow authors and influencers about going from being a blogger to becoming a published author. We had a great audience and there were valuable interactions for everyone in the room; not only we had knowledge to offer, they also gave us great insights and it was truly motivating. Very grateful to Teresa Garza, Elisha Fernandez and Vianney Rodriguez who were awesome panelists, it was a dream to be on stage with them.
- Meeting, and having my daughter meet, Elena of Avalor. Yes, you read it, meeting the new Latina princess was a LATISM16 highlight for me. Having my daughter meet her and get her picture taken with her, thanks to my blogger friends Meryland Cuevas and Milly Diaz who were generous enough to share their turn in the line with her, was really awesome. Having my little girl meet a princess, that is also a Latina, was very special for someone like me. I know how important diverse characters are, and as a person who does this work, providing my daughter with this unique opportunity was beyond amazing.
- Having Johnson & Johnson as my sponsor again. I’ve been fortunate enough to get invited as a Top Influencer for LATISM since the first year the summit was created in 2012. This year, for the third time since then, Johnson & Johnson was my sponsor. I have partnered with JNJ since I started my blog La Familia Cool in 2010, and have been fortunate enough to be their ambassador for a few years and the pleasure of having them as a sponsor for LATISM as well. I was thrilled to have them again this year as they increased their commitment to diversity and raising awareness about unconscious bias to better their practices and train their personnel worldwide. I’ll tell you more about that in my next post!
- Seeing my amigas, and having my family meet them. For us who work behind a screen, usually from home, human interactions are scarce. We’ve made great friends over the years, but can only see them in person for one to three days during events like LATISM16. The women from my LATISM familia are truly special, we share a common bond and talk often, messenger mostly, and feel like we know our kids and families as if we were neighbors. I’ve been wanting to have them in the same room with my kiddos, my husband and my mom for the longest time, and this October that came true. It is hard to explain the vibe at LATISM, but if you been to the conference you know of the hermandad and camaradería, and having my children experience that was just perfection.
- My girls bonding with the WhollyArt girls. If you know Elyssa & Elisha, Elayna Fernandez’ daughters, you can imagine how I really wanted to have them meet my daughter and niece. Not only they met, but they had pajama parties in the hotel room, were inseparable during the 3 days we were there. It is always a great feeling when you can have surround your children with beautiful, smart and kind kids that are great models of positive thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and generosity. Thank you girls, my Abi totally LOVED you both, and so did Samantha!