As you may know I was on the organizing committee for the LATISM’11 Conference this year. Working from the inside gave me a unique perspective which, despite the difficulties, I would not change for the world. My poor husband saw me slowly transition from wife and mother with a project to a consumed woman and mother who occasionally made him dinner. The machine that is known as Casa Dieppa in the last couple of weeks before the conference was in crazy mode, and he found himself stepping in to make up the slack. When Frick and Frack met Reina (@Soylamar) Frick said, “I’ve heard you say that name a lot on the phone” and when we were looking and some of the fantastic pictures and videos many other directors and attendees have posted, Frick excitedly pointed at the people she knew in the pictures, Ana (@AnaRC), myself, papa and even my mom who attended the Gala (ella nunca se pierde una fiesta! she never misses a party!) and what a party it was!
For those of you who don’t know about Latinos In Social Media, or as we lovingly call it #LATISM, it is a volunteer based organization that started two years ago with a tweet and has grown into chapters around the country, a sustainable development program in Montecristo, Dominican Republic, a relationship with the White House, Latino2 (our tech conference), and most recently the LATISM National Conference this past week in Chicago.
As a volunteer based non-profit, we were wowed when so many great sponsors expressed their interest, put their dollars on the table and – more importantly – put together unique experiences with the LATISM community in mind. There was an incredible amount of attention to detail put forth to ensure that our conference and community needs were being met in a manner that’s consistent with the LATISM mission of educating and empowering our community. Take for example the Sears/Kmart opening reception “Noche Buena, Cartera Llena“. A delightful way to kick off the conference with tastes and sounds from around Latin America.
And the sounds of Latina America followed us throughout the conference thanks to SoundCulture who provided all of the live bands that greeted us for every meal.
Then there were the wonderfully appointed suites, which I hope everyone had a moment to visit – PBS kids partnered with us and brought their new bilingual “Virtual PreK” program which was developed in conjunction with the Chicago Public School system, and a tool I will use at home since no one will accept a 3yo in preK.
Johnson & Johnson, a long time supporter of LATISM, from the sustainable development project in Montecristi to LATISM’11 where they brought information about their Text4Baby program as well as interviewing Ana and other LATISM directors in their suite throughout the conference.
And I know many, many of you had a moment to recharge, play and chat in our Wifi lounge, sponsored by Nintendo. This groovy space was perfect for recharging your laptop, phone, tummy (there were snacks) and mind (hello, we’re talking gaming people!) as a proud member of the WiiFamilia I was happy to have them at LATISM’11 and know you were too. The only time there was an empty seat in the suite was during the breakout sessions!
In between the suites, breakout sessions and days of running from break out sessions to the ballroom to handle catering details and run-of-show, there were the cafecito breaks. Sears and Kmart were kind enough to provide us with delicious snacks, espressos, cappuccinos and lattes – que rico! I don’t know what I would’ve done without that special touch to get through those long and amazing days.
The sponsors gave LATISM’11 cache. As you walked in, you knew that you were dealing with an organization that meant business, not as a friend put it, a meeting de las comadres. We had large corporations, like McDonalds hosting breakfast, Google+ (how cutting edge Latino’s In Social Media is that?!) giving Google+ workshops and teaching us about the new business pages, Cricket mobile had their @MiCricket team there providing us a fun-filled dessert break with music from their Cricket phone – yes, that was a phone that we were Muving to!
Let’s not forget the amazing awards gala, and the generosity of Toyota, that not only brought us a lovely evening, their Corporate Communications Specialist, Javier Moreno (@Javi_NYC) and two gorgeous Camry’s which were displayed in the ballroom (I don’t know why I get a kick out of cars when they are inside), but they also brought a fleet of cars! Many delegates also got to test drive the Prius and Camry during the conference thanks to @jeanmanolo.
And last, but certainly not least, Amway brought their makeup line Artistry. After listening to the incredibly inspirational and moving closing keynote by Tony Melendez con bocas abiertas (thanks @latinorebels for this clip), many of us were crying from exhaustion, happiness, euphoria, and epiphanies as we digested this amazing persons life.
Then as we composed ourselves and began the last dance of LATISM’11 we were able to have our makeup touched up (or in my case put on) by the Artistry makeup artists.
The glam was back, the cocktails were served, la tribu de LATISM was ready to go out with a baile! And baile there was!
Overall the conference was amazing, at one point I was telling @TonyHTonyH that it was like “meeting old friends for the first time” which is something that only social media can do. Instead of waiting for introductions and the right moment, it was all besos y abrazos as we shared handles, retold online jokes IRL and shared new jokes (#JSS)!
But it’s not all about branding, there were many other sponsors that helped in so many other ways, from design to media and scholarships, we received an overwhelming response from the business community. So mi gente, what does that tell us? That we should keep on doing what we’re doing, having honest conversations online during our Twitter parties and then taking those ideas offline through our chapters, our volunteering and collaborations to then all meet in Houston next year for LATISM12!! And let’s never forget que sin trabajo y negocio no hay fiesta, without business and hard work, there won’t be a party, so GRACIAS to everyone who made LATISM’11 possible, the sponsors, the community, my husband and YOU!!