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Inclusive Learning Lab: Sonido y Soul – Hispanic Heritage Month

  • Michael Tonge
  • October 03, 2022

NVE hosted its second installment of the Inclusive Learning Lab to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month. It was a tremendous and impactful conversation designed to dive deeper into intersectionality, cultural nuances, and turning passion points into careers. 

Throughout the year, our approach to D.E.I. has been centered around the theme of music. With this theme in mind, we introduced the Inclusive Learning Lab Sonido y Soul to discuss how music serves as the heart and soul of culture. The conversation was co-moderated by Michael Tonge (VP, Inclusive Marketing) and Jose Rene Bolaños (Production Coordinator, Content). 

“Being able to facilitate a conversation with such powerful individuals was not only inspiring but truly eye-opening.  An organic opportunity to learn about the journeys firsthand from diverse professionals that the Inclusive Marketing team admires is truly a privilege. Some of the highlights we covered included staying true to yourself, engaging directly with your audience, navigating rejection, and being inspired by your heritage. ” – Michael Tonge 

NVE got to hear from our wonderful panelists who are deeply ingrained in both their cultural roots, as well as in the work that they do in the music and entertainment industries. Our featured panelists were: Austin Millz (DJ and Producer), Alycia Pascual-Peña (Actress, Activist, Dancer), Briana Mendez (Sales Marketing Manager, Multicultural Audiences), Brittany Ortiz (Producer, Angie Martinez IRL Podcast), and Kendall Navedo (Associate Manager, Digital Innovation). 

Members of the audience appreciated and loved Briana’s message about language and its fluidity. When the moderators asked about the discussion between using the term LatinX and Lantino/a, Briana mentioned that “language is fluid and continuously grows. It represents progress, and how people relate to new words/terms is beautiful. We need to be mindful as marketers because nuances matter.”

The rest of the panel shared golden nuggets about various topics that related back to culture, community, and our professional careers. Kendall and Brittany went in-depth about facing rejection, battling imposter syndrome in the industry, and how championing diversity is an effort that requires persistence and intention. The audience loved when Austin said, “things started happening the way I wanted to because I started embracing all levels of my culture,” reminding us of the importance of intersectionality and showing up as our authentic selves. Similarly, Alycia shared her story of not being able to book acting roles for over a decade, but now she is seen and uplifted for who she is and the culture she represents. 

Our NVE community was grateful for this conversation and left feeling inspired and wanted to learn more about the resources shared during the panel.

“As a queer Latinx/Latino from the Southwest Side of Chicago, being part of a panel as a co-moderator with so many talented individuals was a highlight of my career. Having these discussions in a workplace is the first time I’m experiencing it, so it’s refreshing. Thank you to the panel, MT, Earica, Blue, Latisha, and NVE for this experience. I wish the conversation could continue, but it would go on for hours. Overall, let us keep having these conversations in and out of the workplace.” – Jose Rene Bolaños 

We look forward to continuing our Inclusive Learning Lab series and hopefully expanding to in-person experiences to further our community engagement efforts in a city near you. 

Sonido y Soul Panelists

Resources/Relevant Links:

Panelist Social Handles:

Michael Tonge
VP, Strategy & Head of Inclusive Marketing