When Moni Hernandez was younger, she was told not to speak Spanish outside of the home. “My dad wanted us to speak English ... because he was shamed for being Hispanic,” she said.
According to Hernandez, a second-generation Mexican-American woman, the culture in Colorado has changed significantly since then. And for the past several years, Hernandez has been committed to serving the city’s Spanish-speaking community — both in and out of the office.
Hernandez is vice chair of the Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber, a voting member of the Human Relations Commission, a VIP (very involved person) at RISE Coalition and vice president of Centro de la Familia. In March, she started VIVA Marketing & Consulting, the only bilingual digital marketing firm in Colorado Springs.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a higher population of Spanish-speaking Hispanics in Colorado Springs than in Pueblo. At VIVA, a primary challenge for Hernandez is educating the Springs-area community on the importance of the Hispanic dollar.
“Hispanics in southern Colorado spend $5 million a week,” she said. (This is according to data from a few years ago; this number has probably grown since, noted Hernandez.) “When I tell small businesses about that, I ask them, ‘How much of that $5 million a week, the Hispanic dollar, is your business generating?’ … The problem is that, yeah, you can advertise it in Spanish, but if you don’t have employees that speak Spanish, how are you going to help that Hispanic consumer?”
Unfortunately, there are few Spanish-language media options available to Springs residents: only one radio station and two TV stations (Telemundo and Univision). “The thing with the Hispanic community here in Colorado Springs [is] they don’t have options so they’re hungry for content,” said Hernandez. “And that’s where my heart is, to be able to help them.” Supporting the Spanish-speaking community is at the core of VIVA.
Outside of work, Hernandez is involved with similar efforts. RISE Coalition — which bills itself as “an initiative aimed to enhance southeast Colorado Springs from within through resident-led change” — is one of Hernandez’s favorite organizations. During the pandemic, she helped conduct a survey to understand why the Hispanic community has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. This year, Hernandez was the booking agent for the first Spanish concert at the new Downtown stadium. And at Radiant Church, where she has been going for more than a decade, Hernandez is working with the pastor to grow the Hispanic Christian community.
Hernandez, a single mother to three daughters, is motivated largely by her family: “[It’s] for my older daughters to see that giving up is not an option, for my younger daughter to see the importance of working. … And I think that that’s probably one of the most important things — being a leader. It’s not just going out and leading a community. It’s leading your family. And you have to lead by example.”