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Meet Luminary Member, Ileana R. Valle


Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get started with your current career path/business journey?

Being the first in my family to pursue higher education, I had to work and study full-time. I started as a bank teller and eventually grew to an office manager position at a Telemundo affiliate company, all while pursuing my undergraduate degree. Upon completion I embarked on a management consultant career.

I worked for many government clients. I fulfilled my goal of getting into Deloitte, something that seemed difficult to achieve at the time. At Deloitte, I realized I was more mission-driven after serving on multiple non-profit boards and learning my passion for serving underserved communities. As I result, I took a big risk, quit my job, and moved to Nicaragua to work for a US-based advocacy organization out of their Managua offices.

These events led me to a fulfilling career in global development. I went on to obtain my master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies. I’ve led multi-million dollar citizen security and rule of law projects for USAID in Latin America. I have lived and worked in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, and Italy.

How are you overcoming challenges during the pandemic as a business owner?

I am showing myself empathy and compassion, as I know thing have been tough this year. Things have been tough for most. I use my morning routine to work on my wellness. It has been through my me time that I’ve really created that self-awareness surrounding areas I need to work on. For example, I realized that, of the many hats I wear at Equanimity Foundation, there are areas I am not as strong in. That is where I access if it is important and urgent. From there, I focus on the areas I need to work on and areas I can simply rely on my team for support.

I also reach out to my tribe and close networks and learn the tools they use to overcome. This allows me to be creative and open to finding solutions that otherwise I’d feel stuck on.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?

For me it is being relentless. I have many other traits that I contribute my success to but being relentless has allowed me to stay the course even when I’ve wanted to quit. It has kept me razor focused when I’ve had a plethora of distractions and has kept me resilient in the face of adversity.

What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?

I believe mistakes are mere learning opportunities, but if I were to call it a mistake and choose one: I would say not being strategic enough. I learned the hard way that when it comes to achieving goals, it requires strategy. As a #firstgen I’ve had to figure things out via trial and error. This is why I don’t give myself such a hard time, but now I stand firm in the belief that I cannot afford to not be strategic in everything that I do.

What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?

I have two. I am currently working on strengthening my fundraising and digital marketing skills. As the co-founder and Vice President of Equanimity Foundation I wear several hats. That has created a need to be more of an expert in areas I only dabbled with in previous companies. It’s a challenge, but I never shy away from a good challenge.

In what ways are you taking care of your personal well being and what are your #selfcare tips?

As mentioned before, I prioritize my me time. At the start of the pandemic I fell into the trap of not prioritizing time I spend on me and my wellbeing. After a few months of quarantine I was feeling the harmful effects. I was more anxious, unmotivated, and lethargic. I slowly began to reassess what I was missing. It was this realization and the book The Miracle Morning, that has started to bring me back to who I am and the areas I need to prioritize.

#selfcare tips: meditation, journaling, and exercise. These have been my go-tos

How are you inviting others to take a seat at the table #virtually?

I am a staunch advocate of including diverse lenses and perspectives at the decision making table. I am taking the following three steps:

1. I co-founded Equanimity Foundation. Our mission is to make global development inclusive, sustainable, and transformative. We want to pave the way and advocate for younger generations from diverse backgrounds and underserved communities to pursue a career in diplomacy, international security, and global development. We also spotlight unrecognized voices on our social media platforms to highlight the great work experts of color and other underserved communities are producing.

2. I am involved with other organizations that are paving the way for people of color to have a seat at the decision-making table. For example: I am on the Board of Directors for Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security and I’ve partnered with my alma mater The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies’ Global Women in Leadership and The Black Student Union on a few diveristy and inclusion initiatives.

3. I try to give back in any possible way that I can. I participate in diversity and inclusion panel discussions, I take informational meetings, serve as a mentor, just to name a few.

What impact has Luminary made in your career? eg: Business Generated, Revenue, New Clients, Career Connections, Advancement Opportunities 

I am still relatively new to the network. However, so far Luminary has allowed me to connect with an incredible woman that delivers boost camp courses tailored for global women to advance their careers. This experience was transformation for me. I’ve also had access to an incredible network of other like-minded women that hold space for each other to learn and grow. Not to mention the access to other powerful resources to continue working on my professional development.