Back row L-R: Leslie Ruiz, Niurka Valle, Conchita Merino, Nitza Mercado, Michelle Connett-Bergstein, Rosa Martinez, Katherine Marulanda
Front row L-R: Eunice Espinosa, Ashleigh Aviles, Zuiry Gaytan, Jean Cubilette, Christiane Delgado, Vedsaida Lorenzo, Katherine Vargas, Rossmary Cabral
Ashleigh Aviles, Senior Project Manager
Michelle Connett-Bergstein, Senior Graphic Designer
Christiane Delgado, Project Manager of Health Events
Photography by Claudia Maguffee, Latino Connection
Why did you decide to go into your profession?
Ashleigh: I had been searching for an opportunity to do more community-focused work that would be in line with my degree in public relations. Choosing to work at a small business, I knew I would be able to see the road to building a business up. I believe Latino Connection is truly a brand that genuinely cares about the lives we touch every day. It is not just a marketing company. This is a company dedicated to improving the quality of life for families in Pennsylvania. Knowing that we are making a difference is what motivates me to continue developing in my profession and searching for more ways to bridge the gaps.
Michelle: I was looking to be in a role that would allow me to learn more about different things and help others broadcast their messages and ideas while being able to create! I was captivated by the idea of communicating and reaching a variety of different audiences with visual impact, especially when it comes to encouraging positive change in communities, our environment and beyond.
Christiane: It was a responsibility to not only my mother and myself, but to my nieces and nephew. Bringing health equity and promoting diversity and inclusion in central Pennsylvania would guarantee that my nieces and nephew would grow up in an area where they would not only feel welcome but experience success in their lives.
What makes your approach to your job different or unique?
We’ve learned to approach our work by first considering the perspectives of our stakeholders. We have a dual approach: to help organizations reach the number-one growing demographic in the country and to connect communities to resources that will help improve their wellbeing and their families. Therefore, when we approach a project or initiative, we first need to consider the values of all those involved and how it would be mutually beneficial to both the client and the audience.
Our varying life experiences, bicultural upbringings and struggles define and inspire us to view and solve problems in ways that separate us from other firms in the area. We approach our work that aims to improve lives in underserved communities with great empathy, determination and attention to detail.
What’s the most fun or gratifying part of what you do?
The most gratifying part of the job is seeing our work positively impact communities. The look of happiness and relief on the faces of community members who have been connected to multiple resources they need or have been educated on how to live a healthier life reminds us of the importance of our work. Our projects and initiatives are aimed to address the social determinants of health that exist for many people throughout the United States..
Visiting 50-plus cities with our mobile wellness units and providing wellness activities and resources have shown us firsthand the need and the barriers that exist for disadvantaged Latino families. We are grateful to be able to have authentic interactions with people where they live, to hear their appreciation for our presence and services, and to know we are making a difference in their lives.
Our annual, statewide Latino Health Summit gathers hundreds of health care professionals who directly and indirectly affect the public health of the Latino community. The conference has grown to welcome over 1,200 decision-makers and community members from all over Pennsylvania and beyond. This event is our largest and truly allows us to be proud of our energy and work, knowing we are helping organizations understand how to effectively reach these populations and the ways and reasons why they should be doing so.
Our nontraditional work environment allows us to be inventive and think outside the box. We have fun incorporating our own experiences and using our own skills and talents to create bold, in-your-face messaging, engagements and initiatives. Working at a small business has allowed us invaluable exposure into the details of growing a business and the tremendous opportunity to build a brand.
Our team is colorful, lively, diverse and enthusiastic! We are consistently improving, expanding and learning from one another. A day at the office is never the same as the next or the one before. We are always everywhere at once, getting the job done and we wouldn’t have it any other way!