Hispanic Heritage Month Elevates the Voices of Our ‘Fuerza Foley’ Members

25 October 2022 Foley Career Perspectives Blog
Author(s): Alexis P. Robertson

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated September 15-October 15 each year, Foley & Lardner recognized the history, culture, and contributions of Americans with connections to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Spain – including those of our own colleagues.

We kicked off the month-long celebration by announcing partner Katy Califa and of counsel Roland Potts as the new co-chairs of Foley’s Hispanic Attorneys Affinity Group. In the spirit of the 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month theme, Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, which elevates the goal of having all voices in the diaspora represented and welcomed, we invited our affinity group co-chairs and members to share anecdotes related to their Latinx/Hispanic heritage. Here is what they had to say:

Katy Califa“As a child, my grandmother would come stay with us for one or two months every summer. As soon as she arrived — her luggage would still be at the bottom of the stairs — she would put her apron on and start making the dough for fresh tortillas. Hours later, as she was standing over the hot griddle, my brother and I would hover behind her and pilfer tortilla after tortilla. I think she was equal parts annoyed and charmed!”

--Katy Califa    

Roland Potts“My family was forced to flee Cuba in the early days of Fidel Castro coming into power, like so many others. My uncles and aunts, all children when they left Cuba, knew this one poem and used it constantly in family gatherings: Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca. For me, it’s not only a memory of Cuba, my country I have yet to visit, but also all those amazing memories of family gatherings throughout my life.”

--Roland Potts

Yelan Escalona”I think one of the most vibrant parts of Cuban culture is the Spanish dialect we speak. It is filled with funny and weird colloquial expressions — or ‘Cubanisms’ — that make absolutely no sense outside of Cuban culture. Here’s an example:

Te la comiste
Direct translation: You ate it
Meaning: You did a great job”

--Yelan Escalona

Laura Ganoza“There are two sounds I remember most growing up with a father from Chile and a mother from Cuba: fútbol and music. One of my very first memories as a child is hearing the screams from my father either cheering or jeering the TV announcer’s booming and seemingly endless proclamation of a ‘Goooooooooooooooooooooooooool.’ [Music] was at every family gathering, every informal get together, and playing loudly from our little record player or radio. And one of our favorites was Celia Cruz, a famous Cuban singer dubbed the Queen of Salsa. In a full circle moment in December 2018, it was my honor to be able to host my final event as the Regional Director of the Fashion Group International of South Florida at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora while they were hosting a Celia Cruz exhibit. It could only summed up with one word, ‘¡Azúcar!’ (‘Sugar!’), Celia Cruz’s famous catchphrase.”

--Laura Ganoza

Olivia Singelmann “’Viva Panamá!’ From polleras to platanos, from cumbias to carimañolas, I am proud of my Panamanian heritage and the perseverance of my ancestors. My great-great grandparents emigrated from Barbados to Panama to build the Panama Canal, and my mother immigrated to the United States to pursue a college degree. To quote Merrick Moises, ‘Being Afro Latino is being a bridge builder, standing squarely at the crossroads of pan Africanism in the U.S. I am a proud Black Panamanian! We exist!’”

--Olivia Singelmann

While Hispanic Heritage month has come to a close, we encourage our Foley Fuerza members to continue sharing their unique stories and histories. Fuerza comes from diversity, fuerza comes from having a place where sharing that diversity is always welcome, and fuerza comes from all of us.

Read more about Diversity & Inclusion at Foley.

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Alexis P. Robertson

Director of Diversity & Inclusion


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