LATISM’s LA Reception for the White House Connects Community

Jose Rico with Jes Sofia Valle
It’s been a while since I’ve attended a Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) event in Los Angeles. Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve attended any kind of function in downtown LA that didn’t include picket signs, marching, and chanting.

So when my friend Jes Sofia Valle (@jessofiavalle) invited me to attend the LATISM reception for the White House at the Biltmore Hotel on April 4, I couldn’t pass it up and brought bring my camera along to support the event she helped plan.

The reception was the night before the large White House Hispanic Community Action Summit which ended up with nearly 500 attendees.

It was great to see so many entrepreneurs, community leaders, online friends, and of course Jose Rico, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics at the reception. It was especially interesting that there were a good number of attendees who had little exposure to LATISM and the amazing work it has done. Because I was taking photos of the event, I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of new folks and be a LATISM ambassador. I’ve been active LATISM supporter and helped produce the LATISM co-sponsored CAUSE2012- Social Good Through Social Media conference in Santa Maria where we also had participation from the White House.

I met Linda Vasquez (@lindam_v) from the education support company New Futuro, finally met online friend and consultant Berenice Arzate-Marsh (@RenaissnceMujer), Dennis Stewart from the US Department of Agriculture, Nikki Castellanos from Coba, and featured guest Jose Rico (@JoseRico). I also met online friend Rachel Matos (@TheArtMuse), LATISM board member and reception co-sponsor Edgar Mejia (@edconexion) from Conexion, LATISM San Jose chapter president Hilda Ramirez (@HildaRamirez1), and Maria Ortiz from Inspira. It was also great to see SBDC consultant and non-profit CEO Matt Mora and his friend Veronica as well as Wendy Carrillo (@wendycarrillo, fellow unionist and radio talk show host.

Key Event Takeaways

  1. By encouraging active participation and being mission oriented, your organization can also be influential enough to draw interest from amazing groups like the White House. LATISM started with a single tweet and grew from there with a lot of hard work and a passionate network of supporters.
  2. Encourage offline as well as online participation. Having a free event at a nice hotel is a great way to connect new people with your organization. Your event doesn’t have to be at a fancy location, it can be a “tweetup” at a local restaurant or you can even meet up at a larger event like a conference. Take the leadership role and build your base of supporters.
  3. As an attendee, make sure to get outside your social circle and meet new people. In organizing, the one-on-one meeting is one of the most effective tools for building relationships. I used photography to cut through social circles and start conversations. I had several people ask me to take photos of them with my camera and with their cameras. Give people a chance to hear about your organization and cause.
  4. Get people’s business cards and follow up with them after the event. My primary social network is on Twitter so I made sure to tweet the folks I met at the event. It’s good to meet new people but it’s great to build lasting relationships.

I hope that the reception along with the summit helps bring in new LATISM supporters so that they can add to the richness of the network to effect social change. I also hope that the White House continues to work with LATISM to connect with communities across the country.

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I mentioned that I brought my camera along? Here are some photos from the event.