If you had to plan a dinner party for a group of successful Collin County business people, the crowd of creators and collaborators at Thursday’s ¡EXITOS! kickoff would be at the top of your invite list. Housed at The Garage at Capitol One, the event previewed the January 31 ¡EXITOS! Success Summit, a celebration of Hispanic and Latinx leaders in Collin County. Dozens of realtors, entrepreneurs, publishers, tycoons and titans of industry united to talk about their work, their goals and the challenges they face as men and women of color in business.
“I think it is critical that we all come together like this,” said Cecila Bella, a designer with the clothing designer KOCH. “We don’t get to do it enough, and when you get people like this together, there’s no telling what might happen.”
Bella arrived at the party with friend Raquel Nelson, a marketing professional with the Glassdoor-esque company Kanarys. Kanarys allows employees to submit reviews of their workplace that remark on how well–or how poorly–the company embraces men and women of color. But as essential as her work is, Nelson and Bella were more curious in learning about the professions of others at the party.
“There’s a little bit of everything here, and that just shows how we’re greatly represented in this community,” Bella said.
She wasn’t wrong. At the table next to hers, realtor Angela McCants with Dave Perry-Miller chatted with Diana Nelson, a publisher with DFWChild Special Needs magazine. After a few minutes of conversation, McCants and Nelson were joined by Carey Farmer, a private banker with Bank of America. The group’s conversation was wide-ranging, covering everything from their families, to real estate and the high quality of the event’s catering. None of the trio had met before, but they all talked like old friends swapping life updates over post-dinner drinks.
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“How many times has this been done before?,” Nelson asked, clearly wondering how she had missed out on the fun of previous ¡EXITOS! parties. Upon learning that this was the inaugural event, Nelson beamed.
“Well, put me on the list for next year!”
Elsewhere in The Garage, business veterans and Collin County newcomers milled about the expansive venue, talking to upcoming ¡EXITOS! Honorees like Javier Moreno a senior consultant with Toyota Financial Services. He is one of five successful Hispanic and Latinx businesspeople who will be speaking at ¡EXITOS! on January 31, where attendees will enjoy cocktails, networking and a panel discussion. Yet even with the presence of revered business pros like Moreno and Alejandra Gonzalez of Brinker International, the vibe of the event was one of equality. Like ¡EXITOS!, Thursday’s kickoff recognized the companies doing the hard work of cultivating diverse, safe and inclusive spaces in their corporations, and the people who make that happen.
Cue cards provided at check-in prompted event attendees to ask their fellow businesspeople questions about race and equality in the workplace, but the attendees appeared to need no additional prompting. While publishers like Nelson got the chance to talk about being a mother and woman of color at work, professionals like Bella got to meet men and women of color with whom she would otherwise have never chatted.
“That’s what makes me so excited about events like tonight,” Bella said. “We’re all wondering if the hard work we do gets seen, if we have people we can talk to about race in the workplace. Tonight shows that we don’t have to wonder anymore.”
¡EXITOS! Success Summit will take place Friday, January 31, 2020 from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM (CST) at Frisco Hall Tickets can be purchased here.