I’ll never forget one of the first external events I attended as a new Community and Social Impact Director with American Family Insurance. It was the annual Latino Chamber of Commerce Gala in Madison, WI held three years ago at the Monona Terrace. An AmFam Latina colleague approached me from across the room and said, “I’m so glad to see you here.” I smiled and replied to her light heartedly, “I’m so glad to see you here, too!” And we celebrated and danced the night away in honor of the many contributions from our Hispanic-Latinx community.

It wasn’t until my first leadership conference at American Family that I finally understood the meaning of why she said, “I’m so glad to see you here.” As I entered the room, I scanned the crowd, eager to make eye contact with someone I could approach to form a new work-friend relationship with. I met many wonderful people that day. Yet by the end of it, I realized that I had not met one other Latina leader among the hundreds of people who were present. Even amidst my excitement and enthusiasm to embark on this new career, my heart sank just a little bit as I wondered, once again, as I had through many life experiences:

Am I the “only one”?

Is this the right room?

Do I belong here?


When someone makes a promise, it’s a commitment. It’s their truth, their accountability.

It demonstrates integrity when someone makes a promise and follows through.

——–Leana Nakielski, Diversity and Inclusion Director, Office of Community and Social Impact

Over the course of that first year, I would have open and honest conversations with various colleagues and leaders about these thoughts. I learned that we were, in general, underrepresented in our Hispanic-Latinx talent. Given the primarily White demographic makeup of Madison where American Family Insurance is based, it was not a huge surprise. Yet for us to be so sorely underrepresented at the leadership level…I knew things had to change.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

And, soon enough, change would come.

The more I openly spoke about this and made connections with other Hispanic colleagues, and the more I heard our leaders talking about inclusive excellence, the more I saw actions following intentions and promotions following promises.

Meanwhile, that other Latina colleague I mentioned earlier, the one I met at the Latino Chamber Gala…well, we formed an affinity group for Latinas called Conexiones -in English, this means “Connections.” Our intent was, and remains, to offer an inclusive space for women who identify as Hispanic/Latina/Latinx/Chicana/etc. to connect and share stories of triumph and defeat. To uplift one another, to mentor one another, and to truly connect with one another in a way that runs deeper and is founded upon a shared cultural experience and connection.

Fast forward to now, and American Family Insurance has made advancements on many fronts:

  • We launched the Hispanic-Latinx Business Resource Group
  • We created an Enterprise Hispanic Market Strategy
  • We formed bilingual teams through El Centro
  • We celebrated and acknowledged the great contributions from our Hispanic and Latinx agencies
  • We added an extraordinary Latina to our Board of Directors, Rosie Rios
  • We prioritized our people strategy with an enterprise goal of increasing our racial and ethnic diversity by 50% by 2024
  • We sponsored the national Hispanic Leadership Summit in NYC in 2021, and,
  • We signed The Hispanic Promise, a pledge to hire, promote, retain and celebrate Hispanics in the workplace and in our community.

Seeing this action from so many colleagues and executives was very reassuring. My thoughts evolved from questioning my belonging to feelings of support, empowerment, and of being heard and validated. It gave me confidence that not only is there a desire for change, but our leaders were taking action, too.

Inaugural HLX BRG Leadership Team

Justin Cruz (Co-Sponsor), Cesar Pinzon (Co-Sponsor), Leana Nakielski (Lead), Cassie Gallagher (Co-Lead), Olivia Calvo (Membership Lead), Peter Alcauter (Admin/Ops Lead), Victor Carrera (Admin/Ops Co-Lead), Maritza Contreras (Event Lead), Maria Salazar (Event Co-Lead), Cesar Morales (Community Engagement Liaison)

Not pictured: Rosemary Delgadillo (Communications Lead), Vanessa Hake (Membership Co-Lead), Martha Mazariegos (Communications Co-Lead)

When someone makes a promise, it’s a commitment. It’s their truth, their accountability.

It demonstrates integrity when someone makes a promise and follows through.

But don’t get me wrong, we still have work to do. Yes, there are more Hispanic-Latinx leaders now than there were three years ago and that reflects progress.

However, we have yet to fully recognize and tap into the $2.7 Trillion economic output from U.S. Latinos or the talent that comes with Latinos accounting for 68.2% of growth in the U.S. labor force participation as shared in the 2021 Latino Donor Collaborative U.S. Latino GDP Report.

We must continue to learn, evolve, and take meaningful action to understand the communities we want to serve. We can only do that if we are those communities, if we represent those communities. The more you have people from different backgrounds and their different experiences coming together to work on solving a problem, the better ideas are going to be brought out.

American Family Insurance has a legacy to build upon. Over 90 years of helping people when they need it most. To expect another 90 years of growth and prosperity means to understand and continue meeting those needs.

There’s a well-known phrase in Spanish that captures the essence of togetherness towards progress, Si Se Puede. It translates to, “Yes, we can” or “Yes, it can be done” among many other iterations relating to leveraging the power of an individual and collective to drive change, a motto coined by Cesar Chavez in the organizing of the United Farm Workers during the 1970s. This is a relevant phrase that holds true for our own efforts towards achieving our commitment to the Hispanic Promise.

When there’s a desire for change, we will change, and step by step, we’ll march forward, together. Si Se Puede.

We are #AmFamilia and we will take action on an individual and collective level to achieve our commitment to the Hispanic Promise. Si Se Puede.

Our commitment to the Hispanic Promise is one more way we uphold our mission to inspire, protect, and restore dreams. Si Se Puede.

I am proud of what we have accomplished these last several years, and optimistic about our future because I now know that I am not the only one. There are many, many people working together to ensure American Family continues to be the most trusted and valued customer-driven insurance company for all people, including my beloved Hispanic-Latinx community because only together, Si Se Puede.



American Family Insurance sponsored the annual Hispanic Leadership Summit in NYC hosted by the We Are All Human organization, the same organization that organized The Hispanic Promise.

Cesar Pinzon, Beth Corso, Crystal Files, Cesar Morales, Sherina Smith, Rosemary Delgadillo, Justin Cruz