Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Employee Spotlight | Oct 6, 2021 Employee Spotlight 10/06/21

In honor of our commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and larger community, SMG is proud to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. Since 1968, National Hispanic Heritage Month has been observed in the United States from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the cultures, histories, achievements, and contributions of Americans with lineage from Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain, and South and Central America.

We spoke with several employees at SMG to learn more about the importance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, what this month means to them, and how we can continue educating ourselves on the breadth of Hispanic heritage.


Ivan Garnica

Iván Garnica | Account Manager

How can people celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month?

Authentic tacos from taquerias are always a great way to celebrate anything. For those in the Kansas City area, I recommend going to family-owned taquerias in Northeast KC or KCK. There are also plenty of annual events throughout major cities—and several in the Kansas City metro area—that often support the Latino community. Look them up online and go!

What does your Hispanic or Latino heritage mean to you?

It’s who I am. It’s acknowledging my heritage through home-cooked meals, music, language, dance, stories, and through my ancestors. It’s knowing the specific struggles of being a Mexican immigrant, as well as being proud of calling two countries my home.

Who is an influential Hispanic or Latino figure who inspires you?

Oh, this one’s hard—it’s everyone from Selena Quintanilla and Vicente Fernandez to Cesar Chavez (labor activist) and Julio Cesar Chavez (boxing champion). However, when I think locally, the first name that comes to mind is Julián Zugazagoitia, the Executive Director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. When I was heavily involved with the museum, I would attend his public talks regarding upcoming exhibitions and was always astounded by his knowledge of the art world, the kindness with which he spoke, and the ways he continuously pushes the museum to be more engaged with the community. He’s an incredible community leader.

What is a Hispanic tradition you want to pass down to future generations?

All of my children will know how to dance and make homemade tortillas.




Adam Castro | Business Development Director

If someone wanted to learn more about Hispanic heritage, what resource(s) do you recommend?

Start with the most beautiful part—the people. America is the second largest Spanish-speaking country behind Mexico. There is a good chance you have a neighbor, friend, kid’s teammate, or colleague who is Hispanic. Getting to know them, some of their traditions, even meeting their family, gives you a chance to experience the culture, which is the best way to learn about it. Food, music, and art are the most accessible ways—there are tons of festivals during Hispanic Heritage Month that are worth visiting.

What does your Hispanic or Latino heritage mean to you?

My heritage is a core part of my identity. I’m both first and second generation—with my father being born in Costa Rica and my mother born in the U.S. but raised in Ecuador—so Costa Rica represents a background that few in my immediate circle share. That identity is tied to people instead of a country which inspires a great deal of compassion and empathy—traits I’m not sure I would have honed so deeply without my heritage.

What is a Hispanic tradition you want to pass down to future generations?

Growing up we would make tamales at Christmas. The whole family would line up and add an ingredient in a sort of assembly line. We made hundreds and it took all day, but it was such a great way to spend time with family and connect, through a tradition, with my heritage.


Barron Sam

Sam Barron | Accountant

How can people celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month?

I think people can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with very simple activities. The easiest one is to read and learn about different Hispanic and Latino cultures. You don’t need to take a class and learn about every single Latin American country. You can read the Wikipedia page of a Latin American- or Spanish-speaking country or watch a YouTube video and gain an appreciation for any culture. Another easy way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is by attending local festivals or eating at locally-owned Hispanic restaurants. This is also a really good way to experience an authentic version of a culture. People always remember great meals and they always remember the good time they had during those meals.    

Who is an influential Hispanic or Latino figure who inspires you?

There is a Hispanic drummer of Cuban/Columbian descent named Alex Gonzales who plays in a Mexican rock band named Mana. He inspired me to start playing the drums when I was in middle school. If it hadn’t been for that style of music and his style of drumming, I probably would not have started playing the drums. 

What does your Hispanic or Latino heritage mean to you?

My Hispanic heritage is a big part of who I am. I was raised in the United States but by parents were born and raised in Mexico. I value and hold on to the small details of how I was raised. Things like speaking Spanish in the home and the food my parents cooked are valued memories because it all shaped who I am today.  


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