As part of the Jefa Conversations series, I had the pleasure to chat with Patricia Diaz about her online platform and the inspiration behind her passionate commitment to the Latinx community. 

After years of struggling with finding her voice, she founded Latinos Empowered—an online platform dedicated to empowering Latinos in the US by providing information and resources on finance, careers, and health. She believes the Latino community has the power to change the current narrative and create positive change to thrive in this country.

Patricia Diaz has a B.S. in Finance and Economics and an M.S. in Finance. She’s a VP at Goldman Sachs in their finance division.

Can you share with us the inspiration behind Latinos Empowered?

Various moments in my life led up to an “aha” moment. When I was applying for scholarships, my high school counselor told me I wouldn’t be able to attend college because I was undocumented. And when I started my career at Goldman Sachs, I struggled with impostor syndrome because of the lack of representation in my industry. It’s hard navigating spaces where you don’t see anyone who looks like you.

Another key moment was when the previous administration was elected, I put my fears from the past aside and began thinking how I could best help the Latino community. But it wasn’t until the pandemic when I began leaning into my Latina identity and realized I was ready to tell my story in a way that empowers people.

Why do you think a platform like this is important, especially in this current political environment?

Our community has the power to change the narrative. We have the power to fight for justice and create positive change for our communities. But we often underestimate our power in this country. Maybe it’s because of how we’ve been treated. Until we realize our potential, not much will change, and things will stay the same.

Latinos Empowered focuses on three pillars: finance, careers, and health. Tell us more about why these pillars are critical to the success of Latinos in this country?

I believe power starts with information—these three pillars are key to building generational wealth, knowledge, and power. By focusing on finance, careers, and health, we can unlock our potential and be a driving force for change in this country. For example, many first-generation professionals lack resources to help them navigate the corporate world; this could directly impact getting promotions and critical projects that could catapult their careers.

Can you share with us what makes you feel more empowered?

I didn’t want to give the impression that I wasn’t grateful for the opportunities presented to me. Because of this, I felt as if I lost my voice. Advocating for myself and owning being “the only” in the room has given me power. I think they go hand in hand. When I started to voice what I deserve, I was able to keep my impostor syndrome at bay, which helped me progress in my career.

What do you think are some ways that Latinos can feel more empowered? Can you share with us five actionable steps Latinos can take?

1.Your community is your source of power: Latinos should view one another as assets rather than liabilities because that’s the only way our community will grow. There is a study that shows Latinos feel that mentoring other Latinos hinders their career growth. We need to ask ourselves why that is. We need the entire community to grow because one person can’t do it alone. We need to leverage one another by mentoring and sponsoring others. 

2.There is power in sharing your story: Sharing your story allows for growth within yourself and within the community. It creates the connection and authenticity we desperately need.

3.Using your voice to advocate for yourself and your community: Nobody will advocate for our community as much as we will. We know the struggle. We’ve seen it, we’ve lived, and we’ve felt the impact. We do need allies, but we need to be the stronger voice.

4.Own being the “only”: It can be frustrating to feel like you don’t belong in certain spaces or feel like an outsider. We need to use that energy to create change by challenging the status quo. We need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and do the hard work; otherwise, nothing will change.

5.Inform yourself of the issues: It’s easy to turn a blind eye to issues not affecting you directly, but we can’t make progress if we don’t unite and demand change. We are a driving force in this country, but we won’t progress if we don’t speak up.

What has been the most rewarding thing about this process for you?

I’ve enjoyed connecting with people who have similar backgrounds and experiences as I do. It has brought me so much joy. When I was younger I didn’t always feel like I was part of the Latino community. I grew up in a predominantly white state, and I know I would’ve benefitted from being around like-minded people. This is the community I’ve been longing for all these years.

What kind of impact do you want to make with Latinos Empowered? 

My main goal is to start a conversation. I want to bring issues to the forefront and ask some hard questions. I want all of us to ask ourselves, “Are we the problem?” I want others to feel they are not alone in this struggle and that there is a community of people banding together to create change. Also, one of my long-term goals is to provide a scholarship for first-generation Latinos who are undocumented.

What do you want the new generation of Latinos to know?

I want people to know that this current generation is working towards change. We are breaking cultural and generational barriers, so future generations don’t have to wonder if they belong in certain spaces. We want to normalize seeing Latinx in places of power and represented in all aspects of society because it’s long overdue.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and giving us something to think about. How can readers follow your work online?

You can follow Latinos Empowered on Instagram @Latinos.empowered.