Hispanic Heritage Month: Leslie Neipert
AT GTREASURY, WE EMBRACE THE RICHNESS THAT DIVERSITY BRINGS TO OUR TEAM AND OUR WORLD. THIS MONTH IS A TIME TO HONOR THE ACHIEVEMENTS AND ARTISTRY THAT HAVE SHAPED OUR SOCIETY IN PROFOUND WAYS. IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO LEARN, SHARE, AND CELEBRATE THE VOICES THAT HAVE WOVEN AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR GLOBAL TAPESTRY. TO KICK OFF THIS MONTH, WE ARE HONORED TO SHARE OUR INTERVIEW WITH LESLIE NEIPERT. READ BELOW TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT LESLIE’S UNIQUE HERITAGE, INSIGHTS, AND LIFE EXPERIENCES.
Q: Can you share a personal experience or story that reflects the significance of your Hispanic heritage in your life or career journey?
A: In the Hispanic culture, girls have a quinceañera to celebrate their 15th birthday, which is like a Sweet 16 party in traditional American culture. They’re similar in that it’s treated as your “coming out” party to society. I got to invite all my school friends, and I had a court of my close guy and girlfriends, who wore matching tuxes and dresses. I received special gifts that were representative of becoming a woman. Looking back, I’m so glad that my parents continued that tradition, and I hope to continue with my daughter as well.
Q: In what ways do you believe your cultural perspective brings unique strengths and insights to the projects or initiatives you’re involved in?
A: In the Hispanic culture and my family specifically, there is a strong familial bond. We have multi-generational families, with parents and grandchildren living in one house. If they’re not physically living together, they stay very close in proximity. When something happens – say, a death in the family, or the need to raise funds, everyone chips in and pulls together. There is an understanding to drop everything to focus on the family when they need it. This translates to the work setting for me, as I see my team as a family, and I step in when I need to.
Q: Have you faced any challenges or biases related to your heritage, and how have you navigated or overcome them?
A: I personally have not faced any challenges or biases. I am fortunate that I live and have spent most of my life in Texas, where we have a high Hispanic population demographic. The Hispanic culture is very much celebrated in Texas. Texas was once a part of Mexico before it won its independence. Living in Texas has played a significant role in the fact that I have not faced many challenges related to my heritage.
Q: Could you share any significant traditions, foods, or customs from your culture that hold special meaning for you?
A: Making tamales is a custom that is very special to me. I don’t get to do it as much with my family because most of them live in Arizona, but when I get to see them, it’s a huge thing we do together. The process takes days of preparation, and we make thousands of tamales. My mom has also started teaching my kids how to make tortillas, which is a special part of my culture. It’s a great activity to spend time with your family. There is also a religious connection with my culture that I practice in my day-to-day life. I was raised Catholic, like many Hispanics, and a lot of those religious traditions have stayed with me.
Q: How do you think organizations can better support and celebrate Hispanic employees beyond Hispanic Heritage Month, fostering an inclusive environment year-round?
A: I think it’s important to remember that there’s no stereotypical Hispanic person that looks a certain way, has a certain name or lives in a certain part of the country. I think a lot of people have a preconceived idea of what a Hispanic person is, what they look like, and do. For example, I’ve always had lighter skin and a non-Hispanic name. If you look at someone like me, you wouldn’t necessarily think that I have Hispanic culture – but culture goes beyond the outward façade.
Q: Are there any books, films, or artistic works that you believe provide a deeper understanding of Hispanic heritage and would recommend to others interested in learning more?
A: Generally speaking, I think it’s important to understand the Hispanic movement for equality in the US and learn about figures like Cesar Chavez – some of my family marched with him! If you grew up in a place like California, Arizona, or Texas, you may have had more exposure to the Hispanic movement for equality. But a lot of people in our country don’t have much of an understanding of that piece of history. I’ve had to do my own research as an adult and there’s a lot that I’m still learning, especially about the Hispanic segregation that happened in California.
Q: As we commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, what message would you like to share with colleagues and peers about the importance of cultural diversity and inclusivity?
A: I’d like to re-emphasize my point in question #5, that being Hispanic is so much more than an outward appearance.