4 minute read

Celebrating National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month 2022

In honor of National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, we talk to four team members to learn more about their roles at Trust & Will, family traditions, and more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins each year on Sept. 15, honors the long and important presence of Hispanic and Latinx peoples in the United States. 

Trust & Will is committed to building a culture that is inclusive of individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. We want to build teams that are as diverse as our members and the world we live in, with a broad representation of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, backgrounds, and perspectives — among many other dimensions of diversity.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating by spotlighting a few of our very own talented Latinx team members: 

  • Andres Mazabel, Head of Advisor Sales from Bogotá, Colombia 

  • Byron Batres, General Manager of Probate from Guatemala City, Guatemala

  • Misty Mittelman, Head of People from Los Angeles, CA

  • Laura Gordillo, Social Media Manager from Havana, Cuba

Continue reading to learn more about them, their roles here, and their family’s rich heritage. 

What’s your family’s country of origin? Have you traveled there? If so, when was your last trip?

Andres:

“I was 12 years old when we immigrated from Colombia to San Diego. I travel back to visit family almost every year and am reminded how important my culture and family is to me.”

Byron:

"Yes! Guatemala– as a kid I would go every year. I was just in Guatemala in August of this year for an amazing family trip."

Misty:

"Various parts of Mexico (including areas in New Mexico and Texas that were once part of Mexico) and parts of Spain. I have been to New Mexico and Texas where many family members still live. I hope to visit more areas of Mexico and one day go to Spain, though I don't have immediate family living in these countries."

Laura:

"I was born in Havana, Cuba. I have traveled there! I went in 2011 and 2013 to visit family and friends who still live there."

What does Hispanic or Latinx heritage mean to you and how has your heritage shaped who you are today?

Andres:

"My parents left everything they knew to provide my brothers and I with an opportunity to have a brighter future. It's taught me that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. I have immense compassion for immigrants who come to this country, willing to give up everything for the opportunity to work hard and build a better life."

Byron:

"Growing up, I was always an 'outsider.' My Mom only spoke Spanish and my dad traveled a lot, so we stood out. As a young kid, I had to be the one to complain for her if she didn't like her food (she was picky eater) when we ate out. At parent teacher conferences, I had to be my own parent at times. I think this developed my 'fight' attitude and to stand up for what I think is right."

Laura:

"My parents risked so much to bring my sister and me to America. They wanted us to get a great education and just be free to be whoever we want to be. They truly believed in the American Dream and worked so hard to make it a reality for our family. This has shaped me into becoming a hard worker and has taught me to never be scared to go for my dreams. Everything my sister and I do is to make them proud and let them know their sacrifices were worth it."

What is a fun fact about yourself as it relates to your heritage?

Andres:

"When was 10 years old, I would beg my parents for salsa dancing parties for my birthday."

Byron:

"I LOVE winter, which is not normal for a Guatemalan. I am the self-proclaimed 'World's Greatest Guatemalan Ice Climber.'"

Laura:

"I'm probably the only Cuban in the world who doesn't drink coffee and doesn't like frijoles negros."

What is one of your favorite cultural traditions that your family celebrates?

Andres:

“Novenas! During Christmas time, we get together with family and friends for almost 9 consecutive days prior to Christmas Eve to celebrate the holidays– friends and family will host each other for dinner, drinks, and dancing."

Byron:

"I think my favorite is 'El Dia De Los Reyes Magos' (The Three Kings Day). After Christmas, on January 6th, you have a party and you make this special sweet bread called Rosca. There is a tiny doll in it and whoever gets that slice hosts the party next year."

Misty:

"Making tamales together as a family around Christmas time. We make everything but the masa from scratch. The house is filled with delicious smells, music, laughter, and everyone, of all ages, pitches in. We will make at least 12 - 13 dozen to split between our growing families. Even though we freeze some, keeping them too long into the New Year is hard."

Laura:

"Music is such an important part of our Cuban culture. Any celebration is a reason to party and that party will always have great music! But even in every day life, I remember so vividly my mom waking us up with music every Saturday and Sunday morning. Now, it's such a joy seeing how much my son loves music and dancing!"

In your opinion, what challenges exist for Hispanic or Latinx Americans today?

Andres:

"There are stereotypes that still exist for Hispanics and Latinx Americans today. We are rewriting that story, but there are still many challenges that exist."

Byron:

"I think the hardest thing is fully embracing the duality of being from from a place that was so exploited by the US and yet enjoying the benefits of American prosperity."

What are some of the things you love most about your Hispanic or Latinx heritage?

Andres:

"I am so proud of Hispanic culture– how we love family, dancing, and helping others."

Byron:

"The Mayan history and lore has always been so fascinating to me. That so long ago with no 'beasts of burden' the Mayan's could build such enormous buildings and cities– and we still don't know why they abandoned them. Overall, when I think about being Hispanic, I think about the lively and warm culture. Everyone is loud and fun with a super strong emphasis on family."

Laura:

"I love how important family is to our community. Family is everything and everyone is family! Our friends and their families, our neighbors, even our mailman have become part of our family! We love hard and make sure everyone around us feels appreciated."

Do you have any favorite Hispanic or Latinx artists? Music, art, authors, directors, content creators, etc.

Andres:

“Carlos Vives + J Balvin” 

Byron:

"As a Kid I loved Menudo!"

Misty:

  1. "Shea Serrano. I've followed his work since he was a writer and podcaster on Grantland and The Ringer. He is an author and now a show runner for an upcoming series, Primo. Shea Serrano is an example, like many, of bringing up people from your community along with your success.

  2. A friend and former colleague, Alex Zaragoza, is a tv writer for Primo and another show Lopez vs Lopez, and a journalist. Alex is a leader for creative unions and speaks from the heart and humor. I love reading all her work and can't wait to see what Alex has in store next."

Laura:

Selena and Gloria Estefan all day, every day!

What is something you wish others knew about Hispanic or Latinx heritage?

Byron:

"It's complicated...I love being Hispanic and the history and culture of Guatemala. I am so thankful for being in the US and all the opportunity that brings. However, it is HARD being an immigrant. I wish people really knew the history and involvement of the US in Latin America. Even after being here in the US for so long, it's hard to see how we are so prosperous when the roots of that prosperity have been so damaging to others."

Misty:

"Latinx isn't one single group. There are many countries, identities, different languages/slang, and traditions that layer under Latinx culture. There is so much beauty in each group, take the time to ask and learn more."

Laura:

"We're all so different! Every country has its own unique food, traditions, language. I love learning all of the different cultures within our community."

If you could give any career advice to your younger self, or others of Hispanic or Latinx heritage, what would it be?

Andres:

“Try different roles + jobs, don't get stuck in one place. This will give you the ability to learn more about what you're passionate about. Ask questions, take risks, and don't feel like you need to have all the answers right at once.” 

Byron:

"In my young adult years, I think I subconsciously de-emphasized my Hispanic heritage. It's hard to think you need to hide your heritage from others. But now, I lead with it– fully embracing and proclaiming it. My advice to other professionals is to look for organizations that fit your values and can embrace who you are."

Misty:

"Imposter syndrome is real, but don't doubt yourself– you belong! Your ideas and your voice matter, so be sure to speak up. Find peers and mentors in your industry and learn from one another: grow together, celebrate wins, provide support during challenges, and share opportunities."

Laura:

"Share your heritage and your story with your friends and coworkers. You'll be surprised how many people might have similar journeys or who you might inspire. By sharing your story, others can learn more about our culture and help them understand our traditions."

How does your family's legacy and/or the broader Hispanic Latinx U.S. community identify with Trust & Will's mission and values? 

Andres:

“Family always comes first. Regardless of what comes up, we never have to think twice if we need to attend to something personal. It's how I was raised and something that is truly close to my heart. Secondly, always treat others with respect. This is how my family raised us and it's something I truly love and value about T&W culture. ” 

Byron:

"I love that T&W is pushing accessibility to legal services. I think that is so broadly needed in Latinx communities and begins to address the inequalities often felt by immigrant families."

Misty:

"Win together– this ties into family and community values. No one gets there alone, and we support one another along the way."