My freshman year at Harvard, I attended the annual Latina Empowerment and Development (LEAD) Conference and was inspired, not only by the Latinas who spoke at the conference, but by the amazing students who had put the conference together. This past year being my sophomore year, I wanted to be a part of the team that created this amazing space for Latinas from all over, so I joined the team as the associate director of social media. Although planning the conference was quite different from just being an attendee, I was still able to enjoy it as much as anyone, and I want to share just how amazing it was.
So here are the 5 reasons I believe this year’s conference was amazing and why you should go next year.
1. The Speakers
Every year, LEAD has a few amazing keynote speakers that are Latinas who are beyond accomplished in their fields. This year I had the honor of hearing Julissa Reynoso, Marcela Davison Aviles, and none other than the amazing journalist, Maria Elena Salinas speak at the conference. Each of the speeches was incredibly inspirational, and having Maria Elena Salinas speaking during closing dinner was a great way to end the conference
2. The Workshops
I was able to attend a few of the workshops at LEAD including a monologue writing workshop with Paloma Valenzuela from La Gringa Loca Productions, and an entrepreneurship workshop with Leslie Valdes from Vive Cosmetics and Julissa Prado from Rizos Curls. The workshops were such a great way to interact with the guests and speakers, and to learn a few skills from other successful Latinas.
3. The Panels
The panels were probably my favorite parts of the programming. They included a media and entertainment panel, an education and academia panel, a business and finance panel, and more! I loved the range in fields the panels covered and I loved hearing each panelists’ stories on how they got to be where they are.
4. The Networking (aka Making Friends)
One of the best parts of any conference is the new people you meet. At LEAD, I met some of the most interesting and accomplished Latinas from different colleges. During the networking lunch, I was approached by so many people just wanting to connect and make friends, and it just made my heart so happy!
5. The Cultura
From the food, to the music, to the afterparty, LEAD aims to have our cultura as the center of it all. They had delicious food from different countries, performances by Harvard’s Mariachi Veritas, and other Latinx groups on campus teamed up with LEAD to host an after party that was one for the books! The playlist for the afterparty was a definite highlight!
If I have convinced you that LEAD is one of the most amazing conference you can attend then head on over to their website (harvardleadconference.org) to find out more and follow them on instagram (@harvardlatinas) for updates on LEAD 2020!
(Photography by Ela Chavez and Humberto Caballero)