It’s human nature for a parent to brag about their baby. You want to let the whole world why YOUR baby is the best and people gift you their time, their attention, and their willingness to listen you boast. For the past three days I’ve been able to do just that – talk about my other baby: BOLD (Bridging Opportunity, Love and Determination).

I had the honor of being a part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. The foundation supports programs and organizations that serve children and promote racial equity, family security, education, and civic and community engagement. I was asked to be part of panel called Navigating the Barriers to Employment and Quality Early Education: An Interactive Community Theatre Experience. My role was to discuss my own barriers as a young parent of color raising two children, one with a disability. How perfect was it to be able to share the systems that worked for me and my children, the resources I lacked in my community, and how I am working with an organization to change that for other young parents. My proudest moment was talking about how far I’ve come and why I was able to overcome the barriers (and that I am not the only one who has done it) and of course talk about how BOLD will change that for many other young women.

Long story short – connections were made, new friendships were born, and a lot more work was created (good work that is). Perhaps one of the most exciting moments came during a plenary session when I was able to meet a young Latina reporter and was able to share a little bit of why it was so important for me to shake her hand. Coming to a conference where the main theme was to address racial healing and finding systematic ways to work as a community, I forgot that I had also struggled with my own racial ethnic identity. Seeing this woman that looked like me on stage brought tears to my eyes – and I didn’t know why. I realized that I, for some reason don’t see “me” in that light, but I too am a successful young Latina and I need to be proud of that.

My takeaway from this event is that the work I’m doing is amazing, the people I get to do it with are wonderful, and BOLD is the one word that people will all soon to know and ask for. Let’s introduce that baby to the world! Learn more about BOLD.

Lisette Orellana

Photograph (from left to right): Paula Sammons, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Tameka Henry, ASCEND Ambassador; Lisette Orellana, TNCF; Vivian Nixon, ASCEND Ambassador