Mujeres de HACE, the nonprofit organization’s women’s Leadership program, empowers high-potential Latinas to succeed professionally and thrive personally. Photo courtesy of HACE.

By Patricia Mota | The Chronicle of Philanthropy

“In December 2019, our organization – the Chicago-based Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) – was getting ready to sign a new five-year lease. As a growing team, we needed more space and a modern feel for us to meet and provide a more productive work environment so we could fulfill our mission of ensuring the country’s workforce reflects its growing diversity, especially for Latinos. Our board chair, head of operations and I visited the space a few times, as it was an open floorplan where we could decide the placement of office spaces and windows.

Right when we were ready to sign the agreement, the broker fell off the face of the Earth – not returning our calls or emails. After connecting with his superiors, we found out the space was given to a higher-paying customer. We were never given the chance to negotiate. Although I was bothered initially, I remained calm – my mindset was that it was out of my control, and that HACE’s goal of providing training, networking, and leadership development opportunities for Latinos in the U.S. workforce could still be achieved.

I asked myself what I could learn from this situation. I needed to figure out the next plan to pivot forward, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic grew and HACE prepared what to do. Little did I know, this mentality and pivot would become a constant for the year ahead, and for the new way of work ahead of us. This included being agile with our financial and strategy plans.

When things do not go as we expect, it is critical to remain positive, make quick decisions, and search for the silver lining. I joined HACE in 2010 because I believe in the importance of closing the educational and workforce gaps that underserved and underrepresented communities face. I know the lessons we’ve learned from our recent challenges will go a long way as we achieve our mission – and that the country’s workforce, at all levels, is more inclusive. As we transition once again into new workplace norms, below are some lessons we are taking with us.”

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