A conversation with Latina entrepreneur, Judith Duval on entrepreneurship and Latino philanthropy.
Judith Duval shares how an accomplished Latina entreprener on so many fronts manged to get started and do it all.
Judith what is the one word that best describes you?
And what are you most proud of?
When we immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic, we struggled quite a bit.
My sister and I had limited English and went straight to ESL classes. We had to work really hard to figure things out; there were times when people had to help us with groceries and other basic needs. I am really proud of what I have achieved in these past 22 years.
Recently, I was on the phone with my cousin in the Dominican Republic, and out of nowhere he said, “Judith, you’re the American Dream”.
How would do you define the American Dream?
I believe that today I have a better life given the opportunities I’ve accessed. More importantly, I am in the position to give a better life to those around me, to enrich their lives. It’s more than monetary, it’s about confidence. I am no longer intimidated and scared of our new surroundings. I am proud of who I am.
Today, I am able to walk as both a Dominican and an American, and to me, that’s the American Dream.
Tell us more about the company how you got started as an entrepreneur.
I launched a multimedia company that helps Latinos live their very best life. My goal is to reach as many Latinos as I can to inspire them to achieve their unique version of the American Dream by stepping into their leadership and wellness. I do this through TV, radio, an online magazine, workshops, podcasts, and am currently working on a book.
I am on a mission to bring wellness to the Latino community.
People tell me that when they come to my website or read my online magazine they #1 leave inspired, #2 get good information and #3 have a roadmap to improve their lives. That feels great.
How did you get here? What is your background?
My background has always been in business and I really enjoyed my experience there. I worked for J.P Morgan and Citibank, before I went to get my MBA at Stanford. I then worked at Bain and Sephora. The experience I received at these places was incredibly important.
First of all, I had to pull out all the stops to get those opportunities. Once I got those jobs, I had to work really hard. It was rigorous and expectations were very high; there were many 12, 15, and even 17 hour days.
I am really grateful for those opportunities in the business world. It gave me a great discipline, a strategic mind, the ability to solve problems, and built my confidence. It also helped me find my professional mentors.
What compelled you to leave your job and to start your own business?
A couple of years ago, I realized that I had gotten so much from other people - I call them my angels – those people who have really helped push me forward. It’s time to have a thought leader to propel the Latino community forward. There is a great need for my company and what it offers.
In the Latino community, we need to step outside of what confines us. Oftentimes it seems like we still live as if we are in our old countries. We don’t take advantage of the opportunities and the freedoms we came for. There are personal and cultural limitations that really hold us back.
How do we step outside of those limitations?
You need to see examples of people in front of you. We need role models. Then you need to be exposed to the steps we need to get us where we want to go. After one of my speaking engagements, a mother who works the night shift as a janitor came to me and said that her daughter had gotten accepted into UCLA. “Now that I see you, she said, I feel better about letting her go. She will be okay, right? ” I say yes, of course.
That’s why we came here and sacrificed so much, for those educational opportunities.
What do you think is holding Latinos back from realizing their dreams?
Fear. Access to resources.
A lack of understanding on what to do with the information once they get it.
Next- What advice would you give other Latino entrepreneurs?
About the author
Masha V. Chernyak is a strategic visionary, marketing expert, and experienced advocate for the immigrant community. An immigrant herself, Masha served in the Peace Corps in rural Guatemala, worked as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, and is now building Latino philanthropy in California. In her current position as VP of Programs and Policy at the Latino Community Foundation, Masha manages the organization’s investment portfolio, elevates the LCF brand, and helps lead the organization's change-making strategy. She was instrumental in launching the California Latino Agenda, a campaign to connect diverse Latino leaders to shape and amplify a unified agenda for change. Masha is trilingual, loves photography, and has a Master’s in Public Affairs and Politics from the University of San Francisco.Website