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By Trisha Prabhu

Me, thinking to myself late last week… “September 15th marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in the US! What a great opportunity to spotlight some incredible Latinx internet and technology leaders.”

Hi there, and welcome back to Ask Trish! I hope you’re all well and having a great week.

As I’m sure some of you know, last Friday, September 15th, marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month in the US. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of year to celebrate the many contributions Latinx individuals (the largest minority group in the US) have made to American society. Too often, these individuals are ignored or under-discussed, but during Hispanic Heritage Month, we all have a unique opportunity to shine a light on their work/efforts – and celebrate their influence. (We also have an opportunity to simply celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture – and its influence on the US!)

With that said, I thought I’d kick off Hispanic Heritage Month by spotlighting 3 incredible Latinx-identifying individuals that are leaders in the tech and internet worlds – and in this week’s post, that’s exactly what I do. Read on to get the scoop – and learn about these folks and their contributions. (Note, of course, that there are many more individuals I could highlight…and in that vein, I hope you use this post as a starting point to learn more about the Latinx community and its contributions to our tech and digital worlds.) With that said, let’s get into it:

First up is Nina Vaca, an Ecuadorian-American technology entrepreneur. Nina was born in Ecuador, the third of five children. After her father’s death, the family moved to Texas, in the US. She graduated from Texas State University in 1994 – and just 2 years later, in 1996, founded Pinnacle Group, a company that provides information technology solutions and services to industry leaders in everything from telecommunications to financial services. Today, Pinnacle is one of the fastest-growing women-owned businesses in the US #girlboss. In the 2010s, its gross revenue was in the billions of dollars! In 2014, then US President Barack Obama appointed Nina a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, tasked with supporting/growing entrepreneurship in the US and abroad. Vaca’s story is just one of many examples of the incredible success of Hispanic American technology entrepreneurs – many of whom, like Vaca, have built cutting-edge products or organizations!

Next is Sara Mora, a Costa Rican-American internet activist. Sara was born in Costa Rica and immigrated to the US when she was just 3. As an undocumented teenager, she joined the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – an initiative that aims to help undocumented individuals that came to the US as children. Unfortunately, soon after she joined the program, DACA became a political hot-spot – the subject of a lot of contention – and the issue of immigration in the US became stigmatized and polarized. Frustrated by these developments, Sara turned to the internet to take action. Today, on Instagram, Sara uses digital storytelling and her massive following (nearly 250K followers!) to explore the experience of being an undocumented person in the US – and to encourage and inspire younger generations to fight for immigrants’ rights. In doing so, Sara has become a powerful example of the way that the internet can amplify and support activists – young and old – and their voices. (Go give Sara a follow!)

Last but certainly not least is Luis Martínez, a Hondorun-American technologist who is fighting for equity and representation in the tech space. Luis was raised in Brooklyn, NY. In 2019, he launched “We Tha Plug,” an organization that aims to support tech entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented backgrounds. We Tha Plug’s initiatives aim to address these entrepreneurs’ specific needs; for instance, We Tha Plug offers members an entrepreneurship accelerator and access to an incredible global community of Pan African, Latinx, and other under-represented founders. Luis’s story and work is thus powerful in two ways: he himself is an accomplished Latinx entrepreneur; moreover, he has used his success and platform to uplift and empower many more entrepreneurs like him. In doing so, Luis is changing the face of tech and our digital world.

I hope you found this post an inspiring, interesting look at 3 incredible Latinx folks that are #crushingit in the tech and digital space! Spread the word about these individuals – both during and after Hispanic Heritage Month. I’m sure you’ll agree that they and their contributions deserve the spot-light – and our recognition – year-round.

Now, as always, before I wrap up, I want to encourage y’all to share any Internet-related questions, thoughts, or perspectives here. Your contribution just might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post! Not only do you get some helpful advice (and, in my humble opinion, an ~Oscar nomination-worthy~ Ask Trish video), our entire Ask Trish community benefits, too. Your decision to share a question might inspire someone with a question of their own to do the same! So, please – take just 30 seconds (no kidding, that’s really all the time it takes), and fill out the form. I can’t wait to hear from you! Thank you in advance for your fantastic contributions.

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

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