Current Town: Burlington
Years in VT: 3
Business name: Vermont Professionals of Color Network
Business contact: email@example.com
Tell us a bit about your background before arriving in VT.
I am a Queer Puerto Rican Pisces, social change practitioner, plant enthusiast, and fur mama to @sanwillipets. Originally from Miami, FL, I have casually moved north until landing in Burlington, Vermont.
I have spent most of my professional career in higher education, and I am truly an educator at heart. How else can you describe my nerdy love for curriculum? My sweet spot is facilitating leadership development, social identities, and values-based workshops to adult learners. In Florida, my personal time was spent with family, friends, and the sun! That hasn’t changed too much since moving to Vermont.
What do you enjoy about being a business owner/professional of color in VT?
As a professional of color I enjoy the opportunity to build relationships within the BIPOC community. Our community’s ethic of care consists of love, pride in our cultures, and belief in each other’s abilities to be our ancestors’ wildest dreams. For me, this truly embodies community over competition and it is unmatched.
What are some challenges that you’ve faced as a business owner/professional of color since living in VT?
My main challenges were building connections within the community and maintaining my sense of belonging to my culture. I moved to Vermont in Fall 2019, so my experience of the state has been within a pandemic context. Because of this, I was not able to engage with the community or the land like I had originally hoped. There was this general lack of access to BIPOC ingredients, music, and people that was out of our control.
It is difficult to move to a brand new state and enter into a pandemic. Here is a shoutout to all the BIPOC folx who did just that – you are seen and you are doing great!
How have you worked to overcome the challenges?
As the state started to open up, so did I! I joined Vermont-based BIPOC social media groups, attended COVID-safe community events, ate at every BIPOC restaurant, and joined the Vermont Professionals of Color Network to help expand my reach.
In what ways could your community or state of VT support BIPOC?
In the effort to recruit and retain BIPOC individuals, young professionals, families, and businesses, the state of Vermont needs to create sustainable housing opportunities. The housing crisis in Chittenden county and elsewhere is an enormous deterrent.
What advice would you have wanted to receive about being a VT professional / entrepreneurs / business owner before arriving?
Remember our community’s ethic of care that I spoke about earlier? It truly is a game changer as a BIPOC individual who lives in Vermont. The advice that I would have wanted is to know that the community is always there when you are ready for it, so that is the advice I will give to others looking to move here :).
Why are you a member of the Vermont Professionals of Color Network?
I wanted to expand my network of BIPOC individuals in the state of Vermont!
VT PoC was releasing their new website and held a launch party, which was one of the first in-person events I attended since moving to the state. During this event, they showcased their website which included the Jobs Board. I actually used this to find a position with The Network!
So now, I am engaging with the community and meeting members all across the state to help advance the prosperity of BIPOC individuals. It is safe to say that my desire for connection to the community and maintaining my sense of culture in Vermont has been met.