Immigrating to the United States from Nicaragua and being a woman in the STEM field, Seattle Local Leader Vicky Hollingsworth thought emulating her leaders and mentors was the path to become a great leader herself.
It was only after completing Brown and Caldwell’s Thrive Leadership Acceleration Program, however, that she realized that her authenticity was one of her biggest strengths and that by mirroring others, she had assimilated to cover pieces of her identity she thought would not be accepted. Vicky connected with other colleagues who had similar experiences, all too aware that they were not the only ones who faced these challenges as immigrants and people of color.
“Once I started to value what made me stand out and bring my whole self to work, I realized creating a more inclusive and diverse culture begins with each of us shedding our masks and being authentic. And, I want to welcome and encourage others to do the same.”
With the help of a few colleagues, Vicky, who has been with BC for 12 years, formed the Community of Color Employee Network Group (ENG), creating a safe space and feeling of belonging for people of all backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences while also bringing awareness to the unique circumstances faced by people of color in the workplace, industry, and community.
“To make a positive impact, we must find our commonalities through sharing our experiences, spreading awareness, and caring for one another,” Vicky says. “Our group is filled with trust and that allows us to be vulnerable and bring many perspectives all working towards positive change.”
With the Community of Color ENG being among BC’s newest, it has seen immediate success. Vicky puts a lot of heart and time into researching, strategizing, and preparing for virtual team meetings and facilitating ongoing virtual discussion. Seeing the positive impact the group has made so far, she knows there is much potential.
The most recent virtual group meeting struck a personal chord with Vicky as she co-led with close colleague, Daisy Benitez, on the topic of cultural assimilation–a topic she knew all too well and experienced firsthand. By speaking from her heart and experience, Vicky’s vulnerability resonated with others and brought meaningful participation, dialogue, and questions about tolerance, respect, appreciation, and diversity. The meeting’s wholesome engagement and success has led to the development of small group sessions, providing more space to dive deeper into these conversations.
When she isn’t creating educational trainings and best practices for employees, working on design for project delivery, or attending to the Community of Color ENG, she finds herself in the kitchen cooking and experimenting with different foods and recipes. When she finds herself missing home and her family too much, she cooks some of her favorite Nicaraguan dishes, Vigorón, tostones (plantains), and Gallo Pinto (Nicaraguan rice and beans).