Back on the Road

Remembering a dear friend

By Jackie Puente

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As the holidays roll in and 2021 comes to a close, many of us will be fortunate to visit colleagues, friends, and family, again after a long separation. While the concept of virtual holidays and holiday parties seems strange, but no longer foreign, many of us will look forward to celebrating together safely.


A true extrovert, I have been eager to get back on the road with colleagues, partners, and friends. I jumped at the opportunity to make business trips this fall. First, a short trip to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Convention in Las Vegas, and then trips to New York for the League of United Latin American Citizens Women’s Conference and HACR Retreat. 


Firstly, I packed up to travel to the USHCC Convention. What a thrill to be out of the house! Las Vegas did a fabulous job making attendees feel safe. With more than 1,000 state and local Hispanic chambers, Hispanic business owners, and partners in person, and it was incredible to connect with local businesses and chambers from across the country. Several chambers were struggling before the pandemic, and this time was vital to transform programs, outreach, and services to respond to changes in the economy. I was heartened to hear how Chamber leaders leveraged Comcast programs like RISE for small business assistance, turned to Telemundo for trusted information, and promoted Comcast Internet Essentials to help customers and employees remain connected during the lockdown. 


In November, I travelled to New York for the LULAC Women’s Conference. Organizers pulled out all the stops to create a special space to uplift and empower women. The event was beautiful and well designed to give attendees peace of mind and health safety.


But to be honest, by the time I was in New York, I felt something other than an excitement. After many months of struggle to balance work-from-home and family during the pandemic, I was struck with emotion when I saw the live audience – nearly 500 women – in New York. I had to pause to thank the teachers and community leaders that made sacrifices to bring students back to school before I could return to my remarks.  After months of reading articles and statistics about women leaving the workplace, caretaking burdens, pay inequality, and homeschooling, I was grateful to see Comcast support this important event for Latinas.


But then the real gut punch came in November. I returned to New York for an event with HACR and realized how not all of our friends and partners would return to the circuit of conferences and special events.


As we approach this holiday season and come together, again, even so cautiously, let us all remember that for some, this holiday season comes during a time when many in our community are mourning hardships and losses. Hopefully reunification with our families and community can help us find the strength to get back to the work to advance our Hispanic community.

Ron Blackburn Moreno, the well-respected President & CEO of ASPIRA Association, recently passed and his absence at the Fall HACR Board Retreat and Dinner has been felt deeply across the Hispanic community. Ron served on the HACR Board of Directors representing ASPIRA for more than 27 years.


On a personal note, Ron was a mentor and dear friend. When I began my career many years ago, he gave me great professional advice and was always available to make an introduction, brainstorm, and educate young people about the history of Hispanic organizations in Washington, DC.  Ron was proud of his family, his heritage, and his advocacy for Latino youth. He had the humor and perspective to get through anything. As we toured many schools and community centers over the years meeting teachers and students, he taught the ultimate masterclass on grassroots advocacy and I will always be thankful.