Initially implemented as a week of remembrance under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the celebration of Hispanic Heritage now spans an entire month, from September 15th to October 15th. Enacted into law in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan, this 30-day period is a time to commemorate the accomplishments of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month this year, it is important to reflect on the challenges often presented to Hispanic Americans, so we may become a more understanding and appreciative community.
Recognizing the importance of unity within the workplace, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared its 2023 theme “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One.” Prioritizing coming together, this message references the labor disparities often experienced by those of Hispanic backgrounds. As the largest ethnic minority in the Nation, Hispanic Americans, with familial ties that trace back to Mexico, South America, Spain, and Central America, are still of the few when it comes to higher paying jobs and management positions, despite their presence in the workplace. Fortunately, the EEOC continues to prioritize its mission, reaching out to undocumented workers, domestic laborers, and workers whose first language isn’t English, in attempts to provide equal employment opportunities.
Although Hispanic and Latino communities continue to face unique struggles, it is just as important to tell the stories of those who’ve successfully navigated them. Sofia Vergara, a Colombian American personality largely known for her role on Modern Family, and Quenia Abreu, founder of the NY Women’s Chamber of Commerce, for instance, have gone on to accomplish much entrepreneurial achievement.
Sofia Vergara. While filming and appearing on multiple entertainment platforms, Vergara additionally designed her own clothing line for Kmart in 2011. Focusing on women’s athleisure, Vergara created a line that prioritized affordability and comfort for women of all sizes. Later that year, she was named the face of the beauty brand Covergirl. The advertisements appeared throughout 2012, establishing her as a representative of the brand.
In 2013, Vergara signed endorsement contracts with Diet Pepsi, Rooms to Go, and the medication Synthroid. Appearing in commercials for Diet Pepsi alongside soccer star David Beckham, she played a distinct role in their digital marketing campaign. Working alongside Rooms to Go, Vergara designed her own furniture line. She again put emphasis on affordability, wanting everyone to have access to trendy pieces and take pride in their homes.
In 2014, she released her first of many fragrances called Sofia. Vergara designed the perfume to mimic her personality and pay tribute to her homeland. This past year, Vergara launched the beauty brand, Toty, coined after her childhood nickname.
Quenia Abreu. Born in the Dominican Republic but raised in New York City, Quenia Abreu is the President and CEO of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce. A non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and empowering women in business, it was founded in 2002. With the help of community leaders as well as female business owners, the NYWCC became the first and only women’s chamber of commerce in the State of New York.
As Abreu wants the organization to be more than just a networking experience, the NYWCC provides assistance in business development, technical assistance, and guidance to women and minorities in need. The NYWCC has helped entrepreneurs access 15 million dollars in capital, and 30 million dollars in procurement contracts. Additionally, Abreu headed the establishment of the first Women and Minority Business Development Center in Manhattan. Since 2006, it has aided with business expansion and development, primarily to women of color located in Harlem.
In 2011, she received the Business Leader Award for establishing opportunities for immigrant workers, which was presented to her by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She also received the 2004 Bronx Women in Business Advocate of the Year Award, as well as the 2005 Entre Nosotras Award for exceptional leadership. Following the completion of her Bachelor of Science in International Trade and Marketing from Fashion Institute of Technology, Abreu pursued higher education in executive leadership at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
In sharing these success stories, The Coppola Firm not only celebrates the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans, but we honor them for their contributions as leaders and entrepreneurs. By doing so, we provide a platform to swap stories to promote even greater successes down the line. Commemorating the stories of those who navigated obstacles often presented due to their cultural identity, we gain an opportunity to understand their unique experiences and advocate for their voice.